In my last blog I detailed a list of ways to get started in crafting a spoon from green wood.
Since that short time ago I have learned some wonderful lessons regarding grain, timber size, and being more aware of the possibilities of a wooden spoons life if we care to use the spoon on a daily basis.
Note: A big thanks to Jarrod Stone Dahl for his guidance and explanations on this timber splitting technique. Jarrod is an amazing green woodworker. Please be sure to check his wonderful talents here: http://jarrodstonedahl.blogspot.com/
Now comes the wrath of the math…..this is where I usually take cover..lol.
Many of you more experienced green wood workers may already have splitting timber into different sections under your belt and understood. For me, splitting timber for spoon making was basically down the middle, remove the branches pith and hopefully getting 2 spoons from a 2-3” diameter inch branch. Nothing wrong with that method, but it may play a strong role in how long your wooden spoons bowl may last a life of constant use.
This is where end grain will appear if you split a branch down the middle then go to town hewing out a spoon blank….there will be no way around that. That end grain or “rings” in the spoons bowl are very pleasing to the eye. These end grain rings show off your spoons grain in a terrific pattern. Unfortunately one very important problem may occur from this. Every time end grain soaks water from eating, cleaning, etc, the water needs to release almost like a blocked garden hose. That pressure after some time may cause the spoons bowl to begin a crack if your spoons bowl is not strong and supported enough. I learned this by reading an article from Del Stubbs. Del is a very talented and experienced craftsman, tool maker and spoon maker. His sloyd knives are off the charts….if you are serious about carving look no further than: http://www.pinewoodforge.com/catalog.htmlyou will not be disappointed at all.
Now getting back to our possible dilema, too thin of a spoon bowl with end grain rings can possibly spell a short life for your creation. Again nothing is guaranteed with wood, it moves and we have to deal with it…lol.
Here is an example that most of us use. A piece of 2-3” diameter branch we split and make one or two spoons from. This split would be known as Tangential.
Note: I am only using the measurement of 2-3” of timber diameter merely as an average number for the bowls width. You may still apply these ideas with 1-5” lets say…or varied sizes. Please keep in mind that 2-3” is a nice play room as you carve so your spoons bowl at the width is not too slender.
For those of you who have some nice 15-7 inch diameter trunk wood splitting the timber radially is the way to go. If we split our piece radially we will get many nice spoon blanks and also relieve the end grain from appearing bullseye or a large section of it in our spoons bowl. This format as well as the crooked or bent smaller branch wood also supports the “form follows fiber” instruction to some degree that Jogge Sundqvist discusses and teaches. This way we can see grain that runs straight with a slight turn left or right through most of our spoon. Depending on how you split the wood, many times you will get a very straight grain path running throughout and of course the straighter the grain the stronger the spoon will be.
Here is an example of having a nice 7-15” diameter log of trunk wood. We can split this like pie pieces and make ourselves a good many spoon blanks from this without dealing with too much end grain in our spoo
Here is an example of one of the removed pieces from our radial split.
Here is what your prepared spoon blank should look like after hewing it with your hatchet.
So what does all of this complicated grain stuff mean? It is only additional education of the craft of making good spoons. Again there is no horror in doing a tangential split and making a nice spoon. This is only a warning that perhaps with heavy use the spoon may encounter checking issues in the spoons bowl. Guess what…it may never ever happen…that’s wood for ya…lol. Basically the best advice in a better understanding of all of this is go out and try it! I had a pretty difficult time wrapping my brain around the different planes of wood and how the grain runs so please do not feel like your not picking this up.
Like any subject matter the further you explore and study the more wonderful knowledge you can attain. Spoon craft continues to surprise me, pull me away from my other projects and keeps me learning. Spoon carving has made me a better woodworker, taught me skills otherwise I may not have ever tried. I suppose it is that feeling of green woodwork, that we may be out in the forest and we have more contact with that raw rugged tree. Our exercises from working at the log have strengthened our muscles physically as well as mentally. Our eyes understand natures ways a little more and our ears remind us of the tones of triumph, patience and caution.
Ok…how about a few spoons to look at before we end this.
In closing….you will not be able to attain this total understanding of carving and shaping without the hatchet. A band saw will not do the work justice if it is a higher education of spoon making you seek. The hatchet tells us automatically the grains story, the blade is communicating with the wood where the best cuts will naturally be hewn allowing the strength to follow a natural improved sculpture. This careful Sloyd work is not for quick duplication pumped though electric machines, it is an aged old wisdom the student must sweat and work with a determined diligence. I only get more humbled by seeing the masters work their magic. Much of my knowledge is from reading the guidance of Mr. Wille Sundqvist. By the way….he is 87 years strong and still making bowls and spoons in the cold of Sweden…spoons keep you young! A documentary is in the works…I cannot wait and it is long overdue! See that great news here:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s
I hope a few of you out there may give this stuff a try and enjoy the journey!
Thanks for reading friends and take care!
Since taking such an extended time learning many aspects of carving spoons from green timber, I began to miss the other parts of working wood. I missed the use of my old Stanleys, Disstons, and Millers Falls! Yeah….I am a hand tool galoot for sure….GALOOTS UNITE!...LOL.
Of course while just starting to excel at carving, understanding the grips and sculpture of spoon making, it was easy to have a worry that my other skills were getting some rust as much as the tools began too!..lol. Oh….oh we have a few planes getting rusty….3 in 1 oil in isle 5 please!...lol. Ahhh, the tales of having a natural environment in an outdoor garage shop. Oil early and often…..I am telling myself that by the way, as a reminder.
So with some scrap 3/4 inch pine board I thought that this would be a fine time to get warmed up a little. Sure I have my 3 legged stool to finish, but I wanted something to
re-communicate old skills with. Mads always inspired me with his takes on Japanese tool box’s and trying something like that has always been on my list…so I gave it a go.
This particular setup would be much smaller in size though, and I was actually happy for the required delicate nature I would have to take in order to build it. My feelings were that to have to create this with all hand tools and using such small pieces would only exercise my skills more, challenge my instincts and let me evaluate where I am at since taking such a long break from bench work.
I drafted a small plan out then took to my workbench. My only rules that I continued to affirm were to take time, use what I have learned, and let this be a joy.
First I had to rip this 3/4 inch board down….haaaa this was a small workout. Lucky me I had this old lovely Disston rip saw I purchased at an auction, it cost me about 3 bucks.
I gave it a little tune up, some tallow, and then set about my rip saw voyage. The saw felt good, the accuracy was very on par for my level, I was feeling excited and inspired to be sawing some old pine dust once more!
Once the pieces were separated I dogged them with my high tech dogging system! 3 screws at the end of my simple bench…alla Roy Underhill…lol. I am one that would rather build things then get too lost in building benches so I can build things..lol. With that said I would love to get to building another bench…but I just keep making things..lol.
This is no offense to those awesome benches all of you guys are building…I think they are awesome. I will get to it….eventually…lol.
So on to the Stanley #3 to plane down my thin pine boards. I have found that tallow is about as best you can go in my opinion for easing your tools through a job, if your new to hand tools get some tallow for using your saws and planes with. It makes everything move much easier.
I also still have to say my Diamond stones….brilliant. Paul Sellers methods are easy, fast and I never have a dull blade. I don’t care for fussing with science/math experiments and calculations on sharpening…lol. I like old school methods where the work is up front. Stop a blade on your thumbnail or shave your arm hairs off…son, it’s sharp!
Wow, the Pine was really thin now…the most lightest project was being prepped for layout. I realized that my brawn would have to be put on hold for focused moves. No more of this strong arming a hatchet for hewing spoon blanks or making bowls. Now was the time for a concerto like calm effort of harmonizing with light Pine pieces for my saw to make box parts from.
With a little time and detail put in I managed to get all of my pieces cut, glued them up and made this small Japanese….gift box? I varied it’s design a bit by leaving out the indents on the ends and joined it with a combination of brads and wood nails.
I whittled the wood nails from some thin Poplar dowel. The Brad nails were too long for my thin joined dimensions so I simply put a brad in my metal vise, chopped the length with cutting pliers then peened over a new small nail head with a small ball peen hammer!
Making this box was a real pleasure and challenge. I was happy and surprised at how well I adapted to dimensioning such small pieces and seeing the vision to the final product.
Woodworking is something that always reveals hidden applications we hold within ourselves. I feel there is a wide open road untraveled whenever we tap deep within our basic elements of instincts and primal curiosities of what we might make from sticks. Making things is something all of our ancestors at one time or another simply had to do, we find ourselves lucky to even call any of this current carpentry….tinker or hobby at all.
With a small cabinet hammer, brad nails and some pine, life feels right and the tempo of my hammer follows the feeling.
The secret to most of it all is the amount of love you hold in your heart, allowing it to be shared down into your hands.
From there a crafts person shares it with those they care for, and a wonderful notion is spread throughout days far beyond our busy time.
I keep a weathered soul of strength, mystery and knowledge close to my courage to keep it company with my daily fears, sometimes my ideas surprise my own assumptions.
Above there are busy streets of youth and technology, time gives forth the passion of carefree days, but down below there is a workshop where the bodger shaves his grain, the blisters burst although he smiles with total satisfaction.
TO VIEW THE FINAL PROJECT "JAPANESE GIFT BOX"
CLICK HERE: PORTFOLIO
I thank all of you for your continued creativity and artisanship. Keep on the saw line and be well!
I was a very fortunate woodworker this week to receive correspondence from a special friend. Of course it is MADS!
Mads for the few who may be unaware of his positive presence on lumberjocks is a fantastic woodworker, designer, and all around spiritual character. Basically he makes the entire experience of sharing on Lumberjocks all the more interesting and fun.
As I opened the envelope there before me was a wonderful letter full of good things. A handmade Origami Crane...wow, I love it.
Then an exercise from the master himself asking me to perhaps give it a try. He even supplied some papers for making one!
Well....I carved a little Swan made of Sassafras to share the spirit of the game...lol. I have to learn some Origami and look forward to it!
Then this wonderful crafted strop for my carving knives....it is my favorite! I love the stamp and the color of the wood. Mads has this wonderful style of good taste, solid design, and flow to his ideas....bravo!
Mads, Iet me say that I don't think your timing could have been any better for the arrival of this letter. Times in our world are so crazy right now, so much and too much violence and sad news on most things these days. Getting this letter was a wonderful example of the positive connection of crafts people. A strong life line of sharing where people from separate countries can connect with the things we hold close to our hearts. For all of us on here....it is the love of crafting with wood, making things, taking a hand plane and creating endless shavings that lead to our desired output.
I feel really blessed to receive what I like to think of as an affirmation of good will and the spirit of woodcraft.
Once I was at my carving log, spoon making tote, hatchet, knives, and my trusty new strop I sure went to task and created with joy.
I thank all of you for your participation, inspiration and positive support in my projects. This is a great social network of people sharing the sawdust and shaving the grain.
Most of all, I thank you Mads for a terrific letter and gift.
I hope you may read this blog in the best of spirits and know that your letter for me was a great inspiration to continue to learn more!
All the best to you and yours my friends,
I hope any of you who do not know of Mads (Mafe's) work, may check out his great woodworking projects here: http://lumberjocks.com/mafe
I also hope for any of you that have not, that you join Lumberjocks! It is a wonderful woodworking social media community. Please visit: http://lumberjocks.com/
If you are at your desk stressed, maybe stuck inside on a rainy day, or possibly contemplating troubles of the world, I have something for you to read. Here is a short journey of an escape to something that may bring a positive rejuvenation to your spirit.
We need to only walk a little and connect our feet to the paths that bring us goodness inside our souls. Each bird sings as your feet crackles steps through mangled brush and the path unwinds in a joyful noise of fresh air and tall mighty Oaks.
I would say the easiest exercise in clearing our minds of worry is sometimes the hardest to remember to put into action. We are walking in the woods, nothing too difficult to do and yet our busy lives suspend this activity most of the time.
Let's not only walk, let's make it even more special by hunting a small piece of timber. So much has been cut down from fallen trees that if we are patient I know the sun will shine on something for us to use.
Just a fun little adventure like modern bodgers. We can seek out our grain for our tools to hew and shave, hammer or plane. Each step of the hike is invigorating, it feels good and it feels free.
My worries seem less apparent now, somehow the forest speaks first to me canceling out rushed highways, hurried walkways, or the occasional unfriendly face.
The wisdom in the wilderness is larger than arms of muscle or hours of ego, it is the basic place we belong. We can find peace we never knew existed in the twirled bark of a Sassafras tree or the relaxing sounds of a small stream.
The short journey now is not far from over, I have enjoyed taking pictures of interesting spots. The woods sometimes provides short theaters of pure artistry, scenes we want to take with us and so the camera is a great instrument to help us do so.
Now then, I would just love to snag a small piece of timber. I have come up empty on seeing anything fallen or cut that is easy to bring back, but I will keep my eyes scanning as I continue the hike.
Funny how things work out, mere yards away I see a huddled pack of Black Cherry cut from one of the Park Rangers. My eyes calculate what I would feel good about taking back.
I see some nice possibilities for spoons in this piece. I will grab it, pack in the pick up truck and haul it to the shop!
I leave here with some nice thoughts, I surely know all of us need them more than ever with times getting more crazier by the hour anymore.
Most of all I thank you if you went with me in spirit. If your unsettled mind was once more settled then it was sure more than worth it, don't you agree?
Life is much like an ocean or pond I think. Waves come and go but we have to somehow learn the art of sailing with them and keep our heads above it all.
I thank you for taking a break and having a walk with me! Next time we can look at the memento I will make from the Black Cherry!
Enjoy every shaving and remember to laugh more,