I finished construction of my first piece of greenwood furniture the other day. True, it still lacks a seat, but that sort of counts as a second project, and I really didn’t want to wait till spring to post about it.
Not terribly impressive is it? It’s just a little footstool of white oak without any curves or ornamentation of any sort. However, this stool has great meaning for me. This project was completed without using any electricity. None.
I began with a log section from a white oak that had been felled in our yard by a tree surgeon, split it, and rived out the pieces. The rungs, worked first, were roughed to octagons and quickly dried to a very low moisture content. They and the wetter posts were then rounded and fitted together with mortise and tenon joinery. The differential drying of the parts will result in a nearly indestructible joint. Again, without the use of one watt of electricity – not even for lighting!
There’s something special about starting with a tree and ending with a piece of furniture. No sawmill to make the boards, no middleman to raise the price and, most importantly, no one else to blame for problems. It’s an extremely satisfying experience. You have created something truly from scratch with only steel, sweat and, occasionally, blood. As the saying goes, “It’s all you, baby.”
Greenwood working requires a greater attention to grain orientation and moisture content than other woodworking disciplines. A few specialized tools are required, and some you may already have, though froes and gluts aren’t generally found in most woodworkers’ shops. Additionally, even though you don’t burn electricity, you still burn calories – lots of them. Splitting and riving a log can give you quite a workout!
There’ll be more posts on this subject in the future. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more, Kari Hultman has a great list of related sites at: http://villagecarpenterlinks.blogspot.com