Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tooled or Sanded?

When finishing off something like a spoon, do you opt for a traditional tooled finish or do you opt for the more 'modern' sanded finish?

Me?, well i use both finishes and can see the merits of both, in my mind there is nothing wrong with opting to go for a sanded finish or a tooled finish, it's your spoon, finish it how you like, although some will try to convince you that sanding is the stuff of the Devil and is to be avoided at all costs, even to the point of charging their customers more for a sanded finish on wooden-ware, because they really do hate sanding that much.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Willow Spoon

About a week or so ago i got a good sized Willow branch with a great bend in it that was just crying out to be carved into a couple of spoons, so i split it down and got one usable blank, the other half split badly and was useless, but the other half, was usable.

Today, i got the carving knives out and set about carving the good half into a usable spoon, the result is as pictured to he left, unfortunately, i cant use it for cooking as it has a knot right on the edge of the bowl, shame, but i can still use it at shows and events as a demo piece i guess, the handle of the spoon follows the natural curvature of the grain, like i often say, "work with the materials, not against it", so i followed my own advice and let the grain dictate the handle shape, the spoon has been finished off with a tooled rather than sanded finish.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sycamore Spoon

Made a couple of spoons yesterday whilst on a day out over the Downs with a couple of good mates of mine.

The spoon pictured is made from a Sycamore branch that had a great curve in it, i used the natural curvature in the wood to my advantage and this has resulted in a spoon with quite a pleasing shape, the spoon itself features a fully tooled finish, ie straight off the knife and is of a size that it can be used not only as a large eating spoon, but also as a cooking spoon.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hand Drill Practice.

Not to be outdone by eldest and his first bow drill ember,, i figured today it was about time i practiced the hand drill again as I've not done it for a few weeks.

So i grabbed a couple of elder spindles and a clematis hearth and spun away, i also made up a hearth from a piece of Ivy and got an ember with it, one thing i did notice was having not played with the hand drill for a few weeks is how out of sorts my hands were, still, it gives me a good excuse to go and practice some more so i can get those callouses back in place again.

Hazel Spoon

To go with my new Willow Bowl, i of course, needed a new spoon, so i made one up this  afternoon from a piece of Hazel I've had hanging around for a few weeks. 

The spoon is approx 10 inches in length and unusually features some great grain and ray patterns for Hazel, having started this to be a companion for the Willow bowl, i elected, mainly because of the patterns in the wood to make a serving spoon from it instead.

Willow Bowl

Got one of the Willow Bowls i started last week finished off today, pretty pleased with the way it's turned out, the wall thickness is pretty uniform, although i have left a bit of additional thickness where the end grain is, just in case, the wall thickness as an average is around 3/8 of an inch (5mm).  

This one I'm keeping for me, just by way of a change, I'm going to use it to eat my breakfast from, on the rare occasion i actually have breakfast, i still need to spend a bit of time refining the surfaces of bowl as it's still a bit rough in places, might do that on Thursday with the cabinet scrapers.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Mora Spoon Knives

Over the years there has been a great deal of talk about how rubbish the Mora spoon knives are and how people should avoid them like the plague, well i disagree.

OK, from the factory they are blunt and i do mean blunt, but lets not forget though, these are mass produced blades, so the quality is never going to be like a Ben Orford, Svante Darve etc,  but with a little bit of time & effort, the Mora knives can be made into good usable tools.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

First Bow Drill Ember & Fire

No not me, I've lost count of how many I've made over the years I've been doing it, but having had my plans to go the the Sussex meet scuppered (again), the boys and i spent a bit of time out in the garden, where eldest tried to get his 1st bow drill ember, the good news he did it, not once but four times in the end and blew one to flame, not bad at 14 years old, I'm chuffed to bits for him.

Couple of pics of him in action, the hearth is Ivy, the Drill is Hazel, the bearing blocks used were a chunk of Ash and a drilled stone, one attempt at producing an ember and blowing it to flame, didn't quite work as he knocked the ember apart when he placed it in the tinder bundle, but not to be deterred, straight away he picked up the kit and made another ember, a much bigger and stronger one this time.

This one was carefully placed into the tinder bundle we had prepared from some Sisal, and with some gentle coaxing, it wasn't long before plumes of white smoke were billowing and not long after, FIRE, Now all we need to do is practice and then practice some more, I'm over the moon for him, not easy to achieve fire by friction and to do it at 14 years old is quite an achievement and he is now part of an exclusive world wide club. 

I read somewhere a long while ago the percentage of the Planets population who can make fire by friction is considerably less than 5%, but that club got a new member today.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tooled Leather Sheath

Dangler sheath suitable for a Woodlore style & sized blade, the sheath is made from 3.5mm veg tan leather that has been hand tooled in it's entirety on front and rear in a basket weave pattern before being hand dyed in dark brown and then hand stitched and finished to a high standard.

The dangler loop is removable so the sheath can be carried as a regular belt sheath or with the dangler for a lower carry.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Magnesium Fire Starter

A little while ago i purchased some Magnesium rods to use for fire starting, i didn't know that was what i was getting and it was certainly NOT what i ordered, neither did i receive the full quantity of rods that i purchased, but i guess that is one of the perils of EBay.

Of the ones i did receive, i decided i would use one of them to mess around with, so on Wednesday while i was in the woods i scraped some of the Magnesium into a small(ish) pile and then hit it with a spark from a ferro rod, the result of which can be seen on this short video on my You Tube channel , what was interesting is, i could not raise a single spark on the ferro rod supplied with the Magnesium with my knife and had to resort to using the supplied scraper, yet i know the knife i used works superbly well with a regular ferro or the misch metal rods that i normally use.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Went for a day out in the woods today with a couple of good mates of mine, had a grand old time, lots of mickey taking and lots of brews, mind you in between drinking tea and taking the mick out of each other, we did do some Bushcraft, i spent some time carving a small spoon from a piece of Hazel and made a start on a set of chop sticks

I also made myself a small Bullroarer from the other half of the Hazel branch i used for the spoon and to make it really bushy, i then made about three to four foot of cordage for it from some nettles, it does just about make a sound when spun, but in reality it's too small and not heavy enough to be really effective, still i can always reduce the cord length and use it as an ember pan for the bow drill i suppose.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Willow Bowls

I was lucky enough last week to score some lovely pieces of Willow from a good mate of mine, today saw the first of what i hope will be a series of Willow bowls, the first two today came from the same log.

The trough style bowl was the first to be carved out this morning, and the round bowl this afternoon from the other half of the log, i had intended to make another trough style bowl, but noticed some cracking in the timber, so I used the center section of the wood, which was crack free.

All of the rough hollowing was done with my adze, before i moved on to a gouge and Ben Orford crook knife for the more delicate cuts, as the wood is so fresh, i need to let it dry somewhat before i can move on and get these finished off and because of this, i have left  the bowl a little on the thick side to allow for drying and shrinkage.

When i say thick, they are thin enough to allow day light through in places, but this is only because the wood is so wet at the moment, the photo shows the difference between wet wood and dry wood, the wood is more or less the same thickness on the base of the bowl, the transparent bits are the wet wood.

When the bowls have dried out a little and hopefully, not cracked in in the process (I'm keeping them in zip locks to slow the process down a little), i will get the spoon and crook knives out again and take these to the final dimensions that i want and tidy all of the rough edges and cuts up and refine the designs into the final finished products.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Willow Basket

I made this simple Willow basket some time back  for a challenge, the basket was a very simple ribbed affair as can be seen from the photograph, if i remember correctly the ribs were made from Aspen, and not long after i made it, the basket  fell apart as i made the classic mistake of using fresh cut green willow wands and of course they shrank as they dried and as a direct result the tightness of the weave, well it disappeared and the weavers basically fell out - live and learn, it's all part of the fun, i don't see it as a fail, i see it as a learning experience, now if i was going to make another, which i just might, I'll use some  properly prepared materials, which of course, i just happen happen to have at the moment.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Blade Shape

In the post i made earlier this week about a couple of Ben Orford tools i bought, i noted that the blade shape on the small Spoon Knife was different to the one i purchased from Ben years ago.

In the photo to the the left are the two small Spoon Knives that i now own, the top one is the one i received earlier in the week and the bottom one is the one i bought years ago, if you look at the tip of the blade on the new one, you can clearly see that the curve is a lot more open than the older one and it also doesn't curve as much back by the handle, it also appears to be made from thicker stock, the other difference on the blade that you cant really see that well  in the picture, is the tip of the newer one is a lot wider, whereas the older one has a distinct taper on it.

Ive always found it fascinating and a sign of quality,  how craftsmen such as Ben, will continuously update, upgrade and change their product to make it better based on their own experiences and without a doubt, customer feedback.

This post is not a moan and groan, anything but,  the new knife fit in my carving kit a treat and is an "in between step" between the tighter curve of my older knife and the flat curve of the finishing knife, Ben makes and sells.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Nettle Cordage

When i was out in the woods on Wednesday, i collected some nettles, purposely to make some cordage from, the nettles i collected were located in full sunshine in the clearing i was in, I've found through experience that nettles found growing in the full sun seem to be a whole stronger than those found in the shade.

So having collected the plants and stripped the fibres from them, i bought them home and let them dry out a bit in the shed for a couple of days,  this afternoon a quick look at the fibres told me they were just about right to be spun up into string.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

More Orford's

I received two more Ben Orfords in post yesterday, a right handed, external bevel Indian Crook Knife and a right handed, small Spoon Knife.  Ive been after an external bevel Crook from Ben for a little while, so when these two came up for sale, i grabbed them quick, i didn't particularly need the small Spoon Knife as i have one already, but at the price it was being offered at, it would have been foolish to refuse it.

I'm glad i did take it as well, as upon inspection of the knife, I've noticed that the curve in the blade is not as tight as the curve on my existing small Spoon Knife and the metal used seems to be slightly thicker than is found on my other one, I'll see if i can get a photo later that shows the difference between the two, but that will have to wait until I've finished all my running around for the day, the more open curve of the blade will certainly be useful as a tool that will sit between the tight curve of my existing small Spoon Knife and the nearly flat finishing knives that Ben supplies.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Lunch in the woods

Enjoyed a great day out in the woods today with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK, we decided we would make lunch today using foraged wild greens.

So i made us a wild greens omelette, i bought the eggs from home, already whisked up and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, but to the mix we added Jelly Ear fungus, the flower buds from the Elder tree and leaves from the Beech tree as well as Mallow, Nettle and Ground Ivy leaves, all of the extras were cooked off in the pan before the eggs were added, have to admit, it was very very tasty and as far as I'm aware we are all still alive this evening, just a word of warning though, if you cook fresh Jelly Ears, be careful as the spit like crazy when hot oil hits them

Monday, 11 June 2012

Trap Practice

Ok, i was bored, very bored, so having seen this done the other day on one of the forums i frequent, i thought i would also have a go at making a Figure 4 from three matches, it's, lets say a little tricky to get set up, but the effect is quite good.

Thinking if I'm as bored tomorrow as i was today, i will have a go at making a Paiute Dead Fall and use a piece of Horses tail hair for the cordage, should provide a good challenge.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Gransfors Small Forest Axe

I've had my SFA for a number of years now and have enjoyed more or less trouble free use of the axe over the years, the only problems being ones i made for myself, like dinging the edge on a piece of iron that was hidden in a piece of wood i was chopping, OK not truly my fault as the metal was invisible from the outside with no hint of it's existence being shown on the exterior of the log, it was just one of those things.

I did fall out of love with the SFA for a while as i got a Wildlife Hatchet and being the new the new toy at the time, the Hatchet got a lot of use and the SFA was, well, not forgotten about, but less favoured for a while.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Figure 4

Took a trip to the woods today, while i was there i thought i would practice making a Figure 4 dead fall trap to keep the skill level up, as of late, I've been making far simpler traps that, if I'm honest, are a lot more stable when set up than the Figure 4 and can also in my opinion, are a lot more sensitive, I'll put a post up over the next few days or so of the trap I favour these days, still it didn't hurt to practice the skill set, for the keen eyed amongst you, the trigger stick on this particular one, is set very finely and is held only by friction.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Birch Burl Bowl - Pt 4

Well, at last it's finished, well near as dam it anyway, i spent a bit of time yesterday sanding this bowl down on both the exterior and interior surfaces, and after all of that, I'm not entirely sure i like it, well, i like the bowl, i don't like the finish, i may well get my small spoon knife out and give the interior surface a tooled finish, apart from that, all i need to to now is put some felt feet on it and place it on the coffee table with the others I've made.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Needle Case

Finished off a small project i have had on the back burner for a little while today, it's nothing too elaborate or special, just a bamboo needle case, dead simple to make, but also looks great when finished.

The case, with stopper is 5 inches in length and has a an outside diameter of 3/4" and an inside diameter of approx 5/8", the stopper is piece of well seasoned hazel that I've whittled down so it has a slight shoulder and therefore cannot be pushed too far inside the bamboo and therefore split the sides out, for added security and strength around the rim, I've whipped some artificial sinew in place, the stopper is secured to the main tube with sinew and has a leather thong loop in the top to make it look pretty. Now to make some bone needles to go it, think a trip to the Game processor might be in order , so i can get some Deer leg bones.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Birch Burl Bowl Pt 3

Further to the post i made way back in April about the Birch Burl Bowl i was working on, well today, i figured it was now dry enough to work on again.

Today's task was to work on the exterior of the bowl to smooth it out & remove the last remnants of the bark that were clinging on for dear life, so using a variety of methods from crook & draw knives, cabinet scrapers, sand paper and most of all elbow grease, the exterior surface slowly started to come around  to more or less where i wanted it to be.

The base of the bowl was taken down to flat with a draw knife and then sanded with a block to retain the base plane and to define the edge between side & base,   I have left some of the inner bark from the Birch on  for a bit of visual interest, but as this gets fine sanded over the next few days, the smaller pieces you can see in the photo, may well disappear.

I still need to spend some serious time with the scrapers on the interior of the bowl, as in this instance i have decided to go with a smooth rather than tooled finish, i have also left a couple of areas in the side walls a bit thick, but only as there are some natural flaws in the wood and i fear if I take them too thin at this stage, they will just crack, so im erring on the side of caution, they can always be taken down a bit thinner in the future if i feel the need to do, but if i take too much now, i cant put it back.

More on the bowls progress in the next few days i hope.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Scotch Eyed Auger

Thought id make a little post about some Scotch Eyed Augers i recently bought, these are approx 12" in length and have a diameter of 5/8".

If you don't have an auger in your camp kit, all i can say is get one, i bought four of these to compliment the two 1" augers i also use, the things you can make in the woods with just this simple tool are amazing, from simple stools to sit on, to more elaborate things such as tables for use at a permanent camp right up to using it to make a permanent camp as well, of course they can also be used for taping the Birch & Maple trees for their sap in the spring and a whole host of other bushcraft projects, that are limited only by your imagination.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Shooting or lack of.

Went for a shoot last night on one of my permissions, there had been a steady run of bunnies out there all day in the full sunshine, but come the evening, how many were to be seen?, yep you guessed it - not one.
So i contented myself with just being out there in the countryside, watching the wildlife and really enjoying being entertained by the Foxes, who at one point, just sat there and watched me, as i watched them, sometimes the best evenings shooting comes, when you don't actually fire a single shot.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Bamboo Bow Drill

While i was messing around yesterday, i made myself a couple of new Bow Drill bows, the difference being, these are made from bamboo, i figured they would be a little different to the normal bow you see being used.

I made two, the top one in the photo was made from dry bamboo and works well, although i did have to add a rubber sleeve to the hand grip area to stop the string sliding around so much on the the very smooth surface, the other one i made from green bamboo and I'm just waiting for that to dry a little before i can move onto the next stage and burn some holes into it for the cordage.