Monday, 31 October 2016

Coppice day Sissinghurst Kent 30-10-16

This was my first visit to this National Trust property. David Dunk is a coppice worker at this estate. We were given a bit of a guided tour and we started at last year’s coppice.

So we are looking at one year’s growth. There are very few deer in this part of Kent so even without dead hedges or fencing the predation is only by rabbits and squirrels. In a really good year he has had 8 feet of growth.

David gave us the rationale to everything he did and why. For a start- the importance of stacking cut material in purposeful piles in good places not to interfere with regrowth or later extraction – akin to a sort of permaculture approach.

Now you can cut coppice all year round and some do that due to financial necessity (cutting then making...) but if its growing it has sugar in the sap and that makes it rot faster as sugar attracts!

Note the large amounts of dead wood on the standard (Oak) this under a better management regime should have been manicured producing some great fuel.


David’s plastic measuring stick for sorting long lengths to maximise profitability from each piece.

Just a simple piece of equipment all adds to making the whole process faster and more profitable.

An elevated stool to mark a cant boundary.

A log mover – worth its weight in gold (that’s why they are £600) – saves manpower and time. 

There are many variant on this log mover - this one allows the operate to stay on the right end without fiddling with the lifter!


Harry of course was filming all this for another you tube listing. Note his Steadicam. I assumed (incorrectly as usual) that he used a camera – no just his phone.


In this next sequence Dave is splitting rails for fencing  - the initial split after scoring across (vertically) with a wedge first.


Using a second wedge to extend the cleave.

A successful long cleave.

David has developed his craft to maximise the use of a relatively small tool set.

Highly skilled chainsaw work makes short work of every process – he knows just how long it takes him to do every process.

The mortises are marked out and then cut freehand with the chainsaw (with a modification to the grind to 10 degrees).

His work area is very well organised and has many jigs to make the process very efficient. 

This keeps the tenons in line along the rail

This jig bundles the hedging stakes – simple but very effective.


Jig for sharpening chain – John needs not to carry too much kit so everything must be kept in the wood or in the back of his truck.

This was a jig to hold to hold the hedging spars for bark stripping – we all had a go at this later – and it worked very well.

This set up was for holding hurdles for drilling.


This small break – like so many of the other jigs, had been well designed to make things fast – note maul holding.


This was a rare treat for me and all of us! David made it all look so easy, many thanks to him for being so generous with his time, information and even home-made cakes. Thanks also to the organisers – John Burbage / Phill Piddell.

No comments:

Post a comment