Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ash me no questions

I have had 6 foot ash log laying in the back flower bed for over a year.  How do I know?  Well I posted about getting it on this very blog.  I've seen that log laying out there for months, feeling slightly guilty when I look at it because I felt like it was going to waste.  So what do you do with a piece of wood that big?  I was at a loss for a long time, until I came across my friend Kepis who was making Kuksas out of seasoned ash.  He was using European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and the log I had in the back yard was White Ash (Fraxinus Americana) but I figured that I would give it a try and see how it worked.

 Now first off, let me explain that working with seasoned white ash is like working with steel.  It brings new meaning to the term Hard Wood.  There is a reason that it is used for baseball bats, tool handles, and bowling lanes.  I wrestled and fought, nursed my blisters and sore hands, but finally I had something that sort of looked like a spoon, well a ladle actually.

When I had finished carving it, I remember sitting in the garage looking at the grain pattern and thinking how beautiful it was.  I knew then that I had found a use for this year old Ash log that had spent all that time outside.  There were spoons inside, probably a few Kuksas as well.  Do you ever do that?  Look at a log or a limb and see the spoons that live inside it?  I do.  And yes, my wife thinks I am a little bit strange as well.

I started my second spoon as soon as my hands stopped hurting and was much happier with the result.  This spoon has a nicely shaped bowl with a gentle sweep into the handle.  

It still needs a coat of oil on it to make the grain really pop, but I've been enjoying it unfinished.  I like the growth rings and how they wrap around the bowl.

Not long after carving these two spoons/ladles we had a visit from Hurricane Irene here in Virginia.  The result?  Wood, and lots of it.  We had a nice sized maple limb come down in the back yard, as well as a pretty good sized limb from a large Tulip Poplar.  I'll probably have to cut down the rest of the maple at some point as well, the limb split off and opened up a sizable tear down the trunk.  I'm worried that water will rot the top out of the tree.  My brother Jim was visiting that weekend, having had his vacation cut short at the beach by the impending storm.  He and I spent quite a few hours out in the garage, carving and talking.  It was really nice to spend that time with him.  We even had some time to fire up the grill in the middle of the hurricane.

Since I had a good supply of fresh green maple from the storm, I carved a coffee scoop that will probably end up being sent to a friend of mine in Pennsylvania.  It needs to be finished, but I like the shape.  It feels good in the hand, and is perfect for making your morning coffee.

Until next time, Happy Carving all.