Wood Too Good to Burn
Look to your firewood pile for plenty of project inspiration.
by Peter Follansbee
I’ve been cutting up my leftover bits of green wood for firewood to use in my new workshop. It’s not going well. I have a feeling that we green woodworkers freeze to death in the end. It’s because when we’re splitting firewood, we keep finding interesting pieces that will make good bench legs, shrink pots or what-have-you. And of course, spoons – everything is a spoon. Many of the smaller items that I keep seeing emerge in the firewood are things I learned while studying spoon carving with my Swedish friends.
I use low benches around the yard for woodworking, seating and other tasks. There might be six or seven of them right now, I really can’t have too many.
For the bench, I tend to use softwoods, although a few of mine are oak too. For the legs, I prefer white oak; it lasts longer than anything else that grows around here in southern New England. I have some that are in red oak – they work fine, but will decay before too many years and need replacing. For these legs, the pieces I like best have curving grain, just the sort of thing I reject when splitting furniture stock. So lo and behold, I often run into them in the firewood pile. I tend to hew and shave them and then let them sit around to dry before fitting them in the bench tops. Mine taper at the top to match the mortises, which I bore with a large auger. I taper the mortises from below with a wheelwright’s reamer.