Monday, 22 October 2012

First commission...

Just a quick one while I'm on here. A friend at work, having seensome of my spoons, enthusiastically asked if I could make a spoon for him as a gift for his wife for Christmas. He is an art teacher and so understands the work and time that goes into making such a thing and was offering me a fair price - unlike those who think I'm weird for carving spoons in the first place and who try to surpress a laugh or choke when I explain how much I sell them for.

I made a spoon, roughly in a Jogge Sundqvist style, out of oak. Not the easiest thing to carve, but he particularly liked the rustic, tooled look, so it didn't need working too much. It looked pretty good and he was so pleased with it he asked could I make a fork, knife and bowl to go with it. Of course, I agreed.

Below is the spoon and my first attempt at a spreader. I'm not very happy with the spreader and will try again, in order to get a handle shape that more fully matches the handle on the spoon.
I'd like to have a go at painting one like this - another time maybe.

I'll post a picture once they are all finished.

Wille style axe handle....

As I have said before, I love my little Kent pattern axe. It is just the right size and weight for me for spoon carving, it holds an edge well and it was free - the best kind! You may have seen my previous post about re-handling my axe? Well, after seeing some of the axes at Spoonfest I decided to try over. Not that I was unhappy with my first attempt, though the socket of the axe was a little longer than the width of the wood I was using and there was a little bit of tear-out on the swell at the end of the handle. I was happy with it, overall - until I saw the classic Gransfors carving axe which, I was confidently informed, sports a handle originally designed by, surprise, surprise, Wille Sundqvist. Here is a picture for those of you who have never seen it - I'm lead to believe you can't buy them like this any more.

It is a really nice rustic, angular styled handle with long cuts all the way up the length of the handle.

Having been given some nice straight pieces of ash, I thought I 'd have a go.
My previous handle (on the axe) and a template for the new one - good old cereal boxes.

cut roughly on the band saw

after cleaning up, putting in some of those nice long angular cuts

shaping the swell - mine's square in cross section while the originals look more eliptical

use your imagination - squint a little - looks alright, doesn't it?
The results seem fine on first inspection. Looks okay which, if I'm honest, was the main brief for this piece. As a bonus, it feels good in the hand too, though it might be completely different with the head on.

Julian tells me I'm too impatient and has forbidden me fitting the handle until it has has a chance to dry and shrink thoroughly, so for now I have to suffice with the picture above. I'll post a finished picture when I finally fit the head.

A few more spoons....

I feel a little self-conscious when I put up yet another post about yet more spoons as, to your average Joe, once you've seen one hand carved wooden spoon, to be quite honest, you've already seen one too many. I reasure myself, however, that for people of a like mind to me, you just can't get enough. It doesn't matter how many Robin or Sean or Steve or Alastair spoons I've previously seen, I still love looking at new ones. I'm hoping that the same applies here.

I've noticed when looking at others' blogs that, much like me, those who attended Spoonfest were particularly taken by Jarrod Stonedhal - both the man himself who, to put it simply, anyone would be thrilled to have as a neighbour, and his beautifully delicate and carefully rustic spoons. It's no coincidence that since Jarrods's spoons became more public, there's been a proliforation of painted spoons and tableware, not that he has a monopoly on paint, but he does it very well - I've yet to see any that hold a light to his.

The truth is, his were the only spoons I really wanted to buy a sample of from Spoonfest and, ironically, the first to sell out, hence I didn't get one and I mourned the fact for a couple of weeks after. Julian did get one, however, which I was very glad to have a go at copying.
Julian's Jarrod spoon - just perfect
As pointed out by Sean Hellman - cranked profile

My first attempts were in ash, and I was fairly pleased with the results.

Then I did one out of some very green rhododendron. I'd not used this wood before and it was a pleasure to carve - not unlike peeling potatoes, though because of the wood's softness, it didn't chip carve cleanly - probably should have let it dry out first.

Liking the design, yesterday I had a go with some curly grained ash, but this time a larger serving spoon.


I must apologise for the poor quality of the photos - it's just ipad quality as the lense on my Olympus PEN is broken and I can't bring myself to spend the money it will cost to repair or replace it.

Whilst I'm apologising, I should say something about the odd and fairly random layout of my posts - I HATE BLOGGER! It is the most unpredicatable software I think I have ever used. It is often impossible to do the simplest things. Come on Blogger developers, do something about it!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Axe File No:2 Cegga Axe

Quite a few years ago this axe came up as a group buy on the Bushcraft UK forum. It was made by Cegga, a Swedish blacksmith who works for Hultafors, but also does his own Cegga brand axes. It was co-designed by a fine Gentleman over on the Bushcraft UK known as British Red and I think the axe is called the Red Hunter's axe. It is 15" in length and the edge is just under 3" (sorry I can't do accurate fractions as I can only find my son's Early Learning Centre tape measure). It weighs less than 600g and for this reason is my first choice when travelling light. It was also an amazing bargain (£45 if I recall correctly).

The workmanship on this axe is amazing. It came razor sharp and really sings in use. I have used it for firewood preparation and carving, but I've no doubt you could fell and limb a tree with it if you had to. The polished head is supposed to make it more efficient, reducing friction as it passes through the wood. Having said that, It's very hard to tell how much difference it makes as I guess you would have to have an unpolished version to compare it to. My personal preference is for an unpolished axe, as I find that a forge finish resists rust better and if I'm honest i prefer the look.

I would definitely recommend a Cegga axe, if you can get hold of one. I would love to try one of his Viking style axes or even better, get him to make a custom carving axe, but he is not the easiest person to get in touch with. He doesn't have a website that I'm aware of and i sent him a message on Bushcraft UK several months ago, but never heard back from him. However I did see him post on Bushcraft UK recently and he even mentioned the possibility of a trip to the UK with some axes for sale. This is the kind of thing I would like to try.

 He also works in Damascus steel. Not my cup of tea, but i appreciate the workmanship.