Green Woodwork: what is it?

Green woodwork is the traditional craft of working freshly cut, green wood, by hand, to make a wide variety of objects. It is often an open air activity in temporary shelters in woodland settings. It is called green woodwork because the wood is worked in the fresh unseasoned state which is easier both on tool and hand. The material for it is mainly small to medium size trees cut during woodland thinning. Nature is constantly replacing these trees and, in the process, locking away carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. By making something with them it remains locked away for even longer.

Many of the techniques used in green woodwork have been practiced for centuries, predating the modern age of machines and oil based technology. So it is also green in an environmental sense.

In the 19th century people who developed this craft to make chair parts became known as bodgers, a word which often has a different meaning today! The shaving horse, pole lathe and various hand tools were what the bodgers’ used in their work. They had   no machines so their tools were designed to maximise the efficiency of the human body to turn the tree into chairs and other objects. Their craft has been revived in the last thirty years and a new and growing movement has emerged lead by, among others, Mike Abbott, who taught me. The Association of Green Woodworkers and Polelathe Turners exists to support this new interest in the subject. This revival is in keeping with the approaching post oil era, but also it meets a hunger in people to be more present in nature and the open air, and to learn new skills using their hands.

See Green Woodwork Gallery for more examples of what can be made on a course.