Friday, 25 May 2012

Viking Axe

Sunny weather meant some time outside and so I've managed to put a handle on my new Stefan Ronnqvist axe. These axes don't come with a handle, so if you do a google search for this type of axe you come up with all sorts of different designs. One thing they all seem to have in common though is a very curved shape.

This is the picture from Woodland Craft Supplies where I bought the axe.

This one is from Country Workshops, who also used to sell them.

And this is a lovely one that I saw on the Bodger's forum.

This is what I've come up with and I haven't really managed to get that curved look that you see on all the others. To be honest I just drew around the handle on my Gransfors carving axe and went from there. I'm not terribly happy with the result. It looks like it should have that curve, but I think it will have to do until I can find a branch with a natural bend. It feels a bit thick at the moment, but i worked on the principle that it would be easier to take wood off than to put it back on again, so I'll just adjust it in use. I also made a bit of a mess when wedging it as it was difficult to hammer it in with no real support directly underneath. Next time I'll put it in a vice. All good practice though and it will be a fun experiment. Now to put it to some serious use.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Off to Spreader World

Well i've finally got around to sending some spreaders off to Country Workshop's Spreader World. The top one was made by Richard from Cherry. He's made quite a few like this and he actually used this one for a while in his kitchen. The other two are mine and were made from Alder and Birch. I decided that i didn't want to just stick them in a jiffy bag, so i used my less than amazing sewing skills to make a very rough cotton envelope for them.
Richard made a lino print a while back, so i used that to make a label for the front
I reckon it turned out ok and makes a nice touch. I hope Drew appreciates the effort.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Stefan Ronnqvist Axe

I've been looking into getting a lighter carving axe for a while now. I love my Gransfors carving axe, but i do find it to be a bit too heavy after a while. I've got some smaller axes, but i miss the upswept blade that extends above the eye. I'd noticed a smaller axe popping up in several places such as Jogge Sundqvist's wondeful DVD, the equally wonderful book 'Celebrating Birch' and on the Country Workshops website. I eventually discovered that it was made by Swedish blacksmith Stefan Ronnqvist adter reading a post by Peter Follansbee (amazing craftsman, check out his blog) , but could not get hold of one anywhere. Three years later i received an email from Woodland Craft Supplies telling me that they are once more in stock. They're only available as unhelved heads and as you can see the edge needs final sharpening and honing. I think that some might baulk at the price, and if you compare it to the price of one of the main production models from Gransfors, then it's understandable, but i'm pretty sure that these are made entirely by hand, similar to the ancient axes in the gransfors line, which are much more similar in price.

 I've roughed out a couple of handles and i'm just waiting for them to dry out before i fit and finish them (I'll probably go for the top one). Can't wait to give it a go.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Turned Bowls

Most of the bowls that I've made have either been sold or given away. These two are mine and i plan on using the one on the right for my breakfast every morning. My wife's parents live with us at the moment and they both have their own glass, which they brought with them from London. At first I decided to mock them, but now I've made my own cup out of Cherry. It's amazing how eating and drinking can be enhanced by the vessels that you use.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Car boot blues...

I've always enjoyed car boot sales.
Whether it’s the thrill of rummaging through someone else’s stuff, of finding hidden treasures or of getting a bargain, I’m not really sure – all of those things, plus some, I’ve no doubt. However, since I go to church on Sundays, I rarely get to go to car boots, except when on holiday (there are good ones in Cromer, Sheringham and the Isle of Wight – all regular holiday destinations for our family), though our main stay (and I should add at this point that each of my four kids love a good car boot) is bank holidays. Now, bearing in mind that Easter bank holiday everything was rained off, imagine my excitement and anticipation this morning when I woke up and it was sunny and dry.

Then try to imagine my disappointment when we end up driving pretty much all the way around Leicestershire to find that all of the regular car boots (Croft, Saddington, A47, etc) those that I felt certain would be on, were all closed, cancelled, postponed – call it what you will. We drove from 8:30 until 11 o’clock! And when we finally found one  that was open (Quorn) there were only about 10 people selling and a gazillion people buying and if the truth be told there was nothing actually worth buying. It was so busy they were parked on the verges all the way up the road – I wonder if they too had circumnavigated the entire county in search of the allusive car boot sales.

And what really gets up my nose is that my brother Julian in Birmingham has a really good car boot that he is able to go to every Saturday and regularly comes home each week laden with goodies. The picture shows just an average haul, and it all cost him about tupence h’apenny. I mean, just look at it! In contrast, when I asked one of the vendors at the sale I was at today about the price of a broken awl (I was determined to go home with something!) he wanted £4! I'd have um-ed and ah-ed if he'd said 20p. Where do these people think they are – Christies?

Do I sound cross?
Rant over.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Axe mask...

When I rehandled my kent pattern axe head and it became my main carving axe, I ran up a quick leathet mask to keep it safe when in my carving bag. Sufice it to say, it was so shoddy that I don't have a photo of it. In all honesty, I didn't expect it to be anything special - I needed something quickly that would do the job.

When Ju saw it, he didn't have to say a word, the look on his face said it all - it was ugly and I needed to make another if I was ever going to hold my head up at Spoonfest.

This is the new mask - 5mm thick veg tanned leather with very soft tan leather fittings. I've made these rolled leather toggles a couple of times now and it's a design I really like. It matches my knife sheaths and I'm going to make something similar for my froe. I think it holds it's own now.

Spreader world

Wooden spreaders don't seem to be very common in England for some reason, but last time I was in Sweden I noticed them quite a lot, both in shops and in a lovely little hotel that we stayed in called the hotel Ornen in Torsby. We used them there for our breakfast, which included toast, lots of different spreads and blueberries that were picked that morning. Anyway, they are a wonderful woodcarving project and the great Drew Langsner of Country Workshops has invited people to send him spreaders they have carved for his spreader world collection. I've carved quite a few recently as it gives me something to do with my hands while indoors and out of the rain. I'm planning on sending a couple for Drew's collection, but can't really decide on which two. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Here's a link to Country Workshop's Spreader World
And for the lovely Hotel Ornen

New froe...

I've wanted a froe for quite some time now, but couldn't really justify it as it's not something I think I'll use that often. I've seen themin use several times and just love to see proper riven wood.

There are a number available now, though they range in price from about £29-80, and I can't believe there is that much difference in the performance. When I saw this hand forged froe on ebay for only £18 I thought I'd give it a whirl.

When it came it was basically straight sided with a short bevel. Drew Langsner says they should be tapered from tip to back and slightly convex so I stuck mine in the vice and went at it with my angle grinder. I think the profile is a little better now.

I had a piece of seasoned Birch in the shed that I'd practised green turning on, and then just left to dry out, about two years ago. It was from a tree in my inlaws' garden and while birch probably isn't the best for tool handles, I thought I'd give it a go.

Turned it, sanded and oiled it, and wedged it with a bit of seasoned oak. Haven't tried it out yet, but since it's bank holiday, I'm hoping I'll get a chance.