Off their Rockers

Although it was mentioned briefly in last May’s news roundup, here is a fuller description of the greenwood chair project that appeared in the recent Bucknell newsletter.

In the last Bucknell Newsletter, I described the history of Brineddin Wood in Chapel Lawn, and how the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society is working to improve biodiversity there. I briefly mentioned that wherever possible, more sustainable uses than firewood would be sought for any timber extracted. From lack of management in recent decades many trunks are not straight, so much felled timber will be of poor quality. Some, however, will be good enough for fencing materials and some also for craft purposes including greenwood chair-making, so earlier this year the Society teamed up with greenwood chairmaker, Mike Abbot, to find out how well Brineddin Oak performs compared with the more widely used Ash. Two carefully selected trees were felled in February.  Throughout March and April, while the wood was still green, four ‘guinea pigs’ worked with Mike to make ‘Wee Wor’ (Shropshire dialect for ‘wonky’) chairs, which are small nursing chairs on rockers based on the traditional ‘Clun Chair’. The pictures and quotes here tell their own story, but the outcome is that the oak is good for the straight pieces, but doesn’t respond well to steaming, so ash is still needed for the rockers. 

Bob James from Bryncambric cleaving some lengths  
Ros Patching from Clun making a leg with a scraper plane.
Di Cosgrove and Mark Limbrick with a pile of parts 


Duncan Fulton from Lydbury carefully drills a hole 

A very full day was later spent learning how make the seats from Danish paper. Mark and Di from Chapel Lawn, Duncan from Lydbury North, and Ros from Clun are delighted with their achievements. For Di Cosgrove, this was an entirely new experience, and one which she enjoyed immensely.  Her chair sits prominently in the kitchen and is admired by all visitors.

Now, apart from fitting the rockers, the four chairs are complete. Other uses for the wood may be found. One idea is to see if the outer ‘sapwood’ lends itself to basket-making. If any readers have suggestions, do get in touch.

Brineddin ‘Wee Wor’ Chairs with Brineddin Wood in the background.

Patrick Cosgrove, June 2022

2 thoughts on “Off their Rockers

  1. Dear Patrick
    That’s a wonderful newsletter, it cheered me up no end, and goodness, don’t we need to be cheered up?
    What’s a “Clun Chair”? Presumably a rocking nursing chair, but why particularly Clun?
    And dialect. I am becoming involved in an oral history project, collecting dialect from all over the country, I am looking at Shropshire and Herefordshire for the dialect archive held by Leeds University since a researcher there collected dialect in the post WW2 period. It is being updated. Is “weewor” still used? Where did you unearth this word?
    I look forward to hearing from you, Richard


  2. Patrick, many thanks for these interesting photographs of the chair making.

    If I may be cheeky and as a person who has made a great deal of furniture for people over the years the description of the

    Gentleman using a “scraper plane” is incorrect.

    It is a spoke shave.

    On another tack if any of your members feel they would like any of the wood milled I have a 42” Stenner band rack saw by my workshop which I would be only to pleased to operate for them.

    Keep up the good work.

    Patrick Faulkner


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