Brought to you by Timbecon, Greg will be demonstrating the use of pre-industrial skills and tools from the European tradition going back many centuries. When wood is green, unseasoned, it is easier to work than when it is seasoned. The wood is split from the log, rather than sawn, so the fibres run the length of the piece of timber with little or no run-out, giving great strength.
Using techniques and knowledge our ancestors took for granted, green woodworking is delightfully tactile, sensual, and almost primal. It’s no surprise Green Woodcraft is rapidly growing in popularity in the USA and the UK. There’s something wonderful about taking a piece of tree or a garden pruning and crafting it into functional and beautiful items.
Greg will demonstrate the use of Froe and Beetle, Aze and Adze, Draw Knife and Shaving Horse as well as his 18th Century style Double Spring Pole Lathe in this exploration of the ancient joys of green woodworking.
The Passion of DIY – Green woodworking and old hand tools
When he sees a city block being cleared for a new house, he cringes at the wood going to waste. He lives and breathes wood, his tools are more precious than jewels, and he’s leading a long forgotten craft called Green Wood-Working. Around the world, Do-It-Yourself is huge. There’s a “maker movement” where people build business around what they’ve made, from cakes, jewellery, self built computer components, to furniture. Greg Miller says it is about communication and community. His first job was youth work, and even now he is passionate about young people. But the smell of wood had already tainted his blood. His great grandfather was a partner in the coach building firm Miller and Cleary in the early 1900s, and his dad was a carpenter in demand from organists around Australia. His dad built the Jarrah facade for the organ at the Perth Concert Hall. At the time, Greg thought his dad was an “old fuddy-duddy” because he used real wood and old fashioned tools. Greg’s choice of tools were nail guns, power drills, and melamine. But as each birthday rolled around, Greg began to see the light. Now, he breathes wood, feels wood, and caresses his old fashioned tools with pride. “Wood is a gift.. from the trees,” he says. “You can hear the wood responding to the tools. You smell it. It’s a sensual thing, you establish a relationship with the wood and the tools”. Left: A folding draw knife from a US Serviceman’s toolchest from the second world war, and a modern version of a Swedish Carving Axe. He has this passion for his tools, and says unlike machine tools, you can have a conversation with someone while you’re using traditional hand tools. Some of his favourite tools are a drawknife – the oldest one known is in a museum and was found in an old viking tool chest about 1100 years ago. Another favourite is a shaving horse, which you sit on, the concept dates back to 100 thousand years ago. A few years ago he went to the US for two months to study wood, and said it was life changing because he learned about green woodworking.
Green woodworking is a centuries-old method of wood craft, which virtually disappeared with the 20th Century phenomena of kiln dried wood and glue. But now there’s a massive movement in the US and Europe where people are going back to green wood-working. Greg receives invites from around Australia to come and teach people the art “It is an ancient tradition. Impoverished people on the land had to make everyday functional items out of greenwood. They couldn’t kiln fire it and they didn’t have the time to wait years for the wood to dry out. With Green Wood-working, you can even use your garden prunings,” he said. Left: a wooden spoon made from the fresh, bent, pruning of a eucalyptus tree.