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[top]Wood moulds

Many wooden tools are shaped in a mould. Typically the wood is soaked or steamed, then placed in a frame (the mould) for a few weeks while it dries. The frame holds the wood in the desired shape, the wood bends more easily when wet and so does not split when inserted into the frame, when the wood dries it retains some or all of the curves of the mould. Other moulds are designed to hold the wood at desired angles while it is worked on, or to clamp one end and let gravity then pull the wood into the desired curve. Moulds can also be used to straighten wood for poles and suchlike. Moulds can be used on green wood while it seasons for a year or two.


Rakes are common farm tools used to gather cut grains talks, clear fields of debris or small stones, etc. Rake-makers are common around any coppiced wood or farming village, although rakes can also be home-crafted.
Rake designs vary depending on the local need.
Rjurik rakes have a narrow head of just 18 inches or so, attached at 45 degrees to the haft but then buttressed by a hoop of willow to make a tough rake that can easily deal with small stones and survive.
Diemen lowland rakes by contrast are long rakes with the haft split at one end into a 'v', a long head of as many as 30 tines is then set at just less than 90 degrees to the haft joined by each spur of the 'v'. This rake also called a drag rake, is used solely for gathering corn and hay.
The best tines for a rake are made of tough ash, ash is also the best wood for hafts due to its strength and tendency to grow straight ? although even ash poles must often be straightened in a steamer-chest. The head of the rake is often made of elm (which is unlikely to split) or sycamore, ash has a tendency to split when the tines are inserted. The tines themselves are wetted before being hammered into the head so that they swell and form a tight fit.
Rakes are often made with the aid of an 'upright brake' to clamp the head in place while it is shaped and drilled for the tines. A second useful tool is a driving stool. This is a simple wooden bench with a small hole near one end, a metal tube cutter is placed over the hold, and the riven ash billets are simply hammered over the tube cutter to form perfect cylinders which drop through the hole in the bench into a collecting bucket to then be trimmed to make the tines.


Garden forks can be made in two ways. Grown forks are either shaped from branches or the entire sapling as they grown, they are cut when grown to the right size, stripped of bark, steamed and placed in a mould for a few weeks. Grown forks generally have only two prongs.
Cut forks are typically made of ash for strength, a trunk 6 feet long and 9 inches in diameter is riven into quarters or possibly eights to make a number of blanks. The blanks are then shaped to taper them from a wider head down to the handle. A holes is drilled in the head where the handle will end, and the head is then riven down to make 3-5 prongs of the fork. Holes are drilled in the riven prongs, it is then steamed for a few hours and then triangular wedges are hammered in to spread the prongs to the desired angle and spaces are inserted higher up to keep the prongs apart, small nails are used to keep wedges and spacers in place. The hand is then steamed and left in a mould to take on the desired shape. After shaping it is sand-papered down to a mooth finish.
Forks are useful for pitching (throwing) loose hay and straw, but are not strong enough to throw hay bales. Every farm will have a number of forks.

[top]Besoms (brooms)

Brooms are made by broom-squires. A bundle of birch sticks is bound with willow, or if wire is plentiful wire. A sharpened ash pole is then inserted into the bundle tightening it further. If using willow or hazel to bind the broom then the clamped broom it is carefully tied off using a bond-pusher to force the hazel under itself into a knot. Using wire the bundle is wrapped with one end of the wire, the other being fixed, the bundle is then pulled away from the fixed point to bind it tightly and the wire tied off.


Ladders are made using ash uprights and rungs of heart of oak (hickory being about the only other wood strong enough). Spokes must be riven or cleft, never sawn, as sawing cuts across the grain and lets in damp which weakens the spokes. A riven piece of wood for a rung is trimmed with a draw kife and then shaved to the correct size in a shaving horse. Rungs are oval in shape and tapered where they meet the upright. The tapering is done to ensure that stress is up-down not side to side to avoid splitting the upright.
Wrought iron bars are placed under three of the rungs (top bottom and middle) passing through the upright, nuts are then used to tighten the uprights together ? a good ladder will need no glue, dowels, nails, etc. One upright is held in a horizontal mould, the rungs are inserted, and the second upright then placed on top, malletted down, and tightened as described.
A ladder may use only 1 upright making it very light, but generally it has two uprights, these may be tapered together for use in fruit trees where the top end will rest in the fork of a branch.


A wooden crib can be used to hold hay for livestock, preventing the hay from being trampled into the mud by the stock, or to hold tools, grains, etc. If the crib is lined with the right materials it could even hold water. The crib is made from two poles, hoops of green hazel or willow are bent between these to make the ribs and fitted into drilled holes. And the two poles are then joined at each end by either a bar or a cross of wood. Cribs may be strengthened with additional bars to hold the ribs.

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