Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mora Clipper Sheath, done. (day 5)

I never have liked the plastic sheath that came with my Mora Clipper knife.  I mean it works pretty good, but it always felt cheap.  Of course the entire knife was probably in the $20 range, so having a sheath of any type is a good thing I think.  I've been wanting to try my hand at sheath making for quite some time, and finally got up the courage to give it a try.  Let me say though, that this is the first sheath that I have ever made.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

It is far from perfect.  The stitching was much harder than I expected, I broke a few needles, and it isn't very neat.  I found that punching the holes for your stitching runs is by far the hardest part of the entire process.  Everything else is fine as long as you take your time.  I used 8/9 ounce vegetable tanned leather.  It felt thick to me when working with it, but in the finished product I am happy for the extra thickness.  I designed the sheath using the knife as a template, first making a paper pattern then one from card stock.  It pays to place the pattern on the actual knife, folding it around and visualizing what it would be like cut out of leather.  I made my first template too small and only really figured it out after I had cut it out of leather. 

The sheath has a welt to protect the stitching from the knife blade and all stitching runs are grooved to prevent wear and tear.  I sanded and burnished the edge of the sheath to give it a nice looking edge as well as to protect it.

I read somewhere that there is only so much that you can learn by watching videos and by reading.  To truly understand how things work you have to roll up your sleeves and give it a try.  I have learned so much from making this simple sheath.  I made the welt too thick.  The top of the sheath is too wide, I could have made it narrower and still left plenty of room for the welt.  Stitching holes are a pain to get straight and I need to figure out a better way to do it for the next sheath I make.

I've already got plans swirling around in my head for my next sheath.  I hope that I can use the things I have learned in making this one to speed up the process, improve my quality, and become much more efficient.  I think I probably have 10-15 hours of work in this sheath, probably that much or more of thinking and worrying about it.

Two days left.  It has been a good run so far.  I'm on the home stretch, but I still have more to do.  See you tomorrow for the next update.  Until then spend some time thinking about things that you want to try.  What keeps you from doing it?  Happy carving everyone.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spoon Knife box, done (day 4)

I've been wanting to make one of these since the first time I saw the beautiful knife boxes that Jogge Sundqvist uses to keep his crook knives protected.  Then, more recently, Sean Hellman showed the simple box that he uses to protect his spoon knife.  I knew that I needed one.  You know how that is?  It's like the first time you see something it plants a seed, and then the second time it gives that seed what it needs to sprout and grow.  I mean, its just a wooden holder for a spoon knife, but still, I needed it.

I had a vision of what this box was going to look like a week or so ago.  I knew that it was going to be made of ash.  In my mind I could see leather straps holding the knife in place.   My original idea was two straps running across the case.  As you can see from yesterday's post, I even made two small square anchors for the snaps and two straps.  Sometimes what seems like a good idea at first doesn't work so well in practice.  I only have line 20 snaps, and they just weren't strong enough to hold against the pull of the strap.  I also ran into issues trying to get the anchors attached to the wood.  I sat at the kitchen table for quite a while today, sipping some coffee and trying to come up with a solution.  Finally, after filling my cup up a second time, I came up with the alternate approach you see here.

 The straps are attached on either side with nickle plated upholstery nails.  The double thickness across the top actually serves to hold the knife more securely than having just a single strap.  I am very happy with how it turned out.  I put some flax seed oil on it to bring out the grain in the Ash.  I like how it looks very much, and best of all, it works great.  I've been wanting a way to protect my Ben Orford spoon knife and now I am confident that it will be safe in its new home.  There is just one problem, I need a matching box for the left handed version of the same knife!  Three more days of posts still to come.  Tomorrow will probably end up being just an update post, the chances of me finishing this next project by tomorrow night are pretty slim.  I guess it depends on what tomorrow brings.  Until then, happy carving everyone.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 3, Project Update, closer than it appears

Sorry for the brevity of this post.  I burned some midnight oil last night and am paying for it today.  As promised though, here is my day three post.

This is probably the only one of my projects that I can keep a secret until it is done.  I've made some pretty good headway on it today though, and it will be done tomorrow in time for my nightly blog entry.  I think another hour or so and it will be taken care of.  I'm actually really excited about this one.  I've been wanting to get this project done for quite some time, but new ones kept getting added on top.

So, what can I say about this project that won't give it away?  Well, the wood is seasoned ash, harvested in Pennsylvania.  The leather is 8 oz vegetable tanned.  Everything else needs to wait until tomorrow.  Happy carving.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cherry Quaich, done. (day2)

I was sitting out in the garage a few days ago working on this quaich and I knew right then and there that I was going to leave a tooled finish on it.  Why?  Well I have been trying to work up the courage to do so (I'm a bit of a perfectionist) and well it was time.  Also this one is going to be mine.  I'm going to take a sip of whiskey from it on special occasions and maybe throw it in my pack to go camping in the spring and share a few sips with some of the guys I go camping with.  It's not fancy, it isn't super smooth and defect free, it is finished the best I could get it with my knives.  Sharper knives would help maybe.  I need to do some work on that skill for sure, but I'm actually happy.  It reminds me of the mountains in Pennsylvania where it came from.  That's where I come from too, and I'm not super smooth and defect free either.  We make a fine pair.

Now let me be the first to tell you that a tooled finish is not the "easy" way out.  It takes longer, in my opinion, to do a tooled finish.  At least it took me longer.  I can also tell you that just like in the light of day, sanding mistakes become visible, so do issues with a tooled finish.  I don't recommend working a tooled finish without an adequate light source, with the sun being the best to choose from.  I kept finding tiny things that I wanted to fix, and I could have been working on this project for another week and still not found them all.  Expect more tooled finishes in the future.

It is finished with a hefty coat of beeswax and flax oil mixed together to form a paste.  I slathered it on really thick and then let it sit for a bit, I then buffed the wax into a nice shine with a clean cloth.  It smells great, like honey.  It also brought out the colors of the sap and heart wood.

How do you know if a quaich is going to work?  Well you poor in a shot of some whiskey and check for leaks.  My cherry quaich passed with flying colors.  I'm not a big drinker by far.  But there is something special about drinking out of a wooden vessel that I could really get used to.

Project three is next and let me just say that I wouldn't expect to see anything finished tomorrow night.  An update though for sure.  Until then, happy carving!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Camp Spoon, done (day 1)

Day one, project one, done.  I present to you the finished camp spoon.  The more I look at this spoon the more I like it.

The deep bowl will work well for campsite cooking.  I left it fairly thick and chunky, but I did refine the shape some and thin it out a bit.  I whipped up a quick lanyard for it.  I used OD Green and Royal Blue 550 paracord, probably about 5 feet of each.  I figured a lanyard would be useful for all sorts of things, it can be removed from the spoon if needed, but will serve as a way to tie it to your pack or hang it while cooking.

The spoon is made from cherry, harvested with my brother in Pennsylvania.  I applied a nice thick coat of flax seed oil, waited a bit, and then applied a second.  It is ready for years of use.

Well, I'm off, I've got more stuff to work on if I am going to get these projects done this week.  Happy carving everyone.  Talk to you all tomorrow, hard to say what project will show up here next.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A veritible flurry of projects

I think for once my brain has gotten ahead of my physical ability to get things done and has sent me into a tailspin of half finished projects.  Now I don't know about you, but I will sit and worry about them until they are done.  It affects me, my mental outlook on things gets impacted when I have too many things left undone.  Are you like that?  I've been feeling down these last few days and I came to the realization that the reason is because I haven't actually completed anything lately.  I've only started things.

To make matters worse I am leaving next weekend on a business trip.  I'll be a basket case if I don't have these things completed and off my list by the time I head out.  They say when you want to do something that you know is going to be hard, you should tell as many people as you can.  Like quitting smoking or something.  You go and tell everyone you know and then you feel like a big jerk if you go back on your promise.

So, in the spirit of forcing myself to get stuff done, I am going to write a blog post each night for the next 7 days.  In each post I will talk about the projects that I am on the way to getting completed.  The ultimate goal?  I hope that by the end of the week I have my bench cleared, my mind at ease, and that I'll be able to focus on my trip.

Speaking of my trip, I brought home a spoon the last time I was out there.  It's been sitting on my desk upstairs in the office since I got home.  I pick it up and mess with it during long conference calls or when I am trying to figure out a solution to a problem. 

Its a disposable wooden spoon.  It is thin, obviously pressed into shape, the same material that is used to make those little wooden things you get with tubs of ice cream.  The company I go visit has boxes of them in their break areas.  People use them to stir their coffee, make tea, and eat their lunch.  They are right beside the coffee cups made with 100% recycled paper.  It reminds me that we don't have to use plastic, we have better options.  I am working on applying that to my life as a whole.

See you tomorrow for the first project update!  Happy carving!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Camp Spoon, Camp Spoon, Jiggity Jig!

I've been wanting to make a simple camp spoon for quite a while and just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.  In my mind a camp spoon has to be sort of chunky and thick.  A camp spoon needs to be sturdy enough to take some abuse.  When you are cooking at a camp site, you don't need anything too fancy.  Just something to stir your pot, measure your coffee, and eat with.  On the other hand it has to be something that you will actually want to use, it doesn't do any good to keep it in your pack.  I had some cherry left over from my trip to Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, so I hit the garage and started carving.

The bowl ended up a bit deeper than I wanted, and I may actually carve another one, but for now I am pretty happy how it turned out.  I purposely made the bowl somewhat heart shaped.  I figure getting into the corners of your cooking pot is a good thing. 

I need to do a bit more work in refining the shape and put some oil on it.  I plan on putting a paracord lanyard hole on the end as well.  I figure a camp spoon needs something that will allow you to attach it to your pack or hang it on a stick by the camp fire.

In other news, I've been playing around with paracord again..  I've been wanting to make a bracelet jig for some time.  I found a tutorial online and made a working jig in about an hour.  It isn't pretty, but it works great.  I used it to make paracord bracelets for the kids and the one in the picture above.  The best part of having a jig is that it holds the cord for you and allows you to adjust the length of the bracelet.  Using this jig I can make a single pass cobra stitched bracelet in about 10 minutes from start to finish.

I made it about 40 inches long and cut the slot for the adjustment mechanism twelve inches long.  You can't see it in this picture, but I drilled a secondary hole for the carriage bolt near the bottom of the jig.  This will allow me to make much longer items, such as dog collars, straps, slings, and more.  I also have some room to add a larger clip for larger projects.

Do you ever feel like you have so many projects up in the air that you don't know how to get any of them done?  Or more importantly, that you don't know which one to work on first?  Yeah, me too.  I seriously need to sit down and make a list.  I've been wanting to make a sheath for my Mora Clipper.  I just don't care for the plastic sheath that it comes with when you buy it.  Oh and I just saw a video about hook knife boxes.  Oh and...

I need help.

I hope you are having a great week, may your knives stay sharp and happy carving everyone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stick Flowers. for the Gypsy in all of us

Sean Hellman, a better woodworker than I will ever be, posted a video a few days ago on making wooden flowers.  Big surprise, that was all it took for me to be off and running.  To be fair, I had watched a few videos in the past on the subject, but Sean's video inspired me to give it a try.

I think sometimes we all get caught up in the idea that to be a wood worker of any sort, we need the latest and the greatest tools.  Sean demonstrated that, to get started at least, often the the tools that you have at your home right now are good enough.  As with all things, as your skill progresses you will want to improve the quality of your tools, but it is important to just give it a try and see what happens.

In any case, after watching Sean's video, and then watching it again, I was headed outside to look for sticks.  I didn't have to go far, I had a few random limbs laying around (hey, its winter time, don't judge) and before long, I was back inside with a few carefully selected pieces.  Okay, lets be fair, a few random sticks that I picked up in the yard.

I attempted to make these flowers with a knife as was shown in the video, but I just wasn't able to make it work.  I kept cutting off petals!  All I could really make was a pointed stick.  Even though pointed sticks are pretty neat, they don't look like flowers.  Just when I was getting frustrated with the whole project, I switched to my Flexcut drawknife and my shave horse.

Stock photo
Now, why do I have a Flexcut drawknife?  You can thank Mr. Hellman for that too!  No wonder my wife gets a look of panic in her eyes when I say "Honey!  Guess what I just read about?!"  Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, flowers!  I switched to my drawknife and shave horse, and I was off and running.

Here are the first few that I made.  I think they look like flowers.  I ended up making 14 in total, well 14 that I kept, even with the draw knife I made a few mistakes.  Usually the problems that I encountered were not keeping the cuts even and I ended up spiraling as I went around.  The good thing about using the draw knife was that I could bend down over the work and make sure the cuts were nice and even.

I added "stems" to the flowers by drilling a hole in the bottom of each one with a 1/16th inch drill bit and then gluing in some 18 gauge florist wire.  It came in a pack of 24 for about $3.00.  I wanted to add some color, but also really liked the natural look.  I ended up putting some water based paint into a spray bottle and thinning it down with some more water and spraying a few of the flowers lightly.  The water made the petals curl a bit, I was happy with the effect.

It was a fun project to do and my wife appreciated the time and effort that was spent making them.  I learned a few things during the whole process.  I need to shape the bottom of the flowers before I make them, as you can see in those last two pictures, the bottoms are still round.  I should have taken a few seconds to taper the bottoms.  Also, sticks matter.  They have to be dry.  This actually works out well, no cutting of live trees is required.

Making these flowers made me think of spring, I can't wait for it to get here.  It can't come too soon though!  I've got projects on the bench that need finishing, believe it or not, that quaich isn't dry yet.  It's close though, really close.  Happy carving everyone.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Paracord and a lucet

I'm waiting on my cherry quaich to dry.  I'm taking it really slow with this one, cherry seems to go all wonky if you try and dry it to fast, at least in my experience.  I've got it in a plastic bag, taking it out and turning the bag inside out and putting it back in.  I plan on doing this a few more days until the bag is dry inside.  At that point, it will be dry enough to do the finishing cuts and get it done.  More on that in a few days.  While I'm waiting I have been messing around with a few other odds and ends.  First, some paracord survival bracelets. 

I made them in the King Cobra style, essentially a cobra stitched bracelet wrapped in a second cobra stitched bracelet.  They have a half inch buckle on them as well.  I alternated colors so, you know, they would look cool.

Next up on the crafting front, is a lucet.  It is also called a knitting fork, and is used to make cord.  I need to clean it up a bit and put some sort of finish on it, but I wanted to give it a try.  It worked great, I made a few lengths of cord using it tonight.  I'll probably thin down the tines a bit, and sand it a bit smoother overall, but I am pretty satisfied with how it came out.  Not to mention the fact that it works.

More on the lucet later.  I cut my finger tonight, right on the tip, where it hurts when I type.  I'm off to grab a cup of coffee and work on my next craft project.  Keep an eye on this space, I have some pretty cool stuff on the way.  Until we meet again, happy carving.  Oh, and I am sorry I couldn't think of a catchy name for this post, sometimes you just have to call it like it is. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cherry is so very...

What single word can I use to describe cherry wood?  Beautiful doesn't quite do it justice I think.  It is that and so much more.  For example, when you first split it open, green from the tree, you can smell that it is cherry, it smells wonderful.  Sort of like, well, cherries. 

The grain seems sort of long and stringy at first site, but when you get into it, it is really nice, and not really that stringy at all to work with.  It splits nice as well, I split out the pith with my froe and it came out without any issues.

These two logs were taken from the bottom of the tree, right above the ground.  It is wet.  It is amazing how much water has been coming out of it as I let it rest between carving sessions.  It doesn't seem to be too hard, but then again, it isn't soft either.  I've had to rest my hands a few times while carving, not to mention run my knife across the strop a few times to put the edge back on it.  No matter!  I've got stuff to make, and fresh green wood to make it with!  I can tell you, it seems that my wood supply is somewhat hit or miss these days, so you have to make hay when the sun shines!

All this splitting and smelling and wiping way of water for what purpose?  I'm working on a new quaich if you must know.  I sat down at the table the other night and put some thoughts and sizes on paper. 

I wanted something to start from, often times I just go out to the garage and start carving away and what comes out at the end is more luck than planning.  So with this quaich, I put some pencil to paper and made a pattern.  After taking some additional measurements, I transferred the pattern to my cherry log.

Then came the axe work.  Let me tell you now, I am not very proficient with the axe.  I have trouble with consistent strokes, I need to improve my accuracy, and frankly, I have trouble knowing how far I can go with the axe before switching to a knife.  I definitely could go further than I do, but I get all nervous and think that I have already gone too far.  It is a work in progress.  I know that axing as much as you can certainly makes carvng much easier.  In any case, here is what I had after 10 or 15 minutes of axe work.

Not great, I know, but you can start to see the hazy outlines of the quaich coming into view.  I did a bit more than this and then broke out the carving knives and got started.  I'll post the rest of this project in the next day or so, I am carefully drying it now before putting the finishing touches on my little quaich.  I am liking it so far.

In the mean time, I am about to enter slingshot mode again.  I've went and bought a 2 foot square piece of 3/4" Lauan plywood and am about to put in an order for some band material.  More on those in the future too.  So many projects so little time!  Happy carving everyone.