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?.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Autumnal Display

Even though Autumn heralds the onset of the harder times of Winter ahead, it's a season i have always enjoyed, not only because of the wealth of fruits and nuts that can normally be foraged, the sounds and the hive of activity of the wildlife as they make their own preparations for Winter, not just the large animals that most people see, but the smaller mammals as well, just go in to your woods, and sit quietly on a log and they will soon make their presence known.

One of the things i really enjoy at this time of year though, are the magnificent displays of Fungi that appear at this time of year, it's a whole new world of beauty to explore and enjoy, from magnificent miniature forests of fungi to the the majestic Parasol mushrooms that stand proud & alone on the forest floor, but please remember, although fungi are incredibly beautiful, they can also be deadly, so if you are going to play with Mushrooms, please get some proper training from a Mycologist, so you know what you are dealing with and remember the old adage "if in doubt, leave it out".

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Spectacular Clouds

We have been treated down here on the South Coast to some absolutely spectacular cloud formations this week, an atypical example of which is pictured, most of these big boys have been out over the sea and you get to hear the odd rumble of thunder now and again, sometimes they push in over land and when they do, man o man, do they let you now they have arrived, with torrential rain, hail & strong gusty winds, but they disappear just as quickly as they come in, they are magnificent to watch as they push up the coast.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ash Burr Bowl

Back in January this year i was gifted a huge Ash Burr see this thread i made a bit of a start on working it back in March when i did nothing more than remove a slice from the base of the Burr to make it stand flat.

Then in August this year i decided to make a proper start on the Burr and attacked it with the Adze and thankfully just under the surface, the Burr was still moist, the grain went every which way and it was harder than concrete to work, i even managed to move the head on my Hans Karlsson adze up the shaft by a few mm when i was chopping away at the wood, gives you an idea as to the gnarly wood involved here, i should had realised a bit sooner what i was up against, as normally with the adze, wood chips fly in all directions, with this Burr, it just held on and very few chips flew off, the picture above shows the result of an hours work with adze and then gouge.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


It's that time of year now, where my billhook is going to get it's most feverish work out, the hook gets used all year of course, but the winter months generally sees it being used on a regular basis up in the woods, i know next month it's going to have a lot of use as i have to go and coppice a small woodland and then process the Hazel into usable products such as Faggots, Pea & Bean sticks, the vast majority though will go to making Hazel Hurdles and Thatching Spars.