Sunday 25 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 16 - A Beetle & A Poor Cranked Spatula

 I need to get back to the more tradional carving as this almost feels like cheating - but with the weather being so great we've been messing around lots outside doing green woodwork. 

I picked up some pear logs from my parents farm (a huge beautiful old tree that decided to split in two last autumn. The pear will dry to be as hard as nails so I thought it would make a great mallet/beetle. I roughed out the shape with the froe and axe (it is really hard to work). 

Then my daughter removed the bark and made the handle nice to hold.

It's potentially a little big, but it'll dry lighter than it is now and will be good for hitting the froe into wood. 

For my project this week I used a cranked branch of sycamore a friend had dropped off for me. I wanted to keep the crank in the work. 

I tried to do as much as possible with the axe and get it to be as light as possible. 

I got fairly close then worked on it with the draw knife and a carving knife. 

In the end I really hate it and think it'll end up on the fire. The crank just seems the wrong shape for it or in slightly the wrong place. Although it's not he end of the world it just doesn't feel right. Still it was nice to do on a sunny afternoon while my children were making clay models not far from me. 

At least it'll give me a bit of heat when I burn it. Also good to have a few failures as it makes the successes even better when they happen!  Also good to practice and try to make things symmetrical, the only way I'll learn is to keep making things, even if they all don't turn out to be useable. 

Sunday 18 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 15 - Spatula

This week has been a fun week for some projects getting done. My eldest daughter and I managed to finish our "spoon mule" - a shave horse type device for holding fine things to be worked on - like spoons. I'll do more on that in another post but it turned out to be a great project to do together, using purchased plans which were great to work off. 

I also made a raised cutting block! This simple project is something I've been meaning to make for years. It gives you good control with an axe at a height that is comfortable to work at. After putting it off for ages in the end it took me about 30 minutes to make it! I used some oak from the branch that fell in the drought last summer and for the legs I used some fresh cut hazel. I know the oak might not prove to be ideal as it is prone to splitting but this piece looked knotty and will do for now. The legs will shrink as they dry but I can always wedge them if they get loose or make some new ones.

Sunday 11 April 2021

52 Weeks of Carving - Week 14 - Simple Acanthus leaf

 So for my birthday, a few weeks ago, I got the book "Carving The Acanthus Leaf" by Mary May. I decided that it's silly to read the book and not try to put anything into practice. So for a skill building session this week I decided to tackle the first leaf in the book - the simple acanthus leaf. 

I started by cutting the rough shape out on the bandsaw, then sketched the leaves and shapes onto it. This was possibly the trickiest bit of the carving! Tools ages to get the symmetry needed. 

For work holding I decided to glue the piece to a piece of paper and then mount it to a bit of ply. It's always surprising how well this works! 

The book was good and works through the steps really clearly. I like that within a few steps I can already tell her favourite chisels and the order that she approaches jobs. 

My carving was a bit messy as had quite a few faceted edges, I need to learn to smooth these out as I go. It's a really simple design but a great learning tool.

Not sure what my next project will be. Possibly another task from the book, a leaf with a curl maybe. 

Sunday 4 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 13 - Strapwork Finished

I didn't get chance to start on any oak beams this week but I did finish the strapwork piece, I was worried that I would just shelve it and it would never get done so I'm pleased that I have. The reason for doing this second strapwork piece I'll share with you all in a few weeks time. 

I now need to make a box for it (with dividers) and get it listed and sold overwise it'll hang round the workshop for ages! 

 It was my birthday last week and I got given the book by Mary May about carving the agapanthus leaf - so expect to see me trying this style out fairly soon as well - only flicked through the book so far but I'm impressed - seems very well laid out and interesting with stories in between the how-tos. 

Saturday 3 April 2021

Another Work Is Possible

It was my birthday last week and as mum asked me what I'd like I rather decadently suggested this book - Another Work is Possible. 

It's probably not a book I would have bought myself as it's quite expensive (best part of £50) but one I kept looking at. 

I almost felt guilty when I read it in just two days. To be honest it isn't heavy on the words, but it is a simply beautiful book. Every picture is glorious. 

It's about a group of carpenters (carpenters without boarders) that every year take on a timber frame project somewhere in the world - normally community based. They all volunteer their time and their skills and build the entire project using hand tools. Taking the raw freshly felled logs, hewing them into beams and creating all the joints and raising the frame as a group. 

This book follows the project they undertook in 2019 - building a blacksmith's workshop for the team behind Mortice and Tennon Magazine. 

I don't think it's a book where you'll learn much individual skills - it's not set out like that or supposed to be that kind of book. But what I loved about it was it shows that there are some seriously passionate people out there in the industry, it had some beautifully written pieces about the work and the community that makes is possible even feeding a team of that size is amazing). There is one really poignant piece written by a father about his 12 year old son and how he was made to feel a part of the project. In fact all the writing is pretty emotive, the passion for the craft really comes through. 

In all I loved it. Yes it's a bit of a coffee table book - but it is beautiful and inspiring, I'd love to sign up to a project like this and can only imagine the skills I would learn. 

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