This week we are working on the Douglas Fir we need for the building. As I said below it will be used for rafters and joists, but I have no doubt we will find many more uses for it as well. We only need a few trees and these are coming from a small plantation in a pretty valley right on the edge of Haslemere. We need to start getting a number of materials back to Swan Barn Farm over the next few weeks as our new sawmill is arriving pretty soon. Very exciting!

First of all the buttresses are cut away from the base of the tree so that they do not impede the felling cuts.

Then the sink cut goes in, this ensures the tree falls under control in the direction intended.

You can see from the photo’s that the ground flora in this wood is pretty much non existant. Thinning the tree’s will allow more light to reach the woodland floor and will hopefully encourage a few native plants to start growing in amongst the conifers. Without well managed thinning this sort of plantation can become a real desert for wildlife.

Next comes the back cut, and then the fun bit.

The branches are removed and stacked to the side. Then out comes the tape measure and we decide which sections from the tree will be most usefull for the different destinations we have in mind.

The stem is then cross cut and stacked out of the way with the tractor to be collected later. You can see from the picture the different colours in the sapwood and heartwood of the tree, the sapwood is a lovely pale colour, and the heartwood is a sort of peachy pink colour, it will fade to grey over time but always grabs your attention when freshly cut.

Douglas is more durable than many softwoods, and has good strength. It should make nice long lasting roof rafters for us. Most of the wood in the building is coming from local coppices, places I always love to work. Softwood plantations are not always my favourite places, but if they are well looked after can provide really useful local materials. These tree’s would have planted by the National Trust just a few decades ago, I hope the people who planted them would approve.

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