Woodwork in Sustainable Living - Yurts, Roundhouses etc

Managed properly, trees are one of our main sustainable resources and woodwork is going to be a big part of the low-impact future. I usually end up sawing a lot of things up and sticking them back together on the projects I help out on, here's a bit about some of the yurts, roundhouses and general repairs and building work I've been involved in. And then finally when your bits of wood have been used and re-used until they start to disintegrate they have one last service to give you on the fire.
HAND TOOLS
I changed careers to therapy work from doing woodwork stuff, guitar making and repairing then in my furniture and kitchen business. It's been great training for the eco-world! Especially using all the hand tools -  I wonder how long we'll have electricity available to use for planers, thicknessers, battery powered drills, routers and all the other howling mob of machinery, let alone the energy and materials to make replacements when they pack up. It can all be done by hand, though I haven't seen a tree trunk being sawn with two-man saws like this one...yet...(there's a big double-handled saw on the farm)...
Rip-sawing log by hand

Anyway, one way you can help yourself to get ready for the sustainable future is to learn some woodwork - go and get some hand tools from the loft, garage or car boot sale and ask the nearest old timer how to use them! You'll be amazed how useful it is if you start a garden or start making stuff.
 The "Green" of Green Woodwork isn't just referring to sustainability but also to the idea of working with freshly felled wood. It's a lot easier to saw in this state. The builders of yore just worked with the twists, turns and shrinkages of the wood as their structures dried out - hence the wiggley shape of old oak frame buildings:
The original builders would have simply worked around the twists and turns their oak frame took on as it dried out
Anyway, here's a few of the woodworking projects I've been involved with over the years:
Composting toilet at Chickenshack - green wood poles and reclaimed stirling board

A duck house I made on my first visit to Tombreck

The finished duck house
A FEW PRINCIPLES EMERGING:
QUALITY: always do the best job you can - your work will last longer, give better service, it respects the materials and even if it's just fixing up an old gate it's practise for when your work has to be really good for a bit of furniture or something. There's a hippy ethic you come across that you just sling things up any old how but to me that's just lazy, wasteful and un-skilled. And on the subject of quality, what a load of crap so much modern furniture is - chipboard, hardboard and mdf barely able to hold together long enough to be taken to the skip, what a waste of time and materials and what a missed opportunity to make something beautiful and enjoyable.
DESIGN: you'll get on better if you adapt your design to suit your tools and materials. I struggled in my early guitar making career because I wanted to make electric guitars and so much of that design is actually based around machines, eg a stratocaster body is designed to be made with routers and is not an easy thing to make with hand tools. What is emerging is a whole range of designs for things suited to making them with hand tools. Also a range of finshing: before planing machines, table tops were finished with adzes - (take it easy with those if you haven't used one before!) One day before too long our houses and the stuff we use everyday will have to be designed to made mainly with hand tools from our local sustainable material.
DESIGN WITH RE-USE IN MIND: we use the same bit of wood many times over on the farm, so for some things screwing things together is a better idea than nailing and so on...
Rabbit hutch made from that much used source of recycled materials, the palette - we've just put up a whole wall made from palettes at Treflach

My yurt under construction in the garden at Southwick. That's the clinic I converted from a garage for Debi and me in the background, complete with copper pyramid on its roof.

Bending the roof poles, steamer box in the background. I used all sawn wood for my yurt just because that's what was nearby - they are just as easy to make with greenwood poles

Inside the finished yurt...

...and from outside at nightime

I worked on this roundhouse with Nigel and Cassie at Lammas for three rain-swept weeks at Lammas two years ago



A busy day working on the roundhouse at Cwm Harry - it really attracted volunteer help, one day we had a dozen or so people working on it. Some had done some woodwork but others had never touched a hammer or saw before in their lives. Great co-operation on the project right the way through from design to construction

I did scale drawings for the Cwm Harry roundhouse in Photoshop

Some photos of the recoprocating roof going up - a great day

Richie fitting the door, interesting patterns in the roof

Tombreck again, doing a bit of stonework to build up the wall head on the byre for its a new roof

I really enjoyed working with Ewan - two people working together can do the work of three people working on their own

The finished roof

Lots of raised beds at the moment - Richie and I working on a prototype for Radnor Raised Beds

The x-brace, guitar making inspired repair I did at Culdees

My good friend Joyce and some raised beds with her last time I was up in Scotland...

...and another good friend, Fran with some beds I made for her - it must be Raised Bed Year or something...

Lending Chris Dixon a helping hand with his barn conversion

There's a surprising amount of woodwork in a large garden - here I am laying paths at Cwm Harry

The drawknife in action - a great, simple, vesatile tool

Early woodworking days, shaping the neck on a bass guitar

More soon, lots of interesting stuff on the go at Treflach Farm at the moment. Also, a rant coming soon about QUALITY and what a waste of time and resources the crap furniture generally on offer is ...etc...
AND how the hippies could learn from craftsmen - in fact how we can all learn from everyone else.





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