Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Big Spoons

I'm working on diversity... So I've carved 5 of nearly the same spoon... But they're different to the others...

All from Alder which is a dream to carve.

Many of the knife marks show as facets on the surface of the wood. You can also see where some of the grain has dropped, as the moisture leaves the wood. I like to leave these imperfections, partly because I don't like fiddling with individual spoons for too long and partly because its a reminder of the process.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Bowl Turning with Sharif Adams

Well, as you know by now, bowl turning is becoming my new obsession... Unbeknownst to me, my darling girlfriend booked me on to a surprise course for my birthday with Sharif Adams. Sharif is a talented turner and woodsman who lives in a woodland community on darkest Dartmoor. We spent the day in his workshop and he gave me loads of pointers and direction on my turning technique. As essentially I haven't got a clue what I'm doing, all advice is welcome and it's really useful to standardise the plan of attack... The nerdy notebook came out and so did the camera to jot down instructions and draw around various tools.

My efforts in spalted Beech, it has a couple of pieces of lead shot in the wall. I panicked at the thought of damaging Sharif's tools but the lead is so soft it sliced through without a mark!

Sharif's lathe is good and sturdy!

I came away from a great day with a cracking bowl, a new friend and a sense of empowerment over the turning process with lots of new techniques and ideas to work with.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Lathe

I've been on a journey. Even when I'm not walking the path, I have been focused on it. It seems like nearly everything I have done over the last 9 months has been leading up to becoming a wood turner. At the beginning of the year I joined the APTGW - The Bodgers. I have started turning on other peoples spindle lathes and got to grips with chisels and gouges. There are allot of helpful people who have shared lots of their time and knowledge to help me. I attended the Bodgers Ball in May and began infiltrating the inner circles of turners... My man on the inside (my mate Owen) gave me some pointers on lathe construction and armed with a chainsaw I set out cutting up a Sycamore log into the bed of the lathe. A couple of ash logs for the headstocks and 2 pointy bits of steel and we're pretty much ready to go right? Almost... Of course any journey worth taking has a struggle or two... Making the tools (that you can't buy in the shops) was the easy bit, getting the tools to do their job properly was the major issue... So after a bit of forging and hardening and tempering there was repeat grinding and sharpening sessions... I have ended up with four that are all working fairly well... More on hooks in a post to follow...

Anyway, incredibly, on one fine Sunday morning in September, everything came together... The final results were a bit ropey but I learnt allot about the process and it showed me where I need to regrind my tools (sigh). Since then I have done a smidge more turning and been on a brilliant course with Sharif Adams (more to follow!)

I feel this could be something all consuming...

Bowl 1 - Cherry, about 4 inches across. Lots of tear out and a jagged rim. I'm still gonna keep it forever...

Bowl 2 - Rowan, a bit bigger but just as bad.

Bowl 3 - Beech, turned under Sharif's guidance and a massive improvement.

Bowls 3 and 4 - Alder, turned 2 weeks after Sharif's course and benefiting from his tuition. I really like the spalting in the Alder and it turns really nicely with a clean finish. The walls are a bit thick but they feel even.

Watch this space...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blacksmithing with Dave Budd

A belated 21st birthday surprise for my brother (Jack) saw the Standens descending on rural Devon for a course in black smithing. Hosted by Dave Budd, the course was a three day axe making adventure. Starting with a piece of tool steel, we created a functioning hatchet with handle and sheath. All of this was done by hand on replica Iron-Age clay forges with hand powered air blowers or bellows. The outdoor workshop was really cool, set in the woods where we made camp. All food was carted in and cooked by yours truly for the hungry smiths. "Old Reliable" my dutch oven, did sterling service, even if I did over prepare. Personally I don't think its over the top to bring a cafetiere on a camping trip... We met our friend Will in the wood, he had managed to get from Preston to within about 5 miles of the wood before running out of diesel! On the last night we had a massive home made baked bean and jacket potato dinner with Will's lovely family and Jack kept everyone entertained with plenty of guitar playing.

The course was really interesting, covering all stages of tool making: forging, punching and drifting an eye, hardening, tempering, grinding and sharpening. We also made and fitted a handle of Ash and made a leather sheath to keep fingers safe! We even had a little time to make some ornaments which look great with a glistening coat of bees wax.

The teacher at his forge.

Students listening diligently...

Some processes need an extra pair of hands. 

Forged and handled, grinding and sharpening left to do. 

First blood...

The finished articles. Left to right: Will's adze, Jack's axe, Dad's axe, my axe, Dave's axe.

Left to right: Will, Jack, Dave, me and Dad (Terry).

As if I need any more hobbies... This is a good one though, black smithing is so different from any craft I have done before. Its very natural and humble and earthy but it has a tantalising feel of industrialisation and a magic and alchemy of actively changing the material you work (on a molecular level), rather than just modifying it as you might do with wood. I'm looking forward to practicing when we can get a forge up and running...

Sunday, 14 September 2014


So after picking up a lovely scoop from Martin Hazell I made a few of my own. It's a different kettle of fish from carving a spoon; bigger here, shorter there.... Anyway, I'm not in a writing mood so here are some photos.

Birch salt spoons from Jan Harm's class at Spoonfest

Rowan coffee scoops

Update 10/11/14

Some Jan Harm inspired scoops from the side branches of a sapling birch.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Turned Spoons

So having joined the APTGW I decided to actually get on with some turning, what better project to practice on than spoons... The Birch is a little too shaky when it becomes thin but the Sycamore takes a nice finish, all little lessons along the path.

Although the overall effect offends some sensitive souls, I enjoy the process of turning and carving. I also like the contrast of the turned surfaces against the carved.

I have a few different plans in mind for turned treen projects so watch this space...

Update November 2014: A study in Rowan