The art of bodging goes back approximately five hundred years, although it may not be something you are familiar with. A bodger is a skilled craftsman who practises a traditional wood-turning craft, using green (unseasoned) wood to make chair legs and other cylindrical parts of chairs.
Traditionally, a bodger would buy a stand of trees from a local estate, set up a place to live (his bodger’s hovel) and work close to trees.
After felling a suitable tree, the bodger would cut the tree into billets, approximately the length of a chair leg. The billet would then be split using a wedge. Using the side-axe, he would roughly shape the pieces into chair legs. The drawknife would farther refine the leg shape. The finishing stage was turning the leg with the pole lathe (the pole lathe was made on site). Once the leg or stretchers were finished, being of “green” wood, they required seasoning. Chair legs would be stored in piles until the quota (usually a gross of legs and the requisite stretchers) was complete.