Branches

by Sydney Michalski

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5, KJV)

The other day, we had a young birch that we had to take out because it was too close to our septic field. Birches are lovely, and we are lucky to have them scattered throughout our property.

  • A view through the branches of a young birch tree, one of the sustainably harvested woods @rivenjoiner.com
  • A view through the branches of a young birch tree, one of the sustainably harvested woods @rivenjoiner.com
  • A view through the branches of a young birch tree, one of the sustainably harvested woods @rivenjoiner.com
  • A view through the branches of a young birch tree, one of the sustainably harvested woods @rivenjoiner.com
  • A view through the branches of a young birch tree, one of the sustainably harvested woods @rivenjoiner.com

The bark, for which they are so well-known, catches the light so beautifully, and the leaves rustle peacefully in the summer breezes.

Still, as with all trees, even the lovely birches are sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time, or sometimes become unhealthy, or sometimes need trimming, or at some point, become ready to harvest…And then, they make the transition from beautiful forest tree to useful harvested wood!

A sapling like this doesn’t yield much in terms of woodworking. It’s only a few inches thick to begin with, and once you remove the pith from the center, you don’t have enough room to get very much out of what’s left. I suppose it could have just been firewood.

Buuuut, Joe finds inspiration in even the little things, as he seeks, in all things, to work as though working for the Lord, giving honor and glory to God by putting everything to its best possible use. And so it turns out that there are a lot of small, creative options for using this beautiful wood!

One option is to hollow out sections, which then become handy round boxes complete with natural bark detail.

  • Using a large, traditional auger to create a hand-crafted round box out of natural birch, bark left intact.
  • Using a large, traditional auger to create a hand-crafted round box out of natural birch, bark left intact.
  • Using a large, traditional auger to create a hand-crafted round box out of natural birch, bark left intact.
  • Using a large, traditional auger to create a hand-crafted round box out of natural birch, bark left intact.

Or, slice them in half, plane them smoothe, and carve small bowls for condiments or desktop organization, creating, at the same time, piles of delightfully curly shavings!

  • Fresh birch shavings from hand-planing riven wood.
  • Hand-planing birch, using the integrated wagon-vise on a custom workbench.
  • Hand-planing birch, using the integrated wagon-vise on a custom workbench.

And when the branch becomes really narrow, why not bore and slice a set of birch-bark napkin rings?

And so, from what could have been a stack of firewood, we have, instead, stacks of napkin rings, hollowed boxes, and condiment bowls, all showcasing that lovely birch bark, and honoring even these small branches that the Lord has provided!

  • An assortment of napkin rings, condiment dishes, and hollowed boxes, hand-crafted from sustainably-harvested birch.
  • An assortment of napkin rings, condiment dishes, and hollowed boxes, hand-crafted from sustainably-harvested birch.
  • An assortment of napkin rings, condiment dishes, and hollowed boxes, hand-crafted from sustainably-harvested birch.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2, KJV)

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