Sunday, 4 November 2012

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment