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Olly Moses
About me
I was introduced to the wonderful sweet chestnut tree (castanea sativa) in 2020 when I spent a year as apprentice to Ben Law. Ben is well known for his books which have shone a light on traditional woodland management practices and our relationship to timber in the built environment. Ben is perhaps best known for building himself a house almost entirely from sweet chestnut in Prickly Nut Wood, West Sussex where he still lives and works.

Chestnut is a strong and highly durable timber which can be split with ease, making it ideally suited to making a wide array of products for outdoor use. Like other broadleaf trees, chestnut coppices; that is to say it sends up new shoots from the cut stump or stool. In fact it coppices with more vigour than any other tree in this country except willow. This means that within 30 years, the new shoots have reached a size which can yield high quality timber, and in another 30 years will do so again. Coppiced timber is a genuinely renewable resource.
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The shoots from newly cut coppice resemble bushes in their first few years of growth and absorb far more carbon dioxide than newly planted trees. The light that is let in by cutting encourages the growth of wildflowers, an important food source for butterflies and other pollinators. Ground nesting birds also welcome the creation of a habitat suitable for their needs. A well managed coppice woodland has a varied age structure which provides a range of different habitats, resulting in a more biodiverse woodland. By choosing chestnut over an imported exotic hardwood or treated softwood, you are making a positive choice with tangible benefits for wildlife and the environment.
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I currently cut my chestnut during the winter months in North Kent, in woods with a long history of chestnut cutting. Being involved in the whole process from felling the trees to installing the finished product is very important to me and the seasonal and varied nature of the work is a great privilege.
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The products that I make are rooted in traditional techniques and designs. I work predominantly with hand tools. I enjoy combining the skills associated with chestnut coppice work, such as splitting laths and shakes alongside traditional mortise and tenon joinery usually associated with oak timber framing. My design process is led by the material first and foremost. The shape and character of the tree will always inform the shape and character of the finished product.
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