Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feather Sticks and Spoons

Feather sticks and spoons are both great projects for practicing knife skills and building wrist and grip strength. Feather sticks in particular are great for practicing controlled cutting. A good feather stick requires a strong grip on the knife, one that allows for cutting long strips of wood at a consistent depth. For a good article discussing feather sticks, check out this one by Jim Dillard over at Ben's Backwoods. I disagree with is assertion that a highly polished edge is essential. I make what I consider to be perfectly adequate feather sticks with an edge straight off of a carborundum pocket stone. I honestly can't tell much, if any, performance difference in wood carving between that and my more highly polished and stropped edges.

Spoons are good for practicing a wide range of cuts, and getting even more comfortable with your knife. Starting with large, powerful cuts for initial shaping, then ending with fine, controlled cuts.

(This is two feather sticks)

Mmmm! Delicious!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chopping Block

I made this chopping block a little while ago. This is a good way to get a stable chopping block if you don't have any large rounds of wood. This block is something like a block I once saw, but in reverse. In the version that I saw, the fork was a large tree crotch, and there was a single smaller limb used to complete the tripod.

In this version, I used a Maple log about 6-8" diameter, as well as a forked limb about 1" diameter, all longer than I wanted them to finish. I bored a 1" hole in the larger log at an eye-balled angle, chopped down the forked limb to fit the mortise, and stuck it together. Using a tape measure (any old stick with some notches in it would work), I measured a good height for a chopping block, then transferred it to the block and sawed off the excess. I stood it up, sawed the top off approximately level, and it was done.

Because it's a tripod, it will be stable on almost any surface. It's also small and light enough (and can be taken apart) to travel in a car. It is very stable and stiff, though, if you orient your heavy blows so that the force will travel down the large leg.

I'm not sure, but I think I probably found the original inspiration over on the bodger's forum.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Finished Spoons

These are a couple of spoons I finished recently. I feel like I'm beginning to really grasp combining the function of the spoon with an elegant shape. There are a couple of things I can see I will probably cringe at down the road, but I'm happy with these.

These are both made from Maple limbs. The one on the bottom was a curved limb, hence the gradual curve in the whole spoon. The one on top was a straight limb that I formed with the axe to the right angle. I have been eating with the bottom spoon for the last couple of weeks, and I'm very pleased with the mouth-feel and ergonomics.

These are finished with a knife, the inside of the bowls with a Mora small circumference hook knife. I would like to get a shallow gouge to finish out the inside of the bowls, to leave fewer ridges.

The bottom spoon has a few coats of Mineral Oil, but I don't know how well it actually took. I might try a trick I read of in which the spoon is seeped in boiling milk for a few hours. The idea is that the milk proteins invade the surface of the spoon and form a water resistant barrier.