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Chestnut vs sycamore vs willow  RSS feed

 
Posts: 163
Location: Galicia, Spain
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bee chicken dog duck fiber arts food preservation forest garden cooking pig solar trees
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I am goung to have a go at hurdle making. I clearly have too much time on my hands. Which of the above would be the EASIEST and best to use. My plan is, if it goes well, to build a combo car porch/ dog pen that uses up all the coppiced wood I am producing. Thanks in advance for your input.
 
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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forest garden trees woodworking
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Hazel tends to be the most commonly cited material for woven hurdles but willow and sweet chestnut are commonly used. I'm not sure about sycamore.

Hazel has properties which lend it towards hurdle making (easy to rive/split, flexible, and can be bent/twisted around the zales without snapping).

Willow is very flexible and can be easily bent around the zales although I'm not sure larger rods will do so without snapping.

Sweet chestnut splits easily and will probably last longer than either hazel or willow.

Another consideration is alternative uses for the different kinds of wood. For example, if you leave the sweet chestnut to grow on you'll have great fence posts that will last ages. Sycamore was traditionally used for bowls here in Wales because of its supposed antibacterial properties. You might want to save your hazel (if you have any) for pea stick and bean poles.

The quality of the material is important too; you want long, straight rods with as few side branches as possible (knots will make the rods more brittle and more difficult to split).

Ben Law's craft book has a section on hurdle making as does Ray Tabor's. Both describe many other traditional crafts and required materials that might inform your choice of material for the hurdles. There's stuff on YouTube too.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
Posts: 163
Location: Galicia, Spain
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Thanks for that, Sam. Of course the one wood we don't have is hazel. Ive seen it growing but i cant get it to take here. The sycamore is a weed but i cant help thinking the poles we get from the stools could be used for more than just chipping (sooooooo many). Good idea re chedtnut poles. Will do that. I have a coupe more trees that I want to pollard so I'll leave them to make good sturdy poles.
 
Sam White
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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I'd give the sycamore a go then! It'd be interesting to know how you get on with it.
 
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