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.