Today is the second of January. Today and yesterday have been the den block coppicing day. The next coup of hazel stools have been felled for coppice. Last year I put three stools to the saw and the results were rather impressive. The stools at first did not seem to do anything and it was mid June before the buds appeared on then stools. Then they were away and by late October the stools had produced a multitude of good shoots that will keep growing up to form respectable rods in the next couple years.
The trees I have coppiced this year and last were hazel. A shrub like tree that does not ever really grow into a ‘tree’. It often forms a clump with a large stemmed tree with smaller shoots and stems growing around it. Hazel is perfect for coppicing. Coppicing refers to the process of felling the tree to ground level when it is dormant (over the winter months). This then triggers the trees response to it having fallen over. It sends out epicormic growth. This growth is faster then normal planted tree growth due to it being fed by the root system for a fully grown tree and the clearing left from the tree providing large volumes of light and warmth. These epicormic shoots grow fast and straight up competing with the other shoots from the same stool for light. This produces long, straight, fast grown rods which are perfect for green wood crafts and Bodger esk construction.
Traditionally coppice is felled with a billhook for small rotation coppice and an axe and saw for long rotation coppice. I use to use an axe and a pruning saw to do all of the work from felling to processing. However, these days I use a chainsaw to do the felling and cutting to length and a billhook to get rid of and branches and to cut down small rods. For willow coppice work I use a pair of loppers as willow is not a hard wood and I only use it for weavers making loopers ideal and a chainsaw far to large a tool. The chainsaw I use for coppicing is a Makitia battery top handle. I have become exceptionally fond of it as it is lightweight, cuts well and is very quite (relative to a chainsaw that is). Another aspect is it does not require fuel, only chain oil. This means I do not have to carry a fuel can around with me when working I can just throw a spare battery in the bag and head off.
I am felling the coppice for several reasons. First I wish to use the materials in my building projects, be that the cabin or the soon to be started workshop. I also coppice because it will provide good quality rods for future buildings. Straight, fast grown rods are perfect to be cleft in half and used as roofing batons or lathes on walls. My future buildings (long term this is) will be designed on these materials being grown. Coppicing as a side note is also very good environmentally as several species of rodent use the stools as homes and the dense mass of rods can very often provide home to the small woodland birds. So coppicing is perfect management of the woodlands as it provides all three of the pillars of sustainability. Economical (Provides materials for the buildings), Environmental (Provides habitats for wildlife) and Social (Trees look good and keep the forester happy).
Thanks for reading, Any comments or questions ask below.