Friday, February 25, 2011

The straight scoop

The holly continues to carve well, even after sitting in the garage for a few weeks now.  I have a little waste on the ends, but just an inch or so in, the wood is green and wet and carves so nicely.  I have been working on some scoops.  I like to carve them, they seem like something honest and every day.  Sort of like a spoon I guess, but not as classy.  Like the backwoods cousin to the spoon, bigger, rougher, not as streamlined, but hard working and useful for sure.

Here are some shots of my latest.  They haven't been oiled yet, but they have been sanded.  Pictures are interesting, it brings out flaws in your work that you haven't seen or don't see as well when you hold it in your hand.  The bigger of the two needs a little work on the inside of the bowl, but the shapes are nice, the sides are smooth and I like the handle very much on the smaller of the two.

I plan on getting some oil on them this weekend if all goes well.  I think they will look even better with a nice coat of oil on them.

Happy carving!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Not now! My Blog is on!

I have a huge problem.  I mean a problem of such mountainous proportions that I just don't know if I am going to be able to fix it.  I tried to type this post about an hour ago.  Before I started I wanted to do some research.  I went to google images and typed in Wooden Spoon and pressed the enter key.  I wanted to see how many images came back.  2.5 MILLION.  Like I said that was an hour ago.  I have no clue how many pictures I have looked at, but my eyes are burning and these words seem to be running together on the screen.

Do you now have an idea of what my problem is?  If you haven't figured it out yet, I am addicted to wood based craftsmanship (or craftswomanship for that matter).  Did you just laugh?  I did.  But it was the slightly maniacal laughter of a crazy person.

To give you an idea of how bad things are.  I wrote a little poem about it.  Wanna hear it?  Here it goes.

There is Jon Mac, Robin Wood, Sean Hellman and the Silver Fox,
And from up north, Peter Follansbee who is carving a box.
There is Kari Hultman, Steve Ramsey, and that Wood Whisperer guy.
Barn the Spoon, Mathew Comer, Chair Notes, and Shavings that Fly.

There is that Renaissance site, Simon Hill, and Woodchuck Rings.
Yaakov, Donna, and Katherine turning bowls and other cool things.
There's Del Stubbs, Ben Orford, the Dwarves and the Scotsman Chris.
Back Creek Bushcraft, Bodgers, the Sharpened Axe, and others like this.

There are more that I read, that are on my long list,
Like my brother the BFC, and Jogge Sundqvist.
And many many more, that I just haven't found,
I'll find them I'm sure when I'm digging around.

One of these days, I'm headed back out to the shop,
With a shiny new axe and some fresh wood to chop.
I'll carve a spoon, or maybe a bowl from green logs
But until then, don't bug me, I'm reading my blogs.

I rest my case.  Only a 100% off his rocker crazy person would spend the time to not only rhyme those words, but cut and paste all the links.  They say that addiction knows no bounds.  I think they just might be right.

Happy reading, carving, wood working, to you and yours.

Oh wow!  Del finished his new shop.  Great news!  That means knives are coming to Woodlake very soon, very very very soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Getting a handle on things

Lately I have been sitting here at my desk in the evenings with a sketch pad sitting on the desk in front of me.  I am not an artist, not even close to one, but I have been flipping it open and sketching a few pictures of spoons.  Spoons you say?  Yep.  Spoons.  Mostly handles.  I think after 6 months of spoon carving, I have finally settled on a handle design.  I think it needs refinement for sure, but I think I have come up with a general shape that will work.  Here is the silly part, it is nothing really, just an elongated diamond shape.

See?  Nothing exciting or fancy.  Not at all.  Just a simple shape, but if you were able to see the turmoil that this has caused in my brain, you would all be sighing a collective sigh of relief.  Seriously.  Random people that I meet on the street know about my handle problems.  "Hi, nice to meet you, I carve spoons, but I can't figure out the handle shape."  I shrug off the strange look.  "Yes, I am fully aware that spoons have handles."
Serenity Now!!!!
Anyway, that is all behind me now.  I am going to work on refining the shape in the coming months and I expect that now I will see a huge jump in consistency and overall quality.  I guess we will see.

That's about it I guess.  I got to spend some time on the phone with my brother the other night.  Two hours of talking about pole lathes and spoon knives, and bent wood rings.  Yep, I went there.  Bent wood rings.  Rings that are made from wood that is bent in a circle.  More on that later.  I hope.

I am going to really try to do a bit more writing here on the site.  Stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good Golly I like Holly!

I have never had the pleasure of carving holly until a few days ago.  After trying to fight a spoon out of Bradford Pear and using my last bit of Hickory on a failed attempt, I was in dire straits for sure.  I was on my walk a few days ago when I saw a holly that had the top partially snapped out of it.  I guess it was storm damage, there were others standing right beside it that were fine though, so hard to say.  The tree was broken almost in half with the top of it laying on the ground.  What caught my eye was the fact that the branches were still green, they had leaves on them.  Perfect for what I needed!  A few minutes later I had the top laying on the ground, a few branches cut off of it, and 15 feet of usable spoon wood!  I threw it up on my shoulder and hiked out of the woods with my new prize.  Leaned it up against a tree at the bottom of my yard, and resumed my walk.  We have a holly tree on the border between my house and my neighbors.  Here is a shot of it from my back deck.

I have been worried about holly, because when I was a kid, my parents always told me never to eat the berries from a holly tree.  I was worried that the wood was toxic or could make people sick.  Obviously you can't make spoons out of something that is going to cause health problems when they are used.  Through my research I found a good deal of information regarding the toxicity of the holly.  In summary, eating the berries and leaves could leave you with an upset stomach, but the wood is food safe and is perfectly fine for spoons.  Cool, now let's get to carving!

 My first holly spoon, and I am so happy with how it turned out.  I found the wood to be really dense, but it carved well,  The wood is on the fibrous side and you have to be careful so you don't get tear out or splitting during longer cuts.  I carved the beginnings of a coffee scoop from the other half of the log that this spoon came from, carving the deeper bowl caused no issues.  It was a joy to make this spoon.  I have a lot more wood out in the garage, I can't wait to see what else is hiding inside it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Walking in the woods

What is it about being in the woods that makes you feel good?  Maybe it is the crunch of the leaves, or the sounds of the squirrel scolding you from the branches above your head.  Maybe its the peace and quiet.  I think for me, its all of those things and the fact that it takes me back to when I was a kid and spent many many hours in the trees above my house.  I didn't grow up with a computer and a phone that played games.  We never even had cable television until I was much older.  Being outside is what occupied my time.  Running off into the woods, walking up to the train tracks, finding railroad spikes that somehow ended up in the yard.  I broke my arm falling off of a rope swing tied into the biggest tree I could find.

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that I enjoy being out in the woods.  Even more so now because I look at the trees with the eyes of a woodworker.  That makes me laugh.  That doesn't even sound right when I read it back.  In reality I look at every tree and think "How many spoons would that make?"

I have gone walking in the woods three of the last five days.  I think I am going to head out there again tomorrow.  I can't wait for the leaves to start coming in.  For the browns to turn to greens and for everything to come alive.  I can't wait to see the Crappie spawning in the shallow end of the resevoir.  It won't be long now.

One of these days I am going to come home with some wood to carve spoons out of.  There is some holly growing down there that I have been wanting to cut down.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep walking in the woods.  I hope it is something that I can do for a long long time.