Yesterdeay I snedded up the crown of a fallen oak of 150 years standing. I removed a few limbs with my axe but 90% of it I worked with the chainsaw. Hugely satisfying work none the less. A habitat pile of leafy twigs and branch ends now circles the ground where the canopy lay, left for the creatures of the wood. A modest load of logs for my wood burner In the truck and the tree now tidy so everything that remains is ready for the land owners mill. Tis engaging work, the careful cutting of fibres to release tension and compression from bow and limb mighty enough to swiftly crush a man such as me. How many axemen(persons) would it take I wonder to saw, hew and cleave down an oak into shingles, lathe and firewood by hand? In fact if a weekend only were available how many of us should work the tree? 100 woodsmen maybe? Probably not, but fitting somehow such a number to break down this incredible harvest with only muscles, sweat and steel. One day..whos’s up for it? Continue Reading →

Day in the life of an Axeman

I strode out this morning across field and lane carrying nowt but lunch box and axe. At the woods I joined my work fellows and we struck a fire first thing. Fairly soon wood chips where flying and the thud of axe strikes resounded through the wood, thickening the blanket of silence around us. A timeless quality imbued the scene. The brutal reality of a razor sharp cold lump of steel on a stick. Why is that so appealing? There’s no escaping it, it’s a primal experience to pit your body weight and your sweat against the might of a huge tree towering above you. You huff and puff, grunt and curse but there is a timeless poetry as the axe swings through the air bighting deep into the timber. It’s a giddy sensation when that tree finally yields and starts to move.

Then the chainsaws spluttered and growled into action. This was a workday at Stroud Community Woodland Coop. I’d like to think that those of us axing that day had more fun than those chains awing but it’s probably not true. However we reveled in our less-productive shared adventure. My three cohorts had no idea they might be felling a tree together today as they had no experience, skills or training and assumed that woodland work was for the certified chainsaw users only. As the light started to receded I lifted my axe and ducked out of the wood to stroll home cross-country. Time maybe to explore a new route home, a perfect day from a time gone by.

Roundwood timber framing courses 2014

roundwood timber framing course

Thank you to all the lovely people who attended this years roundwood timber framing courses. Good luck with your projects keep me posted on how you get on. We’ll be running two more courses next year. 30th Aug – 3rd Sept and 7th – 11th Sept. For more info or booking details go to our trading website…



Roundhouse building course 2014

reciprocal frame roundhouse by wholewoods

We just completed another roundhouse for a school in Brixham. Over the years I’ve built quite a few buried post roundhouse’s, (the iron age style) with reciprocal roof. However this is the first freestanding roundhouse I’ve built.  I’ll be posting more details about how we did this build. Anyway it seemed high time I ran a roundhouse-building course to pass some of this experience on so the first one runs on 31st May – 1st June 2014. For more details and booking form visit my trading website

Stroud Permaculture Course 2013

Stroud permaculture Course
Last Thursday I taught the green buildings and woodlands sessions on the second Stroud permaculture design course. The following Sunday we all gathered at our woodyard on Duchy Home Farm for a days tree felling. This is a very popular day in the woodland behind the yard. It’s a humbling experience to work as a group felling a large mature tree by hand with axes and two-man felling saws. There’s a lot of grunting and puffing and a fair amount of tension in the air. It may be a surprise to everyone how hard this activity actually is but the power of collaborative human effort never fails to amaze me. It’s good to know and to ‘feel’ the effort that felling a tree really  requires. It was only about 60yrs ago that chainsaws came into popular use. Before then this was the ONLY way to do it. Who knows those days may come again.

I highly recommend doing a permaculture course. It’s one of the best courses I’ve ever attended. To find out more about 2014 Stroud permaculture course contact Seb at

To find out more about permaculture go to the national website