On the weekend of 11-12th Feb we held this workshop at The Treehouse in Lochcarron. This was a free “taster session” for those wishing to try their skills at the craft.

We had a flourishing group from complete beginners to amateurs ranging from 10-60yrs old, all keen to get whittling away. Eyes were bulging as we were met by an array of menacing weapons splayed across the table and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a scene from Kill Bill! Thankfully our tutor alleviated our concerns as he introduced us to some of the tools that we would come to cherish over the weekend.

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Our tutor was Bruce Kojan from Invergarry. His patience and relaxed style of teaching eased all participants into the craft. After some health and safety tips, Bruce quickly familiarised us with the three main processes of Greenwood working: Splitting, Chopping and Carving, giving each tools purpose some meaning. Bruce then showed his own beautifully carved spoons, spatulas and bowls – whetting our appetite for things to come.

After sharing cake by the fireside we focused our attention on the beautifully handmade wooden structures scattered around the Treehouse as well as chopping blocks and ‘draw horses’. We all laughed to learn that the alternative name given to a wooden mallet was “The Persuader”.

Allowing children to use Axes and Draw Knives to prepare greenwood may appear hazardous but under the careful instruction of Bruce no fingers were lost! Adults and children alike watched in awe at the ease at which the tools glided through the greenwood. The drawhorse in particular seemed to instil a hypnotic effect on some of the participants.

We then got a chance to meet the carving knives and learned how to keep them in optimum condition. For the rest of the afternoon folk started their own projects. On the veranda of the treehouse everyone diligently worked away chopping, carving and whittling. Only the sound of the river running underneath could be heard as the levels of concentration increased. Perhaps exasperated parents/teachers/partners could use a bit of Green Woodworking timeout!

img_1836img_1841img_1844img_1846On Sunday we had an equally beautiful winter’s day. Bruce brought along a woodturning pole lathe he had built himself. We learnt this hobby doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune as many of the materials were from salvaged builders merchant wood. We set about learning how to assemble the lathe and marveled at its simplicity. A lathe is an apparatus that allows you to “turn” wood, the magic of the one that Bruce has made is that its height can be adjusted to allowing all age groups to practice. After everyone took a turn we set about carving and preparing our wood to make a spurtle on the pole lathe.

The children made some arrows using their newfound fine carving skills and later got more time practicing with the axes, saws and drawhorse. By the end of the weekend everyone had something to take home; a spurtle, a spoon with detailed carving, some arrows, a fork, a pancake spatula and letter opening knife.

img_1887Thank you to LCDC for allowing the workshop to be held at the Wonderful Treehouse – can’t think of a better location! Thanks too to Forestry Commission Scotland’s Community Grant & our industrious Community Development Officer, Kristine Mackenzie for helping to finance this workshop and of course a huge thank you to Bruce Kojan for sharing his Greenwood Working Gift with us. We hope to have Bruce back again this year so if you missed out this time – watch this space!

img_1910Lynda Beveridge

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