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Coppice, tool handles, Denver, riven wood, and humanure; some questions

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1134
Location: Denver, CO
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I want to plant future tool handles and building materials in the form of coppice here in Denver, I want it to look at least OK, and I want to use it as a non-food area to put composted humanure (to recycle the nutrients back into biomass for composting/ mulching.)

1. Will all the extra nitrogen in the humanure create quick sappy growth that I don't want? Or will all the carbon that has been added make it basically like any other compost?

2. What trees would be good for this? So far, it looks like some oaks, ash, and hornbeam grow well in Denver.

3. I can't plant acres and acres of trees; would I get a similarly slow growing non branching effect if I didn't water them much and nipped all or at least most side branches in the bud?

4. Would a slow grown stick peeled of bark and sapwood make a good tool handle, or does it need to be riven from the heartwood of a larger tree?

I'm currently thinking of a tightly spaced line of slender trees along the sidewalk, where I don't want to grow edibles anyhow, with the humanure spread a few feet back under mulch, and minimal irrigation from driveway runoff. I'm figuring that the slender screenlike aspect would be good looking, and that I could carefully keep some new sprouts every year, while removing most of them, and harvesting a few older stems each year.

Any other ideas?
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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What time scale are you talking about? Have you thought about hickory a wood traditionally used for tool handles . The others are too soft mostly .
 
Glenn Herbert
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Coppice wood is pretty much the opposite of slow grown. It is an excellent way to get small poles for a variety of uses, but tool handles are not so likely to be one of them. You don't need acres to grow straight coppice, but you do need a clump at least a few yards wide to minimize side branches and maximize straight growth in the central zone. A row bordered by lawn or driveway will require careful maintenance to trim all side shoots, and may or may not give straight trunks.

My father used to use saplings (probably from forest understory thinning where the trees have much competition for light) for pitchfork and hammer handles. It is possible to find the right base curve in a sapling for a perfect pitchfork handle. This would not be as strong or durable as one riven from mature wood, but significantly easier. As long as strength is not critical (like an axe handle), I would rate the balance in favor of easily made and replaced handles, which can still last decades in good circumstances.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1134
Location: Denver, CO
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Glenn; I was wondering about that. General information sites are always talking about coppice for tool handles, but that didn't make too much sense to me. So maybe I should use coppice along a driveway for more whippy, once a year coppice for weaving purposes, and plant a pole coppice elsewhere.

David; is hornbeam soft? I thought it was hard. I will look into hickory.
 
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