Thursday, May 10, 2012

My new passion

The past 3-4 weeks have been a bit mental around here and writing about it was the last thing on my mind. Mart has done a pretty good job of keeping the blog up to date so I wont go over it all again, probably because I can't even remember half the stuff we did. All I do remember is that it seemed to be go-go-go for days on end and it was a very special moment when I pulled the much scribbled on to-do list from the wall and buried it in the compost pile.

Thankfully things have quietened down these past few days and with a little breathing room I have been able to pursue a new-found passion: greenwood carving with handtools. Greenwood refers to freshly cut or still wet wood, as opposed to wood that has already dried. From my short experience I can say that it is much easier to carve the wood when it is still green, but you run the risk of your work cracking during the drying process.

My main goal is to end up being able to produce my own replacement handles for every tool from chisels to axes to shovels and brooms, as well as anything I can make instead of buy, from simple things such as coat hooks to the more advanced work benches. I figured I'd start with something a little easier for now though. So, what have I actually carved? Well, first I tried a spoon. Sadly I gave up on it when it still resembled a very small, yet very real war club, rather than something you could eat cereal with. Next I was commissioned by Mart to try a large fruit bowl.

Things were going well at first. It was no work of art, but it was... okay-ish...

But my rookie stupidity eventually caught up with me when the pith I had failed to remove started forming gigantic cracks. It hasn't quite split in two yet, but there is no way it is going to be allowed in the house, so it is currently working part-time as a general storage bowl in my new storage-room/workshop - more on that in another blog post.

With failure following hot on the heels of failure, I decided it was time to start learning from others instead of trying to just wing it. These two threads on the Bushcraft USA forum here and here were my starting point. From there I hit the sites and blogs of as many greenwood carvers as I could find, from Robin Wood to Simon Hill to Alexander Yerks and beyond.

After plenty of reading I felt confident enough to try something else... a kuksa.

This was taken just before putting it away in a cardboard box filled with the shavings from the carving process, which is supposed to help prevent the wood drying too quickly and forming cracks. Once dry, there is still some finishing work with the knife to do, before sanding and oiling and eventually using.

It may just be a passing phase but no matter what I am doing, from washing dishes to milking, I can't stop thinking about carving. Oak and maple are too valuable as firewood to carve with, which leaves me staring at each and every piece of aspen or birch in the firewood pile, trying to 'see' what they could be.


  1. Is that a hans karlson gouge??

    I'm flattered that you referenced my work along side Robin Wood's!

  2. I wish! It' a log notch gouge from Lee Valley:,41131

    I bought it for the saddle notches on the cabin but it works for carving in a pinch. I don't really have any dedicated carving tools but I managed to hollow out the entire interior of my latest kuksa/mug with it and besides the wildlife hatchet, it's probably my favorite tool right now.

    And thanks for stopping by the blog too!