A group of conservation volunteers from Hartlepool's Countryside Department are coming to Flint Mill in Beamish Museum for an intense introduction to green woodworking. The 4 day training session involving 16 volunteers will be based at Maurice's idyllic workshop in Co.Durham.
Conservation volunteers often come with some experience of using forestry hand tools, recognizing the main tools, what they are used for and how to use them safely. Green woodworking tools, despite often looking superficially similar, come in many different types and styles and techniques to use them will be completely new ground.
Day one of the course will cover first principles of working with freshly felled hardwoods sourced locally. Identifying which woods to choose and for what job, how to recognise wood which is suitable and which is not. How to control the spliting of wood along the grain to get it to the right size for the job with minimal waste, using special tools such as froes and devices such as cleaving breaks. Moving onto the use of common green woodworking equipment such shave horses and pole lathes, how to use them safely with good technique.
On Day two we will aim to persuade students that the craft of traditional green woodwork aspires to use the unique nature of freshly harvested wood to create utility items of beauty. The shrink box is a perfect example of this craft. Starting with a length of green, freshly felled log, traditional augers are used to bore through the log's centre, followed by knives to continue the hollowing.
The exterior is then shaped if desired, followed by the shaping and fitting of a dry piece of wood into a groove at the bottom allowing the hollowed out section to slowly shrink and lock around its base.
Making shrink boxes goes back more than 1000 years possibly before the Vikings and continues in Northern and Eastern Europe to this day. In Sweden, these charming and functional boxes are called Krympeboks, literally translated as shrink can.
Day three will be all about making low benches as a workshop aid, adapted to hold blanks whilst being worked. these will be made from milled oak with straight grained ash for the legs
On Day Four, using the newly created benches we'll really get into the zone using carving axes, gouges and spokeshaves to make useful wooden bowls