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Volunteers learn traditional wood skills

Volunteers learn traditional wood skills

Published: 29 November 2019

Sharpham volunteers have learnt traditional woodworking skills on a project to fence a part of a footpath close to the River Dart.

About 10 conservation volunteers worked weekly since the summer on creating and installing a 60ft-long fence of chestnut palings, bordering the footpath and the reflecting pool down near The Bathing House (the Trust's Georgian holiday let) and South Quay beside the river.

"I'm really pleased with how it looks - rustic and a bit wonky!" said Martin Beat, who leads the group of volunteers. "Where there were natural branch and knot holes we kept them and made a feature of them, and there are some curvaceous pieces in there.

"It's not just any old fence!"

The wood came from a chestnut felled at Lower Sharpham Farm last year. Some of the tree was used at the farm and the rest was sectioned up to make the fence at the Withy Pool.

Volunteers had to divide large pieces of the trunk down to palings about 2inches in diameter and 4ft 6in long. They used a mixture of modern chainsaws and traditional tools including froes, hammers, draw knives and axes to split and shape the wood.

Said Martin: "It was good seeing everyone becoming more independent, knowing what they were doing without me getting involved - it felt like I passed on some skills"

Earlier this year, the same group of volunteers finished a wooden bench at the Trust's sit-spot in the reedbeeds close to the Carriage Drive. The work was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Their next project is creating a set of wooden steps at the Trust's Woodland Campsite, constructing compost bays in the garden and making a green oak pergola in the formal gardens surrounding Sharpham House.


If you're interested in getting out on the beautiful Sharpham Estate, learning new skills, keeping active and joining in at Sharpham, consider becoming a volunteer. Find out more here or email [email protected]

Hole-digging to prepare for the fence posts
This is a drill!
Sanding down in situ
Attaching the wire
The way through...
The completed chestnut fence