Sloyd w Jogge at Lie-Nielsen

Last weekend was the class Jogge Sundqvist taught at Lie-Nielsen. I managed to stick my nose into it, but did almost no woodwork. Instead, I listened carefully, and tried to get around and see all the students as they worked. I failed in that regard, but there were too many interesting people there!

As always, it was great being there for Jogge’s class. His techniques and skills are extraordinary, but so is his outlook on craft and all its significance. I wish this class had been longer, but I still wouldn’t have seen it all. The class wasn’t about making a spoon, or this or that – but about techniques and the whole outlook Jogge uses in his sloyd work. Reading the trees, and seeing what’s inside them…that sort of thing.

Here. you see what a dull teacher he is, as Geoff Chapman busts open a birch section.

dull jogge

We had great weather, so got to have much of our work outside behind the toolworks. Roy Underhill had sharpened this saw for the LN Open House, so we put it to good use.

i'll be your crosscut saw

Really, Jogge is great & all that – but Kenneth, get up off your knees. It’s not like that!

kenneth off your knees

The class made butter spreaders…I forget whose these are. They aren’t mine, that’s for sure. I started two and am not even sure where they are at this point. They’re great for practicing knife techniques.

some butter spreaders

The other “project”was a decorative distaff, one of the fittings for a linen wheel. Jogge showed us some historical examples that displayed a great array of decoration. To me, they looked like turned things made square…here, Masashi, Kenneth & Eric are looking one over & discussing its features.

masashi kenneth eric w geoff in back

When lining up an auger bit for boring, Jogge suggests getting a photographer to help you sight the angles…(I wasn’t the only one – there were about 4 of us at the same angle)


line up the brace & bit

On the 2nd day of class, Drew & Louise Langsner showed up, having come up to Maine ahead of Drew’s class there the following they are meeting Dave Fisher.

dave fisher w langsners_edited-1

Dave and Eric Goodson both wrote about the class also –





Last Maine trip for 2015

mill pond

I’m just back from two-plus weeks in Maine. Jogge Sundqvist came over from Sweden to teach a 2-day class in the techniques of sloyd; working riven green wood with axe and knife. It’s always greatly inspiring to work alongside Jogge.

outdoor class

I sat on the other side of the monitors while Lie-Nielsen shot a video the week before the class. Then after the class several of us, including Drew and Louise Langsner, took off on a mini-tour of coastal Maine, making several stops including a visit to Dickinsons Reach, the site of Bill Coperthwaite’s home for many decades. Here’s old friends and new: Drew Langsner, Peter Lamb, Louise Langsner, Jogge Sundqvist, Masashi Kutsawa. 

at bill's

It’s nearly 2 years now since Bill’s death, but as a small group of us explored his homesite, his impact was tangible. Jogge found tools and gifts from his father, Wille to Bill, and we spoke at length about the 1976 trip that landed Wille at the Langsner’s home in western North Carolina. Thus began Country Workshops, the school the Langsners have run since about 1977, which is where I met John (Jennie) Alexander in 1980 and Jogge in 1988.

Wille's spoon crook
Thanks to the staff at Lie-Nielsen, all the great students who came from near & far, and our hosts on the tour. More to come. Lots to think about. I have to sort out my desk, pay some bills and tend to some household stuff, then it’s back to woodworking. I’m so full of ideas, I don’t know where to begin.

juvenile red tailed hawk

No woodworking photos lately, too busy. I lost a bunch of time to car-shopping, I finally gave up on my 1999 edition and got a new used car. But as we have been working around the house this summer, we’ve been treated to seeing the red tailed hawks that nest somewhere near here. I have never found the nest, but every year, we meet a new hawk or two. They are particularly visible once they are out on their own, screeching & yelling as if to say “why aren’t you feeding me?” One of the juvies showed up tonight as we sat outside eating our dinner.



RT hawk Aug

RT Hawk Aug 2

I’m off to Maine on Sunday, teaching a class in bowl carving Aug 29 +30. (video work the week before) Come make bowls that weekend. It’ll be fun.

I’ll bring my binoculars. Who knows what’s around…



Bowl carving tools and video update

I wrote a couple of posts about the spoon carving tools I use; axes, knives and hook knives. and

As I have been hewing the tulip poplar bowls, I’ve had some questions about those tools. I’ll show you the tools I use for this work, but I haven’t really concentrated on much bowl carving over the years, so only have a few tools for that work.

The hatchets/axes I use are the same for spoon carving; double-bevels, curved cutting edges. So I’ll skip over those and go right to the adze I use for initial hollowing. It’s made by Hans Karlsson, I got my first one from Country Workshops many years ago & it remains one of their most popular tools.  I just bought this 2nd one this year, knowing that when teaching it would be helpful to have some extra tools for students to try.

new HK adze


Here you see the new (left) and old (right) – I’m not sure the old one was ever as long as the new one is…did I really sharpen away that much metal in 25 years?

HK adzes


A nice new leather guard made by one of my students, Matt Schror, complete with embossed dragon. (if you’re inclined, write Matt about getting one –

leather guard

Then, gouges. I use mostly bent gouges; those that have a long curve in the shank. My garden-variety ones are Swiss-Made, wide mostly, around 1 1/2″ wide. I use two “sweeps”, # 5 & 7. I have one narrow # 5, about 3/4″ wide, to finish off the shapes when the bowl is dry.

bent gouges


The best new gouge I have is one made by Nic Westermann, his “swan neck” gouge. I got mine through Lie-Nielsen. It’s unreal how good Nic’s tools are…

nic's gouge

nic's gouge detail

I sometimes use a few other tools; occasionally a straight-bladed carving gouge, like a wide #5, on the outside of the bowl. In some deep bowls, I have used these gouges, (poorly named “spoon” gouges – though you can’t effectively use them for spoons) – about 3/4″ – 1″ wide. Shallow sweeps, these are clean-up tools.

spoon gouges

When I next indulge in bowl carving tools, it will be some Hans Karlsson gouges that Country Workshops sells. Gotta pay some bills first.

I use wooden mallets. My friend Drew Langsner, who has made so many hewn bowls it’s not funny, uses a steel hammer, with hooped gouges. Mine are two different weights. the larger hickory one is 30 oz., the smaller one is an equally hard unknown wood, and weighs 18 oz. When I need to remove more wood, I pick up the heavier mallet. (the small mallet was given to me by a student, and to my shame, I’ve lost track of who…if you’re reading, chime in, I’d love to give you credit. It’s a nice mallet).


Bench work I keep pretty simple. On a stout low bench, I use 3 pegs and a wedge to fasten the blank for adze work.

3 pegs & wedge

At the workbench, I added long wooden dogs to hold the shaped bowl for detail work inside & out. A notch on the inside face helps grip the handles.

long dog

Small bowls get blocks stacked inside to grab them in the face vise.

trimming sides of bowl


I have 5 videos out with Lie-Nielsen, two on decorative carving for furniture, one on making an oak framed (wainscot) chest, same for a chair, and the most recent one on spoon carving.

video covers

I shot a new one this spring on making carved oak boxes…with more to come later. Many of you have written & asked about downloading the videos, instead of buying a physical disc. Lie-Nielsen has been working on setting up streaming of their instructional videos, and the first few are now available on their website. They tell me they are re-arranging the website, but right now the video titles are here:

I had been selling the spoon one, but now you can just order any or all from LN…the only one for which I have copies left is the wainscot chair video,



chest class planning & bowl carving practice

I have been working the last few days getting some oak ready for this weekend’s installment in the joined-chest-with-drawer class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. But the work has been here at home, where the workspace is too tight for photos. Hence, nothing to show. I just finished the test-fit of the carcass of my chest w/drawers. When you make them w drawers, they get BIG.

test fitThis one is related to the other 2-drawer chest I have underway. That one is nearly done. My goal is to assemble this one this weekend, so the students will see what they’re in for…so lots of drawboring to do first. One last side panel to tweak the fit, too. And the till. And the rabbets for the dust panel below the drawers. And the floor groove. Wow – lots to do still.

Then when I get back home Sunday night – it’s bowl-mania next. At Roy’s last week, I started 2 hewn bowls as demonstrations for the classes. Then we did an episode of the Woodwright’s Shop – so we split a tulip poplar in rehearsal, and began hewing one of those bowls. Then the next day, we did a run-through for the crew – so after that I had 4-partially hewn bowls, and 2 blanks. Then we shot the show, one more of each. I think that means I have 5 partially hewn bowls, and 3 blanks. But that doesn’t count the in-progress bowls I brought with me for show & tell…

many bowls hewn bowl

I had never taught bowl carving before, and it was so exciting to see everyone “get it” – made me want to make some, but all I could do was start them! Next class in hewn bowls is at Lie-Nielsen in August.


I am sold out on the DVD about carving spoons. To order that one, go to Lie-Nielsen’s site, I’ve done all my videos with them, so you can order any or all of them there.

I do have maybe 10 DVDs on making a wainscot oak chair left. Same as before, when those are gone, I think I’ll leave video-selling to the professionals.

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.

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. 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 –

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.


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:


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:


NW hook profile

NW hook inside

NW bevel

here come old flat-top

Boxes. we use them around here for everything – textiles, papers, stuff in the kitchen like candles, batteries, phone chargers, books, collections of shells & bones, who knows what else… I’ve made lots of boxes like these. Lots.

I hate the phrase “think outside of the box” I often think of the song “Little boxes, little boxes” and of course, “a box of rain to ease the pain…” (whatever that means)

I finished one of these desk boxes for the video (it will come out when Lie-Nielsen puts it out, is the answer to “when will it be out?”) last week. I have another 2/3 done. I have to shoot it for real soon…but these two quick shots give you an idea of what it looks like.

done box

done box inside


BUT while we shot that process, I added in some “regular” box stuff too. So in that case, I built this medium-size oak box, with pine lid & bottom. Maybe 15″ wide, 12″ deep. 6″-7″ high. (the blog title is to distinguish this box from the slant-lidded desk above)

here come old flat top

flat top side


And then there’s the Alaskan yellow cedar box I made while teaching up there.

yellow cedar

ayc detail


I’m over-run with the things, I’m going to photograph some, and post them for sale soon. Meanwhile – there’s several chances for students to come learn how to make your own.

First is a 2-day version – in this Lie-Nielsen class, we’ll bypass splitting the log into boards and go right to carving, then joinery (rabbets & pegs) – it’s coming up in early June. We have spaces left, so if you have just a little time, this is a good choice. It will be a small class, so we’ll have some chances to get some details in…  I brought up some outrageously good white oak last week – I might even make another box just because the wood is so good.

The full-blown, split-the-log-make-the-boards-then-make-the-box version is a 5-day class.  In England, it’s happening twice – July 13-17 in Warwickshire College then the next week, July 20-24th at Bridgwater College in Somerset. I’m hoping to get out & see some oak carvings while in England, it’s been a while since I was there. 10 years…

carved pulpit detail
carved pulpit detail

Back in the States, the full-bore class is happening in October at Marc Adams’ school – Oct 19-23. My first visit here…

“Here come old flat-top, he come groovin up slowly…”