Australian ex-tree/wood worker, early retired due to spinal injuries. Physical limitations haven't stop me from trying to do what I love and that is, work with wood. Since my retirement in late 2004 and moving to South Australia, I have concentrated in acquiring as much wood as I could and have it store in a small paddock I rent, only a few hundred meters away from the house we live in. Tree work was my life for many years so, I still have most of my equipment and that has helped me to slowly but surely, bring all sorts of local woods into the paddock storage and at home/work-shop. Nothing of this would be possible without the help of my lovely wife Merissa and the excitement of my 2 pet dogs Zac the German short-haired Pointer and Teddy, the little fluffy white Maltese, that go where we go...!
We have started by offering simple free tree services (well, sort of...!), in exchange for the wood cut, mostly trimming branches that got in the way of things so the woods were normally small in size. I would do the chainsaw work and the wife would do the lifting and cleaning the place. We would get the odd dead tree that was snapped by a storm and any other wood that we could salvage, some already piled in the middle of a paddock, ready to be burnt. He also asked some tree working companies to drop any wood that they would have to dump, anytime they would be nearby, that got us some large logs/chunks that are still today, untouched.
I love wood turning so, I would spend days turning bowls and other larger items, some with dry wood, others with wood/trees cut the day before (green/wet), days on end until the floors would be impossible to stand on, due to the shavings thickness...! I cut lots of round blanks so, I always had some for friends, visitors and from woodturning clubs that would enquire every so often but, after a while I realise that the wood I had, would have to last as we also use firewood and the source of heat in Winter so, we had to start saving it.
We started to find very difficult to handle any of the bigger woods, and we would do it only every so often but, the time that would take for both of us (yes, the wife also has some spinal injuries from an accident) to recover from the pain and body stiffness, was about 1 week for a half a day handling the logs so, we decided that, the wood left needed to be used in a different way.
This was when I started to get interested with pen turning and knife making, these would require very small blanks that we could handle a lot easier so, I started cutting the logs in the paddock into very small pieces, without having to move them around. I also asked to anyone that had wood for us to cut it small and that has been helping a lot, to both of us. My health/physical conditions deteriorated significantly (as expected) these last few years, with the wife not far behind so, we avoid any of the heavy stuff...!
Despite of all this, we manage to very slowly, built a good stock of blanks and firewood so, our days of hunting wood are pretty much over however, I can't stop looking...! Its a natural thing for me and something that I have been doing since a young kid so, nothing new there. I keep saying that, I have sawdust running in my veins (I have to...!) so, wood is my passion and the only thing that keeps my "sanity" in check, my work-shop is my therapy room, without it I would go crazy...!
Since involved with pen turning and pen blanks making, I discovered the Hybrid blanks, which are a blanks made with a combination of casting resin, colours and other materials such as pieces of wood, nuts, pods, seeds, etc, etc,. After that I got involved with wood stabilization and wood dying, all this has open a big door with my imagination and creativity, something that I always had but not always able to expose/express it so, I/we (yes, the wife always helps...!) have a great time making all these new pen blanks and show them to everyone.
I get great satisfaction in teaching others how its done, and pass on all the experiences I have acquired through the years, some would call "legacy" I simply call it, not being greedy and secretive about lessons learned and information passed on buy old timber/wood masters that, I was privileged to meet and work with in the past.
I was born in 1957 and this is all a hobby to me, I wouldn't wanted it in any other way, I hope that I can continue to do this for some time to come, or until the wood runs out, by then, I should be pretty much "done" so, will see...!
Thank you for taking the time to read all this...!