Accompany woodsman Ben Law as he celebrates the amazing diversity of craft products made from materials sourced directly from the woods. Including brooms, rakes, pegs, spoons, chairs, baskets, fencing, yurts and even a caravan, the items are hewn from freshly cut green wood, shaped by hand and infused with a simple, rustic beauty. Detailed instructions and advice are given for each craft, along with essential knowledge about tools and devices. With fascinating information on the history, language and traditions of the crafts, coppice management and tree species, this book teaches about all aspects of the low-impact woodland way of life. (From the publihsers webpage)
Ben Law is a renowned woodsman, not in the UK, but across Europe and many other conuntries. He has dedicated his life to maintaining alive a tradition that was nearly completely lost. Many now are rediscovering traditional woodsland management and use of the products that can come correct woodlands management. It's nice to think that Ben has in part contributed to this rebirth of this tradition. This book will be a good reference for newbie's and "experts"
When I saw that Ben Law was publishing a new book I was thrilled, knowing what a serious woodland craft and author he is. When I received the book I was happy to see my expectations were confirmed. Ben has achieved a great result with this last work.
The book is a confirmation of how the interest in woodland craft has grown and there is publishers interest in granting experts and newbie’s information and updated resources to strengthen the movement that is taking many back to those that for decades were seen as poor and simple jobs.
Actually what is passed down to the reader in this book is that working as a woodsman or a woodland craft is not only about a job but it’s about a way of living. Ben Law is a well-known example of this. The passion with which he writes about his work, goes beyond the simple list of his woodsman daily or seasonal chores, it’s a way of living, connecting with nature.
I’m so glad I encountered Ben’s work, and have had the opportunity to meet and speak with him. The warmth in his words and pages is without price.
The book is in my opinion useful for the expert and for the weekend type of woodland craft.
Starting from an introductory chapter on woodland resource, the second chapter is on tree species, and I loved it. Ben lists eleven species, of course sweet chestnut, oak and hazel, but even others may be less valued. Every tree has its description and characteristics briefly listed and then flowers and fruits, habitat, distribution, ecological value, coppice notes, and last but not least its uses.
Interesting is that the trees distribution doesn’t only focus on the UK but the reader can find information on other climates or regions. Of course the information on this aspect is not extensive but it helps. The uses section for every tree is great, makes you want to start working, because it sparks many ideas.
That is how the book continues, after the list of trees, Ben takes in a journey through different products one can manufacture. We go from crafts for farm and garden, to wood fuel, or for building and domestic use.
It has to be said that the projects described in the book for someone may seem all quite easy, may be the experts, but there is a variety in complexity of what the author shares. Ben really explains every step clearly, sharing even the lengths of the pieces one needs. There are easier projects like the beson broom, or difficult ones like the diamond trellis, hell of a work. But it’s not so much about managing only to replicate every project but even be inspired. I may never manufacture all the fences he shares, certainly not the diamond, really complex, but the ideas are a candle in the dark of my mind.
Really nice is the spoon carving project, I don’t know why but I’ve always loved spoon carving. The domestic chapter is one were many will be able to start from. Another interesting section of this chapter is on steam bending wood, It has set me thinking a lot and I’ll go deeper on this technique.
Great project is the roundwood timber-framed caravan. One could think of the solutions he shares even just for building a tool shed, not necessarily a caravan. It’s about the inspiration and the practical solutions.
Last is a chapter on tools and devices one can use for woodland crafts. The tools are described and referring to the list of tool suppliers at the end of the book one knows what he has to ask for and hopefully even outside of the UK some of these tools will be available, I still haven’t found froes in Italy!
The devices are described briefly with drawings, from the shaving horse to the shake brake. Some of those will be starting projects I guess, because all are built using wood we can collect ourselves.
This book is a great resource. We may not see roundwood timber-framed caravans in every field, but a little step forward to having more people inspired by woodland craft is for sure a goal we will achieve with Ben’s last published work.