Wulf's Webden

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Hol ly


This morning, Jane went to a local ‘green gym’ event (voluntary work doing woodland management) and came back with quite a few holly branches and what I think is probably a sycamore log. Anyway, this afternoon I’ve mainly been sawing and splitting holly to add to our firewood stocks (yes – splitting hol ly, if you were puzzled by the title).

I normally do the sawing outside but the little sawbuck I built a few years ago is very low and I didn’t feel like bending down that far. Instead, I used the workbench in my shed. Rather than using the jaws of the workbench to hold the wood, which I’ve done before and done some damage with bits that shifted while cutting, I used quick clamps to hold the pieces on the top. That meant I could use one hand for sawing and the other for supporting the piece that was being cut off. I used the wood I wasn’t working on to weight the bench down and the system worked pretty well.

The biggest challenge was not the holly but the sycamore. Thin branches, up to about 8cm across, are fairly easy to saw but, as the diameter increases, the amount of effort required seems to increase exponentially as the blade tends to bind inside the cut before you get to the point when you can start using wedges to hold it open. Instead, I got my splitting grenade, sledgehammer and other tools out and split the log down its length, ending up with roughly a half and two quarters. That was much easier to take back to the sawing set up before a final bit of splitting on the half-diameter sections.

This is the first time I’ve done firewood preparation for months but, as the chill days draw on, it is time to get back into it and catch up on the processing which remains to be done.