Different woods – part 3 (final for now!)

For now I shall continue this blog series by showing the last 4 woods that I have carved. There are several others but I do not have enough experience to show those yet.

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Pine – specifically spalted Pine is something I have carved plenty of, since I was lucky enough to find a stump of dry spalted pine with enough girth to carve more than 100 spoons. It is very hard, a characteristic not usually associated with Pine. This has very defined and distinctive lines of spalting and I find them so pleasing – almost like lines on a map. It is reasonably easy to carve but takes quite a bit of sanding to achieve a really fine finish. There is no apparent weakness in this Pine or along the lines of spalting but there are quite a few “end shakes” or cracks that I have to work in between. I have tried carving fresh pine with no outcome that I enjoyed. It seems however that others have had success with very old reclaimed pine. Perhaps that’s the key.

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This is Ash – its very hard and I do not find it too interesting. It is very very strong however and I felt as if I could use it to lever the car off the ground! It seems very stable and I guess will be very hard wearing. I do need to try to find some with more interesting grain. Never come across any with spalting.

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This is Birch that I carved as part of a wedding present very recently. The bride is a chef, so I am sure they will get some use! It was part of a load of firewood recently delivered to me and the brown and white was too striking to use in a fire!. It’s a hard, long-grained and stable wood that takes a pleasant finish. History has shown that it has long been used, with Oak, as a preferred wood for kitchen utensils. I certainly concur.

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I have also carved many items from spalted Birch of which there is so much around, even in our own backyard. It shows similar markings to that of spalted Pine – a natural beauty. It often reminds me of an artist’s representation of a skyline.

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Lastly the Maple – there are so many variations of this tree let alone variations in the wood. It seems that you are dealing with a new wood type every time. I find that one has to be very careful carving most Maple because of frequent grain direction changes. This necessitates that you change the direction of your blade to avoid “lift-ups” . I have found the spalted Maple very rewarding , but then I am a huge spalting fan. Again because it is a very common tree in this part of the world it is easy to get your hands on some. Indeed you can also buy it cheaply at your local hardware store allowing you to carefully choose some with pleasing grain.

Next week is my first craft fair so I am working hard towards that. Wish me luck!

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