Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frame and Panel (and spoons)

 Here's a photo of a frame and panel that I've been working on the last couple of days.  The frame is Cherry with the panel in Curly Maple with bug stains.  The Maple came from the pallet stack at the lumber yard about a year ago, I don't know whether I posted much if anything about it then.  It's been sitting in my basement since, and is dry enough to use now.  I chopped the 1/4" mortises with my Narex mortise chisel and used my Ryoba to cut the tenons, and I got quite a bit of use out of my Veritas plow plane for the grooves and rebates that allow the panel to sit flush with the top of the frame.  For the cross grain rebates, I scored deeply with my marking gauge (pin filed into a knife edge) and ran the first dozen passes carefully to preserve the visible edge.  This worked out fine, and saved me have to make or buy a rebate plane.  The Veritas only works for rebates up to about 3/8" wide (the widest blade), but that was fine for this application.  For a wider rebate, you could simply plow a groove and then use a bench plane to remove the relish. 

On the panel is a collection of spoons I've been accumulating the last couple of weeks, most in Black Birch.  I've been building up a collection to bring to a couple of stores, and after reviewing the terms on Etsy again, I'm considering selling some there as well.  This was my first time using Black Birch for anything but walking sticks as a kid, and it's interesting to work.  It's harder than the Paper Birch I'm also using, and the grain is a little more distinct.  Most of these spoons are made from vertical grain wood, split radially from a small log.  A couple are made from bent or straight branches.  I found one branch that worked nicely so that I ended up with some curly grain in the bowl.  Overall I'm pleased with where the spoons are going.  They're getting closer to the spoons I've been trying to create from the start.  A new hook or two would help me get the inside of the bowl right, I still only have the small radius Mora hook.  I'm talking to a blacksmith friend of mine about a couple of ideas.

Here's a picture of me with the panel, to get a feel for the size of it.  It's about 18x18", not including the untrimmed ends.  I'm thinking this would make a nice little tabletop.  Some finish will help the grain really show up, and I'll probably let it sit in the sun to darken the Cherry up a bit.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Spoon: Further Developments

 In retrospect, most problems or challenges seem trivial.  I have been struggling on and off to create an elegant scoop to the top of the bowl of my spoons.  Until today, I was unsuccessful.  The difference in today is that Barn The Spoon posted up a short video on his blog in which he carves one of his octagonal handled eating spoons.  Watching him carve, everything clicked (or at least in relation to this particular issue). 

In order to achieve the scooped top to the bowl, Barn creates a convex top first, then when everything in the middle is carved away, only the perimeter of the bowl defines the topography.  It's much easier to see in the video than try to understand by writing.  The reason I couldn't work out how to create this effect is that I was thinking too much in two dimensions; top view and side view.  To create this effect, it must be approached in three dimensions.  Once it's clear in the mind, it's very easy to achieve. 

An interesting side effect of creating this scoop top to the bowl is that hollowing the bowl seems much easier.  I am having fewer issues with fibers tearing and running out, and overall am getting a pretty smooth finish in there.

The two spoons shown here (and I also carved a third) are fairly crude overall, but my main focus was on that one aspect of the bowl, which with a little refining will be exactly what I have been seeking.  In short, this is a public thanks to Barn The Spoon for helping out fellow spooners around the world refine their craft, and for acting as inspiration to anyone that thinks they can't be successful in pursuing their dream.