Thursday, January 31, 2013

wildcrafting wood for spindolyns

Technically, wildcrafting refers to hauling yarbs and plants out of the woods to make up medicines and potions. But gathering anything from the woods, even interesting rocks, or twigs or feathers is healing in and of itself.
And so in my lifetime I have drug home plenty of limbs because they were "special" in some way. And I would have hauled home entire tree trunks that had fallen if I had had a way to do so.
Everywhere you go, there is downed wood to be reclaimed and rescued!
See this cherry the storm blew down? taking down a maple and hackberry with it.

(for more on my affection and inclination for using native species instead of exotics, see this old post)

I got me a thing for wood, always have. It has always been hard for me to burn a pretty piece of wood in the wood stove. Somewhere between the wood box and the firebox something about a stick of stovewood will catch my eye, and I will admire it and set it to the side for a few days, reluctant to burn that lovely curly cherry, or a log of hickory with a nice little burl on its side. Pieces of wood that could make something, something pretty. Some of those piece never do make it into the stove, but have ended up in the corner of my shop, sometimes turned into little things, sometimes still waiting.
How many species of wood can you see in my firewood shed?

Here are my old timey tools that I use for getting usable wood out of stove wood.

Happily, the time has come that I have a chance to spend a little more time with some of those pretty pieces of wood.  In the slow time after the holidays, I have been learning ways to prepare stove wood and downed tree limbs and other findings to work on the lathe. It is not so easy as just chucking it up in the lathe and having a go, there are technicalities to overcome..wood too punky, or too much moisture, or too cracked, or worm holes, well, all kind of things...and you just have to learn about those things as you go along. A couple modern things that have helped me out a lot recently are a wood moisture meter, and an old microwave in the shop. If you google microwave drying wood, you can read lots of people's takes on it, but the one thing they all say, and that I have learned the hard way, is that you can't rush it, unless you want your wood to dry too fast and split and crack till it is not useable. Ah, patience,one of the most difficult of words.

Here are my "new timey" tools for wildcrafting native woods.

Welcome to Spindolyns At Cady May's Corner

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