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Hoping To Build From Coppiced Greenwood

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Old 09-12-2015, 12:26 PM   #1
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Default Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Hello All, wonderful little forum here glad i found it.

i am finally working towards building a yurt, to be used as a home, moved seasonally, and was looking for some advice on using coppiced greenwood poles for both wall and room frame.

a quick outline / context of my approach to project:
I used to do a lot of traveling, hitchhiking, living out a backpack, sleeping rough. many beautiful experiences, but i got tired of 'drifting'.
last few years has been difficult, Anxiety / Depression. Led me to seek a more simple lifestyle.
moving to Devon, uk. a nice Eco-dwelling. no power tools, lots of hand-sawing wood and scything grass 21 acres of woodland, coppice rotation.
been volunteering for national trust (craftsman/woodsman volunteer). access to vast amounts of coppiced wood @ a good price.
looking to complete project without power tools, lots of time on my hands.
Iv a background in woodcraft/carpentry (mainly seasoned wood, not so much with greenwood).

so with the above in mind, im very keen to try and use coppiced greenwood, and to use just hand-tools.
(may consider sowing machine)

my main concerns are with the warping and bending of greenwood as it dries out.
is this a potential problem?
does wood need to be prepared in any way before construction/assembly?

most yurt building guides seem relevant to seasoned wood. struggling to find stuff on greenwood.

thanks for any advice.
chris

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Old 09-12-2015, 11:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Green wood is weaker than dry. As such it will remain in its installed shape. Rafters will sag and lath will remain bent inwards. Big deal it is a yurt. I've built two and learned and shared here what I learned. I suggest, build the yurt, learn a few things, then you can tell us how it went. Good luck with your build.
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Old 09-13-2015, 03:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Always good to learn something new.

I had not heard of coppice or coppice rotation before, even though you can't help but see it around, just not seeing it as a wood lot concept. Wikipedia is so helpful, hahaha.

Good luck on your research, attempt and build.

Rod
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Old 09-15-2015, 09:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Ignore my comment as it applies to coppice. I wikied coppice and am totally unfamiliar with it.
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Old 09-15-2015, 10:49 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

my understanding off coppice is of the long, thin shoots that grow up from the cut tree stumps.
if a tree is left to die, it will eventualy fall, begin to rot, supplying small eco-systems with a new home.
Or, during winter time, the big old tree draws most if its nutrients/sap into the roots.
If the tree is cut down during this time, come summer the stored nuritents/sap in the roots are drawn up into the stump, and use to birth several new trees from that one stump.
i usualy see about 4-8 new shoots.

in comparison to the origional, single big tree that was there before, the new shoots tend to grow tall and thin, in an effort to race upwards to the tall canopy of an already mature woodland.

the new tall, thin shoots make excellent building matierials.

weather a tree is cut/coppiced, or left to fall and rot, seems kind of a win/win situation-ish.

but yea, bob, thanks for reminder on trial - error - learning. there will probably be mistakes and failure, the project seems flexible enough for it.
im sure i will learn as i go along
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Old 09-15-2015, 03:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

I'll try to keep this short, but it'll be tough.

I live in coppiced ash yurts and have a campsite with coppiced chestnut yurts, so experience of both. I've been living in these since 2009. So I could rave about the many advantages of coppiced structures.

Yes, they're beautiful because they follow the form of the saplings. Yes, they're carbon positive, because you're taking wood that will grow back and the CO2 that's been absorbed by your yurt frame will stay there for as long as the frame exists. Apparently, a frame should last as long as a mariage - assuming it's a successful one of 50 years.

When you say "cheap", you should really be thinking about "free". You cut the poles, you strip them, shape the ends, steam them, leave them to set on a former to get the shape you want (mine are all Kyrgyz, for the higher walls). Then drill and knot the trellis etc.

Paul King's book (The Complete Yurt Handbook: Amazon.co.uk: Paul King: 9781899233083: Books) is a good reference. Or you could get in touch with Matt Boysons in Brighton, who still runs coppiced yurt courses, I think. The hardest part is the roof wheel, with heart of oak, nasty glue etc. You've got a few yurt makers down Devon way who can help out.

An industrial sewing machine with the right needle is what you need, with Sunbrella fabric. But I'd recommend doing a time swap with someone who can use that machine. My covers were made by my ex, who is a seamstress. Taking the cover on yourself could be a bit much.

I've blogged a load of stuff at thedevolutionary.wordpress.com including fitting chimneys, making platforms etc.

Good luck and let me know how it goes when you get time.

Alex
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Last edited by Jafo; 09-15-2015 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Alex just said about everything I would have thought of and more. The only thing to add is that Paul King's book talks some about using coppiced wood and that I've seen several youtube videos of yurt making with coppiced wood (likely some of those makers Alex mentioned by name...).

Best of luck!
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Well this old dog learned something new today. I made my 7 and 8 year old grandsons walking sticks from what turns out to be 'coppiced shoots', last spring. After cutting the shoots free from the stumps I found I could easily pull the bark off the shoots. The debarked shoots were covered with

moisture

and were very bendy. So I continually straightened them as we walked around the lake, and washed the slime just under the bark off my hands in the lake as well.


The last i saw them a few weeks ago they were dry and very straight. Not unlike making arrows. Now they're fully dried out stiff and are actually good walking sticks. So cppiced wood will easily take a set and dry out fast FWIW.

So, with that I'd say go ahead and just build the yurt.
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Old 09-16-2015, 04:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Rowlands View Post
So, with that I'd say go ahead and just build the yurt.
I most definitely am going ahead with this.

just so happen to have gotten Paul King's book a few months ago. a fair bit of useful info on using coppice greenwood.

Alex, thankyou very much for your post, it made me very happy.

really nice to hear about coppice poles being kinda "Free".

with the deterioration of my mental health over the last 3 years, i have kinda sunk into a financial hole.
my only feasible option for finance-based work is making and selling woodcraft's, but iv been having a lot of difficulties with creative drive lately.

the plan for yurt has, for a long time been, 'save up some money first' sort of thing.
but my financial situation seems to get bleaker every month.

probably got about 200-300 for project. so the notion of being able to source frame wood for a low/no cost makes me very hopeful.
(watched some ecovallee youtube vids, lovely, thanks for sharing)

*I have searched, for so many years to find a place to call home, the thought of making this a reality sometimes feels quite overwhelming *

i have contacted some people for sourcing greenwood poles, i need to give them some specs.
i found a site (simplydifferently.org) which has some nice 'calculators' for finding out design specs/dimensions/poles sizes, based on desired diameter and wall height.

for a 6M (1.5m-wall height) yurt, it came up with:
-138 poles total (there was another figure of 60, not sure what for though)
-wall pole length: 212cm
-roof pole length: 264cm (+7cm into center crown)
-1 inch thickness (not sure if that before or after stripping bark)

do these kind of figures sounds right to you guys?
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hoping to Build from Coppiced Greenwood

I'd leave the rafter poles long and cut them to length later after you have your ring fabricated and propped up in place. To keep your costs down you are gonna have to do ALOT of work yourself. As far as pricing that's all in your haggling chops and being faire to both parties.


One thing is for certain. Yurts ABSOLUTELY have been built with less than perfect materials. The structural design is redundant. Try to get your laths holes as uniform as possible.

Obviously you are very smart so that isn't an issue. I assure you you can do this-and affordably- if you apply yourself. You aren't building a rocket or a piano. It's a yurt and yurts are very adaptable to building materials and procedure. Good luck.
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