This project is already completed, but there is a long story to go with it. I decided to split it into blog episodes for easier handling as I know many of you can’t afford to sit with ONE posting for more than 10 minutes.
A couple of years ago I moved to a new village and found (to my delight) that I have access to a lot of wood of various species in log form. Within a radius of 30 kilometers there are plenty of old dead-stands, dead-falls, and the local tree feller is happy to let me take loads of any tree he is contracted to remove. All this wood could be mine as long as I fetch it myself. That sparked my cheap instincts.
For years I’d been dying to get serious about my woodworking, but the cost of good wood and tools while putting a couple of kids through school and university put that desire on hold for a too many years. Both the access to some potentially great wood cheaply, and putting waste wood to good use appealed to me immensely, so a plan was born. I bought a chainsaw, designed and built an Alaskan Mill imitation and went wood hunting. Chainsaw Jig in Action.
The first wood I took home was some avocado pear branches that had been trimmed and left in a junk pile about a year earlier. Soon after that, a Wild Plum blew down on council land during a storm. Fortunately for me, the village council’s only chainsaw was out of service, so they didn’t immediately chop it up and dump it. I asked if I could remove it for them, and they readily agreed.
The avocado branches were quite small – 250 mm (10”) or less diameter, and had been lying in a junk pile for a while, so I decided I could afford to waste them while learning how to use my new chainsaw jig. My first attempt produced a few twisted, varying thickness planks that no one could use, but the wood inside was captivating. This was the first time I had seen rough-cut Avo and was pleased to find that the wood is soft, fine grained and the colour ranges from blonde to mid brown with almost an inner light. What pleased me even more was that the wood had spalted while it waited to be eaten by termites. I had never seen spalting in person, so that was a huge bonus.
This is one of the Avo logs after slabbing,
And here is the inside of it.
I went on to plank one of the Wild Plum branches, but with no clue of how to dry the wood, they soon warped beyond use as it was still very wet. I did, however, find that this wood too, is beautiful. When this project presented itself, I found a partially burned dead-stand wild plum that had died several years previously. It turns out that it was decently air dried, and quite adequate for the planned use.
In the next episode I’ll talk about the design ideas, tools I used and the start of the manufacture.
-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.