Dec 30 Paling course – by Toby By Tracy

We’ve just spent a very interesting time with Peter Jones in Kent, brushing up on our paling technique.

(sorry  Ali, great photo!)

Peter has been making a living splitting up palings for 40 years and certainly knows his stuff. Cleft work is the mainstay of our business and I believe that anything that improves efficiency and quality is money in the bank.

We met Peter at the Weald wood fair when demonstrating our walkalong paling machine. After a chat we decided it would be good to spend a bit of time picking his brains on the subject.

We started the weekend by watching him cutting out. Cutting out is an important and often overlooked skill; if you don’t start with the right bit of wood it’ll never be right.
Peter uses a Fordson Major tractor with a pto saw bench mounted on the back and a cradle on the front for holding the cut out lengths to bring back from the woods. A notched jig enables him to cut to the desired lengths at a glance and single-handed.
Most of the time was spent in his workshop, where we peeled, split and pointed while ironing out any wrinkles in our method. He has a wealth of knowledge on chestnut fencing (my favourite subject) so I also got to quiz him about the different jigs he uses, and some other styles of traditional fencing. Such as driven spile, which is definitely something I’ll be adding to the product list at home.

He finished by taking us for a walk through the woods he works, showing us some good and bad examples of coppicing. We saw stools damaged by fire and the results of summer and spring cutting, as well as some mighty fine chestnut coppice.
I would recommend anyone with an interest in cleft work spend some time with Peter Jones. We certainly got a lot from it and are ready to get back on the break and froe after the Christmas away.

We then spent a week with Dave Rossney on his coppice harvesting efficiency course, as a refresher and learned how to speed up without breaking our backs…
Any one interested in the course should contact Dave Rossney.

[email protected]

Mike and Tracy also went on the coppice harvesting efficiency course – you can read about that on their blog.


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