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Wood is a very versatile material used across all Cerilia by all races, but for almost any use must be cut into shape in one way or another. The common ways and their purposes are noted here.


Axes are used in most areas to cut down trees, a cut is made relatively high up on the side opposite the side that the tree should fall. A second cut is made which is much lower and deeper. The combination of these cuts (together in some cases by ropes pulled by labourers) then lead to the tree falling.

Commonly side branches will be cut off and the main log then floated downriver to where it will be sawn or riven. For larger trees where the main branches are desired (for example the cutting of 'grown crooks' where the curves of branches are greatly desired by ship builders to make strong curved hulls) individual branches may be chopped off and lower to the ground with hoists.

Chopping is generally only used to fell trees or where saws are rare. Tree felling is one of the most dangerous crafts possible, for trees often fall where they will, and shattered branches can explode when the tree falls sending lethal shards of wood flying about.


Sawing uses a saw - a long bow of metal with a 'string' made from metal lined with cutting teeth which are turned slightly in alternate directions. Sawing results in fairly straight cuts unlike chopping and is thus less wasteful. It is however expensive due to the complexity of making the saw and keeping it sharp.


Riving wood is an ancient art that seeks to use the natural grain of the wood to split it, with the added advantage that the grain will then not be open and thus accessible to water. When riving, a blade is hammered into one end of the wood, the blade is then worked from side to side to push it down the branch, bough, or trunk splitting the large piece of wood it into wood of more useful size and shape. Larger pieces of wood may riven by use of a froe, a special blade with a handle at each end, or riven by means of wedges that are slowly hammered down into the wood. Riving requires some skill to prevent the blade going across the grain and coming out the side of the piece of wood instead of passing along the length and out the end.


Once the wood is in the desired size and shape it is generally trimmed using a sharp knife to remove obvious splinters or rough spots, and then sanded to make it smooth. Sanding uses rough stone, files, or even leather straps to wear away raised parts of the wood.

[top]Wood seasoning

Wood is called 'green' when it is first cut, which is when it is most pliable due to retained moisture. As wood dries it shrinks, but not evenly, causing it to twist slightly. This warping as it is known is most noticeable in cut planks and poles which need twist only slightly to throw the end out horribly.

To prevent the drying out process from damaging woodwork, wood is seasoned before it is cut and shaped. Seasoning means leaving the wood somewhere dry for a season or more, or even for years with certain types of wood, so that any warping occurs in the unworked wood, and then cutting, riving, etc the wood to the desired shape. For some woods (generally smaller pieces) the process of seasoning may be hastened by leaving the wood indoors near a stove or fireplace.

Seasoning may be done in stages, for example rough planks may be cut, left to season, and then cut down into the rough blanks to season for a little while more, and then the woodwork will be carved from them, this multiple stage seasoning is only necessary or practicable where the wood is very slow drying, and the final items will be small.

[top]Wood turning

Wood turning is the art of making wooden items, plates, dishes, etc, by cutting the finished shape from a rough block of wood. Turning requires large blocks of wood, most of which is wasted by the process, and so it is common only in primitive areas where more complex woodwork is unknown, or where wood is cheap. Turned wood items are however extremely attractive due to the grain of the wood and a number of lacquer's, polishes, etc are used to bring out the appearance of the wood.

The turner uses a series of knives to cut away the inside and outside of the wood to leave the finished item, which is generally highly attractive due to the grain. Often a turner will have a waterwheel or a sprung-wood pole and rope system to 'turn' the block of wood and use a blade against the spinning object to quickly carve away the bulk of the wood.

  • Working women's piano's / dolly pegs. These turned items are used to stir washing in washing tubs and are found everywhere that clothes are washed in one form or another.

  • Yokes. These are used in some areas for oxen, but in more advanced areas where leather work has replaced yokes of this kind they are used by milk maids and also by fishermen gathering whelks, cockles and mussels.

  • Bowls, dishes, plates. The stock in trade of turners, often cut using clamps and wheels to turn the block of wood against a blade to ensure an even round cut. Once the initial turning is done (which is very quick) the item is sanded and then rubbed with beeswax to seal it and give it shine.

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