Blog — Green Woodworking RSS





Make an Omelet from a Tree

It’s Greenwood Week in the Mortise & Tenon Apprenticeship Program, and our students from around the world have been felling trees with axes, riving, hewing, and carving their woodworking projects! In our Apprenticeship Forums, there’s been a lot of discussion about different greenwood projects that we can do. One of my favorites is making balsam whisks. I use balsam fir for these because it’s the most prevalent conifer in our woods, and because it’s super easy to find nice, symmetrical whorls. Five or six branchlets is ideal, and hunting for just the right whorl is half the fun. After finding a few good whorls, I bring them home, peel them, and bind them to dry a bit. This step helps...

Continue reading



Wood is Alive

“Wood is a wild material not easily tamed,” I wrote in “A Tale of Two Trees,” featured in Issue Six of M&T. The point is that even as we use the latest technology to prep and process the living daylights out of a piece of lumber before it gets stacked at the home center, we can’t fully remove its rowdier inclinations. Wood is hygroscopic, so it absorbs and releases moisture based on environmental conditions. The nature of grain structure causes wood to expand in warmer, more humid seasons, but it often does so unpredictably. Trees rarely add growth rings with perfect uniformity; instead, they are built in response to stresses the tree perceives through the growth cycle. Prevailing winds cause a...

Continue reading



New Book: “The Handcarved Bowl” by Danielle Rose Byrd

As we mentioned in the podcast yesterday, we are excited to offer Danielle Rose Byrd’s new book, The Handcarved Bowl, for sale in our store. Danielle is an amazingly talented artist – her work speaks for itself. Whimsical and beautiful, her bowls, trays, and panels push the boundaries of practical art in new directions, while maintaining a connection to the age-old practice of carving woodenware.  The Handcarved Bowl is the best book we’ve seen on the practice of creating a carved wooden bowl from beginning to end. From selecting and maintaining the proper tools, to harvesting material in the woods, to design and execution, Danielle has knocked it out of the park with this reference. There’s even a chapter full of stretches...

Continue reading



Of Axes, Chisels, & Mountain Bikes

Green woodworking with hand tools isn’t just about carving spoons or turning Windsor chairs. The method is immensely practical for building all kinds of outside-the-box structures in the woods, whether a log footbridge to span a stream or a lean-to for a quiet resting place. A few months ago, we heard from Seth Gebel, owner of Backyard Trail Builds, LLC, and proprietor of the popular (with millions of views) “Backyard Trail Builds” YouTube channel. Seth constructs incredible mountain biking features in the woods, and lately has been focusing his efforts on what he calls “Primal” builds, utilizing only hand tools. These creations involve clever hand-cut joinery, timber that is harvested, rived, and hewn on-site, pegged decking, and even incorporates reverse-twisted cordage from...

Continue reading



“Trees are not Tame”

“What we call green woodworking today carried no such particular distinction in the past. Vernacular woodcraft began in the forest, and made great use of the metamorphosing properties of wood as it changes from soft and saturated to hard and dry. Most everything a typical household needed, from treen to transportation, was produced through this process. Nowadays, much of that intimacy with this raw material has been lost as modern woodworkers turn to machines that rely on tame wood and massive infrastructure to function properly. But trees are not tame, and require knowledge and patience to work in the old way. There are valuable returns for the effort, not just in terms of fulfillment for the individual maker, but in...

Continue reading



Podcast #12 – “The Radical Efficiency of Green Woodworking”

In this episode of our podcast, Mike discusses his article “A Tale of Two Trees: The Radical Efficiency of Green Woodworking” in upcoming Issue Six. Mike presents a big picture view of procuring lumber by comparing industrial logging and milling with harvesting your own with hand tools. He makes the startling (and compelling) case that green woodworking is more efficient in the big picture than highly developed industrial processing. We discuss the value of curved branches, the genius of coppicing, and working the material before it dries. Items Mentioned in this Podcast: Issue Six Dawson Moore – Michigan Sloyd  

Continue reading