Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Puukko woodcraft knife

In the previous post I made a knife by forging the blade under the instruction of James in his workshop. James Wood invited me back to make a Puukko. A Puukko is a traditional Scandinavian style woodcraft knife that is a very useful tool.

The method we used for making this knife is to take a piece of scrap steel, from a leaf spring for instance, cut the rough blade shape with an angle grinder. Then use a belt sander to finish the shape and add the bevels ready for sharpening.

Again the process was fun and harder than it looks but it makes a great blade and James proved himself a patient teacher again. To finish the knife I used two gifts recieved from friends, a lovely piece of cocobolo tropical hardwood which I carved into a handle. The second gift was a sheet of leather, tools and the instructions on how to make a sheath for the knife, another interesting process.

After some research and a days work I had the knife finished and a sheath made for it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tool making - first knife.

For me a minimum carving toolkit consists of one axe for roughing out, one bushcraft style knife for shaping and finishing and a spoon knife for carving bowls etc. These can be easily carried into woodland and used to carve while there.  But when working at home thing are different, there is a huge range of knives, spoon knives and other cutting tools available and my toolkit is slowly growing.

Because of the kindness of some local greenwood workers I have tried a large variety of tools, as I used more tools I started to appreciate the skills of the tool makers so I decided to try to make some basic tools to see how the process works.

An incredibly talented young knife maker, James Wood, invited me to try his forge an invite I was very pleased to accept. His workshop was a wonderland of traditional tools and forges. James lit a forge and talked me through hammering a steel rod into a knife blade with tang, the hot physical process was very satisfying and all too soon I was finished. James proved himself a patient teacher. Looking at what I had made reinforced my admiration for his skills.

The next stage will be a lot of polishing with wet and dry paper to polish the blade and then carving some seasoned ash into a handle shape (done).  Although it is not pretty the process was both fascinating and satisfying, I hope to do more forging. The knife is very sharp and receives heavy use.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two tone birch spoon

One of the joys of working with natural materials is the unexpected. In the precious two posts we can see how birch looks when carved. But although I made this spoon from birch it has a two tone colour.

The colour comes from a fungus invading the wood as it starts to rot, the good news is that once worked and dried the wood remains stable and the fungus causes no problems in the future.

The darker wood here is the fungal growth

The spoon was made with a short handle for strength.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Large Birch Kuksa

The traditional Kuksa is a style of drinking cup made by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia and is carved from Birch. 

This Kuksa is large and can hold just over a pint of liquid, I know people that use these when camping for food or drink. The two holed handle is very comfortable to hold.

Kuksa with spoon knife

Kuksa with blades used

The Bowl is 135mm x 125mm, overall length is 240mm, height is 65mm

Birch Qiaich

Birch Qiaich

I have a lot of local woodland albeit carved in to seperate sections or "reserves". In the woodland we have a lot of beautiful silver birch, I love the way that they glow in sunshine with darker trees supplying a contrasting backdrop. The wood is soft and easy to carve but a bit prone to tearing if knives are not sharp.

My local reserve are clearing their woodland of birch which means there is wood available.

The quaich is a tradtional Scottish drinking cup and was used for drinking whisky or brandy.

This little cup was a pleasure to carve and I will be making more.

Hornbeam spoon

Walking in my local woodland I see many Hornbeam trees which grow in tangled shapes or with long branches growing out to what seem unsupportable lengths. These are wonderfeul trees which give me much visual pleasure.

I had not attempted to carve Hornbeam because it is a very hardwood, traditionally used for canon ramrods, cogs, tool handles, chopping blocks and pulleys, in America it is often called Ironwood.

But having been offered some green hornbeam I decided to try something small, a spoon. Much to my surprise the wood was a joy to work and when finished the spoon is very smooth and comfortable to use.

Spoon knives courtesy of Dorset Woodland Blades.

 The spoon is 165mm long.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kuksa from Cherry wood.

I have been looking at kuksa's, Swedish traditional drinking cups, many of these hand made kuksa's are very beautiful, inspired I carved my first Kuksa from Cherry wood.The Kusa is quite small the bowl being only four inches on the long side, the whole Kuksa is seven inches long.

The wood was a joy to carve with the colours suited to the Kuksa, the lines of the Kuksa were easily found in the wood. Here is the Kusa before being oiled.

The wood was first reduced and rough shaped by hand axe, then I worked with two wonderful carving tools from Dorset Woodland Blades, the blades are easy to sharpen to very, very sharp allowing me to concentrate on the carving.

Spoon from Cherry

I was lucky to be invited to a greenwood working weekend at a private wood, the wood is owned by people who make high quality chairs from greenwood. There was a mix of experienced people at the weekend with a variety of skills and I hoped to learn some of their basic techniques.

I was kindly given some very fresh Cherry and I started work on a large, 15 inch, spoon. Cherry is a lovely wood to work with with beautiful colouring. I started on the log I was given by splitting lengthways and one half was axed into a rough spoon shape.

A Mora bushcraft knife was used to refine the shape and a spoon knife was used to hollow the bowl. Finally a light sanding finished the spoon.

I did learn an amazing amount from the greenwood workers and made some new friends at the same time, I will be back for more.