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About Gimlet

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    Senior Member

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    Motorcycles, shooting and hedges
  • Occupation
    Commercial hedge layer
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  1. Civil engineers will tell you that if you dig up an old London street you can still smell horse piss. Gallons of it leeched into the cobbles every day for centuries. And imagine all the shit on a wet day.. It's true it doesn't damage your lungs but every age came with its own problems.
  2. Well, having enough weight that it does a lot of the cutting for you, but not so much you can't use it one-handed all day. 3 1/2 lb for me is about right. And the right length shaft for the head to keep it balanced. That's a personal thing and you have to try one and see what's right for you. A bearded axehead is preferable because you can get your hand into the cutout and push the axehead directly in a paring motion and your fingers are protected behind the blade. A double bevel grind makes for a more all-round axe but a single bevel side grind is best if you're using it chiefly for making pleach cuts as a double grind tends to deflect the blade away from the cut. If you're making a very long pleach cut in a thick stem, a double beveled axe head will likely get wedged in the cut before you've taken enough wood out of it to get it to bend, or it will split the stem before you are ready; whereas a side grind will drive the edge into the wood like a chisel and continue cutting new wood rather than getting stuck or splitting the stem. When cutting brittle or split-prone species you will lose far fewer stems with a side axe than you would with a double bevel. I find a side axe is good for fore-hand lopping as well, though less good back-hand. The Granfors broad axes can be ordered with a left or right hand crank, so the shaft isn't parallel with the blade edge but kicked slightly away from it. That's a hewing axe adaptation to keep your hand away from the work and stop you barking your fingers, but it is useful in hedge laying as well, especially when working in a congested clump of stems. My JB double bevel axe I find is a brilliant coppicing tool. I use it when I'm cutting stakes and binders. It gets into tight stools and is great for trimming, snedding and putting points on stakes. It is also the more balanced of those two axes as well. He's paired the shaft with the head perfectly. The Granfors fells a tad top-heavy, like it could do with a heavier shaft or a counter weight in the butt. It's not much, but that's the difference between mass-produced and hand-made tools.
  3. I should add, the hand made tools might look brand new but they're about nine years old, except the hedging axe which is three. At the end of every day before I sharpen up, I spray each tool with WD40, polish off the tree sap and resin with wire wool and sharpen. If you never let corrosion start your tools last forever and a polished blade is so much better to use than one that's rust pitted and coated in gunk.
  4. Yes they are. I'd cut a holly tree down and I cut as many potential mallet sections from it as I could. What looks like it's going to make a good mallet doesn't necessarily feel right in the hand. So I tend to take any holly pieces that come my way to make hedge mallets and just try them out. If they're no good they become firewood or go to my nephew for wood turning. I've had several but these two are my go-to pair because they just feel perfect to use.
  5. The year of my mother's birth...
  6. Both axes are supposed to be 3 1/2 lb but it's hard to believe they are looking at them side by side. The Granfors definitely feels heavier than the JB. Could be the size and shape. The JB is harder steel. Don't know if that makes any difference. Both hold an edge very well. Only bought the Granfors a week or so ago and after just one job I find I'm reaching for it more than a hook for anything more than about 1 1/2" thick.
  7. Following on from gary112's pics of his Hereford hooks, why not show us your hooks and blades. Here's my every day tool kit. Top is a cheapo anonymous staff hook bought from an agri-merchant. It's actually quite good. The blade is tough and keeps an edge well and because it was a cheap one I don't mind if I have to hoik out wire netting with it. Below that is a John Beavis Olivemead pattern Slasher Hooks, left to right, are a John Beavis 10" Brades, a vintage 10" Gilpin and a John Beavis 8 1/2" Brades Gent's. I've got a JB spar hook as well and a stack of vintage hooks in various stages of restoration. Axes are a 3 1/2 lb John Beavis hedging axe and a Granfors right hand grind broad axe. The mallets are holly. The curved one is for knocking in stakes, the straight one is for tapping down binders. Shears are heavy duty 6 mm thick Darlac which can handle 1/2" stems. The sheath is from Woodsmith Store and is extremely well made. If you want and off-the-shelf sheath, it's the on I'd go for. Various loppers and chainsaws as well.
  8. I've told him to invest in a long reach trimmer and keep a day free every August for a full on attack. He's going to let it get to about five feet high and keep it there with tight trimming. In theory...😏
  9. And the next one got underway today. Big, dense and wide field hedge, mostly hawthorn. And a sodding tree guard on every one... Nice spot though. It's spiteful stuff and the crowns are very congested from repeated flailing so it's a fiddle as there's loads of thinning out to do, but I do like big hawthorn like this. It makes you work but produces a lovely hedge. Will post finished pics in due course.
  10. First one of the season finished. It was a 12 foot high black cherry plumb garden hedge right on the roadside. The owner is aware of the silverleaf risk but opted to go ahead anyway because it was causing traffic problems and the neighbours were giving him grief about the loss of light. It has been flailed several times with no sign of disease so at 32 metres he decided it was a relatively inexpensive gamble compared with grubbing it out and starting again with a different species. It wasn't particularly nice stuff to lay. I won't be rushing to do another.
  11. My collection over the last five years. The Triumph was traded in for the Ducati Streetfighter, which I've still got. The Superduke was a new buy and still got it. The SMT was sold to buy the 1190 Adv. Still got that too and it's probably the best bike I've ever owned. Want to add a big cruiser at some stage, probably a Triumph Thunderbird Storm. And I'd like a KTM RC8R.
  12. Shed loads of the stuff at my place. It's growing on the roots of an old sycamore stump. The tree was felled 7 or 8 years ago. Had the odd clump of honey fungus around the base of the stump before but it's never erupted like this all over the lawn. There's a clump just visible in the flower bed on the other side of the path as well. If it has become a fixture and might go searching for living wood when it's exhausted the sycamore I'd like to get rid of it. Is there any spray that will kill it?
  13. Covid must have taken a terrible toll (depending on your point of view) on the UK demographic. Before lockdown, according to commercial adverts and information shorts on TV, all co-habiting couples in the UK were mixed race. Now it appears they're all same-sex.
  14. I don't use it all day. It's only for nipping off the odd limb, starting the pleach cut on big stuff and cutting off heals. But it is too big, even for that. The only Echo tools I've had are brush cutters which have been very good but if their saws aren't up to it I'll steer clear. I did look at a Husky battery saw but the price put me off. So many small petrol saws are more domestic quality than pro so not knowing what to go for I've stuck with what I've got.
  15. I thought about a cordless a couple of years ago. I do 1500 to 2000 metres of hedge laying in a good season and it seemed a good idea not to tote saw, fuel and oil across fields day after day. My regular saw is a Husky 365 SP which I've had for years and love to bits. It's not ideal because it's far too big and I have a tendency to leave it sitting on the ground for too long between use so it burns out plugs. But on reflection, for all the disadvantages I'l stick with a petrol saw and I've got in mind a small Echo.


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