Monday, 1 October 2012

Sherwood Forest Turnings

I have spent the past two days re-enacting in sherwood forest. I have to say its been a fantastic event! have had ago at firing a replica 15th century canon, having a few fights throughout the day, and making some pole lathed bowls for some re-enacters. I was able to make 4 bowls over the 2 days, i would have had 5 but one sadly split whilst trying to snap the core off.

the top two were made out of sycamore which was rather dry but gave a superb finish and the bottom two are made out of some birch local to sherwood forest. The birch was very green a cut like a dream and was lucky enough to take a little bit of the birch home to make some more bowls (and maybe some spoons).

Monday, 24 September 2012

Some Carved Bowls And a New Tool

having done a bowl carving course a couple of months ago I have finally got the tools (and time) to have ago at carving some bowl and troughs. the first ones where done fort paull back in august where i was able to carve two bowls out of some willow. this was the first time i had chance to test out a hook tool i had made which worked well cutting across the grain of the wood but blunted cutting along the grain, and after sharpening 4 times i came to the conclusion that the tool had not been hardened enough. But the bowls turned out great!!! and i was able to give one of them to a friend who works at skidby mill.

I was able to re-harden the hook and get it too work later on, but not bad for a piece of car spring i got for free.

The start: two car springs 

unwinding in the forge

Left: forged blade
Right: grind put on the blade

heating up to curl the blade with a hammer

sadly i forgot to take photos after this point as its very fast work and i need full concentration to get it right. I have to say making ones own tools is a great experience and it gives a great feel for the craft at hand. still have another hook to make so when i get chance will have ago.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Life of A Wooden Spoon

Bit of an odd post but felt it was appropriate after looking at some of my wood ware I made a while ago.

As people we all use utensils too cook and eat with. Many of these could made of stainless steel, wood, or plastic. Stainless steel tends to have nice polish on it and as the name states doesn't stain that much so a spoon made of that will look brand new in 10 years time. Plastic reacts the same but over time may just lose its shine a little.

Wood on the other hand I find tends to tell a story of its life. When I was cleaning a cooking and eating spoon today they looked very different since they were made. The eater is made out of maple 2 years ago and has since them dulled to a nice brown, also has been chipped on the handle. The cooking spoons bowl has turned yellow after making some carrot coriander soup and the back of the handle has some small burns from being left on the edge of the pan. They both tell a story of being used and age nicely giving both a distinct character (one that can't be reproduced). And they will continue to gain character for the rest of their working lives.

Also last week I sent a spoon to a friend in Colombia for her birthday. I wonder what that spoon will look like after a few years of use over there. One thing is true, that it will be a well travelled spoon.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Quick update

Only a quick post today. Spent Sunday doing some re-enactment with the Savilles Household at croft castle near wale and I was lucky enough to do some bowl turning on my pole lathe whilst I was there (thanks to gary ball for bringing some poles). Was a fantastic venue and a fun day out with lots of public who were very interested in the pole lathe and how bowls were made.

I was only able to produce two bowls out of sycamore as I had to keep stopping and starting throughout the day. But was great to see adults and children who were interested in medieval bowls and medieval history.

Can't wait to do more turning next year with the society and maybe a few more crafts such as spoon carving and bowl carving. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Homemade Bowsaw

Finally got round to finishing off my bow saw that I've been making. Having done little bits to it over the past month or so decided to finish the entire thing in a day, plus having some new spokeshaves was time to test them out aswell.

After having the two side pieces cut out I marked up the tenons the drilled them out. I got a length of hazel and cut the joints in them and carved the to fit with a knife. Then mocked it up all together with some modern screws to see how it fitted and make adjustments accordingly. the overall fit was good and was able to test it out on a piece of hazel.

After the test I took the saw apart and used my spokeshave to round off the side pieces so the were nicer to handle and more pleasing to the eye. To do this I tried a similar technique as the pullstroke in spoon carving. Placing the side piece on my sternum and on my leg I was able to use the spokeshave without a vice which was nice. Also was nice to sit outside in the nice weather carving :-)

after doing the side pieces i did a bit of work on the middle piece and then reassembled the saw using some twine in stead of linen and if worked a treat. the final bowsaw. Gonna be awesome to use it at medieval shows in the future, plus the whole thing only cost me £2.50 aswell. Bargain, Beautiful and it works.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bowl Carving Course

Last week I attended a bowl carving course with robin wood, and I have to say that was an eye opener to the skills needed to carve bowls.

I turned up on the wednesday and pitched my tent and spent first couple hours sharpening my axe since I had a couple hours to kill. We started by selecting and splitting some willow into sizeable pieces for the bowl mate and removing the bark so we could draw the design.

The first tool we had to use was an adze which was to carve out the inside of the bowl and was actually a lot easier to use than I thought. first came the big roughing cuts to remove as much mass as quickly as possible and then came the more gentle smoothing cuts. After getting to grips with the adze the results showed

After the the adze came the the gouges and hook tools to smooth off all the cuts and make it nice.

Then came the axe to remove the waste wood to give shape to the ends.

and finally finishing of the outside with a push knife and a spokeshave to give its final shape. The push knife was a fun tool, like a drawknife but the opposite.  The finished bowl is at the bottom.

hoping to make a few more some time soon :-)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mediaval IPad (Aka Wax Tablet) Finished

Last night I finished off the wooden blank for the wax tablet and decided to make the wax for it. Luckily there are lots of articles online about how to do this. Most just suggest using charcoal or lamp black to make the wax black, so I ground up some charcoal into powder because it was ready available.

After chopping up the beeswax I placed it in a home made double boiler and mixed in some of the charcoal powder.

It felt almost like some form of alchemy waiting for the black colour to show. After a couple of tests, this was the result (compared to the original colour).

When the wax was ready then came the time to pour. Now this was the interesting bit. Had to be very quick as the wax dries very quickly  so to get an even surface and get the wax into the corners. But after three attempts at pouring and scraping out, i finally got the wax into the corners and an even-ish surface!

Its not as perfect as I would like it but its very good first attempt I feel. Plus I have have learnt lots of things for the future when I make an entire set of them.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Few Different Projects

Having made a couple spoons at re-enactment events I have decided to try my hand at a few different wood carved projects to test my skills a little. Not that I'm getting tired of spoons, just that I would like to try something I haven't made before.

The events at tamworth castle and bolsover castle have highlighted the fact that I do not have an authentic bow to saw up wood and spoon blanks. Instead I have been using a bacho laplander folding saw which is less than authentic and is a pain to keep hiding all the time. So I have decided to build a bow saw myself. So far I only have the two side frames of the saw.

Also while at my event at bolsover castle I found some lovely straight grained ash in the fire wood pile. Not being one to waste good wood I split a piece into planks and one of the planks I made into a wax tablet. This was just for a bit of fun and it turned to be very interesting subject to research. Having had a look online there are some wax tablets that survive in Poland (see second image) which are like books in that they have a front cover and back cover and the tablets in-between have both side with wax on them.

The tablets have the town archives of Torun written on them, and looking at how many survive there must have been many more to accompany them. Imagine making those tablets constantly. Fingers crossed I get some time to attempt a few more in the future.

the final project i have been working on has been turning a ball on my pole lathe. the ball is going to be used for games of bandy ball at re-enactment events with the Savilles re-enactment group. I have to say trying to turn the perfect sphere on my pole lathe for the first time is not easy. you look at it and think one side is too lumpy, there too short, or even to pointed so you are forever trying to perfect it. but here are some of the photos through the stages of production.

Overall I think it will work and even though its not perfect it won't matter if its being hit with bandy ball sticks. I hope they like it.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Holiday Holland, and some nice tools

this past week I have been on holiday in holland with my girlfriend and whilst visiting there were some lovely historical museums that we visited, with some wood work related history.

the first museum we visited was called Archeon located near Alphen aan den Rijn, Though calling it a museum is an understatement. It focuses on living history re-enactors recreating the living conditions of High Medieval, Roman, Iron Age, Bronze age, Neolithic, and further back. While all these areas were interesting with roman massages, neolithic bread on a stick, and medieval seal making the area that interested me the most was the bronze age. The re-enactor in that area had a wonderful collection of bronze axes in that just seemed too amazing not to look at. She asked me and the public to setup the axes in he chronological order, which i had correct. The two on the left being the earlier as they would work but the handles would eventually split. The two in the center were later and better designed to incorporate the strength of tree branches and having the axe head slotting into the head. This design must have given better results with fewer broken handles but again the wood would most likely spilt eventually. the axe on the far right was the latest design for bronze axes which incorporated the bronze head with a socket for the handle to attach too. This design would have been given the best longevity to the bronze axe and this design was even incorporated into the early iron axes of the iron age.

I certainly enjoyed the axes and the knowledge behind them. She couldn't help and show off her collection bronze knives and arrow heads. I also got to have a go with a bronze axe  in peeling an ash log, although it had been heavily used by other members of the public.

In the archaeology section of the museum there were some lovely medieval finds from holland, Including a lovely axe/hammer and an adze. I wonder what kind of workman would have used an axe and hammer at the same time?

Not to mentions a lovely selection of medieval bowls and some excavated spoons. It is interesting to see how simple they are and how they undecorated. simple and useful utensils :-).

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

New Axe Handle and Some Spoons

Last year an axe handle i had made snapped due to too much force being placed on the neck. Since then i have been holding onto the axe head with the hope of making a new handle at some point, but i felt very content with my left handed Gransfors Bruks carving axe so I left it. When my girlfriend came round to my place and wanted to do some spoon carving she had to use my left handed axe even though she was right handed. To that end I have been working on a new handle, taking my time to make sure the wood dry's properly. here is the new handle with the wedge hammered in.

Also had to check how the blade aligned with the handle. Nice and straight.

Can't wait to test it out!!!!!! and hope my girlfriend will get some good use out of it.

Apart from that I have been working on a couple spoons over my days off. these three have been made out of some sycamore and I decided to have a play with decorating the handles, or as a work colleague calls it "jazzing it up". Its interesting to decide what decoration you want so far in the design and that one has to be so careful with the axing so as not to ruin the design. But then again there are so many different methods of decoration that one can blag it a little. But out of the three I like the handle with the dot on the top, somehow it just compliments the teardrop bowl so well and gives the spoon its character. Though this is just my opinion, what do other people think? Perhaps I should be looking at making more teardrop shaped spoons with other designs just to get a feel.

Tiny little know in the bowl.

Now all thats left is to oil and use them..........and make some more. also need to get making a cooking spoon for a work colleague. Back to work!!!!!!