Kiln dried burr oak
I have known Anton and Alison Coaker for many years now. They are farmers whose land is bang in the middle of Dartmoor. Anton diversified into saw milling some years ago, and has built this side of the business into a large and thriving concern. We also buy lamb from them every now and again and it is some of the best meat we eat. If you are local to Dartmoor do check out their website for more info on meat, hide rugs and wood.
I know this is not really green woodworking, but it is green in many other ways. For one, Anton sources his wood locally. Also, he is local to me and is an interesting bloke who cares a lot for farming and the land. I love my visits up there even though I spend too much, I am just like a little boy in a big sweet shop.
Last year I asked Anton to select a nice burr oak stick to saw up into one inch thick planks and to kiln dry it for me. I have just collected it and am now making up stock for galleries and the shows I sell at. For more info on green wood, air and kiln dried wood click here for a short article I have written.
Anton on the left carrying a brown oak plank, I was not allowed to buy any as it is all going up to Yorkshire for a floor.
Some of the burr oak in my workshop. I do not know how much I am to pay for it yet - all the measurements of how much wood I bought was written onto a plank of wood in big crayon - yet to be transferred into the invoice book. No problem; I trust Anton and know that he is a very fair bloke to do business with. By the way this is not normal practice, and as I joked, Anton has not just learned to write.
The first mirror frame to be glued up can be seen in the photo above. When sanded and oiled up they look fantastic. I think it is very important that I know the people who processed the wood, that they can tell me where the tree came from, and they are local. This way we are supporting our local businesses and keeping money circulating in the local economy instead of it going out the the area, or abroad, and paying shareholders in huge business that do not give a jot about anything apart from profit. I do also buy wood from the large timber merchants if necessary, but my aim is to buy locally as much as I can. Made and grown on Dartmoor or, and as they say in Devon: "proper job".
I have seen many people make mirrors over the years and especially at wood fairs so it can be a difficult market to make a living with, but worth it if you find your niche. The only way you can buy a mirror from me is by seeing me at a show or visiting me at my workshop, I do not send them via couriers and each one is unique.