For most, Ben Law needs no introduction and his back catalogue of books have been read the world over. The latest addition comes in the form of Woodland Craft, a feast of knowledge, skills and crafts for the home, farm and garden.
Woodland Craft is, first and foremost, a fantastic compilation of projects of varying degrees of skill and complexity. It caters for those just discovering woodland and coppice crafts, green woodworking and all associated with it, through to those with a wealth of pre-existing experience and ability. I class myself in the latter and upon starting this book expected to learn little that I did not already know. However, through a combination of Ben’s deep rooted knowledge of his passion and craft, and his outstanding ability to transfer his teaching to the written word, I found this a fascinating read with an abundance of information to learn from and inspiring projects from both Ben and the craftsmen featured.
Anyone wishing to start down the road of woodland crafts and green woodwork need look no further. Projects include spoon carving, shingles and shakes and woven panels, all of which are within easy grasp of the novice woodworker, though do take the time to read through the opening chapters beforehand. Learning about the woodland resource and your selection of tree species as material (something Ben is particularly well versed in educating us about) is an essential precursor. Once you have harnessed a few basic tool handling skills and have begun to learn how to work with the grain then the projects in the rest of this book are well within reach and will only serve to hone your new found passion.
I particularly enjoyed reading about Ben’s steam bent chestnut lath sun loungers. Not just because of their brilliance and beautifully organic form, but because it is inspiring to note that despite 25 years of coppice work and being the modern day forerunner in developing roundwood timber framing techniques and all that goes with it, to this day Ben is still looking to experiment and develop new products and markets for the material he so lovingly nurtures at his Prickly Nut Wood.
Although much of what is written in Woodland Craft may have already been documented by the likes of Mike Abbott or Ray Tabor, I feel Ben has taken the idea of the project or pattern book, and made it a little more user friendly and added his own unique skill set to those of the craftsmen he visited. Ben has succeeded in writing a book that is both inspirational to the absolute novice and insightful for the experienced crafter. This is what sets this book apart from the rest.
David Watson is a professional coppice worker and greenwood craftsman based around Midhurst, West Sussex. www.creativecoppicecompany.co.uk
Woodland Craft is currently at a special price of £19.95
For more books by Ben Law visit www.green-shopping.co.uk/books/pp/ben-law.html
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