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Bender Heaven

8 9 poles selecting and sharpening As much of the UK is rich in fast growing softwoods, bender poles will usually be found in the vicinity of your bender site. However, if you do have to go exploring over a few miles, a large hedgerow or small woodland is your best bet. The woods of choice are hazel and willow, which often grow in thick clumps of upright poles and have fibres that are less likely to break under pressure, but most woods will be usable as some stage in their development. A clump or stand is best when its light has been shaded by other stands or trees so the poles reach up to the light making a gentle taper over the whole length. Having selected the longest straightest poles of a 1 1 inch diameter at the butt end, cut them as close to the ground as possible to prevent regrowth from the stump. This will provide you with a better crop of poles next time and also look a lot more pleasant to the eye. Where possible, try to slope your cut outwards as well, so rain doesn t run into the centre of the stand, as this may eventually lead to its premature demise. To sharpen poles, find a tree stump or large branch to use as a chopping block. Try to make long tapering cuts, and rather than cutting it down to a spike leave the tip flat, as this will prevent it splaying out if it meets a stone later when being driven into the ground.
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