Making a woodland bench from a standing tree
Making something out of the trees that are felled in the wood, apart from firewood, has been very rewarding. I thought a post on the process would help people appreciate the steps involved in making a bench, starting with felling a standing tree.
Good woodland management
Felling trees in woodland is a necessary part of good woodland management. Apart from necessary thinning out of weedy or obviously dying trees there can be trees that are rotten at the core of the trunk.
Not all trees can continue to grow for hundreds of years and may, for a variety of reasons, become unstable after a time and prone to blowing down in strong winds, or branches tearing off and falling due to weight of rain on the leaves.
A rotten central core is not always obvious in trees, but I’m sure you can appreciate from the picture that they are a hazard, both to people who might be moving about and also to other healthy trees around them.
When a tree topples over in windy conditions the damage to other trees can be considerable. often requiring a neighbouring damaged tree to be felled.
What’s involved in felling a tree
First of all you’ve got to really know what you’re doing! Big trees hit the ground with a tremendous thump and felling them is a job for a professional.
We’re lucky to have Keyston Tree Services to fell our trees. They’re an experienced outfit and I’m always amazed at how they always manage to get the trees to fall exactly where they want them to. Below is a clip of a large Ash tree being felled.
The amount of wood then on the ground has to be seen to be fully appreciated. All that wood on the floor has got to be cleared away and it’s a big job. If you look to the background you’ll see a person in blue, which should give you an idea of scale in relation to the amount of wood on the floor.
Moving the wood from the felling site
You fully appreciate the challenges of working in woodland when faced with the moving/clearance of a felled tree.
Firstly, the larger branches have to be cut off the main trunk, then those branches have to be cut up into lengths that can be either dragged out or lifted by a crane onto a trailer.
Then there’s the enormous tangle of smaller branches and twigs, known as brash, that has to be dealt with and cleared away from the site. The whole operation takes considerable man/woman hours to achieve.
Wood that’s going to be either cut up for firewood or used for manufacture of woodland products is transported to a holding area and stacked to allow it to begin to dry out. A crane on the back of a trailer is used to lift the logs around, but that requires a skilful operator.
The whole operation from felling a tree to having it stacked in the holding area and all the brash cleared up can take several days to complete.
Processing the felled wood
Wood can be turned into firewood, with Ash being the most prized by our customers. We don’t advertise the sale of firewood, but are happy to sell some to those people who get to know we do. People fill up their car boots or bring a small trailer – but they keep coming back so they must find the wood burns well.
Suitable trunks can be made into log seating, which is quite a popular option for Forest School seating. We’ve also borrowed a machine that cut planks direct from the trunks. That wood is going to be used for various projects and is how the tops of the benches were manufactured.
This is how the bench project was made possible as we’ve been able to use a combination of tree trunk pieces for the base and planks for the top.
Constructing the woodland benches
The trunks were levelled and the plank to sit on top was then cut to size and fixed to the tree trunk base.
The effect of having the benches in place has been quite amazing. It’s a funny thing that when there’s a bench to sit on you tend to stop, watch and listen..
I’ve found that when you’re sitting down and still you’re far more conscious of the woodland in a way you’re not when you’re walking through it, however slowly.
There’s also a different perspective of the woodland to appreciate when seated on a bench a couple of feet off the ground, rather than from the view when standing. In fact, once I’d sat down on the first bench I had a strong desire to stay there, rather than getting on with identifying the next bench location!
The benches will hopefully be rot resistant because we’ve used Oak base supports with Ash plank for the tops, but only time will tell.
If you visit the wood you’ll be able to try out the benches for yourself, enjoying not only the view but experiencing the tranquility of just being in woodland – it’s makes you smile from the inside.
Consider coming along to a ‘BB’ day, running on Wednesdays through July. For just £5/person you enjoy as long as you like in the wood between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. There’s no parking fee to pay and you can join us for tea or coffee during your visit. Find out more about BB days on our Events page
If you’d like to get involved with helping improve the wood for visitors then you could consider joining one of our Woodland Working Parties. They’re running weekly from the 11th July.
Woodland Working Parties are more about encouraging feelings of wellbeing than actually working. The emphasis is on being social and having fun. Find out more about Woodland Working Parties