Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Crack Willow

Whilst I'm working with it I thought I'd add a bit of a note about the timber I used. Crack willow is a very common site along river banks and flood plains in the Uk. Its latin name is Salix Fragilis, which pertains to the brittleness of its twigs which break off easily. These are carried by the river and redeposited to propagate it. Willow is extremely easy to propagate simply by pushing a piece of twig into the ground. Near where I live you don't have  to go far to find examples of mature trees that have broken in the wind. Walking underneath them in stormy weather is ill advised!

This is a log similar in size of the billet I used for the spoon tutorial, about 4 or 5" diameter.
The timber, in my experience is really easy to cleave and contains some pleasant orange colouring. I have noticed there can be some tiny little voids in the wood similar to bark inclusions, though they are quite sparse. As I mentioned in the spoon tutorial, I think the wood is a little soft for treen and not easy to get a nice finish on due to fluffy fibres and the fact that it marks really easily with e.g a fingernail. It is however quite inert in taste to use for treen.
Here are a few more cooking spoons I've roughly carved from the same log. I oiled the centre one with cold pressed linseed oil just to show how it bring out the colour. Personally I don't oil spoons any more as a matter of course, particularly eating spoons as the taste of the oil is strong and persistent.


Monday, 8 April 2013

Spoon carving tutorial pt6

Ok last instalment of the marathon tutorial, and very pic heavy. I took lots of pictures today and when I  looked back at them in chronological order it seemed I had skipped back and forth steps. This is because, for me at least, adjustments are made during the finishing stage which necessitate design refinements to achieve a balanced final shape.
   Firstly I'll tackle the tricky transition area just behind the bowl. I'll show 2 alternative options for tidying up the fluffy torn grain, one on either side. Firstly with a straight carving knife work from either side into the hollow taking finer cuts.
Then 'feather in' gently with super fine cuts until the last rags are removed. This is best done choking up on the very tip of the knife and at a slicing angle if possible.

On the other side I'm scooping into the hollow with the spoon knife

Then carefully cutting upwards cross grain to remove the rags with a very light sweep.

 Well we are working with a natural product here and unsurprisingly the handle has moved and twisted whilst drying. Luckily I have left enough material for this not to be a problem so I'll re straighten things.

 My cuts are getting much finer now I am reaching the final shape. I didn't take any photos to illustrate it but I've tapered the handle, thinning towards the bowl. I've also Faceted the top of the handle with cambers and a central flat as I hope you can see in the pictures. Once again, I'm following Fritiof design traits:- If you get chance to acquire one of his spoons take it because he is he design guru I aspire  to.
 Here I'm taking the finest of edge bevel cuts to make the handle pleasant to hold with no sharp edges
 Hopefully you can see the result here. Whilst taking these cuts pay close attention to the grain and stop if the knife starts plunging into the fibres... you may have to change direction.
 Taking bevel cuts around the neck to make it more elegant.

 Again taking edge bevel cuts from every corner , even round the bowl.
 And along the leading edge.

 On the back of the bowl I can now finally thin out that material I left for rim adjustments.
 Also bevel the inside edges of the bowl.
 Ok so the spoon is about finished. I thought I'd just show how I do the trade mark Fritiof Runhall furrows in the bowl. Fritiof uses a normal spoon knife for this with a reground bevel, but I find it easier with a handed scorp. I know mine has a ding that needs sorting but for demo purposes I'll go ahead anyway.
 Come down towards the deepest point from both directions. This is the 8mm Flex cut scorp (much easier with a left AND right scorp)

Then another tidy up cut round the rim with the straight knife.

Incidentally I like to leave a fair bit of thickness on the leading edge as this is of course where all the wear will occur with use.

 You can probably see its not easy to clean up the transition part of the furrows but I've done the best I can with brittle Willow.
Hope this has been of some use, enjoy your carving, John M

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spoon carving tutorial Pt5

The next step is to do the initial hollowing of the bowl using the spoon knife. It's worth marking the area to be hollowed (this, along with an occasional centre line, is the only marking I would normally do).

This is the original Spoon knife I bought from Robin Wood when I attended his highly recommended course back in 2007. I've never found it lacking and along with the GB Carving axe I've found no reason to bother changing. I'm a believer in getting to know your tools and refining your skill rather than constantly looking for the next miracle tool. The knife is made by Swedish smith Bo Helgesson. (though his tool making stage name is Helgess).

The initial deep cuts to remove the bulk of the material are done with sweeping cross grain scoops. The secret to getting nice clean cuts and avoid 'stepping' is to make sure the bevel stays in contact with the wood. That means tilting the bevel in and out of the cut in a scooping motion. Ignore my hand positions in the pictures because I had to take photos with my non dom hand. I'll post on grips and cuts in subsequent posts so if there are any you would like me to try and demonstrate let me know.
As you get close to the final shape, you may have to come down the grain towards the deepest part of the bowl.
Here again you can see I have left plenty of material around the rim until I am happy with the bowl shape. 
Now that bowl is hollowed I can start thinning to the final thickness. I've also shortened the handle. (no point in working unwanted wood)

So here's where I've got to so far. I'll put it on a window sill for a few days near a radiator to dry out before doing the finishing cuts.