Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bradford Pear

I had two or three nice titles picked out that I was going to use for this post, but I couldn't come up with anything good.  It hasn't been a banner week of woodworking for yours truly, I can tell you that right now.  I was making progress on my Pay it Forward projects, things were looking good.  I had managed to scrape out a pretty good looking spoon and a pretty good looking scoop.  I was pretty proud of myself to be honest, but as we all know, you can't be proud of yourself too soon.  You have to wait a day or so..just to make sure everything stays cool before you can actually allow your chest to swell.

Let me begin by saying that Bradford Pear is not my favorite wood.  It is twisty, knotty, carves poorly, is hard, finishes bad, and overall isn't well suited for my purposes at all.  From what I read it isn't even suited for growing in your yard because it has a tendency to split during ice or winds.  Strangely enough, that is where I came across my current supply.

I do not labor under the delusion that I am some professional spoon carver.  I am far from it, but I have made a few spoons.  Probably 30 or so now.  I am getting better at it, and by the time I reach the 100 mark, I might even be good enough to sell a few.  That being said, though, you have to work with materials that give you a good chance of producing a good product.  Bradford Pear, in my opinion, is not one of those materials.  I want it to be, but it isn't.  I am not happy with the results that I get.

I have a little bit of Hickory left that I plan to work with in the coming week.  Enough for a spoon or two, maybe.

I'm going to just throw the rest of the Bradford Pear that I have on the wood pile.  I will not remember the good times we have had together, because there weren't any really.  I will though, look forward to the spring and how pretty it looks in the yard.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paying it Forward

Lance at Southpaw Leatherworks posted a challenge on his facebook status a week or so ago. The challenge was to re post his status and then promise to make the first 5 people who commented and agreed to in turn re-post, something handmade and send it to them. I read it and took a few hours to think about if this was something I wanted to do. Finally after thinking about it and, frankly getting up the courage, I accepted the challenge.

Getting up the courage? Of course. The thought of making someone something and then sending it out makes me really nervous. There is no bigger critic for the things that I make than myself. I have made a few pretty nice spoons and I have been happy, but the thought of sending them to someone else is downright terrifying. Okay, hold up, maybe not terrifying, but it makes me nervous. Sort of like the same feeling you get when you climb to the top of the high dive at the pool, gingerly walk out to the edge and look down. Feel me?

So anyway, I have my list of people. Five people from different walks of life. A sheath maker, a singer, a master chair maker, an old friend, and my dear Aunt Connie (who, by the way, is somewhat of a master in her own right.) Trust me, family doesn't make it easier. I have to see her at Thanksgiving dinner!

So what do I make? The obvious choice is spoons or scoops I guess. I have a few other ideas kicking around in my head. The important thing is that by making things for these people, they are, in turn, making things for others, and the cycle continues. That is what this whole deal is about. It's about Paying it Forward, giving to others and making them smile and feel like there is someone out there, maybe a random person, that is willing to do something nice for them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Two Zero One One

See how clever that is? I didn't want to use the same old same old obligatory "This is my New Year's resolution post" title so I cleverly used the spelling of the numbers of the year instead!! Whatever. Still lame. I figure that at the end of the year I can look back at this post and see if any of this stuff actually happened. Some of it will, I am sure. Hopefully more will get done than not.

1.) Spoons. I think this resolution is actually broken down into a few different areas. First, I need to figure out an overall design and then work to perfect that. I think I am close. I have been happy with some of my recent work, the bowl and handles are starting to look more symmetrical, the lines are starting to come into focus and they make me happy. But still, I want my spoons to be simple and elegant. Is that even possible? I resolve to figure that out this year.

2.) Fan Birds. I resolve to figure out the mystery of the Fan Bird. I think the biggest mystery is the wood that I use to make them. Pine would work best, but I seem to be in short supply of pine.

3.) Sharpening. I resolve to figure out how to effectively sharpen my tools and to keep them that way.

4.) Pole Lathe, Bowls, Kuksa, tools, baskets, and more. I have this list of things in my brain. This is a two-fold resolution. First. I need to limit the number of things that I try to accomplish to a manageable level. I am going to focus really hard on spoons, but I also want to branch out into the world of wooden bowls, wooden cups (Kuksas) and other odds and ends. What usually ends up happening is that I become obsessed with something, drive myself to laying in bed at night being unable to sleep thinking about it, and then something happens that makes it impossible to finish. So, I am going to try really hard to only become obsessed with things that I can handle. The second part of this resolution is to actually do something besides spoons this year.

5.) Tools. I need to make a list of tools that I would like to have and more importantly, the exact reason that I want them. For example. I want a carving Axe. A good one. I want to be able to chop out spoon/bowl/kuksa blanks using it. See? Valid tool and a worthwhile purchase. I think that every new tool that I "think" that I just have to have, needs to go through this same review. The end result, more satisfaction with the tools I have, and less worrying about the ones I don't.

I think that is a good place to start. This is just the woodworking list. I have others that are even more important. Like being a good husband and father. Like staying in touch with my brother and spending more time with him just sitting around and carving. Like losing some weight and becoming healthier. Typical stuff. Things that don't need a New Year to become important.

Happy New Year!!