How to Twist a Thatching Spar

Do you know how to Twist a Thatching Spar? 

Thatching spars, made from gads (short lengths of wood) are mainly made of hazel or maybe willow.  They are made by splitting the gad into sections (triangular) and applying points on both ends.  You can see our video of spars being made on the resources page so we thought it was time to show people how to twist a thatching spar ready for use on the roof.  It is a knack and nothing to do with strength!

Why do you need to Twist a Thatching Spar?

A spar is a straight bit of wood which needs to be made into a U shaped peg so it can be used as a fixing for holding down the thatch and for the ridge and spar patterns.  Many people have tried to make a spar into this shape but it is a skill because it is not bent but twisted.

Recently there have been concerns raised over the use of plastic spars for coatwork (although they seem to hold very well they do look different!) and also the importing of pre twisted spars from Europe.  It is apparently supply and demand and, as demand in UK has outstripped supply, so the plastic and pre-twisted spars have been used.  However, does this mean that the spar making and twisting skills are being lost?

Traditionally thatchers could make their own spars but now it tends to be more part of the coppicing and hurdle making side.  Where ever the straight spars come from (usually in bundles of 250) a thatcher has to twist his own thatching spars for use on the roof.  It will be interesting to know how many thatchers can make a spar and how many twist their own rather than buying in pre-twised spars.  So here goes the how to twist a thatching spar.

Video of how to Twist a Thatching Spar.

We asked one of our Master Thatcher Associates, to show us how to twist a thatching spar and videoed him because it is hard to describe.  The spar in held in both hands with thumbs opposite each other either side of the centre and twisted and turned with one hand sliding down to maintain the twist.  Spar fibres are pulled around as the twist makes the classic U shape.

So here is the video of him at his yard giving us the demonstration.

Have you ever tried to Twist a Thatching Spar? 

Have you ever attended an agricultural or country show where there was a thatcher working?  Did you see him twist a thatching spar? Or did you get to have a go?

Not as easy at it looks.

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