Chokecherry

It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog as I have been away on a short vacation to Niagara Falls. It was really nice to get away in the busy time of summer

A short while before I left a friend kindly gave me some Chokecherry wood. This is a small suckering shrub or small tree found across most of America. I had not carved this before and also had not carved green (wet) wood for quite a while. What a pleasure to have your knife glide through green wood. I know why some spoon carvers exclusively use green wood. It’s so much easier on the hands!

The wood though somewhat plain, had a pleasing brown center to add some contrast.

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This photo also shows the parent piece of wood I cut the spoon from. It seems to be treated as an invasive, undesirable plant here, as it is a host to the tent caterpillar.

I was happy however to carve a bit of it and will try to get some more for a few spoons. One of the pieces I made was a coffee scoop. In addition to the brown center it had several patches of coloration adding further interest.

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Give it a nice curvy handle and it made a very acceptable scoop.

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Speaking of the French Roast – I think I am going to make a brew of Joe!

Commission

I had a very interesting commission recently. A regular customer at the store where I work knew that I did spoon carving. He had a intriguing request regarding a piece of Ash. His family had the use of a canoe belonging to a friend. One of the thwarts of the canoe had become rotten on the edges and he replaced the thwart with a new one.

This was how I received it:

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He specified that he did not want straight spoons but wanted them curly or bent. Within the limitations of the piece of Ash, I laid out the best I could using the whole width, and most of the length. As the colour is fairly plain I also set holes at the ends of the spoon to add some interest.

This was my rough cut out:

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Ash is different from any wood I have carved in that it alternates from softish to very hard wood with the growth rings. This gives a very distinct feel as you carve – almost a feel of corrugations.

As I have said many times – the sharper your tool the easier the carve,

The following pic clearly shows the growth rings in this wood.

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I was quite pleased with the final outcome and so was the customer. The thwart now lives on, and hopefully will grace many a meal. This has spawned another commission – this time a set of salad servers as a wedding present. Better get busy on those……

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Sharpening a gouge

Sharpening my gouges is probably my least favorite part of carving and most likely because I am not practised enough to be confident of doing a great job. Fortunately I live close to my son (bidaweebushcraft) and he makes my knives and gouges. He makes the sharpening look so easy and does it in no time at all. While I can I intend to use and abuse him for my sharpening!

A plug for him – he does make knives and gouges to most specifications and does other knife work using damascus and exotic handle material too. As he is full-time employed it is a hobby for him and he is happy for commission work where time is not a constraint.

So this week I feature him doing another sharpening of one of my tools in a short video clip.

Enjoy.

Sharpening your knives (part 1)

This past week I spent some time in the workshop of @bidaweebushcraft where he showed me his sharpening techniques. Bidaweebushcraft is my son and he can be found on Instagram as such. He is a professional Squash and Tennis coach but a skilled craftsman in many areas, but more especially knife and blade making. I am very fortunate to have these skills “on tap” so to speak.

In this post I will add a short video clip of him sharpening a flat blade knife that he made me. It is my main carving tool for all outside edges of any carving. I use it also for rapid removal of material. It is of the Scandinavian design and holds its edge really, really well. I guess it’s all in the tempering. On my tools page in this website, there are more technical descriptions of the blade. He does make custom blades and more recently damascus knives with exotic handles.

So without further ado – herewith the clip.

 

So a couple of things I want to mention. Firstly a piece of scrap leather can be used to hold the knife securely without damaging the handle. Secondly he uses a simple setup to secure the blade using a normal bench-mounted vice and then a quick release clamp in the vice. This allow fast repositioning of the knife to the best ergonomic setup suited to you. What goes without saying, is that the knife MUST be held securely and safely.

On a humourous note his wife was telling me later that she wondered why his forearm was shaved!

Finishing off with a couple of shots of the knife with some spoons I carved.

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