More spoon carving with spalted Beech over the weekend.
I’ll let these season for a bit before the final finishing.
I have a few large beech logs that have been awaiting my attention since last spring. I was slack and didn’t seal the ends so I was unsure how workable the wood would be after so long, fortunately the workshop isn’t exactly a dry environment.
Happily they haven’t cracked too much and best of all they have spalted beautifully without going too soft to be viable. I already want to make some bowls from this stuff.
After splitting down some suitable sized billets I spent some time roughing out a large spoon & two Gooseneck Spatulas™ (ha ha). As well as being an enjoyable way to get back up to speed with the axe it is a good way of assessing the workability of the wood, if the spalt had gone too far the impact of the axe would soon make it apparent.
Now the basic shape and lines have been established they will be further refined and finished with hook and straight bladed knives.
I’ll report back when they have been done.
All the best.
Would you like to make your own knife and/or sheath but don’t have the tools or experience?
You can come to my Brighton workshop and learn to do it yourself, please follow this blog for pricing announcements or drop me a line.
A while back I ran a series of 1-2-1 workshop sessions with Jess who wanted to make a handle and sheath for a blade she had previously forged on a knife making course elsewhere.
The black stick tang blade had a very nice hand made rustic quality about it with hammer marks from it’s forging still viable along the blade and spine.
Our first session was spent discussing the intended uses of the knife, what she would like it to look like and choosing the materials we would use. She wanted something to use as a general purpose tool for the various crafts she was pursuing as well as something she could take camping with her.
The blade has the look of an old eating knife but due to it’s thickness would lend itself to other tasks well.
We explored various material combinations that would compliment the black blade and eventually settled on using Bog Oak and Saddle Tan leather for the handle and sheath and a factory made Brass cup style ferrule for the tang to pass through.
We looked at various styles of handle and sheath in search of something that would compliment the slender blade before she settled on a somewhat Scandinavian design with an exposed wooden liner. To compliment the faceted forged look of the blade it was decided that the handle and wooden liner would look best if they had a carved finish rather than sanded smooth.
Over the next few months she came to my workshop to make the handle and sheath, occasionally asking for advice or instructions for the next stage of the process.
The first step was to drill out and file a slot in the handle material to fit the tang of the knife and then carve a step fro the ferrule to key onto (the wood of the handle extends up inside the brass ferrule), these are perhaps the mod laborious tasks requiring careful use of hand tools.
Once the slot was finished and the ferule fitted the three components were glued together and work could begun on shaping the handle.
Please note the blade is blunt at this stage and was wrapped with thick tape while work was done on the handle despite what is shown in the image below.
The handle begins to take shape.
The knife is taking shape…
After several more sessions that I wish were documented in photographs the knife and sheath were finished.
The Vegetable Tanned leather was wet formed around the knife and wooden liner and stitched while still damp, this ensures a tight fit as the drying leather shrinks into place.
The carved Bog Oak handle compliments the black steel blade.
Careful use of the whittling knife was required to ensure a smooth transition from the ferrule to the handle.
The exposed Bog oak liner matches the texture of the handle and echoes the faceting of the blade. Held firmly in place by the wet formed leather and a little glue it provide protection for and from the blade.
The edges of the leather were bevelled, sanded smooth and burnished until shiny to ensure a long lifespan. The belt loop is made from a twisted leather thong and requires no stitching or glueing, this makes it easy to replace in years to come while providing a secure fastening during use.
Securing the thong is a knot where the leading end passes through a slot in the leather, this locks as the knot gets tighter meaning it will not come undone.
The top part of the sheath grips the handle to prevent the knife falling out, when returning the knife it clicks into place indicating it is secure.
After much careful work the finished knife became something to be proud of, an elegant and durable tool to treasure and use.
I thought you might like to see how this spoon began taking shape and what it looks like after a few years of use.
This one began, as many do, being hewn with an axe from a billet of wood split from a Beech Log. The wood had spent over a year weathering in the yard at my workshop and had developed a Spalt running through the grain; lovely patterns caused by fungus penetrating the wood and forming hard dark barriers at their margins. If left too long in such damp conditions the wood becomes crumbly and brittle in places but fortunately I used this piece before that had happened.
Once the rough shape is formed with the axe I use whittling knives & curved spoon knives to refine it further before setting the piece aside for a while to allow any remaining moisture escape.
Once the wood is dry the knives are used to carve the final smooth surface and the piece is sealed with Flax seed oil to protect it.
Here are some images of this one after it has been used for a few years and begun to gain some real character.