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What is Green Woodworking?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Green woodworking is a technique using unseasoned wood to create various wood crafts like chairs, stools, and tables. This method requires the ability to assess wood in a green state and make plans for using it while allowing for the shrinkage and twisting that tend to take place as wood ages and settles. There are numerous books providing information about green woodworking, and people can also take instructional classes to learn the basics. Many of these classes provide opportunities to interact with master woodworkers and pick up valuable skills and advice.

People have been working green wood for a very long time, and some green woodworkers continue to use techniques first developed in the 17th century or even earlier. One advantage to green woodworking is the ability to start work immediately, rather than having to wait for the wood to age. During the aging process, the wood loses moisture, shrinking in size and tending to twist and shift as it settles. In conventional woodworking, people can speed aging by drying wood in kilns, or they must allow it to lose moisture naturally, in stacks stored in a covered and reasonably dry area. It can be more reliable to work with after aging, as people don't need to worry about projects distorting due to shrinkage.

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The green woodworker may start from scratch with a felled tree, splitting the tree into usable pieces and then working them. Other woodworkers may opt to purchase wood already split for use. Preparing the wood requires some skill with forestry techniques. With split wood in hand, green woodworking can start. People can use a variety of techniques and tools to shape the wood, taking care to account for shrinkage while they work with the wood.

One method available to green woodworkers is bodging, a technique where people turn wood with a lathe to make chair legs, support struts, and similar pieces for woodworking projects. This is different from turning seasoned wood on a lathe. A skilled woodworker can produce very fine finished pieces with a high degree of symmetry and a neat, even appearance. Less skilled practitioners of green woodworking may start with simpler, more rustic pieces where an even look is not as necessary.

Tools for green woodworking are available through many hardware and woodworking supply stores. People who are just getting started may want to consult a book or instructor to get advice on the best tools for their needs. It can be helpful to look at reviews of different tools and brands to get an idea of what is available, and to learn more about the tools preferred and recommended by people active in the green woodworking community.

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