Handcrafted rustic frames and gate made from Sweet Chestnut wood
The design challenge was to create a unique semi open divide between the edge of the driveway into a garden. This particular garden has a South-Westerly aspect, with rolling Devon hills beyond. The customer wanted something specially designed to enhance their garden, be handcrafted and unique. After considering a few options a design was agreed that involved creating two sculptural wooden frames either side of a central gate. This was to be handcrafted in durable Sweet Chestnut wood. Curved cleft pickets of various lengths were fitted in small groups to the bottom rails. Two pieces of Sweet Chestnut branch wood were stripped of bark and incorporated into each frame.
Bespoke designed gate
Bespoke Cleft gate made using Sweet Chestnut wood
A bespoke three foot by six foot lightweight gate was designed to fit with the cleft wood frames. The lower section of the gate followed the theme using curved pickets. For the upper section a piece if mirror cleft Sweet Chestnut branch wood was morticed and tenoned into the gate frame. The gate was hung with galvanised hook and eye hinges.
The finished Design
The finished fence frames and gate, decorated with exterior lights
A curved link piece was added to join left side frame to the side of their house. The frames were decorated with exterior lights for the Christmas period. The customer plans on adding wire netting to the back of the frames to deter their Persian cats from escaping to the lane from the enclosed garden. Fortunately their cats aren’t agile climbers.
Designing and installing bespoke handcrafted garden items is what we specialise in. We work with our customers to create something different. Please browse through some of our other projects for examples of our work.
I was recently commissioned to design and make bespoke Oak planters for the Lucy Summers feature garden at the Country Living Fair at The London Business Design Centre, which runs from Wednesday 18th March until Sunday 22nd March.
Lucy Summers feature garden Country Living Fair
My planters are handcrafted using locally sourced Oak from Devon and have been used as corner pieces to frame the overall design, as seen in the picture above.
Below, this is how they looked before delivery to the show.
In comparison with a large full sized yurt, a mini yurt is light weight, easy to assemble, highly portable and takes up less space when pitched. Crafted from hardwood timber locally sourced from Devon woods, these small yurts are designed for a variety of uses for both children and adults. A seven foot yurt can sleep two adults and are a great alternative to ordinary tents.
Mini yurt by the estuary at Tregunna, Cornwall
Our small yurt on show in the gardens at Coombe Trenchard
For more information please see website page about mini yurts.
These Oak gates were designed and made for a customer using greenwood. The gates were styled to fit in with their surrounding environment. They also needed to be livestock and deer proof.
To make these gates the green Oak round wood was split into quarters using steel wedges. A froe was used to cleave these quarters into the thinner pieces used to make the individual gate components.
The rough cleft Oak was smoothed and shaped further using a draw-knife. The greenwood was left to partially season for a number of weeks before the final cutting and assembly of the gates took place.
After the Oak had been rested, the next stage was to mark and cut all the tenons and mortices prior to assembly. The rails were carefully chosen in pairs to ensure a degree of continuity between both gates. This design uses five rails and these are fixed using stainless steel nails. Stainless steel nails are used to limit the chemical reaction of the tannic acid naturally present in Oak with the metal, this avoids dark stains appearing on the wood, which you would eventually get with galvanised or other non-stainless steels grades of nails.
Finally, the vertical pales and diagonal braces were cleft, cut, shaped and fitted to the gates.
All our rustic gates are individually designed and handmade for each customer in either Oak or Sweet Chestnut. For further details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (01409) 281549 to discuss your requirements.
This project involved working jointly with another company Quay Carpentry. The brief for their customer was to craft components to meet their outdoor stairs design, which would link a terrace and have fencing along the top of the terrace. The timber suited for the rustic look was Sweet Chestnut. After discussing design options with Quay Carpentry the individual components were crafted for them.
Crafting the Components
We planked the stair strings by cleaving from large rounds of Sweet Chestnut rather than milling. This was important for the stair string turn because cleaving naturally follows the grain, compared to sawing that cuts through the fibres. This helped with the next stage of processing, which involved steam bending and setting on a former to obtain the desired shape. Also, the handrail for the stair turn was steam bent and set on a former after steaming for a couple of hours. This can seen in the preceding photo, which shows the handrail in the former after steaming.
We crafted two individual rustic gates. One would be used for the top of the stairs and the other along the fence line. These are shown in the next two photos.
Each of the stair treads were cleaved from large rounds, similar to how the stair strings were produced. We split the newel posts, fencing posts and rails etc. from smaller rounds of Sweet Chestnut. The hand tools used were axe, froe, splitting wedges, draw knife, spoke shave, bit and brace.
Installed Stairs, Gates and Fencing
After the components were delivered to the customer, Quay Carpentry completed the installation. The result of finished work can be seen in the last photo.
Our customer was very pleased with the end result that produced a unique rustic look that is perfect for its function and rural setting.
This project involved making a number of bespoke Sweet Chestnut panel infills, which were installed in the upper area of a barn. Sweet Chestnut had been used for the roofing components, so the customer was looking for the same wood to be used. The stair ladder and upright pieces to hold the Chestnut panels were made by a carpenter using reclaimed Oak. Due to the variability of the Oak pieces, each Chestnut panel was different in size and was custom made to fit each section.
The handrails of the stair ladder were made from Sweet Chestnut and contrast the darker reclaimed Oak frame and treads.
The panel spindles were made from cleft Sweet Chestnut pales, which were installed into mortices made in the outer frame. A froe is used to split the wood down the grain and a drawknife used to smooth the surface of the pales. The panels have a unique handmade look that blends in with the stone, exposed beams wood and thatched roof of the barn.
Greenwood was used for all the Sweet Chestnut components. The final piece was a bespoke gate made to fit at the top of the stair ladder. This was designed so that the gate could only open inwards, which was achieved by extending the top left section of the gate.
This a good example of using green Sweet Chestnut for various interior components.
Here are some photos of a bespoke trellis fence that is made from cleft Sweet Chestnut batons and rinded small diameter poles. Part of the inspiration for this design was taken from a Swedish style of rural fence and this was worked into a sculptural design to fit the needs of this project.
A pole frame was constructed and fixed to posts either side of the gap in the hedge. The righthand side post was split down the middle and the poles were fixed inside before being bolted together.
The batons were fixed to the frame with galvanised nails.
Here are a few more examples of bespoke trellis that can be fixed to a wall or side of a building. Due the variability of cleaved wood every one is unique, so the designs that can be made are endless.
Cleft Sweet Chestnut is extremely durable and doesn’t require wood preservatives. The wood will weather to silvery grey overtime.
Here are some examples of bespoke Sweet Chestnut gates and fencing that can be handmade to order. Sweet Chestnut is coppiced sustainably from woodland, which provides a regular supply of quality wood to create naturally durable products. The wood is used green i.e. not kiln dried after removing the bark and much of the sapwood. Various green woodworking tools are used, such as a froe, draw knife, twybil, axe. These are used to shape the Chestnut gates and fencing into the finished pieces.
Natural shapes, bends and twists in the wood are incorporated into finished product to create distinct one off pieces.
Products can be made in a range sizes, shapes and styles, so you can let you imagination run wild…
What’s more coppiced woodland has a positive outcome for biodiversity, therefore by buying any wood products sourced from any coppiced woodlands directly supports future habitat management as well as the rural economy.
There is always a good stock of Sweet Chestnut available in various sizes and lengths, so if you require something specially made to order or need to source some materials for your own green woodworking project, then we are happy to discuss your requirements. See our page for Timber and Coppice Products
Restoration of Native woodland on Ancient woodland sites has been growing in importance over the last decade as a mechanism for recovering previously lost or diminished habitat. For those conifer Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) that are deemed suitable for full or partial restoration, there are many pitfalls to avoid to achieve this goal successfully.
One such activity I’ll cover in this post is the extraction. The wrong choice made could seriously reduce the benefits of restoration to a woodland site. It could even make the situation worse than before the restoration, so careful consideration should be made for each site. If new extraction routes are required to get machinery in, and timber out, then this alone could cause serious damage to the existing ecological conditions and/or restrict the restoration development afterwards. The choice of extraction equipment is vital to give the site being restored the best chance to recover, create the right type of ground disturbance and avoid damage through soil compaction.
Over the years I have experienced two different types of low impact extraction the first being horse logging and the other with an Iron horse low ground pressure machine. Implemented correctly, both of these extraction types are very good for PAWS restoration. My experiences with horse logging were a few years ago when I volunteered some time to the Working Horse Trust based in Eridge, East Sussex. The Ardenne heavy horses that I worked with at the Trust are beautiful and powerful animals, capable of shifting significant amounts of timber through narrow extraction routes, without damaging the woodland floor. My lack of equine knowledge didn’t worry me as there were experienced and friendly people on hand to help. I seriously considered horse logging as a profession to integrate into my business.
Ardenne Heavy Horse with logging arch Weald WoodFair 2009
Iron Horse along a woodland ride extracting 18′ coppice poles
However, after weighing up all the pros and cons I decided that horse logging wasn’t the right choice and opted for an Iron horse instead. This has proved extremely valuable to the business and has been impressive in a number of different extraction tasks. Like with a horse’s hoofs, the machines rubber tracks are good at disturbing the top layer to help unlock a sites seedbank.
The Iron horse and horse logging extraction methods are slower and more costly than other larger types of extraction equipment, but what price to you put on the damage the alternatives can cause?
With the Summer weather improving there will be more opportunities to cook on a barbecue and dine with friends and family outside. You might not think that there could be many differences between brands of charcoal, but there are. In this post I will compare home produced from our native hardwoods with that from tropical hardwoods. Unfortunately, the UK still imports the majority of charcoal consumed annually. British hardwood charcoal is a higher quality and a better product than that produced from tropical hardwoods, and here are some reasons why:
There are far fewer impurities in the finished product so it will not taint the food being cooked. The same thing cannot be said for that produced from tropical hardwoods.
It is easy to light with a taper of twisted paper, so does not need any lighter fluids or firelighters. When using lighter fluids or firelighters with charcoal, you will increase the chances of tainting any food being cooked from the extra residues.
Charcoal made from UK hardwoods has a high carbon content. It will burn slower, you will use less, so it will last longer than tropical hardwood.
UK production is often associated with sustainable forms of woodland management like coppicing. This type of woodland management enhances and maintains a diverse mix of wildlife habitats in our woodlands, thus keeping our woodlands healthy and thriving with wildlife. Whereas tropical hardwood charcoal often comes from rainforest and mangrove swamps, that use unsustainable and ecologically damaging harvesting practices in the form of deforestation.
Buying British helps sustain rural employment. It is more environmentally friendly than imported charcoal that has to be shipped long distances using more fossil fuels in the process. Importing less will, in a small way, contribute to reducing our trade imbalances.
Making it is a good method for using up small otherwise unusable pieces of wood by converting them into a higher value product.
Based on retail price British hardwood charcoal is more costly than imported tropical hardwood charcoal. However, comparing purely on price is not a fair comparison as I hope you will appreciate from the points mentioned above.
There are many smallscale producers all over the country. Some do supply big retail outlets directly, but be aware that big retailers squeeze producers in all sectors. So if you can, try and source either directly from the producer or from small local retail outlets and distributors selling their products.