Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Spoon Commission

I received a commission the other day from a member of one of the conservation groups im involved with, they wanted a short spoon for general cooking duties, i had more or less free range as to style and wood selection, but, i did have one design stipulation to contend with, it had to be suitable for use with arthritic hands.

So i came up with this, i made the spoon from some lovely Poplar i had for a few reasons, 1) it has a gorgeous grain pattern, 2) it's a food safe wood and 3) it's lightweight, the spoon has a good sized bowl, but importantly also has a wide handle so it's easier to grip, the handle is shaped for an easy grip, not only in plan view, but also in profile and is considerably thicker and wider than i would normally leave it, ive tried to retain some elegance to the shape, so it's not only practical, but also visually appealing.

Willow Bowl

Made a start on a new Willow Bowl yesterday morning, so far I've only roughed it out using the adze, gouge and axe, I've left the walls and base of the bowl very much on the thick side while it dries out.

Once it's dry, i will be able to move on to refining the bowl ie thinning the walls and base out and then getting it finished with some fine carving.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Beech Spoon

Made myself another Beech spoon today. I carved this one from the crook of a branch that i collected last week from a piece of fallen Beech,  by retaining the shape of the branch, I've also retained the strength of the wood and it's natural elegance, although being Beech, i have also left the handle a bit on the thick side to compensate for the weakness of the wood, when it has dried out a bit, i will be able to refine it further.

Crusader Mug

I was reading an article the other day about the cups that people take with them when they go out shrafting, they range from 99p tin mugs to very expensive Titanium mugs, there was a bit of disagreement over the practicalities of what people used, but, does it really matter is my question?, what is the difference between someone using a 99p metal mug or someone using a £50.00 Titanium mug, in my eyes - nothing at all, use what want and what you can afford.

So what do i use?, well my go to is a stainless steel, British Army Crusader mug, sure they are not the lightest, but they are tough as old boots and they suit me just fine, the other mug i use quite a bit and not pictured here,  is from my lightweight cook set,  it's a 99p steel mug with a fixed handle from the Pound shop and that also works just fine and dandy and again, suits me just fine.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Beech Spoon

Finished off a beech spoon i started last week, i did all of the rough carving whilst out in the woods and finished it off this afternoon with finer carving tools, the spoon has a lovely elegant shape, which is down to the choice of wood and by using the natural curve of the branch ive retained the strength in the spoon, which also meant i could also get away with having a very narrow neck on the spoon in plan view, but  having the deep neck section you can see in the profile view, the spoon retains a great deal of strength.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Help For Heroes Sponsored Walk

Well, the walk is done, the weather held for us and we had a good group of people of mixed abilities and ages on the walk in the end.

The weather had promised to be a bit cooler with some rain, which we were really looking forward too, it didn't end up that way though, the early cloud broke and we were left walking over the South Downs in haze & sweltering conditions, thankfully nobody became ill or needed treatment for anything worse than a Nettle Sting.

The walk took five hours to complete, two hours of which were spent stationary (my Garmin GPS is great for stuff like this), so people could take a break, hydrate and catch their breath, even more important for the two asthmatics who came with us to support this more than worthy cause.

Full credit for all of the organisation, writing to land owners to advise them of our presence on their land in advance of the walk, completing risk assessments and all of the coordination involved with something like this, goes to eldest (Simon) who only turned 15 this week, he took all of this on his shoulders entirely of his own accord, with no absolutely no pushing from us, because he wanted to help, i am incredibly proud of him as indeed are the rest of the family, im also very proud of all the young people who turned out today in support of our wounded service personnel.

It's not too late to sponsor Simon if you are feeling generous - a massive thank you goes to all the members of the BCUK forum and others from all walks of life who have already sponsored Simon for this event. 

Willow Bowl

Got my latest Willow Bowl finished off yesterday, i started this about a week or so ago and have been waiting for the wood to dry out sufficiently so i could move on to the next stage in it's manufacture, thankfully the weather has been on my side for change and the warm, dry weather we have experienced this week has certainly helped to dry the bowl blank out.

So yesterday, i got the sand paper out, yes, i used sand paper for this one, and i spent a little bit of time, sitting out in the sunshine, sanding it down, inside and out, the result is the bowl in the picture, pretty pleased with this one, even more so when my neighbour saw it and insisted i made it on a lathe, not bad for a bowl that was made with nothing more than an adze, axe and gouge and a just a little bit of sand paper.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bowl Horse Modification

Made a small modification to my bowl horse today that will make it more stable to use on level ground, when i initially made this horse, i made it with three legs so that it would be easier to use on rough or uneven ground, but i also want to use this on level ground and for that, fours legs are better than three, the solution - add another leg.

I can however still use this as a three legged horse if i need to, as all i have done is to auger two more holes in the front of the horse, ie one each side of the central hole, so now i have a multi legged horse, that can be used on a variety of different surfaces and still retain it's stability.

Auger Sheath

I eventually fed up with the points on the augers i got from Hugo on BCUK making small puncture holes in bags etc, so i figured it was time I got round to making a  sheath for them.

So this afternoon, i grabbed the big roll of Pig Leather and made some very simple covers for them, all they are, are leather tubes, that when finished, I trimmed up, using a pair of pinking shears for the wavy edges along the long edge, simple, but effective.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bimble Spoonage

Enjoyed another quality day out today with Hugo & Rockmonkey from BCUK, we decided due to the heat, yes the heat, last week we were wet and cold, this week, it's sweltering hot, to go a haunt of ours in the woods that would not only afford us the shelter of the trees, but hopefully being a fair way up the hill, the chance of a bit of a breeze, thankfully the site choice worked well and it was lovely and cool where we set up for the day

Once we had set up and had a brew, one of many today, it was time for a poke around the woods which yielded some fallen Hazel & Beech for carving, to be honest it was far to hot to go running around, so a very lazy day was had, sitting in our hammocks carving spoons and taking the piss out of each other.

The picture shows some of the spoons we carved, with a Hugo made Little Whittler for scale, on top of these we also made some Spatulas from Beech and Hazel, before we knew it though it was time to head out and when Rockmonkey and i headed home at around 19:30 after pricing a job up at the Lakes, the outside air temperature gauge on my car was reading 28C, so gawd only knows what the temperature was during the heat of the day.

The spoons in the picture are credited as follows, the two on the left are from Rockmonkey, the two in the middle are mine and the two on the right are Hugo's, not a bad carving session, and what could be better than siting in the cool woods carving on what I'm told, was probably the hottest day of the year so far. The hideouis white legs in the second picture are credited to Rockmonkey.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Barley Harvest

Spent some time this afternoon up in the end field at home watching the local farmer take the Barley in, he had some great machinery on the go, including this huge new New Holland. I would imagine in the next day or so he will get the Baler in, when he has finished and the machinery is off the field, i will take a short wander up there and collect a big bag full of the overspill that gets left behind to use as tinder for friction fire, i know he wont mind as it will only get ploughed back in.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Birch Spoon

Ive enjoyed the last couple of days carving bowls and spoons with my new Carving Axe, strange thing is, I've been able to do it outside in the sunshine, makes a pleasant change i must say.

One of the spoons I've carved is this one from Birch, all of the roughing out and even defining the general shape was done with the axe, before moving onto the knife work in order to refine the lines and add some little touches off detail, like the carved knop on the end of the handle, it doesn't do anything, it's just adds a small piece of visual interest.

In addition to the Birch spoon pictured, I've also carved some larger spoons from Sycamore and some eating spoons from Willow & Poplar, all have a fully tooled finish, for that rustic/organic look & feel.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Willow Bowl

Started a new willow bowl today, hoping to make this one in bit of a different style to the other bowls i have made so far, certainly the new Hans Karlsson gouge and Gransfors Carving Axe have already made a world of difference to the ease and speed of manufacture.

The bowl is in it's roughed out shape as shown, i now need to let it dry, before i can move on to the next stage and thin the walls and base down and refine the final shape.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Swedish Carving Axe

I've been after one of these axes for a while now, so i bit the bullet and ordered one, now firstly i have to extend my thanks to Sean Hellman for his advice and answering a couple of queries i had regarding the axe - thanks Sean.

For those who don't know, these axes are available in three variants, right handed bevel, left handed bevel and a double bevel, i purchased the double bevel in the end,  as following Sean's advice, it was far better suited to the carving i intend to do with it, i used the axe for the first time this afternoon to rough out a bowl blank, all I'm going to say is, "why didn't i get one of these years ago?", it makes life so much easier and although the axe is much heavier than my normal Wildlife hatchet, i thought it required less effort to use, so in that respect it also has to be safer, certainly i wasn't as tired after using it as i normally am after a similar roughing job with the SFA or Wildlife, as the head weight does the work, not your arm.

I have a feeling there might be a few big piles of wood chips around the place in the next few days.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ash Tray - Part 2

Having received my new Hans Karlsson gouge yesterday, the first thing i wanted to do was use it to finish off the wooden tray i  began on Friday.

The gouge worked seriously well as you would expect from a quality tool and in next to no time the interior surface of the tray and been smoothed out using the gouge, i then worked the exterior shape with an axe before finally smoothing the entire outer surface down on the shave horse with a draw knife.

I think the tray worked out pretty well, considering it was made from what was essentially, a piece of scrap wood from the manufacture of my bowl horse.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hans Karlsson Carving Gouge

I received my new Hans Karlsson 55-30 gouge today, I've been after one of these for a long time to supplement my Karlsson Adze and i could wait no longer, so i bit the bullet last week and ordered one and I'm glad i did, it's like a razor blade right out of the box and carving a couple of bowls today, the gouge just felt absolutely right in hand and very comfortable to use, even on dry Ash.

Money well spent and it should pay for itself in next to no time.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bicycle Inner Tube

One of the products I've used for a long time for all manner of things bushy is old bicycle inner tubes.

I have sections of tube on most of my sheaths, i have sections in and around my fire kits, wrapped around match containers and even hanging off of the D rings on my ruck sacks, why do i have so much of it around?, well it's simply a wonderful material.

It can be used for fire lighting, even if it's soaking wet it will burn, in the past i have used a ferro to ignite Birch shavings and then lit a piece of inner tube from the resulting flame to help get a fire going, of course using a match or lighter is far easier, it's not very eco friendly because of the fumes, but in a pinch it will get a fire going for you.

The tube can also be cut into narrow bands and used as ranger bands, or as we like to call them, rubber bands, for keeping all manner of things together, I've often used the bands to keep small bundles of sticks together for transportation, the uses of an old inner tube really are only limited by your imagination, you can make sheaths & pouches, use it for bands on a slingshot, even use pieces of it in the manufacture of traps, heck, you can even use it as a belt if you needed to, and the best bit about old inner tubes, they are free, just pop along to your local cycle shop and they will have loads of old ones in the bin and as long as you ask, you can normally just help yourself.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tinder Pouch

One of the small items of equipment i have on me all the time when I'm out and about, is a small tinder pouch, the main reason being, you never know when you are going find a load of tinder that can be saved for future use, be it Clematis fluff, Tree Bark or dry grass, if you see it, collect it, because you can guarantee, when you really need some dry tinder, you wont be able to find any.

The pouch pictured is a rubberised tobacco pouch that i bought on EBay years ago and it holds a good amount of tinder and being rubberised, it also keeps out moisture, although it is not waterproof, so any moisture in your tinder can escape.  If i forget my tinder pouch then i always have a backup with me in the form of at least a couple of plastic bags, they are not as durable as the pouch pictured, but still work a treat, you just have to be a little more careful with them.

Saturday, 14 July 2012


There is nothing quite like eating your breakfast from a wooden bowl and with a wooden spoon that you made yourself. 

OK, i know it should have been Porridge, but i only eat that for brekkers when I'm in the woods, at home it just has to be Shreddies, drenched in ice cold milk - lovely.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Ash Tray

Nope, not the sort of tray you would associate with smoking, but a tray made from Ash wood. When i made my bowl horse yesterday, i cleaved off a section of the Ash log i was using and rather than throw it away, i thought, why not use it to make a shallow tray?, so that's exactly what i did, unbeknown to me though, when i removed this section of log, i also put quite a large split in it, so the tray is shallower than i had anticipated, but i think it might turn out OK in the end.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Bowl Horse

Finally got my Bowl Horse made this afternoon, it's made from the large log i collected last week, i peeled the bark off using a spud (thankfully a good sized piece of bark came away in one piece, so i have saved that to make another berry basket). I then augured three holes for the legs, making sure that the rear legs splay not only outwards but also have a reverse throw on them to counter act the force of the adze hitting the work piece, the front leg has a forward throw on it, again for stability.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rain Storm

A storm approaches
As many will already know because they have experienced it themselves in this wet and dreary summer we are having, when it rains at the moment it really doesn't forget to rain.

The picture shows the edge of a storm that came my way around lunch time today, thunder, forked lighting, hail stones the size of Cherry stones and rain, man alive it just didn't know when to give up, to give you an indication of the amount of rain that fell in about 30 minutes, i had a 3 pint plastic tub in the garden, that is around six inches (15 cm) square, this morning it was dry, after the storm, there was over an inch of water  in the bottom of it, the road out front of the house turned into a river and the horse field out back resembled a lake.

Weather Radar image from 1215 BST today
By all accounts we are not out of the woods yet as we are now under a weather warning for further thunder storms and torrential rain until early evening, but atypically, as i sit here and write this, the clouds have lifted and the sun is starting to shine, think it's time to grab the waterproofs and go for a walk up the lane, as you just know, if you go for a walk, the heavens will open again.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Kelly Kettle

Got my new Kelly Kettle today, I've used these before and have always resisted the urge to get one of my own, but last week, i could resist no longer and bit the bullet, this one came directly from Kelly Kettle in Ireland, i ordered it on Wednesday evening and it arrived mid morning today, superb service, didn't expect it to be here quite that quick.

I couldn't quite decide which model to go for, but in the end i plumped for the Scout model which has a capacity of 1.3 Litres, plenty for brews when out and about with the lads, but equally a good size for when I'm working in a fixed area and want to make brews for customers, the other bonus with one of these is it's a lot cheaper to run in the long run than using a small gas burner and it's a lot more "bushy" of course.

To view the range of Kettles that are available have a look at the Kelly Kettle website

Willow Trough / Small Dough Bowl

Following on from this post i made a little while ago about a couple of Willow bowls i was making, i managed to spend some time today working on the dough bowl/trough style bowl. Now that it's dried out i was able to make some progress on it, so as of today, it looks like this, still very rough, but getting there.

I need to spend some serious time on it refining the whole thing, think i might go for a totally tooled finish, just by way of a change 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bent Wood Container

During the week i was paring down some Sycamore for a job i was on and thought id save and use some of the smaller pieces to make a bent wood container.

The container measures approx 8cm wide by 12cm long and when finished will be just under 4cm in height, the base of the container has also been made from sycamore and is held in place with  a smear of wood glue and further strengthened with wooden pegs driven through the sides and into the base.

Once the glue has set, i can set about tidying up the edges and smoothing it all down with a cabinet scraper, then i just have a lid to carve out and fit, also to be made from Sycamore.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Timber Collection

While i was out about in the woods today i wanted to collect myself a piece of timber for a project i have in mind, i needed a log, or part of, that was about 2.5 to 3ft long by around 8 inches in diameter, so i grabbed my Bergen, so i had a good strong pack to lug the log back in, added a Bucksaw and went to the woods, as you might be able to guess from the photo, it wasn't that dry up there either.

In a brief respite from the rain, i set up the bucksaw and located the piece of timber i needed, the tree i harvested the log from, fell during a storm last winter, so no trees were felled in order for me to take a small log, from what is a large tree, in fact i and a couple of others have previously harvested timber from this very tree, so it's misfortune is our gain. So what do i want a log this big for, well, all will be revealed in the next couple of days or so.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Further Spoonage

Just a few of the spoons made today to replenish stocks, from top to bottom they are made from Ash, Poplar & the bottom two are from Willow, all feature a tooled finish.

The Poplar one i have given to my Dad for his new eating spoon, he was going to have the Ash one, but i gave him a choice and he opted for the Poplar one, I'm also going to add some Pyrography to it for him.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


So what is it that makes a cheap as chips, French, locking knife so popular with the worldwide Bushcraft Community?.

Well for me the answer is simple, it's a superb tool for the money, it's ergonomic, it holds a great edge, it's easy to sharpen, it has an idiot proof locking system on the blade and it's very easy to modify it to suit your own particular needs, as you can see from the photo, I've altered the tip geometry on mine as i didn't particularly get on with the original shape, so ten minutes with a Dremmel sorted that out, i now find it's far better suited to my needs.

I've used mine for all sorts of things from carving to unzipping bunnies, OK, it's not really best suited to game prep as it has a wooden handle and could therefore absorb & trap blood and other fluids, but if you are careful and take care with what you are doing, then it's fine, I've certainly not had a problem with it.

So, lets hear your reasons as to why the Opinel is just so highly rated.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Pyro Spoon

I took one of the Sycamore spoons i made the other day and added a little bit of personalisation to it with my cheap as chips Pyrograph pen, it's a very simple design, but i think it's worked out ok and it's certainly distinctive.

The 'ME' at the top of the handle is not me being funny, they are in fact my initials, used to get me into all sorts of trouble at School when the teacher said initial your work and i used to write 'ME'

Thrush's Anvil

Whilst out on a short bimble up the lane on Saturday afternoon, i noticed a movement on a tree stump, looking over i saw a Thrush, which is quite a rare sight around here of late, then in the undergrowth another movement, this time it was fledgling Thrush, superb news, hopefully the Thrush is starting to make a come back, would be great if it is, as this species has been very much on the decline for a number of years.

A few steps up the path, i saw a mass of broken snail shells, where the adult Thrush has been bashing them against a rock to break them open in order to feed on the snail and no doubt to show it's young how to do it also, the photo shows the anvil the bird had been using and the number of smashed snails laying around it, I did hang around for a bit to see if I could watch the Thrush smashing the snails against it's anvil, but, although the bird remained in the hedge, it wasn't going to come back out all the time i was there, so i left it in peace and carried on with my bimble.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Three From One

Three spoons from one section of Sycamore branch, one of those rare occasions where splitting the branch, bought three almost perfect blanks, unusual for Sycamore, as it doesn't normally split that well.

The spoons are laid out in the order they came from the branch, the lowest being the bottom and the top, well, being the top section, the bottom one for Sycamore also has some wild grain patterns in it caused by compression of the wood by gravity over many years of growth.