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In the beginning there was the LOG, I get my wood from a local tree surgeon, when he cuts down Ash or Sycamore, He cuts them into 12" to 14" lengths, I call up to his yard each week and pick up any that might be ok for making clogs, the rest go to be firewood. If the log is a big one I might get 4 soles out of it, but usually  I just get 2 (if I'm lucky! Sycamore is prone to have pockets of rot in the middle of it where young small branches have snapped off and new growth encloses the stub, this means that in an otherwise sound piece of wood, and after a couple of hours work, you've another piece for the firewood pile)   I have a moisture meter, but the maximum reading is 35% the moisture content of a new log is always "off the scale". I split the logs as soon as I get them, this relieves a lot of the stress in the wood, and stops other splits developing

Often a log hides a lot, This log is water stained, the first stage of rot, the wood is sound and useable, but if the tree had stood another five years, it would have been useless. The stained timber can look quite attractive in a finished clog, or the sole can be dyed to hide the stain. It's at this stage that the billets are paired up, usually both soles come from the same log.

 

The blocks are stacked on end outside for about a month, even though they get rained on the moisture content will drop to about 25-30%, In summer they are covered with a board and canvas to stop them drying too quickly

The blocks are mounted in my carving machine bark side upwards, and the inside surface (which will be in contact with the foot) is carved, care is taken to make sure the sap wood is carved away, this would shrink un-evenly, and could cause splitting

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until recently I removed the excess timber on a band saw, but I have started trimming them down to size with a side axe (this is an axe that has been sharpened on one side only, a "l/" shape rather than a "V" shape), or an Adze, This is because the sylica in the Sycamore was blunting the blades very quickly, and the blades cost 10 each, it seems the old ways are the best. The block is dipped in a liquid wax to slow down the drying out process. the pair of soles are stacked together in a well ventilated outbuilding for another month or so, the moisture content drops to around 20-25%%

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The block is roughly carved (slightly over size) to almost its final shape with clog knives, again waxed, and again put back to dry for a couple of months until it's moisture content is under 15%

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the sole is trimmed to it's final size and shape, machine sanded smooth, and the grip (the recess where the upper will be attached) is cut, if the sole is to be dyed, this is done now, the grip is dyed as well as the outside edge so you don't get a white line at the joint. the entire sole is again waxed (I go through a lot of wax polish!!) including the grip. The finished sole now comes indoors to an unheated part of my workshop until I get round to attaching the upper.

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even this isn't the end, the soles will continue to dry after they have been delivered to the customer, eventually they will stabilise at a moisture content of about 7-10%. clogs are delivered with advice on how to look after them to minimise the risk of them splitting,

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Copyright 2006 Yorkshire Clogmaker