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

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 –  (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.  (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.


Not my spoons, Jojo’s

As you can tell from the last post, I am in a state of flux; many things about to begin. First, I finish up at Plimoth, then on to a slew of ideas. Make a bowl-lathe. finish the hewn bowls. clean up parts of this house so I can work here some. Take the kids on a whale watch. some work for MLB Restoration, aka the Blue Oak guys. Those are some priorities, not necessarily in order. And I have a bunch of blog posts unwritten. Let’s try this one.

Every time I attend some woodworking event in the US , it’s principally a bunch of old men. In flannel shirts. Mostly. We have been seeing some young guys coming along. So it was a gas & a half to meet Jojo Wood when I was at North House Folk School a few weeks ago. She’s a double-whammy – a young woman woodworker. And what spoons! Robin Wood had written on his blog “her spoons are better than mine” – and I assumed a father’s pride in his child’s work, but then I saw her spoons in real life. very nice stuff.

jojo spoons

inspiration 5

She’s grown up around green woodworking of one sort or another; mostly her bowl-turning father, but somewhere there’s a photo of Jojo & her brother learning knife work from Wille Sundqvist when they were quite young. (HA! swiped it from Robin’s blog)

Jojo pre-dreads

Jojo told me that when the first spoonfest happened in Edale, she noted the lack of women instructors; and began to concentrate seriously on her spoon carving. I jumped at the chance to learn her technique for carving a “crank” as she calls it, into a straight blank. Very organized, logical approach. Blows my doors off. Jojo told me she’s been lucky to have met all the great spoon carvers of today, without really having to leave home – through the spoonfest events and otherwise through connections w Robin.

jojo hews

Well, I think luck had something to do with it, but practice, skill and a good eye made it happen for her too. She’s been up in Wisconsin & Minnesota feeding mosquitoes for a few weeks, but I hope when she’s back home she’ll add stuff to her blog …

Jojo's spoon

Nice going Jojo, I look forward to when we meet again…




Bowl class, tip of the iceberg

For decades I have worked wood surrounded by people – dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of people. But in one sense, I work wood primarily in isolation. All these people were visitors to the museum, so watching me work. In many cases, I met woodworkers of all stripes, but it was very hit-or-miss.  I just finished my most recent stint as a student, rather than instructor, this time in Robin Wood’s bowl turning class at the North house Folk school. This is the sort of inspiring time I remember back when I was a regular student in classes, mostly at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops – to be surrounded by people who’ve come from all over, to concentrate on learning, sharing and exploring aspects of hand-tool woodworking. What a time! North House Folk School has a great reputation, for good reason. Excellent facility, setting, people, and offerings. Look at the range of classes…



I knew it was going to be great to meet Robin and learn of the bowl turning work he’s been practicing all these years. But there was way more to it than that. First of all, Jarrod Stonedahl helped organize  and execute the class. He and Roger Abrahamson built the lathes for example. (links: and )
But it was the whole scene that served to keep us occupied.  Birch was the standard timber available up there, but Jarrod could not let the bark just be hewn away, so -quick – a lesson in harvesting birch bark. Later he showed me how to cut the arrow-lock/finger joints that he uses in his “boxes” – one of which we’ve had at home for quite some time.


Roger has been a pole-lathe bowl turner himself for many years, and had once visited my shop at Plimoth. He made a couple of bowls, traipsed around the shop helping people and generally sharing his skills. same with Jarrod.


But of course, Robin was the show – his teaching style is just what you’d expect, based on the writings on his blog. Extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. His English was pretty good too. Axe work, bowl turning, tool making, bowl design, history – we covered a lot of ground.

An added bonus was the spoons there – I brought a couple but really the star there was far and away the youngster Jojo Wood. More on that later.

The facility was excellent – windows on three sides looking out to Lake Superior. It was a pretty big lake. I didn’t really have the time or the money for this class, but had decided that I have let a few opportunities go by in recent years, and this one I drew the line. I’m glad I did.

Here’s some photos – If I tell you all about it, I’ll be here all night. I’ll use captions. 


grand marais harbor
socked in fog, first 3 days. 


robin turning
Robin shows us how it’s done


robin turning 3
Robin turning


class at work
we get at it, Jojo hews spoons


simple lathe


lathe 2
tool rest view
inspiration 1
inspiration was everywhere
inspiration 2
detail of Robin’s bowl
inspiration 3
beech bowl
first or second
my chamfer is OK
inside bowl
Robin hollowing
inspiration 4
an old one Roger brought to show us
Roger said it felt like work, but he does it w ease
after helping people all day, Jarrod couldn’t wait to make a bowl
jarrod peels fast
Jarrod peels bark fast
jarrod peels fast 2
This was too thick, but I’d never seen it done before



birch work
a sample Jarrod showed me on
sun came out day 4
sunshine 2
the big lake they call….
inspiration 6
This looks like one of Jarrod’s
banjo gig
Jarrod, Jeremy, and Roger on banjo
jojo hews
Jojo 10 spoons a week




My shop is still a mess, so here’s what I have been looking at


Long-time readers of this blog know that I follow closely the work that Robin Wood does over in England.  Robin’s blog was the one that inspired me to do this one…

Just last week, he (and many others)  finished the first-ever spoon fest in Derbyshire. Robin posted a bunch of photos, as well as links to other blog posts about the event. I wished I could have gone, but I deserted my family enough this year with woodworking travels.  Be sure to follow the link that takes you to the audio portion of Jogge Sundqvist’s talk that opened the event. Great stuff, thanks for making it happen, Robin et al. Sounds like a good time was had by all.

here’s the link, read through about the past five posts or more. Great, great stuff:

Robin Wood & Jogge Sundqvist

Now, another piece that you folks that have been here a while might remember is these fabulous drawings from Maurice Pommier.



French sawing

They came with very kind words from Maurice. His work intrigued me, so I looked up his books. He had a children’s book that I added to my list, and I finally ordered it. I couldn’t read a lick of it mostly…but I loved it. I showed it around at a Lie-Nielsen gig one time, & described it as a cross between Mad Magazine & Eric Sloane. I sent images to Chris Schwarz, and he replied that he already had the book in the works. Now it’s ready to go, so trot over to Lost Art Press and see for yourself.  I assume that Chris never sleeps.

Grampa’s Workshop


This follows almost instantly on the heels of Matt Bickford’s book on using hollows and rounds.

Matt Bickford Mouldings in Practice

I had read the book in a near-finished draft, and was knocked out. Even if you haven’t used molding planes, or especially if you haven’t, this book will make you want to.  Hollows & rounds are some of the next batch of JA tools here, later this week. Matt’s book makes the use of them so basic & simple. He really has demystified the use of these tools. If you have ever seen Matt at one of the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events, then you understand. A nice guy, a great book. Lost Art Press, the hits just keep comin’.



Heritage Crafts Association link

joined chest
joined chest


The way I practice joinery is based as closely as is practical on seventeenth-century methods from New England. Furniture made in England was executed in essentially the same manner, with variations here and there. I find this type of woodworking challenging, exciting and rewarding. Also the furniture has a tremendous appeal for me. It is strong, practical and, to my eye, attractive. The main timber used is oak, a wood I never grow tired learning about and using.


Tonight I’m not writing about what I do, or how I do it. I’m writing about the web, England, history and the future. The web has changed the life of everyone who uses it regularly, and one of the greatest benefits of it is the way it can connect like-minded people easily. I regularly read a few websites, regularly check a few others. One is – many readers of this blog already know about that one. I was very grateful when Luke Townsley included my blog as one of those tracked there. Thanks Luke.


One of my favorite places is the English countryside. I have a terribly skewed view of it, having only made three trips there, all designed to see as much oak furniture as possible. Yet, I feel a strong connection there, mostly through my long-term study of English joinery, both here in New England and in old England as well.



And mainly because of the web, one of my favorite craftsmen I have never met is Robin Wood. 

Robin Wood turning a bowl
Robin Wood

Robin’s blog I read regularly. You can see it here:  For those of you who are new to his work, he is a renowned turner of bowls on a pole lathe, but also a lot more. Good writer, researcher and photographer. His book The Wooden Bowl is excellent. I have no intention of ever turning many bowls, I sometimes go years between bowls, but I’ve read his book twice.  Now add passionate advocate for rescuing/saving/promoting “old” crafts to his resume. Robin and several others have been working hard at starting up an organization in the UK called “Heritage Crafts Association” – he just posted the details of it the other night. Although I am a long ways from the UK, I have an Anglo-historic bent, with the study of historic joinery, my family history, etc. So when you have a few minutes please take a look at what the HCA is attempting. These folks are working hard at doing good.


 In the museum setting, I meet a lot of people. More than 300,000 a year, for over 15 years now. They watch me work at furniture-making, and one thing I hear more & more is that people are separated from the making of things.  Thus I think it becomes more important to save the ideas, skills and techniques involved in hand-made stuff. If you made it this far, thanks for paying attention to my rant. Here’s the link again, in case you missed it above