Three things you need to know about green woodworking

If you envision a granola-eating hippie hand planing his reclaimed lumber when you hear the phrase “green woodworking,” then you have the wrong picture. Green woodworking is the art of working with wood from freshly cut logs without drying it. Green wood is commonly used in building chairs with stick construction-think: Windsor chairs, ladder-back chairs and stools-as well as for turning, carving and basketmaking. Here are the basics of the technique:

Equipment

Sections of logs are often split with axes and other coarse tools rather than the high-powered tools we usually think of. Green wood is often rived with a froe and then worked with tools such as spokeshaves and drawknives. Parts may be steam-bent, seats contoured with adzes, inshaves and travishers, and spindles turned on a foot-powered pole lathe.

Double green

Green woodworking is very eco-friendly. Wood, of course, is a renewable resource. But most woodworking requires dry lumber, much of which dries in an energy-thirsty kiln. Plus, power tools and machinery consume electricity, using up many non-renewable resources. Green woodworking is natural, turning the fresh log into finished furniture mainly with hand tools. It provides the woodworker with a level of peace and spirituality that is difficult to obtain with a 5-hp planer and dust collector blaring away in the ears.

Getting started

While green woodworking instructional programs aren't common, you'll still find courses offered by both individuals and more formal schools. The most common areas are in green woodturning and chairmaking.


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