American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spoon Carving

You can learn a lot about a tool's design simply by trying to make one yourself.

This past weekend the village had a work day in the natural area in my neighborhood and Laura and I went to work removing invasive buckthorn, thistles, and other non-native plants. One of those buckthorns had grown to a 25 foot tall tree and had to be removed with a chainsaw.

As soon as it was down I asked if I could have the trunks for spoon carving and I got a lot of strange looks. Fortunately they know me, I know them, and those strange looks are pretty commonplace for me. I got the trunks cut into four foot lengths and carried them home. Then I used my folding saw to reduce the length of one piece with a crook that looked like it could turn into a spoon.

I used my Eriksson 510 and a Mora spoon knife to do all the work from splitting the log to roughing out the shape to final carving. Sure, I had to strop the 510 three or four times during the work but it did just fine. I also burned out the bowl a bit to get through some of the knots I encountered that were much harder than the surrounding wood and seemed to just shrug off most of the spoon knife's efforts.

Now I've always been artistic but I find myself going too far with every project so it's not an avenue I ever really explored. The spoon carving is no different. I would continually come in, look over the spoon, and think that it needed more carving. I'd show it to my wife and kids and they would critique it and give me some ideas. I would head back outside to carve some more and worry that I'd carve the handle too thin or cut right through the bottom of the bowl in my quest for the perfect lightweight spoon.

It turns out that my other attempts at spoons have gone nowhere near far enough rather than too far. I am now going to rework all of them to make them lighter, thinner, and more useful. Fortunately a very sharp 510 is up to the task of carving well-seasoned wood. We'll see how it holds up though. The Buckthorn was nice and green and my other spoons have already been fire-hardened.

Speaking of fire hardening, I used all the shavings left from the stick and my 510 with a firesteel and started a fire which I used to create the coals that I'd use to burn out the bowl as well as giving me a chance to dry out the wood to both harden and lighten it. The heat also gave the grain a nice pop. Plus, I'm left with a tiny bit of ash at the end of the day which is easy enough to sweep up or scatter to the four winds.

This one's a gift for the guy who cut down the tree and then sectioned the trunk for me. The next one is going to the woman who organized the work day. Then maybe I'll make one for me.

Thanks for reading,



At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anders said...

Hi Brian!
Great post!
Here is a couple of links regarding "bushcraft".
First an english guy who has a bunch of great tutorials:
And also a swedish guy who talks a great swenglish and realy knows how to use a Mora:

They are maybe not new to you but I thought someone may find them useful.

Anders from Sweden

At 9:35 PM, Blogger tjbbpgobIII said...

I notice you use and recommend the 510 like the one in this picture. I have one of those that is my go to for most cutting chores. So much so that I purchased another that was on sale at Amazon. Well the first on I got came from Buckshots Camp and took an edge real well. This one, with an olive drab color, I recieved a couple weeks ago and I finally got around to putting an edge on it. The edge will not do anything but fold over. These later ones don't seem to be as well made as the first on that had the orange handle. Any ideas on what I can do? Trade it off, throw it away?


Post a Comment

<< Home