Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mocotaugan style knife

Tendonitis in my elbow caused by too much carving is stopping me carving the bigger projects so what to do instead?

Duncan at Dorset Woodland Blades recently made me a pair of curved blades for working bowls and other deep objects, it would be nice to try something new when I make the handles for these. Note one blade is left handed the other is right handed.

This would be an ideal smaller project that will allow me to try my new bowl horse on a very small item The bowl horse performed very well giving my gripping hand a rest and keeping the wood steady.

The Mocotaugan blade is usually less curved but I thought that the bent handle would design would suit my blades. The Mocotaugan can trace it's history back to flint bladed knives in the stone age.

So here is my take on the Mocotaugan.

This was an interesting project and maybe I will do more of this type of carving one day :-)

For more on the Mocotaugan see,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bowl horse

A local builder had some scrap wood that I could have if I wanted it...

The wood was perfect for a plan that I have had for a while, I have recently picked up tendonitis from over gripping the work, that I carve, in my hand.

The tendonitis has cut back my carving time so I was looking for a solution, something that would hold wood. Being demanding I wanted something that would hold large pieces of wood for draw knifing and also hold small bits of wood for carving, a big ask.

When browsing the web I spotted a device that seemed as if it would do what I wanted, the device is on David Fishers web site, David is maker of wonderful carved bowls. I emailed David for advice and he very kindly sent me full set of plans (now on his blog, link at the bottom of this post).

The timber that I had was not the correct size, I did not have the larger planks, so I made a few adjustments and the sawed, drilled, chiseled, drilled some more, bolted, drilled some more and soon had a kit of parts that could be put together or taken apart for loading into the car.

Bowl horse with the tools used

note the row of drilled holes, the swing arm can be adjusted along those holes (green arrows) using a bolt, if adjusted to a small peice of wood I turn the swing arm and dumb head around as the foot plate would get in the way.

 Longish log in place for drawknifing

The swing arm moved close to the seat and the dumbhead removed, a small block raises the bowl for carving.

even closer for fine carving

I plan to design a number of different shaped dumb head blocks for different shaped carvings.

I recommend David Fisher's web site a great carver and a generous man.

If you see a duck shaped piece of birch

Hi all

If you see a duck shaped piece of birch it is only to polite to carve it out...

Weekend in the woods, coppicing.

Working with wood inevitably brings an interest in the raw material in all it's variety, as part of my interest I find myself looking for opportunities to meet wood workers in a variety of disciplines.

I was very pleased to be invited to a coppicing weekend at a private wood. The wood is owned by people who make high quality chairs using traditional methods including pole lathes. There was a mix of experienced people at the weekend with a variety of skills (chair making, carving, pole lathing) and I hoped to learn some of their basic wood working techniques.

Coppicing is the process of cutting trees but leaving a stump and then allowing each stump to generate a number of new stems. The new growth continues for a number of years (depending on intended use) until the wood reaches the desired size and then it is harvested.  This weekend we were harvesting wood on previously coppiced trees

Some of the uses of coppiced wood are ship building, construction, tool handles furniture, baskets and many, many uses in between. Woodland has been coppiced for centuries and would be coppiced in a rotational sequence offering different stages of regeneration within the woodland.

I arrived at the woods to be met by a very pleasant bunch of people, they had a workshop and a kitchen making up the social area, food throughout the weekend was wonderful as was the company.

The next two images show previously coppiced stumps with new growth

This hornbeam was coppiced many years ago and has formed some wonderfully shaped new growth.

There were a number of chain saws being used to fell large boughs so the camera was put away so that I could pay attention to falling timber.

Once felled the new growth was cut in to usable lengths, the fitter of us using muscle not petrol.

Not every one was working hard as the wood was sorted and stacked.

  fresh cut stumps.

The sweet sap makes a feast for these ants.

The stumps are covered by brush as a defence for the new growth against deer.

The finished logs are stacked ready for use.

After a day of physical effort lifting heavy logs it was back to the social area for food and chat. Listening to people who have learned their skills over many years is very educational and I learned a huge amount about wood and working with it.

At the end of a wonderful evening it was off to bed... well hammock. The hammock is amazingly comfortable and offers early morning views of the wood and and it's creatures starting a new day in the sunrise.

I ate a tasty cooked breakfast and then another day of the same, work in the sunshine and the beautiful woodland... wonderful