Sunday, 4 November 2012

Julian 0 - Impatience 1...

I knew I wouldn't be able to wait. I rehandled my axe using my newly carved handle and it feels and works great. With it being ash it's a little light, but so was the last handle I'd put on it so it hasn't upset the balance that I was already used to - I was a little afraid that I'd ruin the feel of my axe all for the sake of it looking 'pretty'.

I know julian said I should leave it a few months so as to allow for maximim shrinkage, and I did leave it about a month and, hey, isn't that what wedges are for anyway?

Working in birch....

Now that's funny/coincidence that Julian made a post about carving birch, as I was intending to do just that. For the past few months I have been carving mostly ash and oak, since that's currently what I have available. I've been quite pleased in the main with the spoons I've made and I like the colour these woods go when dry and oiled. What I hadn't taken into consideration, however, is how hard these woods are compared to fresh, green birch - especially as the ash and oak I have been carving is only green with a small 'g' - you know, green about six months ago.

So, when while on a camping trip on Cannock Chase a couple of weeks ago we found a newly downed and sectioned birch tree we got as much of it into the back of the car as we could manage, which was not actually a lot as we were not camping light and the car was fairly rammed.

Anyways, last week I thought I'd try out some birch as it had been so long. First off, a ladle type water-dipper kind of thing. Worked well, despite an unfortunate knot in the bowl that had to be carefully worked round, only to discover, once roughing out was completed, two nasty splits going down either side of the handle into the bowl. RUINED!

So I thought I'd try a simple Swedish style spoon, something with a little less time invested. Again disaster struck, or should I say I struck, far too hard with my axe when coming down the side of the handle towards the bowl. I'd obviously been too use to these more forgiving harder woods and laid it on a little to enthusiastically and split the bowl in half - a novice's error!

Now before you go getting all defensive, I'm not bad-mouthing birch or doing it down, I just thought it was an interesting observation. I hadn't realised nor considered how my tool handling and techniques had changed from one material to another and how I would have to moderate it when going from a harder wood to a softer one.

I have one small piece of birch left so will try again in the week, maybe.
Ignore the chip on the far side of the bowl - that's post-disaster damage. Look at the hairline splits extending from either side of the handle down into the bowl.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Fifty-two spoons...

I've got a feeling I might regret this, but... If you look to the right at the top of this blog you'll notice a link to my new blog FIFTY TWO SPOONS. Now, before you click on the link and discover there's nothing on it, that's because this is my pre-new year's resolution - to carve a spoon a week, preferably a different spoon each week, from as many different kinds of wood as I can find, for each of the 52 weeks of 2013. Hence, FIFTY TWO SPOONS.

Why, you may ask? Well, I was getting down on myself the other day, thinking that I need to concentrate on my regular work more and put off my hobbies until the school holidays. Then I got to thinking, if I could avoid bits of wood, knives and axes during the week and concentrate on planning lessons and marking books, then I could probably afford to spend an hour or so over the weekend whittling something. Not only that, but after the year is out, I'll have 52 spoons to show for it.

But I have to make a commitment to the project and take it seriously - no taking a week off. If I go away on holiday, I take my tools and a bit of wood with me. Well, that's the idea, anyway. It'll be interesting to see what I achieve and whether my carving develops over the year. Check back some time in January and see what I produce. Your comments are always welcome.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Winter Carving

I've just managed to spend a couple of hours doing some carving before the light started to fail. I've really struggled to find time to do any carving recently with lots to do on the house and other commitments as well. I didn't manage to do much in the limited amount of time, just split down a birch log and roughed out a spoon, but I had an absolutely fantastic time. The first carving I ever did was in the Winter and this being the first bit of carving I've managed to do this Winter, the memories just came flooding back.

Other than the short days, this is without a doubt my favourite time of year to be working outside. I love the crisp air and having to take my jumper off once i start to warm up. i also love working with Birch and it reminds me of a book I got a few Christmases ago called Celebrating Birch. I found this book very inspiring and the many pictures are wonderful.

It was also nice to have a swing with my Stefan Ronnqvist axe. I still need to put it through it's paces, and I think the handle still needs a bit of tweaking. Anyway, it was a great couple of hours and it reminded me about how much I love this time of year. I can't wait to get outside again. It might take a bit longer to paint the living room now.