Coppicing involves the management of a small area of woodland to produce wood for uses such as firewood, fencing, tool handles and furniture making. The technique makes use of the properties of regeneration displayed by a variety of tree species, which when cut back produce new growth from the stump. Those that practice coppicing have a few different tools at their disposal.
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A billhook has a metal blade, which features a partly or fully curved shape. The tool usually has a sharpened edge only on the inside of the curved blade, making it suitable for cutting rounded objects, such as tree trunks or branches. The design of a billhook makes it useful for a few purposes in coppicing, including chopping through larger tree limbs, as well as stripping smaller offshoots from larger branches.
Lopping shears are used for cutting and pruning smaller branches of a size up to around 3 inches in diameter. The tool typically has small hooked blades, fitted with long handles. The length of the handles provides the tool with extra reach, as well as additional leverage to more easily cut thicker branches.
A handsaw produces a clean cut and can work its way through larger branches with a thicker diameter. This tool comes in a wide variety of shapes, although typically has a smaller size to make it easy to manoeuvre and use in tight spaces. The options available include crosscut saws, which cut across the grain of the wood, and ripping saws, which cut along the grain of the wood.
Froe and Maul
A froe consists of a narrow blade, with a handle set at right angles to it. The blade of the tool typically features a dull edge, and its common use involves splitting cut logs or branches along their length, to produce thinner sections of wood. A wooden mallet, known as a maul, drives the blade of the froe into the wood, with the handle then used to work the tool through a log and split it.
A drawknife has a long narrow blade between two handles, which most commonly sit at right angles to the blade. The tool can have a straight or curved blade, and it has a few uses in coppicing. Its traditional use is to remove the bark from a cut branch, although it can also help shape a piece of wood by shaving pieces from the surface.
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