Sunday, 30 December 2012

Last One of 2012

The last spoon of the year, well i suppose it's more of a cross between a spoon and a small ladle in reality, still, it's the last spoon i shall carve in 2012.

The spoon is made from some Beech that i collected a few weeks back and at the moment is just rough carved, the cranked section between the handle and bowl was carved from a natural bend in the branch, although, it wasn't quite as acute as it is now thanks to some axe work that removed a fair amount of wood from the front and rear of the spoon, all of the rough shaping was done with my recently reconditioned axe that i wrote about on my blog.  

The spoon is now drying off, as the wood was so wet you could see the moisture pool in front of the knife blade as I cut through the timber, when it's dry, i shall get it finished off properly with a nice refined tooled finish, i might if the mood takes me, add some chip or other decorative carving to the spoon as well.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Time To Give A Little Something Back

This competition is now closed.

Ive decided that it's time to repay people and give a little something back to thank those who have supported me and my blog in the time it has been running, so as a thank you, im going to run a small competition, the only rule is, you have to be a signed up follower/subscriber of my blog, ie, you have got to be in it, to win it.

The competition will run until midnight (GMT) on the 31 December 2012, after which the entry list will be closed. On the 1 January 2013,  i will use a random number generator to produce a number between 1 and the total number of subscribers, i will then count to this number on the subscribers list and whoever it is who corresponds to that number - wins -  simple isn't it?, you don't even have to do anything.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Traditional Style Rake

Busied myself this morning with a new project in the form of a traditional style wooden rake, albeit not a full size hay rake, but a smaller version for use in the garden.

The rake is made from Ash in it's entirety, the head is seventeen inches wide and features fifteen hand made tines, the rake handle was made from an Ash sapling that i harvested some months ago and then reduced in size so it has a uniform diameter of one inch, this was then split in half for a length of approx eighteen inches using a rip saw.

This particular rake will get used in my own garden, well, when we can actually get out there and do some gardening that is. In the new year, i will be making a range of rakes, from larger garden rakes to some small rakes for use in window boxes, all of them though, regardless of size, will be made in a traditional manner and in a traditional style, hopefully, i will be able to sell a few at some of the shows and events im attending in 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Reading Material

Some of the gifts i received this Christmas were books, not the new fangled E books, which i hate, but proper books made of card and paper and filled with the printed word.

Two of the books i received were from the Tom Brown series of 'wilderness series'.  I asked for these books, as i really enjoy the way Tom Brown conveys the information in his writing and Tracking in particular is something, that i enjoy doing and whilst i have a good knowledge of the skill, i really want to up my game and take my tracking to the next level,  having read just half of the book entitled "The Science & Art of Tracking", I've already learnt an incredible amount, some of which, when you read it, is so obvious you wonder why you never thought of it.

Im itching to get back out there now so i can put in to practice what i have read with some dirt time.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Changing The Name Of My Blog - Why?

Why the new name and title for my blog?, well, it's something I've been thinking about for a long time, the name is not a new name, it's the one ive had for over forty years, I'm proud of what i do, so why shouldn't i shout my name from the roof tops?. 

I was also getting bored with hiding behind an Internet pseudonym, the name, Kepis, is a name, which to be perfectly honest, i have grown to dislike.

The name 'Kepis' was born long ago when i had to change my chosen log on name on BCUK, because it conflicted with a company name and they, the company, not BCUK, didn't like me using it, so i had to change it and the name Kepis appeared, Kepis by the way is an acronym of my nickname 'Spike', I've never really liked the name Kepis, but at the time and for the above reason it suited it's purpose, but it's slowly going to disappear i think.

The Countryman title, well it fits who i am and what i do, I'm a country boy born and bred, i live in the countryside, i was bought up in the countryside and i spend my life, both working and for pleasure in the countryside, all of my family are countrymen and women and have worked on and with the land for generations and it's to them that i owe my love of the British Countryside.

So there you have it, a very simple reason for the name change, but a perfectly valid one i feel.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Softest Cordage

I think this is the softest cordage I've ever made, yet despite it's velvety feel, it's still incredibly strong.

The raw material i used to make this cordage?, the inner bark of the Redwood tree, when i was out with Rockmonkey last week, i collected some good sized lengths of bark from a dead standing tree, some of these pieces were a good 4 to 5 ft in length and once processed and cleaned up, make an amazing cordage, you have to be careful when spinning it up, as a single strand it's incredibly weak, but spin it into two ply string and the strength kicks in, but it retains it's suppleness and it's very soft, strong and if you make enough of it, long.

Little Axe - Pt 2

Last week i wrote a short entry about a small axe i picked up at my local second hand tool shop, yesterday i decided it was time to clean it up and give it a new helve, first job, out with the wire brush to remove as much of the rust and years of grime on the faces of the axe as i could.

Once this had  been done and the head had had a bit of a polish, i cut off the off helve and drilled out the remaining wood in the eye of the axe, despite the very tatty exterior appearance of the old helve, the wood itself was pretty sound considering it's age, but knowing it had been damaged, it needed replacing.

I grabbed the new helve i had bought for all of £2.00 at the same time and tried a couple of test fits and then carefully removed the wood where i could see it was jamming inside the eye of the axe, then another test fit, remove the wood, test fit, remove, test, little more removal, well, you get the idea.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Spalted Shrink Pot

Finished this Shrink Pot today, the main body is made from some glorious spalted Sycamore and the lid is from some equally splendid spalted Beech, the base im afraid is just bog standard Sweet Chestnut.

The pot stands approx seven inches high and has a diameter of four inches, when i first started this, i had intended to make a nice smooth white pot, but as i debarked the log, the spalting that lay beneath changed my mind, i mean, why destroy the mass of colouration?, make a feature of it instead, having kept the colours, the pot was crying out for a lid that was as equally appealing, so into the wood pile it was and a nice piece of spalted Beech was soon crafted into a lid, unusually for me these days, i elected to sand it all smooth, for some reason, it just seemed to be the right finish to apply to this particular pot.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Hawthorn Gin

I figured with today being a wet and windy day, that my time would be best spent indoors catching up on some paperwork and more importantly, to begin bottling our Christmas cheer.

The first "tipple" i bottled was the Hawthorn Gin, now, when i first mentioned i would be making this, i had all manner of naysayers telling me not to bother as it was supposedly an awful drink, full of pectin, well, yes, Hawthorn berries would be full of pectin, that's why when you crush them the resulting mush, sets like a jelly.

Back to the drink, so yes, i was told not to bother, as well as above, it's cloudy and tastes like, well some of the descriptions were,  crap, poo, horrible, it's rank, nothing is more disgusting, don't waste good gin.

Well all i can say is, i don't know in all honesty how these people made theirs, but after filtering the liquor through a paper filter to remove the worst of the particles in the gin, the resulting drink is lovely, the liquid is clear and it tastes gorgeous and the colour of the Gin is a lovely rich cherry red, sure it needs more work to make than say Sloe or Blackberry gin, but i really do think the effort is worth it, and i will most certainly be making it again next year.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Spoon Blanks

I make quite a few of these for selling on at various shows and events, as well as on the Internet, all they are, are roughed out spoon blanks, literally as they come of the axe, no hollowing or carving other than the axe work has been done, what i have found is, that many people who are just starting out in the world of spoon carving, sometimes, just don't know where to start, so with these blanks, not only do they get a spoon blank to work on and hone their skills, but they can also see the basics of spoon design, they have also proved to be equally as popular with some experienced carvers, who don't have the time or indeed space to obtain & store their own raw materials.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Oak Trivet

I made this small Oak Trivet the other day from some offcuts, i wanted a small project to keep omyself amused whilst i waited on some other things to dry & cure.

The Trivet is made from three pieces of Oak that I've jointed to form a board, which i then planed down and sanded before sealing and polishing the woods surface, so it has some level of protection, the base of the Trivet has a felt covering to protect delicate wood surfaces, such as expensive dining room tables.

Since i made this, everyone in the family has said "i like that" meaning, "give it to me", well im sorry to disappoint people, but i sold it to one of the neighbours earlier today, but i dare say i will be making a few more in the new year.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Little Axe

I popped into my local second hand tool shop today and came away with a good haul of bargains, the best one was this small axe shown with a fifty pence piece for scale. 

The axe has no makers mark that i can see, but does have "Made In England" stamped into the face, the axe is going to need some doing up, the head will need a good clean up and it is most definitely going to need a new helve, just as well the tool shop had a job lot of brand new Ash helves on the shelf, all priced at £2.00 each, so i picked one of those up as well .

I first saw this little axe a couple of weeks back but didn't pick it up, but it's been playing on my mind, so today, with fingers and everything else crossed i went back, and there it was in the shop, exactly where i had left it, this time it was mine.

My thinking in getting this axe is, it's nice and small and will make a great pack axe for those times when you are working in the woods and need to split some fire wood down or are processing smaller pieces of timber and don't need a big axe or more to the point, don't want to carry a larger axe in with you.

I also think it will be less intimidating and less tiring for people to use when i teach spoon and bowl carving, after all, not everyone has the strength and stamina to use a Gransfors Swedish Carving axe all day long, and it will also prove, that you don't need to spend a fortune on an axe to get great results when using one to carve, oh yes, the price i paid for this little gem - just £5.00.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Solid Oak Cheese Board

Made a cheese board today from a piece of Oak i picked up yesterday down at the timber yard, the board measures 9 inches wide by 13 inches long and is approx one inch thick, it has a big knot in it, which is why it's a Cheese Board and not a chopping board, the grain patterns around the knot inspired me to keep it in there, rather than saw it off when i squared the board up.

I had originally wanted to make another small foot stool from this piece of timber, but as i planed it down and the grain started to appear from under the rough sawn surface, i quickly changed my mind and spent the time and energy to make it into a Cheese Board, the board now sports some nice felt feet, so it doesn't mark the table and ive been told that the Christmas cheeses will be presented on this board rather than the one we have used for years, sounds good to me, as we can get twice the amount of Stilton on this one.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dismantling A Diseased White Willow

We dismantled a large diseased White Willow up at the lakes today, the top of the tree was totally dead and the tree was also showing some other signs of disease further down, so in the interests of safety, it had to come down, in the end we elected to go with a pollard rather than an outright removal of the tree, as the wood further down the trunk appeared to be sound and healthy, it has two chances now i guess?.

Link to a short video of some of the aerial work

You Know It's Cold When.......

.....the local wildlife gets into the car and sits on the heater to warm up.

I took this photo of the Robin this morning when i was up at the lakes doing some work, i was putting some tools back in the car, when i saw a Robin sitting on the dashboard warming up on the heater vent, i knew it was a bit parky up there today but when the wildlife comes in from the cold, you know it's a bit nippy. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Snowy Day Out

Well it was snowing when i set off from home this morning and it was still in the air when i parked the car up and headed of on a good long walk with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK.

We put a few miles in today, around eight, i think i worked it out as, but in the bitterly cold north wind and with ice on the ground, going for a proper walk was the right decision to make, rather than sit around in the cold,  one of things i really enjoyed, well apart from the company and just being outdoors, was watching the gliders whizz along the ridge, slope soaring, lovely sight to witness, the aircraft in the picture is in fact about 700ft ASL and was going at a fair rate of knots as i took the photo. It was great just to be out there in the wind and cold, makes you feel alive.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tooled Beech Pot

Made this pot today against a commission i received last week for a Shrink pot.

The brief was, it had to be made from Beech to match the clients kitchen and it had to be big enough to hold a decent amount of Sea Salt ,so they didn't have to keep filling it up and also so they could get their fingers in the pot to get at the salt whilst cooking, having seen some of the Sycamore pots ive made recently with the tooled exterior finish, they also wanted this effect on the Beech pot, i have to say that the effect matches the wood beautifully and sets off the finished pot a treat.

Now to get it packaged up and off in the post in time for Christmas.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Market

I took a small stand at our local Christmas Market yesterday, it's the first time I've done this particular event, but it wont be the last, as i had a great time.

I took a few different items with me, from spoons and spatulas, to bowls, shrink pots and examples of some of other items i make, what was really cruel though, was having my pitch directly outside the Butchers shop and him cooking Chickens all day long on his rotisserie.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Winter Colour

I took this photo the other day while i was out on a bimble, i cant quite put my finger on it, but something about the photo really appeals to me.

I think what it is, is the fact that where the wider landscape is now barren and bare for the Winter, this photo shows, that if you look closely enough, there is still plenty of colour and life out there to be studied and enjoyed.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


No, not a real one, just a simple little one i made very quickly from a teasel head while i was out and about on a bimble with Rockmonkey & Hugo from BCUK.

These are very quick and easy to make and with a little bit of care, can be made to look really effective, great fun for kids to make and equally as much fun to make on the trail, like today when stopping for a brew and you are waiting for the water to boil.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Sycamore Pots

Been making a few more pots today for a Christmas Fayre im doing on Saturday down town, well supposedly doing, as with three days to go nobody has heard anything from the organisers about set up times etc, still couple of days to go yet i suppose?.

The two pots pictured are from Sycamore with Sycamore base plates, the wood i used for the pot sides is just starting to spalt and has a profusion of dark flecks and some other areas of intense colour that adds some areas of natural high lighting, which in turn will hopefully attract a buyer or two.  I still have to finish these off by adding a lid to each of them and generally cleaning them up ready for sale.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Walnut & Ash

Made myself this small table to go on my stand at the various shows and events i do, not only as a demo of the type of thing i make, but also to use as a display unit, as i can put things on it to raise them up above the usual table level where, hopefully, they will become more noticeable.

The table itself is made from Ash & Walnut, the Ash i collected from a fallen tree a couple of weeks back, i cleaved the Ash down into suitable sized pieces and then shaped them on the shave horse, before setting them to one side and allowing them to dry and shrink. So how do i know they are dry?, simple, i weigh them on a daily basis and plot the weight on a graph, when the graph flat lines, i think it is fair to assume the wood is dry.

The table top is a piece of Walnut that we have had laying around for years, when i first picked it up from the back of the shed this weekend, it was white with years of dust, it certainly gave no indication of the beauty that laid beneath all the grot and grime. After a quick clean up the wood started to show it's colour, so i plotted out the leg positions and angles and then got to work with a brace and auger, the legs were then shaved down to a suitable diameter to allow them to fit in the leg holes and wedged in place with a piece of Elm to give a contrast with the white wood.

Once everything had set and settled, the table legs were trimmed flush and the table top sanded down to a nice smooth finish, then given a couple of coats of Danish Oil to bring out the colour of the wood.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lidded Shrink Pot

Small shrink pot made yesterday, with the addition of a rough carved lid to go on it, i made the lid as a proof of concept, i wanted a lid that would sit flush on the top, but it had to have a carved plug on the underside that would sit in the top of the pot and keep the lid in place, the one thing i wanted though, was to carve the lid in one piece, and without showing how the lid is carved, i think i have it sussed, now the method is sorted, i just have to get it to fit nice and snug, that's the easy part.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Shrink Pots - Krympburkar

Had a busy day today making some shrink pots (Krympburkar) to put on my stand at a couple of Christmas shows im doing in the coming weeks.

All of the pots pictured are made from Hazel with Sycamore base plates, ive made a few different styles, bark on natural form pots and some pots where ive removed the bark and carved the pots into square and octagonal section, by offering different shapes and styles, im hoping they will appeal to a wider audience and with Christmas coming, people might be encouraged to purchase a couple to use as containers in their own right, or as containers to put something else into for presentation to their loved one on Christmas day.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Re Born

Readers might recall that at the beginning of this month, i snapped one of my favourite gouges, not wanting to just throw it away, i asked my old mucker Rockmonkey, who i knew had a grinder, if he was happy to try regrinding it for me, which he was happy to do, it didnt matter if it got screwed up as it couldn't get any more buggered than it already was.

Yesterday i got the gouge back and the good news is, it's good to go again, the grind angle is perfect and it needed no more than a couple of minutes of light stropping to get the edge hair popping sharp again, thanks for doing it RM, appreciate it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Crack, Bang

Enjoyed a superb bimble up on the South Downs and through the woods today with Rockmonkey, unfortunately our other mucker Hugo was indisposed and couldn't make it (you were missed mate).

During the morning and out of nowhere, a seriously strong and gusty wind appeared and as the day went on, the gusts just got stronger and stronger, it wasn't long before we could hear branches cracking around us and from the other side of the valley we heard a good sized tree crack and fall, then on our side of the valley we heard a huge CRACK not that far away, but far enough that we couldn't see it, then on the way out of the woods, (we decided to leave as there were bits of trees starting to fall around us), we found this old beech that had very recently fallen and i know this sounds daft, but you could smell it had recently fallen, looking at the resulting damage to the smaller trees that had been smashed by the Beech as it fell, you could see it was very recent.

It's always a shame to see a majestic old tree like this fall, but as the trees life ends, another cycle of life begins, as the tree slowly rots over time and insects and fungi return the tree to nature, well not all of it of course ,as im hoping to get up there at some point and save some of the timber for carving and other projects.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Wooden Feathers

Made a few things today to put on my stand at a forthcoming Christmas Fayre I'm doing, one of the things i made was wooden feathers, just for something a bit different.

The feathers pictured are singular stand alone pieces, they don't do anything, well apart from sit there and look pretty, but being something slightly different, hopefully people might be tempted to part with a few pennies for a couple of them, the bases pictured will be replaced with some made out of some lovely spalted Sycamore i have, the dark marks on the feathers are natural markings and I think add to the aesthetic appeal of the wood.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tree Planting

Enjoyed a really good day out on the South Downs today with one of the local Conservation Groups i support, today's task was to plant upwards of 300 trees, 180 of these were planted in a preplanned and premarked Diamond shape to honour the Queens Diamond Jubilee, we also planted one very special Royal Oak sapling that had been grown from an acorn, that was collected from one of the royal estates and grown on. 

The balance of the trees were planted in another area not to far away, but in a random planting pattern as they were no part of the Jubilee planting. In support of the planting, we had over 100 volunteers turn up to lend a hand, bringing meaning to the saying "many hands make light work", certainly today that was the case and in less than a few hours all of the trees had been planted.

The main planting today comprised Spindle, Hornbeam & Beech with the Roayl Oak being planted centrally within the diamond. 

What is really special about this planting is the number of children that were helping there today, i wonder how many of them will look at the trees in 50-60 years time and say "i helped plant that".

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ash Spoons

Two spoons made from Ash, not the easiest of woods to work for making spoons, even when working it green,  you need to be a tad more careful than usual as the grain is unforgiving, but if you persevere it works out well and the effort is worth it because of the grain patterns Ash produces.

The upper most spoon in the photo is a serving spoon and the lower one can be used either as a big eating spoon or as a cooking or serving spoon in it's own right.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Wooden Rake

I was asked to make small traditional style rake not that long ago, so make one i did, the rake is only about twenty four inches in length and rather than go and collect materials, i used what i had available to me in the wood pile. The shaft is a piece of Hazel that i split using a rip saw, the rake head is another piece of Hazel that i reduced on the shave horse and the tines, well they are 8mm Beech dowels, yes i know they should be Ash, but this rake is not actually going to get used.  

The split in the shaft is secured in a traditional manner by using a piece of tin wrapped around the shaft and then held in place with a tack, because the piece of Hazel i used for the shaft is only about half an inch in diameter, i also added a couple of cross braces for additional strength, it all worked out pretty well in the end i think.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sycamore Spoon

Finished this one earlier today, made from Sycamore and carved down so it has a really narrow but elegant neck, the strength in the neck of the spoon lays in the vertical axis rather than the lateral axis, meaning you can carve the neck incredibly thin when it's viewed in this plane, but when viewed from the side, it's considerably thicker and therefore stronger.

I also added some simple decoration to the handle in the form of some diagonal lines to take the blandness away from the handle as it was just an expanse of white wood.  Im going to keep hold of this one i think and use it for display purposes at some of the shows and other events i attend during the year.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

You Dont Need An Axe.

While i was out on a bimble today with my old muckers Hugo & Rockmonkey, we found ourselves in the position of wanting to split a good size round of timber in half, but none of us had an axe with us, not that you need one of course.

So how exactly did we split this log?, well with the aid of a small saw and a sheath knife, we made a Glut, otherwise known as a wedge, the Glut was made from a small Ash branch from an already fallen tree, in the top of the log to be split Hugo battoned his knife to give a starting split, the Glut was then hammered into this small split and given a few taps and then one good thump and the entire log split straight down the middle.

So do you need an axe to split wood?, well it helps for sure and ok, we were splitting Ash, which splits wonderfully anyway, but, as today, no axe - no problem, just make the tools you need from what you find in the woods, it's easy when you stop think about it and everyone has the skills to do it, we also made a short video of the Glut in operation, which can be seen here and further demonstrates it's use.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Apologies for yet another spoon post. Pictured are just a few of the spoons ive made in the past couple of days, they were all rough carved with the axe to start with, then finished off with with a traditional tooled finish, none of them have been oiled at this stage.

The woods used are Beech (the dark one), Sycamore, Hazel and Magnolia and to answer a question i was asked a few days ago "What do you do with all those spoons?", well it's quite simple, i sell them, so if anybody is interested in purchasing a hand carved wooden spoon, then get in touch via email and i can send you a pictorial stock list of what i have in stock and we can hopefully get something worked out,  im quite happy to send overseas as well, but only if the country of destination will accept wooden items via the post.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Serving Spoons

Made a couple of serving spoons today, the top one in the picture has been carved from Magnolia and is already sold under a commission i received.

The other spoon has been carved from some lovely spalted Sycamore and features a carved handle, just for something a little bit different to the norm, both spoons feature a tooled finish and have a fairly acute angle to the handle to make it easier to scoop up food from the cooking pan.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday Spoonage

Been a pretty lazy day today, i watched the Service of Remembrance from the Cenotaph in London this morning, as i always do, then watched the MotoGP from Valencia, what a race of attrition that was, then after the race i figured i would finish a couple of the spoons i roughed out the other day, the top one is from Hazel and the bottom one from Sycamore, both spoons feature a tooled finish, with the Hazel one also having a knop on the handle end for a bit of visual interest.

We Will Remember Them.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Beech Serving Spoon

Knocked up a serving spoon out of a piece of Beech earlier today, most of the work was done with the axe initially, with just the hollowing and fine shaping work being done with more refined tools.

I was going to try and sell this one once it had dried and the final refining had been done, but it's been collared by my parents, as they think it will go well with some of the other wooden items we use on the Christmas table and it matches the Beech cabinets in the kitchen.

Friday, 9 November 2012

What To Do With A Knackered Knife?

So what do you do with an old bent and broken knife blade?, the blade i refer to is the Hultafors HVK blade from the knife i took to destruction in a series of 'tests' back in 2010, all i was left with after the tests (if you can call them that), was a bent blade that was no longer attached to it's handle, since then the knife has sat in a box of bits, on top of the wardrobe waiting for me to do something with it.

I had intended to rebuild the knife and carry on using it, but I never quite got around to doing it, this afternoon once i had finished work for the day, i thought, i know, i'll turn it into a small froe for splitting Hazel rods and other pieces of small diameter timber.

Hultafors HVK Tang Length & Shape

There was a bit of talk a short time ago on a couple of the web based forums about the length of the tang on a Hultafors HVK knife, well for those who wanted to know how long it is, the one i removed from the handle today measured in at 5.5cm from the point where the forward edge of the handle was, you can just about see the mark on the blade in the photo, people were also asking about the shape of the tang, hopefully the photo to the left will answer that question as well.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Willow Shrink Pot

Having made the Pot Croze today, it of course meant that i needed to make a Shrink pot to test it with, off to the wood pile i trotted and soon after came back with a suitably sized piece of Willow branch.

I first of all augured out a one inch hole all the way through the log and then grabbed the gouge and started to remove the insides, however, the wood was so fibrous and tough,  it was, well, too much like hard work, in this case it was far far less effort to use the Crook Knife to cut cross grain, than it was to use the gouge and go with the grain.

You will see that i left the bark on, this i have to admit was not by design, i got engrossed with my thoughts and, well, i took too much wood out of the inside and left myself with some very thin side walls, guess that will teach me to pay attention to what im doing, so i had little choice but to leave the bark on, personally, i think with a highly figured bark like this Willow, it doesn't look too bad?, having hollowed the inside out, i took the cylinder to the Pot Croze and cut the groove for the base to sit in, the Croze worked like a dream and in next to no time, the Sycamore base plate was installed and pot placed to one side to dry and per the name "shrink".

Pot Croze

Ever since i read about the Pot Croze on Sean Hellmans blog, it's been in the back of my mind to build one for myself, today, whilst having a bit of a sort out of some old hardware in the shed, i found the perfect little blade for making one.

Ive designed my Croze to sit in my B&D Workmate, whereas if i remember correctly, Sean incorporated his into his bench.

The plywood disc i used to mount the blade on is screwed and glued to a piece of scrap pine that locates in the jaws of the Workmate, the bottom of the disc sits on the top of the bench and the blade sits about a 5/8 of an inch off the deck so to speak.

So why use a Croze?, well when making Shrink Pots, you need to cut a groove on the inside of the pot for the base to sit in and the upper edge of this groove needs to be square, until now I've free handed it and it has shown in the quality of some of the base cuts I've made, they work, but in some cases they are not particularly pretty,  but this little device makes cutting the upper edge of the groove so much easier, plus it's more precise and gives a good square edge to work with, meaning a neater and higher quality end product.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sycamore Spoonage

Concentrated on making a few more spoon blanks today to place into my stock holding for a couple of  upcoming shows im doing.

All of the spoons pictured were axed out from some Sycamore I've had laying around since the summer, most of it was still green enough to be easily & some of it had also started to spalt quite nicely, as with the Hazel spoons i made yesterday, these need to dry out  before i can carry on and get the fine carving on them done.


Think the photo tells all?, I was enjoying myself hollowing out a small Willow bowl with my Marples gouge, when i felt something was wasn't right and sure enough it wasn't, one of my favourite tools, was looking decidedly ill.

Upon closer inspection the metal appears to be fatigued and also has what looks like a flaw in the structure of the gouge, the flaw must have been there since the thing was cast, god only knows how many years ago, and with the use this gouge gets, i suppose it was only a matter of time before it cried 'enough', still all is not lost as i should be able to regrind it and bring it back into use again, well that's the plan of action at the moment.

By Product

One of the by products of all the carving and green wood working i do, is wood chip and shavings, by the sack load.

So what do i do with all this wood chip?, well, the smaller stuff gets used as a mulch on the garden, not only does it help retain moisture in the soil, but it also rots down and feeds the soil, it also helps to keep the neighbours cats from crapping all over the garden as well.

All of my large Ash shavings i keep and bag up to use as kindling with my Kelly Kettle, all of my offcuts go for fire wood and the shavings and big chips, like those produced by axe & adze work, i bag up and give away to people who keep Chickens, as the chip helps reduce the smell in the Chicken runs and also helps to absorb some of the mud and moisture, of course when it's use in the run is over, it gets bagged up again and passed on for free for people to use as manure in the garden.

What i cant give away locally, i put on places such as Freecycle and it normally goes within a day or two, I've had people use it for tinder and kindling in Chimnea's and Ranges, garden mulch, for use in animal runs and even one lady who took a couple of sack fulls to use in a sensory garden, the best bit is of course, everything gets used and nothing goes to waste.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Hazel Spoons

Made a few spoons today for stock, as i have a couple of craft shows on the horizon and therefore need to replace some of the spoons I've either sold or given away to friends & family in recent months.

The six spoons pictured are very much in the rough at the moment having been carved from some very green Hazel which now needs to dry significantly, before i can get them finished. 

Snail Hotel

I was making a list of winter jobs that i have to do around the house and garden earlier, one of the things i have to do is to re set some of the cap stones on the back wall, where they have become loose or detached, just out of sheer curiosity, i lifted the loose cap stone on one of the wall columns and to my amazement, i found this little lot inside, i cant remember having seen this many snails in one place before, needless to say, they are all going to get evicted on a permanent basis - anyone fancy a BBQ?.