January 2015 update & first spoons

Well, lots going on & not going on around here. Let’s get one thing out of the way. “where are the bird photos?” some have asked. I haven’t been out birding since I-don’t-know-when. Haven’t been to Plymouth Beach for owls at all…it’s frustrating, but time is in short supply all around. maybe this weekend…but it’s been feeder-birds for me. Cardinal in a holly tree, a rather cliche picture. Juncos were around this morning; they’re winter birds here.

cardinal holly

female junco

What’s really been missing is oak. But that’s about to change. I have all of a sudden several joinery projects coming up. So yesterday and today I have been splitting & hewing oak prior to planing. some of my work-sequences have changed some since the workshop shuffle of last summer. More hewing at the outset, and then planing. I used to do it back & forth between the hatchet & plane. I shot none of this work, but here’s a view of the off=cuts, meaning another job to clean up behind! Some stock there for pegs certainly…you can never have too many.

off cuts

The hewing has produced some really amazing chips – this one somehow became a photographic platform for Saruman, who is in the shop to have his broken hand removed from his arm socket. If he weren’t an Istari, we could have just pretended this character was Beren.


My first batch of spoons are now released from their task last weekend = and are available for sale here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-a-bowl-or-two-jan-2015/

Spoon carving at Plymouth CRAFT last weekend

Last weekend was my first class with Plymouth CRAFT, helping 12 intrepid folks carve spoons. What a time we had. (the facebook crowd can see some pictures here https://www.facebook.com/CRAFTPlymouth )

spoon carvers

It was held at Overbrook house, http://www.overbrookhouse.com/ a large rambling joint with something interesting around every corner, both rooms we were using were set with a fire in the hearth. On the first day, Denise Lebica was teaching a knitting class in the next room, and on day 2, Paula Marcoux was in the kitchen, teaching a strudel-making session. This was after she had fixed a stellar lunch for everyone both days, cooking parts of it in the hearth. Like her book come to life… http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Fire-Rediscovered-Techniques-Wood-Fired/dp/1612121586




The spoon carvers took over a very large main room, essentially a living room! We shoved the furniture to the walls, moved in some mats & chopping blocks, and had at it. We started with the knife grasps, then moved to actually roughing out spoon blanks. These people were so dedicated they almost missed the lunch bell – until I yelled at them to get away from the tools & go eat.

indoor hewing


room view

I was kept pretty busy going from one to the next, checking on the tool use and the emerging spoons. For me, one highlight was that we were given permission to take a cherry sapling that was growing right outside the door. This meant that every student got a chance to carve a spoon from a crook. some were small, but in many ways that’s a good thing. working a small crook as a beginner means you learn the particular demands and challenges without a great outlay of effort and time…cherry can get pretty hard if it dries ahead of you..so good to get through it in short order.

cherry tree

hewing crook


knife work 2

Overbrook  is large enough to include accommodations for those who needed overnight lodgings, and Anne Phelan did an outstanding job at the breakfast end of the B&B, as well as a slew of overall helping-out. So many of us had worked together at that un-named museum for years & years, it was fun to be back together again; Pret, Paula, Denise, Anne, Keith, Marie, me  – and we had two other alumni, Bryan (spoons) & David (knitting) were signed on as students.    

It went so well & we all had such a great time, that we signed up to do it again, both the spoon carving & knitting. Dates are March 14 & 15. Go to Plymouth CRAFT’s site  for details, and to sign up:  http://plymouthcraft.org/?post_type=tribe_events   is Paula adding a foodie workshop? I forget. 

I see Mark Atchison’s first class is now listed too – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=the-fundamentals-of-blacksmithing-a-traditional-perspective  You’ve heard me go on about Mark’s work before, without his work, my furniture work would suffer. Great chance to learn some blacksmith work from one of the best. 




one opening in Jan 17/18 spoon class

hook knives

I handled a bunch of hook knives this afternoon (they’re Robin Wood’s hooks – http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/product-category/tools/ ). Otherwise, sharpening, getting chopping blocks together, etc.

There’s room for one more spoon carver – next weekend in Plymouth (well, really Buzzards Bay MA., but close enough) – we allowed for 12 students and have 11. It’s not too late. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee

We have some birch, cherry and a wood to be named later. Will I see you there?

Tomorrow I’ll do the lefties.

crook with hook

more spoon carving today. One I’ve had hanging around a while is this, my all-time favorite of these “crooks with hooks” – this one in apple, but in the bowl is a bark inclusion that is essentially a deep crack. Oh well, I get to keep it that way…

apple crook

to make this spoon, I stopped looking at the photos of Wille & Jogge’s hooks that I was inspired by…and dove in. I really like the curves this one generated; exaggerated the hook and came up with a satisfying, if useless utensil. I guess limited use, rather than useless. I carved this one last summer at the Lie-Nielsen open house. It’s been around that long. For a sense of scale, it’s about 10″ long. I’m working on a new one in cherry today.

w bark



one picture

spoon cross section

I have been carving spoons today, getting ready for my first spoon carving class with Plymouth CRAFT later this month. At the bottom of my basket of spoons-in-progress was this remnant from a mishap. when carving this birch spoon, my knife stuck, I wiggled and the thing split apart. I got something out of it, because I was then able to shave it down its centerline to see the thicknesses at different points along the spoon’s shape. This is still too thick – in the bowl and the handle…but it shows the general shape I’m after.

If I hadn’t blown it, I would have concentrated my next cuts in the areas highlighted in blue below. (On most days, I can shave wood smoother than I can draw blue lines w a mouse.) The underside of the handle I often thin by beveling it towards its outside edges, leaving thickness in the middle of its cross-section. I like to keep the finial/end thicker than the rest of the handle.



Those are some of the things I’m thinking about as I carve these spoons lately. Striving to get the spoons thinner these days.

I don’t know which is worse, busting a spoon while carving it, or while abusing it to close a window  – at least Tim got some use out of his spoon for a while.  http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-few-spoons-and-dissection.html




A Man Apart

If you’ve been here a while, you’ve heard me go on about Bill Coperthwaite. There’s a new book coming out this month about Peter Forbes’ and Helen Whybrow’s time spent with Bill. I’m watching the mailbox closely and can’t wait til it gets here.


Here’s a link for more about the book http://www.billcoperthwaite.net/the-book.html  and there’s a collector’s edition that is a fund-raiser for a project by Peter & Helen called Spoons for All – http://www.billcoperthwaite.net/collectors-edition.html

How could I say no to that? Carving spoons to help make the world a better place? Of course…








Now it’s January, my first course at Plymouth CRAFT is coming up. I think there’s one more space; keep in mind there’s more happening there that weekend – here’s the blurb for the knitting class  http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=k-is-for-knitting-learn-to-knit-retreat-part-1



I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions – one I had half-made was to spend less time reading at the screens here – and that’s right out the window, thanks to Dave Fisher. He just started a blog. I really like Dave’s stuff – we met once when he came through Plimoth while I was there. So I’ll watch his blog regularly. His bowls are really out of this world – as I plod deeper & deeper into hewing bowls, Dave’s my inspiration. He’s stronger than me, and his tools are sharper – he hews bowls from cherry! Here’s the link:  https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/

Dave Fisher bowl



I’ve been thinking about a series called “tools from my chest” because there’s some I use all the time that I haven’t talked about in 8 years’ worth of blog posts. But, I’ll start with a brand-new one – a carving hatchet that I got from Robin Wood. This isn’t the one from John Neeman that somehow has Robin’s name on it – I’m not sure what that story is, but this is designed by and made for Robin, specifically for carving spoons and bowls. Priced so it’s within reach of most, it feels way better than its price range. (right now it’s £35 plus £22 for shipping to the US.)  

The specifics are on his site – but if you’re looking for a nice small carving hatchet, and the likes of Hans Karlsson are beyond your present budget, this is the hatchet for you. His knives are real nice as well; I got some of his hooks for use with students. I see that the hatchets are out of stock, Christmas must have wiped him out. Next batch in March it says. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/product-category/tools/

robin wood hatchet

RW hatchet head

RW hatchet head profile


Two birds well suited to their environment. This redtail hawk would have eluded me if I hadn’t seen it fly into this sycamore tree. His brown and white feathers blend well with the bark – 

hidden redtail

This little grey screech owl is a different story. Our neighbors told us he’d taken to roosting in this duck box. If he sat on the branches, he’d be harder to see. He cares not, just plops into the box when some photographers get out of the car, Marie.