Many woodworkers have a contentious relationship with modern life. On the one hand, more tools and materials than ever exist to challenge their skills and creativity, but on the other, many of those woodworking elements aren’t very eco-friendly or sustainable. Enter green woodworking — an option that utilizes only hand tools. This woodworking style typically uses unseasoned wood that’s either freshly harvested for high moisture content or preserved in water baths to retain high moisture content.
Benefits of Green Woodworking
Eco-friendliness aside, green woodworking offers many benefits to both novice and experienced woodworkers. For instance, unseasoned wood usually requires less effort and doesn’t wear down hand tools like seasoned woods. Additionally, greenwood hardens and shrinks as it dries out, so you can work that into your woodworking designs to achieve unique visual effects. Also, since green wood hasn’t dried out yet, it’s rather flexible and more forgiving, resisting warping and cracking better than dry alternatives.
Tools Used for Green Woodworking
Since green woodworking requires hand tools instead of power tools, you need a range of accessories to effectively shape greenwood the way you want it. Axes help with properly splitting wood along the grain and aid with harvesting raw materials, while froes aid the cleaving process. Hand saws such as hacksaws made from high-quality steel work well for trimming down green wood pieces to suit the needs of your DIY woodworking projects.
Before workbenches, there were shave horses — a wood bench with a foot-operated vise that holds greenwood in place during the woodworking process. Drawknives, traditional hand tools that remove wood shavings, have handles on both sides for easy pulling along boards and planks, and they come in various styles to handle rough and fine cuts alike. Finer carving knives and tools simplify adding detail to in-progress or completed pieces.
Green Woodworking Techniques
Green woodworking requires specific techniques for maximum effectiveness. Some of these techniques include:
- Splitting wood: Many green woodworkers harvest their own materials, and part of this is splitting logs vertically along their length with a froe. Called cleaving or riving, this green woodworking technique follows the grain of the wood and doesn’t sever wood fibers, making pieces easier to work with.
- Wood shaving: Green woodworkers shave the wood they plan on using to smooth and clean the surface before they begin their actual designs. Shaving wood is a process typically performed by hand, using a shave horse and draw knife.
- Lathe turning: Modern woodworkers usually utilize a power lathe for their DIY projects, while green woodworkers perform this technique with a manual tool called a reciprocal pole lathe. This green woodworking technique is used when you want to craft rounded or cylindrical objects with a smooth, high-quality surface.
Green Woodworking in Practice
Green woodworking is not only fun but also an environmentally friendly hobby that lets you create useful things for your home, family and friends. Now that you know a little more about the green woodworking process and what’s required, let’s explore the topic in-depth with a green woodworker who uses all-natural products from the Real Milk Paint Co. in his professional endeavors.
Meet A Maker: Chesterfieldfox
What is your business or online name? @chesterfieldfox
What is your first name? Steve
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? I’m was born in a small town in the parklands of Manitoba Canada, always one to be found in the forest playing with nature, I picked up the hobby/addiction of carving with hand tools about 6 years ago, the modern rustic vibe I try to achieve is always a challenge whether in design or building.
Could you explain your journey in how you came to be in the craft/trade that you are currently in? Spending a lot of time camping I slowly started whittling sticks into knives and spoons and once my skills improved I decided to try some larger projects like kuksas and bowls At this point I was hooked, slowly I started to acquire better tools and learn new techniques mostly from trial and error but also from other carvers I have met on Instagram.
What is your favorite part about your craft/trade? My favorite part of the craft I do is having something to do that gives me a feeling of accomplishment, seeing the fished item in front of me, knowing it came from my imagination.
How did you find out about Real Milk Paint Co? I found out about Real Milk Paint Co by searching for a food-grade pre-mixed tung oil and citrus solvent mixture so that I could be sure my products were food safe. After searching the net, I luckily came across Real Milk paint Co. and the friendship blossomed from there.
What is your favorite project to do with our products? I love using the milk paints and the combinations of color and texture I can make with it, however, the Half & Half tung oil and citrus solvent mixture is something I wouldn’t want to go without, it’s by far the most used finishing product I use. Not only does it give a great finish, but it also helps prevent items from drying too quickly and prevents mold, it’s amazing stuff.
Do you have a particularly favorite product of ours? If so, what would be one tip/trick to offer to others that you have found produced great results? The Half & Half tung oil and citrus solvent mixture is definitely my favorite item, after using and getting poor results from many other inferior products and techniques, the Half & Half has my back in helping slow moisture loss, preventing mold, and giving the wood a glorious food safe and waterproof finish.
If you had to give one tip to those looking to “follow in your footsteps” what would it be? Learn how to sharpen your own tools. Carving with a sharp tool is fun, a dull tool is dangerous and makes carving feel like work.
Where can people see your work or contact you? @chesterfieldfox
Products Used: Milk paint, Half & Half tung oil and Citrus Solvent