Friday, January 31, 2014

Maybe a New Hobby - Undertaker

My pet snake Reggie died unexpectedly while trying to dine on a porcupine, so I decided to make him a nice snake coffin; complete with a steamer to keep him cozy on those cold winter nights. I think he'll be very comfortable in his final resting place. Well shoot; now that I look at it, this would make a nice steamer for bending chair parts. Hmmm, sorry Reggie. Looks like a cardboard box will have to do for you.

Six feet long. About 4 1/2" square inside dimension.

Plenty of hose length. Eleven feet long.

3/4" dowels, 5" from the front and back and 9" between on the others. Eight
dowels total. About an inch and a half off the floor.

My steam source. Little wall paper steamer. Says it'll run for about 70
minutes on a tank full. Bought from Lowes with Christmas gift card from
my mother in law and father in law. Thanks guys!

The back cap piece, rabbeted on the inside to help keep the box square.
Need to drill a small hole or two back here near the bottom to let the water
that builds up from condensation run out.

Converted the end that was originally going to a wallpaper steamer head
to this garden hose type fitting for easy disconnect. 

Shot of the fitting disconnected. Just a few turns to disconnect.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Uh-Oh, I'm Afraid This Could Be Addicting.

A few months back, inspired by the many spoon carving blogs I'd been seeing and the spoons that Peter Follansbee post on his site from time to time, and Robin Wood's web site, I ordered a couple spoon carving knives. I bought 2 hook knives from Del Stubbs at Pinewood Forge in Minnesota (excellent quality knives) and an inexpensive "Sloyd" knife off of eBay. The Sloyd knife is ok, but I find it's 4" blade to be too long and I'd like to eventually get one of Del's in a 2 1/4" blade length.

Very few tools required for spoon carving.

Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago and with my 5th wedding anniversary fast approaching, I was looking for a woodworking project I felt up to handling. We try to do the traditional wedding gift thing based on  the years married, and the traditional 5th anniversary gift was wood. I wasn't really up for a furniture project, so I figured, what better time to give spoon carving a try. There's lots of good videos on the subject. One of the best I found on YouTube was one by Ben Orford. Also found some good ones from Barn Carder and I had gotten the Jogge Sundqvist DVD for Christmas. Now time to find some wood. From what I gathered, fruit woods make great spoons, as well as birch, rhododendron, holly I think; really just about any tight grained, closed cell wood I believe. I found something growing out by my wood shed. Kinda looked a little cherry-ish by the bark, but not exactly. But it was a great size for spoon blanks, was tight grained, and was available. We have a winner.

And you can't argue with the cost of material; whatever this is.

After cutting a few limbs off and cutting some sections around 16" or so in length, I was ready to give it a shot. I split a section in half, removed the pith with a hatchet, smoothed it out a little with a draw knife, and sketched out a spoon shaped object on the flat surface. I removed the bark from the sides and then rough shaped the outside of the branch, which is the back of the spoon, with a hatchet into what seemed like a good shape. Then I started rough shaping the sides of the spoon to my lines with the hatchet. I think this is what Pye refers to as the workmanship of risk in his book. It's pretty exhilarating seeing how close you can come to your lines with a hatchet without ruining your spoon. So after the hatchet work was done, I shaped it up a little better with the Sloyd knife, then went at the bowl with the hook knives. These came direct from Del surgically sharp and ready to use. I have a few "surgical" nicks on my right thumb that can attest to their level of sharpness.

Still had a nice amount of keel here. Somehow lost it in the shaping process

When I got the spoon shaped how I wanted it, I was ready to do a little decorative carving on the handle to snaz it up a little and I wanted to put our names and wedding date on it. I had planned on doing this with a chip carving knife I'd bought at a woodworking show about 25 years ago and never used. What a worthless hunk of steel and wood that turned out to be. Luckily, I tried it on a scrap piece first. So with no chip carving knife, I decided to go at it with my trusty Pfeil v-gouge. This worked well enough and I was pleased with the results. With the carving done, I hit a few spots with a scraper and then it was on to the finish. I didn't use any sandpaper on the spoon; I much prefer the look of spoons that show the facets of the carving knives rather than something that is sanded to the point of looking like something that came from Ikea or Bed Bath and Beyond. I used grape seed oil to finish this spoon. Just rubbed it on by hand, let it dry a while, rubbed it in a little more, and then wiped off the excess. I believe I ended up giving it 7 or 8 coats like this. Other than losing the keel a bit, I'm pretty happy with the results for a first effort and I think Jen was pleased with it. It was a very enjoyable project and I see more spoons in my future. This one is pretty much just decorative, but I'd like to do some cooking spoons, eating spoons, maybe some spatulas. I'd like to try some different woods also, maybe some apple or pear. Oh, and if your gonna eat with wooden spoons, it only make sense to eat out of wooden bowls. Oh boy, looks like yet another rabbit hole to fall down. Good thing I have a spring pole lathe.  :-)

Completed and oiled up.

Close-up of the carving.

The bowl.

Backside. Anyone have any guesses as to the type of wood?

As you can see, I lost that nice keel I had earlier.