some spoon carving knives

On to the spoon-carving knives. My first knife that I remember, a Frost Mora knife. My handle. Old now, I use it with the kids. It’s an excellent knife. You could use this knife and not need to read any further.

frost sloyd

My every-day knife, aslo a Frost blade/PF handle. A bit heavier than the first one; similar shape, with that curved end. I use it all the time, from spoon carving, opening mail, it’s my knife at lunch-time when I’m out in the shop/woodpile.
everyday sloyd

everyday frost sloyd

But, like the hatchets, we all tend to go further looking for the knife. Here’s one, from Del Stubbs’ Pinewood Forge. http://www.pinewoodforge.com/

an unbelievably good knife. We’ll see one of his hook knives too. I have used this for a long time as my finishing knife, for the final cuts on a spoon. That’s why I got the short blade, I’m not doing all the work with this knife. This knife showed me what “sharp” means. Still a favorite.

DS sloyd

DS sloyd bevel

Came with this great birch-bark sheath. the website has instructions on making them, I have done several for my other knives.

DS sheath

 

sometimes I want a really large knife; this is the largest Svante Djarv offered from Country Workshops. Heavy, thick knife, great shape to the cutting edge. I use it for rough-shaping large spoons. http://countryworkshops.org/Store.htmlSD sloyd

SD sloyd blade

But, then came the best knife. really. Nic Westermann’s sloyd knife. I got mine through Lie-Nielsen, we use them there when I teach spoon carving classes. When they have them, they offer them for sale. His hook knife too – (I’ll get to that). I can’t find them right now on the LN website – Nic is teaching there this summer, but his class is full – he will also be presenting at the Open House – https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/96

The knife is outlandishly good (even better than “unbelievably good”) – a very thin blade, which took me a bit to get used to. Great shape, perfect bevels, it works so well I am always happy to pick it up & carve with it. Leaves a great burnished surface.

knives

thin blade

 

Hook knives. Remember the hatchet story, with Robin Wood’s affordable hatchet? Here’s his solution to hook knives. My handle. Thin blade, long, sloping curve. Nice shape and excellent action when cutting with it. I use a dozen of these when I teach – they are a great introduction to spoon carving. this one he calls “open sweep” – I really like the shape. He’s posted videos of using it, and sharpening it here:  http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/shop/spoon-carving-knife-blade-right-hand-open-sweep/

 

RW hook w handle

RW hook profile

RW hook w bevel

RW hook thin profile

 

 

Hans Karlsson’s hook knife, mine from Country Workshops. I used these for years; I have them in lefty & righty. HK hook lefty

 

 

Here you can see the shape of this curve. HK hook profile

Now, one of  Del Stubbs’ hook knife. Mine’s the #1 open sweep…like the sloyd knife, sharp as all get out.

DS hook

DS hook profile

 

 

But, I am converted. Nic Westermann’s hook is the one I use the most. Hollowed on the inside, like Japanese chisels & planes…great shape, great cutting. I have carved through some spoons because I was so entranced with this hook. Write or call Lie-Nielsen in the US, Nic’s website is here: http://nicwestermann.co.uk/

 

NW hook profile

NW hook inside

NW bevel

some spoon carving hatchets

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about which tools I use for spoon carving. I’ve received some questions lately about axes/hatchets, so I’ll start there. First off, this ain’t joinery, these are double-bevel hatchets. The single-bevel hatchets I use for making flat stuff. these can do that, but they excel at hewing shapes, which the single-bevel can’t do –  in my hands anyway.

4 hatchets

 

First off – new to me – a Svante Djarv “Little Viking” hatchet I got through Country Workshops – http://countryworkshops.org/Axes.html  (2 of these axes are from there, so you could just go read Drew Langsner’s descriptions…)

I like this hatchet a lot, so far. I especially like using a hatchet with curved cutting edge, and this one has a nice pronounced curve. I think it helps emphasize the slicing action of hewing. Might all be in my head, but it’s what I’m used to, and therefore what I look for. Drew’s table says 28 oz., and 5 3/8″ cutting edge. I wish the handle was a little thicker at its back edge, and at some point, I plan on re-handling this and some others. But I’m getting used to the handle that comes on it –

 

SD head

SD bevels

 

 

Here’s the next one when it was new – Hans Karlsson’s Sloyd Axe. I’ve used this one a lot, and recommend it to students & others who are looking for a great all-around hewing hatchet for spoon & bowl work. I’ve had it for 2 1/2 years, and it’s held up great. Lighter than the SD hatchet above, thinner “bit” results in shorter bevels. Many are drawn to the light weight, a heavier hatchet is sometimes tiring for people not used to them…

new hatchet from Country Workshops

My thoughts about the handle are the same; I tend to like to make my own. And have intended to for this one, but here I am now 2 1/2 years later, still using this one with its original handle. I think it’s too thick right below the head – I took it to Alaska & the handle shrunk with the low humidity. Now’s my chance…

new HK model

 

If I were on a budget (which I should be at the rate I buy hatchets) this next one is the one – made for & somewhat by – Robin Wood. Robin designed this hatchet with the idea of getting something for spoon carvers who aren’t necessarily going to spend the $200+ for a hatchet. It fills the bill nicely. Right now, it translates, with shipping, to about $80. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/shop/the-robin-wood-axe/  (notice I didn’t talk about the prices of the other ones, but both of the above are over $200) – small, light, curved cutting edge. You could carve spoons with this hatchet all your life and never need another. But most woodworkers I know have more tools than they need…

 

RW head

 

The one I have used the most over the past many years is an old one by Hans Karlsson, no longer offered at Drew’s place…I like its long head – just a bit longer between the poll and the cutting edge than the modern HK one. But it might just be that I’m used to it, having used it so long. Right now, I am using the SD Viking one for bowl=hewing.

old HK head

SD & old HK
new SD and old HK

 

I don’t own a Gransfors Bruks carving hatchet. I have used them some, they’re nice. I like the weight of them. Drew’s page on hatchets has a good description (“hewing axe refinements”) of the bevel shapes and how he suggests correcting the GB hatchet. In all, I have 5 spoon hatchets right now, so am not hurting for another…but someday I’ll add a GB just for good measure.

 

Drew comes north in 2015

drew's lowback chair

 

There’s lots of new readers here, so I can repeat something I’ve said here many times. When people ask me where/how I got started in this kind of woodworking, I always tell them about Country Workshops, the school down in western North Carolina run by Drew and Louise Langsner. Here’s a link to perhaps the most coherent post I did about it – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/

But tonight I’m writing because over the years I’ve had many people say they’d like to go there, but it’s a long drive (approx 20 hours for me; Massachusetts to North Carolina) – but in 2015 Drew is coming to New England to teach a course in making the chair pictured above. He’ll be at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, Maine in late September. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/73

If you’ve been wanting to meet Drew and take a class from him, here is a VERY rare chance to do so – I don’t think he’s ever taught in New England before. The chair is one of my favorites, rock-solid and very comfortable. I first met Drew in 1980, when he was hosting a class by Alexander in ladderback chairmaking. Drew’s been teaching chairmaking for almost that long…

Maybe Maine is a long drive for you too, but so what. Jump on it if you are inclined. Don’t wait for next year… It’s a small class for Lie-Nielsen’s program, and their facility is just a great place to take classes. Excellent venue, and great, helpful staff. I highly, highly recommend it.

Whoops – wrong bowls

Sunday is the first day of bowl-turning class with Robin Wood – but I have been hewing bowls lately.

row of bowls

I have only ever made these one-at-a-time, and then usually years between versions. Right now, I am working on a batch of about 6 or 8 of them. One thing I miss is having room to really photograph some of the process, and a store of scrap wood to shim, wedge & otherwise cobble stuff in place. Had to use a carved rail to shim the underside of this bowl while I shaved the end grain.

clamping

Some of them are the “upside-down” orientation. I have most of these ready for drying, so I plan on finishing them later in June. But by then, my head will be filled with the possibilities of turned bowls and wh0-knows-what-else from my trip to the North House Folk School. http://www.northhouse.org/ 

Exciting times.

 

upside down

I have known Drew Langsner for 34 years and he’s been making these longer than that. Here is a link to the Country Workshops site, with Drew’s article about how he works these bowls. http://countryworkshops.org/Carving%20Large%20Bowls.html

And don’t forget the youtube site Country Workshops has with the Bengt Lidstrom video 

I read the news today oh boy…

Wille Sundqvist
Wille Sundqvist

and I can’t wait! But wait we will, so I will go carved some spoons to while away the hours…

Here’s the note from Jogge through the Kickstarter site:

After an intense period of cutting film, setting the audio, making translations, cover processing, and description of carving grasps, we have finally sent the film for pressing. Unbelievable that there is so much work with a movie!

Here is the content, 71 minutes:

1. INTRODUCTION. Wille talks about spoons
2. The LADLE
A. In the woods
B. Splitting
C. Carving with the ax
D. Hollowing the spoon bowl
E. Carving with the knife – rough mode
3. DRYING
4. GRINDING, HONING, STROPPING
5. Wille’s LIVING HISTORY
6. F. Carving with the knife – finishing mode
7. The BOWL
A: Outside turning
B: Inside turning
C: Polishing
7. FINISHING AND PATTERN CARVING

The cover front text is set in English but we have two printed versions of the rest of the text. One in Swedish and one in English. It´s also possible too choose speaker comments and subtitles in two languages.
The special Kickstarter edition will be handpicked, for you only.

Rest of the world, Non-Kickstarter world will be able to buy the DVD for:
36 US Dollar, 295 SEK Svenska Kronor, 22 GBP Brittish Pound, 40 AUD Australian Dollar, 43 NZD New Zealand Dollar, 39 CAD Canadian Dollar, 27 EUR Euro.
Shipping costs will be added.

For those who want a downloaded version Taunton Press raised interest. More information about downloads and where to order is coming further ahead.

We will start shipping february 3.

Grand world premiere will be held at Bio Abbelli at Västerbotten museum 31 jan at the Inauguration of Culture year 2014 in Umeå.

We will have Wille there signing the DVD!

—————

Back to me. I’d like to thank all those readers from this blog who helped make the film possible. Erik Buchakian, a friend associated with Country Workshops,  sent me a note some time ago:

Hi Peter,

 I thought you might like to know – Kickstarter does that creepy Internet thing, where it keeps track of where people “clicked” from in order to get to the site.  By far the most donors to the Wille film got to the Kickstarter site from your blog – something like 30%.  Good work!!!!

 Take care,

Erik (Buchakian)

 

 

Country Workshops, mostly pictures, few words

I had a great group of carvers & box-makers last month down at Drew & Louise’s place. There was so much to cover, I shot some photos, but didn’t really do it justice. Someone should just shoot the table settings/meals. I shot some of the opening night’s pizza, but after a while, it was time to eat, not photograph stuff.

A sample of photos follows. We had Axe night, when neighbor John Krausse came w his friend Josh (I hope I remembered that right) we tried about 20 different hatchets…Drew showed us his modern bowl forms one evening. And in the daylight these folks made great boxes.

what a time!

 

 

 

Here’s the link to Country Workshops – if you haven’t been, get down there next year.  http://countryworkshops.org/

see Drew’s bowls and read about them here http://drewlangsner.com/

Louise’s blog is here http://louiselangsner.wordpress.com/

 

more about Wille Sundqvist and the upcoming film

I got a note back from Jogge Sundqvist the other day, when I wrote to congratulate him on the immediate success of the kickstarter fundraising. Here’s part of what he wrote:

“YES.

This is just overwhelming!

I haven´t in my deepest imagination ever thought that we should reach the goal so quickly. Within 24 hrs…

This is so helpful, not just the money, it also strengthens everyone involved in self-confidence and trust in the movie to be something really good.

And everyone involved in the film is full of humility and wonder at the response we’ve had to make the film about Wille.

We have a little way to go before our actual budget… I hope you still want to continue to spread the word about the film, every little contribution is incredibly valuable to make a film of high artistic quality and with a clear content.

Hi 5. he, he”

So if you are inclined, there’s still plenty of time to donate to this project. Here’s the kickstarter link,  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761142325/the-spoon-the-bowl-and-the-knife-craftsman-wille-s?ref=recently_launched   or if you prefer, you can send a check to Drew.

Make it out to:

Country Workshops – Sundqvist video project

990 Black Pine Ridge Road

Marshall, NC 28753

 

BUT – you might ask:  What’s all the fuss about Wille Sundqvist and some wooden spoons? Ha! You’d be amazed.

Wille Sundqvist spoon
Wille Sundqvist spoon

As the years keep ticking by, I often think about connections and chronologies. May times people will think about events in their lives, and how one simple happening might turn your life this direction or that…and I think that without Wille, I might not be a joiner/woodworker today. Certainly not a spoon carver. And yet we barely know each other…

I first heard of Wille of course from Drew Langsner, whom I met in 1980. That was the start of my woodworking career, although you wouldn’t have seen it coming then! I have often told the story of how I got to Drew’s Country Workshops to learn traditional woodworking. I was a mainstay there in the 2nd half of the 1980s and early 1990s (til I got a job…).

But how did Country Workshops begin? Drew has told me and many others the story many times, and a while back wrote it down in one of the Country Workshops e-newsletters. http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter31/  (scroll down to “CW History” – and if you haven’t yet, you can sign up for their free newsletter. It always has good stuff in it, besides update on classes and tools, etc.)

The gist of it is that Bill Coperthwaite brought Wille Sundqvist to meet Drew & Louise in 1976 or 77. Drew had a couple days’ worth of lessons from Wille, and was wanting more. Thus the idea of inviting him to come teach a workshop, which led to the Langsners hosting woodworking classes ever since.

Drew included Wille in his first woodworking how-to book, Country Woodcraft, in 1978. That’s where I first saw/heard of Wille.

Wille Sundqvist 1978
Wille Sundqvist 1978

Then as I became a regular student at Country Workshops, I often heard stories of Wille’s craft and his  teaching, and also saw examples of his work. As it turned out, I met his son Jogge first, in 1988. Then a few years later I was able to attend one of Wille’s classes.

willie's class PF JA etc

Here is a quote from Wille’s book, Swedish Carving Techniques (Taunton Press, 1990):

“Carving something with a knife or an ax is a very tangible way to get a sense of design. Because the object being made doesn’t have to be secured in any way, it’s easy to move it to different positions and see its lines and shape grow out of the blank. A three-dimensional object isn’t just a picture. It’s an infinite number of pictures, and all of the pictures must find harmony within the object. The lines of the object must compose one unit, congruent from whatever direction it is seen. Carving teaches design.”

And that is really a big part of it. Wille’s spoons are very deceptive. Unlike any furniture work I do, these are subtractive woodworking – you’re cutting wood away & leaving just the right bits. You hope. Each cut means something. There’s so many layers to what Wille teaches – the postures, the tools, the design. You learn about wood and how it grows; and its strengths and weaknesses. Also about the tools, the edge and how it slices. If you have ever seen me use a hatchet, that work comes to me from Wille, some of it directly and much of it through Drew & Jogge.

To me, the spoon carving is a revolutionary act. It helps cut through the mass-produced cheap culture that we have absorbed like zombies. Such a simple household implement, taken to extraordinary heights. Why shouldn’t our most basic kitchen stuff be beautiful? Out with plastic! Think about Coperthwaite and his quote “I want to live in a world where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.” 

The kickstarter campaign runs for 4o more days and at this writing is over $7,000. That’s not counting whatever got donated directly to Drew or Jogge. Thanks to everyone from here who helped. If you’re inclined, please spread the word. 

More links to some related material: 

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/

http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter11/wille.html

http://www.surolle.se/

http://www.herondance.org/reflections/bill-coperthwaite/