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Charter poles emerge from the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on October 30, 2017

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will launch on 6th November — the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Sylva Foundation has been a keen supporter of this Woodland Trust-led initiative. Last year we collected stories from hundreds of woodland owners (read more), and behind the scenes we’ve been lending our weight to help make this national celebration of trees a success. We’ve also been quietly busy at the Sylva Wood Centre, helping one of the main celebratory moments come to life in the form of 11 dramatic sculptures.

The Tree Charter Poles are being carved from 15′ oak logs by Sylva Wood Centre-based sculptor Simon Clements. Each of the sculptures represents one of the ten principles from the new Charter, while the eleventh, known as the ‘Champion Pole’, represents the Charter as a whole. The logs were donated by Crown Estates and procured by Grown in Britain.

Simon takes over the story . . .

A 15 foot oak log is quite a thing to have delivered to your door; there is no chance of missing it.  So 11 of them represent a serious log pile and that makes starting a project quite daunting especially for Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry who runs the Woodmizer mobile sawmill from his base at the Sylva Wood Centre, and had only just taken delivery of it when the logs arrived.

The original plan was to have the logs de-barked before we received them, but since the process chews up the timber so badly that we would have needed to recut them before carving, we thought it was easier to run them through the sawmill straight away. It was not an easy task as we weren’t looking for planks but a cylinder of solid oak with no sapwood or bark. This meant that Nick needed to roll the logs onto the sawmill make a pass with the saw, roll the log a few degrees make another pass then continue around the log. We provided him with a plywood disk with the correct Diameter (400mm) to act as a template, but it was very much a case of learning on the job which Nick did brilliantly.

We estimated that the 15 foot logs were about a tonne in weight after sawing so they needed very substantial trestles to support them and these needed to be adjustable to save back strain. A trip to Dave at Cobalt Blacksmith in Nuffield and some chalk drawings on the forge floor resulted in a pair of scissor-type trestles with a chain locking system. We ended up with two pairs so we could work on two poles together.

Brian is an student of mine who bravely agreed to have a go at some of the lettering and has proved to be a natural letter carver, there are around 300+ letters on each pole It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to carve each one so he is an extremely useful member of the team. Steve my other helper has left us to learn cabinet making in Lyme Regis but will be back in time to help with the last few poles in the New Year (he doesn’t know this yet!).

Once the poles were on the trestles they needed to be rounded out to remove the slabs left by the saw. The first two poles, which had gnarly grain, were planed with a 4” power planer; boring, messy and noisy. Once we had a good smooth surface to work on the poem stencils were wrapped around the pole so we could write out the poem reading from the bottom up. The poem words wrap around the pole and are carved into a ribbon with the other carvings placed between the twists of the ribbon.

Once we started work on the later poles we found that the timber was so good that it could be rounded out with a drawknife. The second and third poles were lovely to work; with long straight grain that showed pink as the drawknife sliced through the surface, and because they were denser than the previous two poles it took them longer to open up

Then it was a matter of drawing the designs directly onto the timber and starting to carve. Roughing out the designs was done with a variety of power rasps and cutters, (Rotarex and Arbourtech) on 4” angle grinders, and then followed up with carver’s gouges and mallets.

Because of the nature of green oak all the designs needed to be bold simple shapes, rather than delicate or highly undercut, as the Oak began to open up as soon as it was placed on the trestles. Each pole required about 30 hours of drawn design work which was sent to the Woodland Trust to be signed off before work could begin.

It has been a personal highlight seeing these huge slightly pink oak poles rounded out and made ready for the carver’s chisels. Of course so far the poles are all sitting horizontally in storage after our work is complete, and though they look good and very intriguing, I’m really looking forward to seeing the champion pole go up, which will be the first pole to be lifted into place on its custom made stone plinth in the grounds of Lincoln castle.

Simon Clements
www.simonclements.info

Find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign


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Welcome Matt Estlea Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence 2017-18

posted on September 25, 2017

We’re pleased to welcome Matt Estlea as the latest Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Woodworker, designer and creator Matt Estlea takes over from Jan Waterson (2016-17).

Matt Estlea - craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre (2017-18)

Matt Estlea – craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre (2017-18)

Instead of following the traditional approach of making a living from furniture making, Matt has begun exploring the potential of mixing his interests, woodworking and videography, into something that builds an online brand for himself. He runs build-alongs, tutorials and ‘Tool Duels’ on YouTube drawing from both his 5 years experience at Rycotewood, and being an employee at Axminster Tools & Machinery for 4 years. This has given him a unique position in not only understanding the specifications and selling points of tools, but also how to use them to their best potential in a practical environment.

Talking about taking up craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre Matt said:

“On leaving Rycotewood, many students say that they miss the communal aspects of the workshop. Moving to Sylva was a natural progression for me where I could enjoy my own space yet still enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by a creative and inspiring community.”

Find out more about Matt Estlea and visit his website: www.mattestlea.com

Read more about the Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Oxford City College


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Work gets underway on new Forestry Yard

posted on August 23, 2017

Work has started constructing our new FORESTRY YARD at the Sylva Wood Centre – thanks to support from Oxfordshire Leader funding.

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

We’ll soon be welcoming a forestry business to the yard, complete with a mobile sawmill and firewood processor (also supported by Leader funding). Meanwhile a joinery business, recently moved down south from Scotland, is refurbishing the old pigsties nearby as it future home.

The site which was derelict just three years ago already supports more than 30 local people. We can’t wait to see the yard stacked with locally-sourced timber from well-managed woodlands.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader


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Pole lathe course 17Feb2018

posted on June 22, 2017

 

Greenwood-workshop-header

Course date: 17th February 2018, 9.30am – 4.00pm

A one-day course to learn how to work with green wood using a pole lathe and make something to take home at the end of the day. Learn with expert green woodworker and experienced tutor Peter Wood.

For centuries the Bodgers used the methods you’ll learn on this course to produce a variety of items. You will work a freshly sawn log though each stage needed to make a useful household object, such as a garden dibber or baby’s rattle to take home. Each student will have the full use of a pole lathe, shaving horse and set of greenwood working tools.

On the course you will learn:

  • how to safely use the tools provided
  • how to carefully select logs for working
  • how to cleave (split) the logs for working
  • how to shape the wood using a shaving horse and drawknife
  • how to turn greenwood using a pole lathe.

Cost: £100 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

Purchase your place on this course

Book your place

 


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Green wood stool course 20 Jan 2018

posted on

Following the sell-out success of this course last time, we are pleased to offer a new one-day course: learn how to make a green wood stool. Working with green wood using simple hand tools, by the end of the day you will make a ‘basic’ three-legged stool under the expert tuition of green woodworker Peter Wood.

Greenwood-workshop-header

Greenwood workshop 20th January 2018

 

Course date: 20th January 2018, 9.30am – 4.00pm

  • Learn about different tree species and understand why different woods are suitable for different tasks, how growth effects its use, and look at wood suitable for cleaving.
  • Learn how to cleave wood.
  • Learn basic axe work to rough shape the stool legs.
  • Use a shaving horse, drawknives and spokeshaves to shape three stool legs.
  • Shape a simple stool seat using planes, inshaves, travishers and spokeshaves.
  • There will also be a pole lathe for participants to ‘have a go’ at turning as time allows.

Cost: £100 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

Purchase your place on this course

Book your place

 


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Green wood stool course 11 Nov 2017

posted on June 12, 2017

Following the sell-out success of this course in February, we are pleased to offer a new one-day course: learn how to make a green wood stool. Working with green wood using simple hand tools, by the end of the day you will make a ‘basic’ three-legged stool under the expert tuition of green woodworker Peter Wood.

Greenwood-workshop-header

Greenwood workshop 11th November 2017

Course date:   11th November 2017, 9.30am – 4.00pm

  • Learn about different tree species and understand why different woods are suitable for different tasks, how growth effects its use, and look at wood suitable for cleaving.
  • Learn how to cleave wood.
  • Learn basic axe work to rough shape the stool legs.
  • Use a shaving horse, drawknives and spokeshaves to shape three stool legs.
  • Shape a simple stool seat using planes, inshaves, travishers and spokeshaves.
  • There will also be a pole lathe for participants to ‘have a go’ at turning as time allows.

Cost:                     £95 per person

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

Book your place:          sylva.charitycheckout.co.uk/GreenWoodDayCourse_11Nov2017

 


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BBC investigates future forests

posted on May 26, 2017

The Future of Forestry was this week’s theme on the BBC Radio 4 flagship environmental programme Costing the Earth.

BBC Costing The Earth

BBC Costing The Earth

The main question posed was whether Britain could revive its forestry and provide for more of its own needs.

BBC reporter Tom Heap came to interview Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery at the Sylva Wood Centre. He also spoke with one of our resident furniture makers Jan Waterston, our current craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Rycotewood Furniture Centre. The programme also featured Stuart Goodall from Confor, and Matt Larsen-Daw from the Woodland Trust.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer.


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Your invitation to Artweeks 2017 at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on April 27, 2017

Artweeks-header

6 – 14 May

11am-6pm weekends
11am-4pm weekdays

closed Wednesday 10th

Long Wittenham, OX14 4QT

 

Stunning fine furniture
Environmental art
Bespoke items for your home and garden
Live demonstrations and workshops
Children’s area and activities
Food and drink (weekends only)
Enjoy the new Future Forest and Community Orchard
Meet the beekeepers
And more . . .

 

If you would like to print a poster to help us advertise the event please download it here. Thank you!

 

Category: Announcements, events, WOOD
Tags:

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Course 25 Feb 2017: learn to make a green wood stool

posted on December 12, 2016

Buy your loved one a present with a difference this Christmas, or treat yourself. Book a one-day course to learn how to work with green wood using simple hand tools, and make a ‘basic’ three-legged stool.

Greenwood-workshop-header

Greenwood workshop 25th February 2017

 

Course date:   25th February, 9.30am – 4.00pm

  • Learn about different tree species and understand why different woods are suitable for different tasks, how growth effects its use, and look at wood suitable for cleaving.
  • Learn how to cleave wood.
  • Learn basic axe work to rough shape the stool legs.
  • Use a shaving horse, drawknives and spokeshaves to shape three stool legs.
  • Shape a simple stool seat using planes, inshaves, travishers and spokeshaves.
  • There will also be a pole lathe for participants to ‘have a go’ at turning as time allows.

 

Cost:                     £95 per person

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

 

Book your place:          https://sylva.charitycheckout.co.uk/greenwooddaysfeb2017


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Hot-bench spaces available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on December 8, 2016
Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

As part of the continuing development at the Sylva Wood Centre we have opened a new facility to allow wood-based craftpersons to rent bench space by the week.

Called Start-Up, this flexible ‘hot-benching’ system is aimed at people of all ages who would like to try their hand at setting up a wood business without the burden of taking on a long-term lease.

Hot-benchers have access to a shared machinery workshop which means they don’t have to spend large amounts of capital to get started. Machinery includes a state-of-art Martin panel saw, plus planer, thicknesser, and bandsaw.

 

Sylva Machinery Workshop

Machinery Workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre

Users will join a vibrant and friendly community of wood craftspeople and benefit from companionship, informal advice, inspiration over shared cake and coffee, and opportunities to take part in our growing programme of public exhibitions.

There are currently five benches available to rent by the week.  If you want to find out more and to discuss terms and booking, please email paul@sylva.org.uk or call 01865 408018.


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