Saturday, 31 March 2012

Show

I was invited by one of the local conservation charities that I'm involved with to attend their AGM and Spring coffee morning, I was also asked to take a few of the things that i make with me for show & sale.

So i took a few Spoons, Spatulas, Bowls, Kuksa's & Gypsy Flowers amongst other things and managed to sell a few items as well, which is always a bonus.

This is the second time i have attended this small local show, but it's one of the best, the people are friendly and open minded and have a genuine interest in what i do and want to learn, to the extent that today also saw me get two further bookings, one for a local club to go and give a talk on Bushcraft and perhaps demonstrate a few simple skills, the other was to do a write up about me and what i do for a local publication which may help to bring some further work my way in the future, all in all, a pretty good day.




Friday, 30 March 2012

Birch Burl

I was given a lovely Birch Burl yesterday by my good mate Hugo, who had originally got it from Peter at the recent BCUK March meet.

I had commented that i wished i had picked up a burl at the meet, so Hugo does no less than gives this one to me and says something along the lines of "you will do a better job on it than i will", or something along those lines.

So next week, I'm going to try and do him proud and make a bowl from it using my adze, and if the grain patterns he showed me in the Kuksa he made from a similar, but smaller burl are anything to go by, it should, fingers crossed, be a stunner.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Woods Carving & Day Out

Went for a wander round today with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK, we didn't cover many miles, but did enjoy just being out there in the warm sunshine, we tried some wild edibles on the way up, Dandelion Root, Garlic Mustard & Violets, all lovely to eat, when we got to our spot for the day it was time for some carving and some mickey taking.

I carved a Woods Wizard, Hugo a couple of spoons and RockMonkey a spoon and a Dolphin from a piece of Ash, which i have detailed below, it's a stunning bit of carving, the Dolphin is made from one piece of wood and the dorsal fin is a side branch, how clever is that?.

Oh yes cant forget the Bacon sarnies and Banana pancake for lunch - lovely, i also spent some time trying to get my hammock set up properly, i have a DD Travel Hammock and no matter what i try or how i lay in it,  i just cannot get comfortable, so i think i may have to bite the bullet and get a Warbonnet Blackbird, i just need to try a couple more things with the DD before biting that bullet though.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Close Call

I was doing some work on the computer earlier today  and heard what i thought was a load of kids skipping school and mucking around outside, then i heard some Emergency sirens and thought to myself, that's louder than normal!.

It was then i looked out the front of the house and down the road and saw three Fire Pumps just stopping, then i saw the house down the road billowing black smoke, what i had thought were kids, was actually a couple of builders, who have been re roofing one of the neighbours properties, running down the road, they had seen the smoke and got off the roof in record time and belted down the road before the Fire Service were on site and pulled the two elderly occupants of the house clear, it doesn't bear thinking about the consequences if the builders had not been around in all honesty, as until I and the neighbours heard the Fire Engines, we didn't even know there was a problem.

Thankfully nobody has been seriously hurt and the Fire Service had the fire under control very quickly, obviously it goes without saying that the house is a bit of a mess, but as the neighbours and I commented earlier, houses and belongings can be replaced, people cant, and it's at times like this that neighbours who normally don't say anything to each other, all gel together and the community spirit shines through.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wood Spirit

Just a quickie wood spirit i knocked up this afternoon, I still need to finish his tache and hat off and add some finer detail, but im pretty pleased with the way he turned out.

The carving was done with a piece of Weeping Willow that ive had in the wood pile for some time.

I suppose the actual carving part of making the chap took about 30-40 minutes, excluding quartering and debarking the Willow log in the first place, must say it's been a while since i did a Spirit on a quartered log and it took a little while to remember how to do it, still got there in the end and i still have the other three quarters of the log to use for more Spirits, practice makes perfect.

Birch Spoon

I made a start on this spoon while i was down at the BCUK, Sussex Group meet last weekend, the roughing out of the spoon was done with the axe and then carved down with my Little Whittler.

The spoon is approx 9" long and has a bowl width of 1 3/4" at it's widest point, the spoon has been finished off with a tooled finish and it features a spine on the reverse of the narrow neck for strength.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Portable Forge

At the BCUK Sussex meet this past weekend we got to see and if we wanted to, to try a small portable forge that one of the guys had bought along with him.

The forge itself was made from a metal Dog bowl and a Wok, which had been lined with fire cement, the air inlet was an old can and the fan was from an old computer and it worked brilliantly.

Neumo, the guy who built it and bought it along fired it up and using an old putty knife for his raw material, made himself a small froe, which looked just the ticket, you can just see it poking out of the charcoal  in the photo. Once the eye had been formed and everything had cooled down, he went onto whittle a handle for the froe from some Sweet Chestnut and fitted it to the froe, the froe looks perfect in every respect and being small is packable and perfect for the job of splitting small sticks and rounds, so much so, that im going to try and make one myself in the not too distant future, even better is at the next meet, the forge will be there again and we have the opportunity to use it to make strikers, small froes  if we want to - looking forward to it.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back Home

Got back home a few hours ago from a quality weekend away in the woods with some of the guys from BCUK, had a load of laughs, learnt some new skills, the most fascinating was watching Neumo make a froe with his portable forge, we also did some carving, one of the guys made himself a woven mattress from Tussock Grass, oh yes, we also did a little bit of drinking around the fire in the evening and a lot of mickey taking.

The weather treated us fairly well too, lovely and warm on the Saturday, but Sunday morning saw the temp drop and mist roll in, mind you, it didn't last long once the sun got up and burnt it off and there is just something magical, about being in the woods when they are misty?.

Friday, 23 March 2012

It's Going To Be A Great Weekend

Looking out of the window at the sunset and i just know it's going to be a great weekend.

One, the sunset tells me the weather is going to be great, Two, I'm off to the Ashdown Forest for a couple of days with some friends of mine, there will no doubt be some chin wagging, lots of tea drinking and loads of mickey taking.

Yup, it's going to be a great weekend.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ash Burl Tray

A little while ago i made a post about a big old Ash burl i had been given, well at last I've made a start on working up into a bowl, first job was to cut a slice off of the bottom so it stood square, having done this i was left with a slice of the burl and it seemed a shame to just throw it away, so this afternoon i turned it into a shallow bowl / tray.

It has a tooled interior surface and the rim has been taken down smooth with a cabinet scrapper, i still need to work on the exterior surface of the tray though, pretty pleased with it, especially considering it was just going to get thrown in the burn pile.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Hobbit House

Went for a good wander round the Downs today, while we were out, we went up to see the Hobbit House. All the house is, is a massive Beech tree that has had it's roots exposed on one side over the years and following erosion by the weather and the numerous kids who have been in there, a small cave has appeared under the roots, it's been a Hobbit House for all the years I've been coming up here, eventually though,  the undercut will become too much and the tree will fall, that will be a sad day.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Birch Slice Bowl

Following on from this post about the birch slice bowl that i started on the 10th March, I, today, finally got it finished.

Ive worked on the bowl on and off over the past few days, the interior surface as you can see from the photo features a tooled finish and the exterior surface and bowl rim have been taken down to a smooth finish using a cabinet scrapper, the bowl was finished with a good coat of beeswax polish, which really bought the grain patterns out.

The bowl now has pride of place in the middle of my mums dining table, I've enjoyed making this one, it's been a challenge at times and there are, as always, a few little niggly bits I'm not overly happy with and i may address those at a later date, but for now, it's time to make a start on the next one.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Knife Of Doom

The Knife of Doom has landed in the UK, it's all down hill from here chaps.

Yup, my good friend Jontok in Norway sent me the knife of doom, why is it called the knife of doom?, well it's surrounded by bad luck and misfortune.

To cut a long story short,  not long after Jon finished it, his dog ate the handle, the day he finished the second variant, he crashed his car, but the day he sent the knife off in the post, his luck changed, i wont go into details but, his luck did change for the better, so he thought he would send his bad luck to me - cheers mate :-).

What Jon does want me to do though is to give the knife a good work out and tell him how it could be improved and once I've finished, i get to mail the bad luck back to him, so I'm going to use the knife for a few weeks make some notes on it and let him know my thoughts on it, im looking forward to using it.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Elegant Sheath For An Elegant Knife.

I was tasked by a member of BCUK to make him a simple sheath with classic lines to suit a knife he has just built, he didn't want anything that looked tacticool or fussy, just something that was elegantly simple to suit the elegant lines of his knife, so after some discussion he went for one of my Dangler Sheaths and gave me his build options.

The brass poppers and D ring used keep the continuity with the brass Pommel & Bolster used in the manufacture of the knife and the dye (British Tan) contrasts wonderfully with the grain of the Walnut used for the handle of the knife.

 
The sheath itself is made from 3.5mm veg tan, that has been dyed, awled, sewn and finished in it's entirety by hand, i dislike using drills on leather work as the drill removes the leather, whereas if you awl the stitch holes, you are only separating the fibres and over time they will contract around the stitching and give a much tighter and in my view neater and stronger finish.

I still have some work to do on the sheath to get it to the standard im happy to send out, but all being well by the middle of next week it will reside with it's new owner.

Pocket Lucet

Having made a Lucet fork the other day, id thought id make a smaller version, ie a Pocket Lucet.

The one pictured is made from Ash and like the full sized fork i made on Thursday features some stunning grain patterns, the Pocket Lucet works exactly the same way as the full sized fork, but being slightly smaller and without the handle, makes it the perfect size to go in the pocket for some ad hoc Lucet weaving when out and about

Friday, 16 March 2012

Splitting Maul From An Old Plough

While we were out and about in the woods last week, we found an old Plough Iron which looked perfect for a couple of projects, so into the bag it went, however, it then fell out of my pack when the bag fell over, this week we returned to the same spot and i retraced my steps and found the iron again. Looking at the shape, it looks like it might have the makings of a Splitting Maul or at the very least a splitting wedge, question is, does anyone out there know what type of steel plough irons are made from?, 

If someone out there can help us out with a steel type, then we may be able to fashion a Maul at the next BCUK Sussex meet as one of the guys is bringing a mobile forge with him so we can do some metal work, OK, this may be a bit ambitious as a starter project, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, i just don't want to expend all that time and energy, only to find I've wasted my time as the steel is not best suited to the task.

If the worst comes to the worst, I'll clean it up with a wire brush and just use it as a splitting wedge with a wooden mallet for taking big logs apart and making bowl blanks from.

So hopefully someone out there can shed some light on the steel type that is/was used for making Plough irons from, fingers crossed. If it turns out that the steel is suitable for the intended use then it goes without saying that the process of turning it into a new tool will be documented and posted up here.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Ash Bowl

Finally got around to finishing off the Ash Bowl i started a little while back, see this post from the 1st of March.

The bowl was adzed out from a fresh cut piece of Ash and is designed in the style of a dough bowl (albeit considerably smaller) for use as a small change tray, jewelry tray, or even to go on a table or desk as an odds and sods tray for say, paperclips or the like, in reality there is no limit as to what it can be used for.

I elected to keep the bark on, as i really like the contrast between the white wood and grey/green bark, on the bowl sides you can see where I've taken it down to the inner bark, over time this will darken and turn a reddish brown and just add character to the bowl, the outside of the bowl has been sanded down, but I've left the bowl section with a tooled finish as again i like the contrast between the two finishes and on this bowl it just seemed and feels right.

Now all i have to do is sell it.

Lucet Fork

I received a commission to make a chap a Lucet fork for his wife, the fork is made from Ash and features some absolutely gorgeous grain patterns.

If you are unsure what a Lucet is, then have a read of this post that i made about them back on October last year, they have a fascinating history and are very therapeutic to use. I still have some work to do to finish it off, before giving it a few coats of beeswax polish and mailing it off.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Right Place, Right Time

Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time with a camera, i took this photo today on my way back to the car after a day out.

I turned round and looked up the valley into the sun, which was shining weakly through the mist but  was silhouetting the trees and hills wonderfully, makes you glad to be alive.

Woods Made Bow Saw

Took a trip up the woods today with a couple of good mates of mine, we wanted to collect some fallen timber while we were there and during a similar trip last week i had said i would bring a bow saw with me today, well I took a bow saw blade and then got the guys to make a bow saw in the woods from local materials.

The frame is made from green hazel that was heated over a gas burner, normally you would use the heat of a small fire to do it, but where we were fires are not allowed, so over the gas burner it it went, heating the wood makes it more pliable and allows you to bend it without it snapping, once it had been bent to shape we knocked the blade into a coupler of small splits we had made with a knife, the splits were stopped from running by tying some baler twine we had found in the woods around the stick just above the blade.

Did the saw work?, well yes it did and very well too as you can see from the size of the Ash log that the saw is being used to cut, best bit about this saw is, you only need to take a saw blade with you, thereby limiting the weight and bulk of carrying a buck or bow saw with you on trips,  and what is really great is when it's time to move on, you can either carry your completed saw with you or take it apart and make a new one at the next destination, as the well used old saying goes - Knowledge Weighs Nothing,

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Buck & Bow saws

By popular request a quickie post on the Buck & Bow saws i use on a regular basis, the photo shows my most used saws.

The three wooden bucksaws are from Eric at Northwest Woodsman, the one of the left is a prototype Hickory saw he sent me, the other two are Maple, I've set these up with the metal rod that's supplied as standard by Eric, but they can also be set up using a windlass.

The metal framed saw in the centre is a Bob Dustrude folding bucksaw from Duluth Pack, another cracking bit of kit, i did a write up about in April last year, which can be viewed here, finally the bow saw pictured is one we have had at home for years and years, but it's still going strong, despite being used heavily for a number of years and having been under flood water on at least two occasions as well, it's recently had a new Bahco blade fitted so it's as good as new again, lets face it, there is not really much that can wrong on it.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Stool

I started a new stool today, this one per the other ones i have made recently is from from Ash with Hazel stretchers. The stool stands 16" high & 12" wide and will eventually feature a woven sisal seat, this has been designed from the outset as a sitting stool, whereas the ones i have made previously were foot stools, if i dont sell it at a show I'm attending soon, then it may well end up as my whittling stool out in the garden and also to take to shows in the hope of picking up a commission or two.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Felling Axe

Ive had a few requests from people in the past to show my Felling Axe, so here tis with a Mora 106 for scale.

The axe is made by Elwell and has a 4.5 Lb head on it which could do with a bit of a sharpen up if the truth be known, I've no idea how old this tool is but i know it's no spring chicken, even so and despite some pitting on the head, especially on the cheeks, it's a great tool, that in all honesty, doesn't get the use it should in the age of the Chainsaw.

Pot Hook

Following my previous post on a take apart pot hanger where i stated that i wasn't totally happy with the way it turned out, well today, i made a better one, far better in fact.

The hooked sections are made from fresh cut Hazel and the wedge (now replaced by a slightly wider one) is made from well seasoned Cherry, this hanger is more stable than the previous one to the point i can pick up a 15 litre bucket that's full of wood shavings and small off cuts with it, i may make another of a slightly different design later in the week if i can find a suitable branch to make it from, keep you posted.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Birch Slice Bowl

Started work on a new bowl yesterday, the blank is fairly large as you can tell from the photo below with the adze for scale, i guess the blank is about 1.5ft long and roughly 10" wide and about 4-6 inches in depth, the blank itself is a diagonal slice from a Birch log.

Ive had this blank hanging around for a while and i was intending to make a small table from it, but i looked at it on Wednesday and thouhgt, naaaah, get the adze out sunshine, so i did, unfortunately, at this stage you cant really see the grain patterns and the bowl depth, but all will become apparent when it's finished and scraped down to a smooth finish, must admit, i love making natural form bowls like this as you really have to work with the materials and if it goes right the effects can be stunning.

Keep you updated on it's progress

Friday, 9 March 2012

Little Whittler / Neck Knife

Got a new knife yesterday, and what a superb little tool it is too, the blade is 2 1/4"  in length with a scandi grind, unusually for a such a small knife it's full tang, the knife is finished off with a hand shaped Walnut handle that has some incredible deep colours in it.

It came nice and sharp and is very comfortable to use in all of the grips associated with wood carving and whittling, the handle flows beautifully into the blade with a well thought out forward taper making grips such as the chest lever, where you place your thumb flat against the side of the blade very comfortable indeed.  

The maker of this superb little knife?, well I'm keeping that one to myself for the time being as he is unsure at the moment whether he should start making these to sell, no it's not me, personally, i think he should make these for general sale and i see a bright future for him if he does.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Pot Hanger

Made myself a take apart pot hanger today while i was up the woods, the hanger is not the best I've ever made, partly due to the material choice i made, but where we were, the choice was limited to say the least, mainly big tall Ash trees and very little if any suitable trees, such as Hazel, so i had to make the best of a bad job, but hey, isn't that part of the fun?

I had to whittle one piece down as the branch was curved and a good joint would not have been possible, but once done the positioning of the joints was pretty simple, once done, a wedge was cut and a channel carved in the sticks to accept it, considering the poor materials, it turned out OK, i may make a better one this weekend though, i know where there is a lovely piece of Blackthorn that would do the job superbly.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Iron Pyrite

There has been significant discussion recently on the forums about Iron Pyrite, why this has come about i don't know, but it has been one of the subjects of the moment for sure.

I'm lucky where i live as i get to find small pieces of Pyrite in the garden and just occasionally when I'm out and about up the woods, i get to find pieces like those pictured, the coin is a ten pence piece for scale, pieces this large are not that common, but just now and again you hit the jackpot and find a good sized lump like these, more often than not though the pieces you find are about the size of the ten pence piece or a bit smaller.

Pyrite of course is one of those useful naturally occurring materials that can help us with our quest for fire, and without a shadow of a doubt would have been highly prized by our ancestors, pyrite when struck against flint, produces dull orange, low temperature sparks, but if your preparation has been done correctly with regards to your tinder, you can catch a spark and blow it to flame. 

When using this fire lighting method, which i don't very often as it's hard work,  i like to use Amadou as a tinder, but it must be prepped correctly, the surface must be fluffed up so it resembles very fine cotton wool if you want to catch that single solitary low temp spark, of course once the Amadou is going, you can then use stuff like Cramp Balls (Daldinia concentrica) as an ember extender to help you blow the ember to flame.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Birch Bowl

I got round to doing a bit more work on my latest Birch Bowl this afternoon, there is still a fair deal of work to do on it, especially on the side walls as they are a little heavy in places and maybe tomorrow I'll get the crook knives out and refine it and take the thickness down in places so i have a fairly uniform thickness throughout, so far the checks and cracks i mentioned before seem to have stabilised and fingers crossed, are not proving to be too much of a problem.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Belt Spoon

Having recently snapped a couple of my wooden tea spoons whilst I've been out and about and had them in my pocket, i figured it was time i addressed the problem of broken spoons.

So, i got one of my ferro rod belt hangers and replaced the quick release coupling with a trigger hook, then i drilled a hole in the end of an old steel teaspoon & added a small split ring, the ring goes over the trigger hook and keeps my spoon safe sound suspended off of my belt, the spoon then tucks vertically in the pocket and stays that way, whereas before it could move around and normally snapped when i sat or crouched down, I've also lost a couple of carved spoons over the years, where they have fallen out of my pocket.

So this simple but effective solution, will hopefully overcome both issues, of course, i can just store the spoon in my brew kit when its not in use, but when at camp or at meets, it's far easier to have the spoon on your person where it can be located and used very easily and also negates the need to have too much kit around you when around the fire, where there is usually a good deal of activity and things can easily get lost or broken.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Nana Pancakes

While we were out in the woods on Friday i made the three of us a bit of a treat for lunch, ok the other two were really guinea pigs, what i made for lunch was Banana Pancakes, i also made some apple and some plain ones as well.

The recipe i used, consisted of only dry ingredients, including flour, dried egg and milk powder,  that i mixed in a small bottle when it was time to cook, saves a lot of space and indeed mess if the lid comes off the bottle, all of the ingredients were mixed and kept in a  zip lock until it was time to use them, then it was just a case of emptying the mix into the bottle adding some water and giving the thing a good shake to get it all mixed up into a smooth batter.

Once mixed i fried off the fruit in the pan then when the sugars were just starting to caramelise, i added just enough mixture to cover the bottom of the pan and let it cook, i didn't flip the pancakes, electing to just let them cook through from one side, then turned in half and served and very tasty they were too.

The bonus with the recipe i use is that you can over wet it to make a batter and make pancakes, or you can form it into a dough and make a cake type bannock that you can add seasonal fruits to for a bit of a sweet treat.

For those that are interested, my recipe is :

  • 8 desert spoons plain flour
  • 4 desert spoons powered milk
  • 2 desert spoons powdered egg
  • 2 level tea spoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

The plain flour & baking powder can be substituted by self raising flour if you want, as with many thigsm, there is no and right wrong to do it, if it works for you, it's right.

Enjoy.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Mass Spoonage

I went for a bimble yesterday with a couple of mates of mine, we had a right old laugh while we were out, did a bit of carving whilst we were up in the woods as well.

Pictured are the results of just a few hours carving by the three of us, including the one mishap, that's what happens when your wife phones you up, you end up cutting your bowl off, no it wasn't mine, wife or spoon that is, still i reckon the bowl will make a great little salt container for the kitchen for those times when you just need a pinch of salt, from left to right the carving is attributed to Rockmonkey -  bowl & spoon, me spatula, spoon, spatula, the rest are all down Hugo, who went for quantity and not quality while we were there, electing to finish them all off at home.

Was a great few hours with lots of mickey taking going on - just the way it should be, cheers chaps.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Misty Woodland

What is it that makes being in a misty/foggy woodland so appealing?.

Is it because everything is so still and the slightest noise seems to travel forever or is it the added mystique that mist brings to familiar surrounding?, of course nothing beats the earthy smell of a damp woodland, i just don't know what it is, but i do know that i love being in the woods when it's misty and foggy.

Spoon Set

Following the GI spoon challenge, see this post for details, i thought i would take the design of the spoon one step further and make a set of spoons, so that's exactly what i did, the set comprises a tea spoon, an eating spoon and a cooking spoon, the eating spoon is the one made in response to the original challenge from Bike Bum.
Worked out pretty well i think and the scaling between the different spoons seems to be about right.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Bowl Blanks

Decided it was about time i did a bit more bowl carving today, so out with the Adze it was.

I managed to get two bowl blanks roughed out this afternoon, the top one in the picture is from a piece of spalted Birch, although I'm not convinced it will last due to some checking in the wood, the checks were evident when i started, so it was always possible the bowl would crack and that's the risk i decided to take,  I've placed it in a ziplock for the time being to slow the rate of checking down a bit, if it doesn't make it, well, I'll just make another one.  

The other bowl is made from a piece of Ash and is designed to be used as a loose change dish, jewelry tray, odd & sods tray or whatever someone wants to use it as, I've made it the style of a dough bowl, albeit considerably smaller.

There is a still a long way to go on both bowls and I'm hoping to be able to finish them off over the weekend, keep you posted.