Green Wood Companion


by Barry Mays

200 pages, full colour throughout


The Green Wood Companion is the latest book from eco-logic books  and very proud of it we are too, especially since it has won a Woodland Award for the ‘Best Wooodland Book of the Year’

IN 1998 the author Barry Mays walked out of his well-paid, comfortable life in London to move to Cornwall and set up as a self-taught craftsman, working with living wood. Fifteen years of learning and discovery later, he wrote this book to share his knowledge of British woodlands and the wonders they contain.

The Green Wood Companion a great collection of revealing articles, pictures and illustrations, charts and lists, tables and instructions, fact and fable – all about our magnificent woodlands.

If you want to know the right wood to use for a spoon or a divining rod, how to make beech leaf liqueur, which wood burns best, where to buy a Twybil, the anatomy of an axe, what the Romans thought about Hawthorne, the dye colours you can make from different trees, 20 uses for wood ash, what exactly is a Beetle and much, much more – this is the book for you.

No matter how you use our magnificent woodlands – as a casual visitor, a dedicated conservationist or by earning a living from working with wood – you will want to own The Green Wood Companion and return to it again and again as a source of information and inspiration too.



Green Wood Companion – Contents

1. The remarkable tree
An introduction to the most friendly and useful organisms growing on our planet; how they work and how they sustain all living things.

2. The fall and rise of woodland crafts
How woodland management sustained the local community and country for centuries, and the future of woodland crafts in 21st century.

3. British woodland tree species
Native trees listed in order of their establishment in Britain after the recession of the last ice age
A list of our native understory shrub population
Naturalised trees introduced after the formation of the English Channel, and their country of origin

4. The characteristics of broadleaf and conifer trees
How to differentiate between these two types of tree.

5. Wood characteristics by species
General information on the most commonly used trees in Britain.

6. The properties of wood by species
Defining the abilities of each species with regard to: tendency to warp during seasoning; bendability; toughness; decay resistance; ability to cope underwater; odour and taste; cleaving/riving qualities; average air-drying time; average annual tree girth increase;verage life expectancy

7. Coppicing – from trees to workable wood
Coppicing, the coppicing cycle and end products derived from it.

8. A rough guide to measuring trees
Basic methods of measuring standing trees to determine their age, height and diameter.

9. Traditional common uses for wood by species
Extensive quick reference tables, detailing the staggering number of traditional applications from each tree species.

10. Traditional common uses of wood by application
A – Z of wooden products, and the best wood species traditionally used to make them.

11. Tool finder
Invaluable guide to finding the suppliers for specialised tools and specific brands.

12. Tool suppliers
Contact details for specialist suppliers, including suppliers of secondhand tools.

13. Tool blades and sharpening angles
Edge tool materials, bevels, and choice of angles explained with a quick reference table at the end.

14. The axe and the knife
Traditional names for the various parts of our two most iconic and useful tools.

15. Green Woodworking – A fusion of mind, body and spirit
Understanding the merits of working with unseasoned wood and the lifestyle associated with it.

16. The bodgers of the woodlands
The facts about these craftspeople, and how the Windsor chair was actually made.

17. The shaving horse and pole lathe
General historical information on these two icons of design.

18. Wood burning
Burning wood as a heat source explained, from felling to storing and burning, including the best and worst wood to burn for heat, by species.

19. Wood burning stoves for workshops and small spaces
Suppliers of these specialist stoves.

20. Twenty useful things to do with wood ash
Really useful applications for what is generally considered a waste product.

21. Charcoal burning – An ancient craft with a promising future
From its historic origins to the present day.

22. The hedgerows of Britain
A brief history of the British hedgerow and the trees and shrubs contained within them.

23. The hedgerow superstore
Traditional culinary, medical and domestic uses of hedgerow trees and shrubs.

24. Hedgerow liqueurs
Tempting spirit-based alternatives to traditional hedgerow wine.

25. A natural woodland palette
Dye colours derived from tree parts.

26. Tree folklore and myth
Fascinating collection of international folklore and myths surrounding our mysterious and revered tree species.

27. Celtic tree astrology
The trees assigned to the lunar months, tree Ogham alphabet and symbolic meaning of tree species.

28. The etymology of wood-related sayings
Revealing selection of explanations for some of our most common wood-related sayings.

29. Woodland associations and organisations
A very helpful listing of the many organisations actively involved in preserving and enhancing our woodland heritage.

30. Acronyms of the woodland industry
Associations and commonly-used terms.

31. Compendium of terms for tools, woodlands and crafts
The most comprehensive collection of words traditionally associated with tools, woodland management, timber processing and woodland crafts.

32. Recommended Reading
Large selection of useful, specialised publications on related subjects.

Additional information

Weight 1000 g


  1. Peter Andrews

    Review Woodworking Craft Magazine Issue 17

    This latest delight from eco-logic books brings you a source of information and
    inspiration relating to our woodlands and the wonders they contain. On first
    glance, the chapters do appear rather list-heavy, occasionally without satisfactory
    substance. However, the more you delve in to the Companion, the better you
    will understand the author’s purpose and find yourself congratulating him for
    presenting material in the manner he has employed.

    There is an abundance of information on where to find specialised and
    secondhand tools, and technical advice on blades and sharpening angles. Barry
    goes on to describe the history of ‘bodging’ and green woodworking crafts, and
    reminds us throughout of the value of using traditional hand tools on newly-felled
    timber and ‘understanding and working in partnership with nature.’

    Whether you use our magnificent woodlands as a casual visitor, a dedicated
    conservationist or by earning a living from working with wood, you will want
    to return again to the wealth of knowledge encompassed in this compendium.

  2. Peter Andrews

    Gripping Guide
    The Green Wood Companion

    by Barry Mays
    eco-logic books, rrp £20
    review by Mike Poole
    The Green Wood Companion is not an ordinary book. It occupies a unique position. a mix between a guide and an encyclopaedia. At first this appears an odd approach, but it provides a very useful one-stop shop. For example, The Green Wood Companion explains about the history of the axe in chapter 14, lists suppliers where you can buy a good one in chapters 11 and 12 and then teaches you how to sharpen it in chapter 13.

    Another good example of what this book is trying to do is chapter 18 on wood burning. On one hand it gives us lots of helpful information about selecting. harvesting. seasoning, storing and burning wood and then it jumps straight into Celtic log rituals and inter-war log burning poems.

    I found that the author dots about from topic to topic with no seemingly clear route and this organic approach is part of the delight of the book. As such it makes an intriguing volume to leave lying on the coffee table or in the smallest room in the house. Dipping into the book for a few moments to read one of the short chapters is inspiring and provides you with a springboard for more research or to get on with a woodland task.

    While the topics meander, the author does not waffle. The chapter on dyeing. for instance, is just 60 words short, but it provides a valuable list of how to obtain a range of colours from different species. This succinctness is a blessing in the modern era when many authors fluff up their prose. The content is rich and engaging. although if you are looking for an in-depth tutorial, this book does not attempt to provide it.

    It is difficult to summarise the topics that form the 32 chapters. They range from ash to astrology, burning to bodgers and coppicing to crafts. It seems that you get several short books in one and it is fair to say that if you are enthusiastic about the great outdoors then this book contains many topics that will be of interest.

    Of particular note are chapters 9 and 10, which list the uses of different woods and vice versa. Many of us have a predominance of just a few species in our woodlands and these lists provide inspiration for the abundance of items we can create with their wood. For instance. I have an abundance of Norway spruce and had never considered using it to make the slats for the window blind that I planned for my office. If I were to make one small criticism about The Green Wood Companion. it would be that the
    chapter on the properties of wood by species is not as comprehensive as it could be. Ten properties of wood (e.g. bendability, decay resistance, annual girth increase) are listed. Some species such as the highly useful oak are categorised in all ten lists but other common species such as Norway spruce are only featured in one.
    The author is clearly passionate about being closer to nature. He left his pressured city job in his mid-forties for a more wholesome life in the West Country where “being a Craftsperson is not a way of making a good living – it is a good way of living’: It is fitting that he spends time in the middle of the book discussing the psychological benefits of working intimately with wood.

    Just under a quarter of the book is devoted to a compendium of woodland terms, which on its own makes a very useful encyclopaedia. Reading through the list quickly improves your woodland knowledge (e.g. I now know that drovers used to plant “way finders” so that they could find their way in poor visibility),

    The Green Wood Companion will be particularly useful for UK based woods men and women as the
    ists are UK-centric, covering UK species, suppliers and associations.
    Which chapter did I enjoy the most? It was probably chapter 20. where I learnt twenty useful things to do with wood ash. This was a great find because I did not know that I needed to benefit from this waste product. Now that I have stumbled upon these useful tips I am enthusiastic about putting them into practice.

    The Green Wood Companion is not a replacement for green wood tutorials (e.g. if you wish to learn the basics of steam bending, the Companion does not cover, this). It is less about teaching how to do tasks (e.g. coppicing) and more to do with the roots of such practices. why you would want to undertake them and which species you would want to interact with when you do. The author. Barry Mays. does not believe that woodland crafts are the reserve to bygone eras: he is passionate about their being part of the future of the way we live, By writing the Companion, hopefully it will help bring this about by making us aware of green wood principles and provide inspiration for the many ways you can get out there and work your wood. Be warned, though. that this book may kindle more inspiring projects than you have time for. That’s what it has done for me.,com

    LIVING WOODS Magazine 41
    40 LIVING WOODS Magazine

  3. Peter Andrews

    Review from the Polelathe Turners and Green Woodworkers website

    The book is full of beautifully clear colour photographs and well executed line drawings that illustrate the narrative well.
    It is well named because it is a companion. It is not written to be a coffee table book, beautiful though it is, it is written to be reached for when a question pops into your mind. If it doesn’t tell you the answer, it will tell you where to find the answer.

    You can read the full text of the review by following this link

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