Sunday, 11 December 2011

Recycled Teaspoon

I did mention that I would make a quick post if I carved some spoons for the Cranberry sauce and Onion Marmalade that I made yesterday. I decided that perhaps that I could recycle some old practice spoons that had been made. I found a couple of likely candidates. The bowls of the spoons where really thick not nice to the feel. Out came the Mora Frost spoon knife a quick nibble away at the bowl and I was just about there resulting now in a nice thin feel in the carved bowl. Then the cleaning up with the Abranet sanding sheets that I rate so highly mentioned in previous posts. This little teaspoon is carved from Sycamore wood. The grain is unusual it looks like the wood has not been finished and very light in colour. So just a few shots of the spoon in the dish that will be used at the table. I finished the spoon with a Walnut oil. Just got to complete some more work on the other spoon but that can wait for another day.

On a different subject. We plan to have our camping  holiday in Wales next year and we will be purchasing a new tent similar to this:
When we purchase I will do a garden review before use, watch this space.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Not strictly Woodland..........

So, although not strictly Woodland, Bushcraft or Carving I thought I would just drop a quick post to inform people of the benefits of making some of their own accompaniments to Christmas meals. Last Christmas I decided too make my own Cranberry sauce it was such a success that I have made another batch. The deciding and overriding thought was that mass produced sauces have no flavour and for the price per unit it was not value for money. The Cranberry sauce freezes very well so that it can be made well in advance, freezing takes nothing away from the taste. I used the following recipe from bbcgoodfood Cranberry sauce the only addition that I decided to add was a little tipple of Gin, that of course is a measured amount!!!!!
Home made Cranberry sauce
I use the plastic dishes that Chinese / Indian takeaways come in they are just great for storage, well you have payed for them. There are never transferable tastes either. The picture above has another plastic storage dish underneath the oblong top one. The Cranberries came in at 250g for £1.50, I purchased two punnets, I also bought fresh oranges for their juice. The sauce will complete Christmas / Boxing day with the two small punnets for the kids too take away with them. I think that the time is worth the effort.

We tend to eat quite a bit of Pate / cold meats over the festive season so this year I also chose to make a nice accompaniment, Red Onion Marmalade again the recipe can be found here bbcgoodfood red-onion-marmalade  I bit more complex for me....and more ingredients, however, I can read and follow simple directions. I have to say that it took about 3 hours this morning to complete the marmalade. It has just finished cooling. I placed the marmalade into some small vacum sealed jars that I bought some time go for another project they served really well. I washed and oven sterilised the jars and lids before placing in the marmalade.
Nice little fancy jars bought on line.
I have to say that the taste of the marmalade is wonderful (modest) well worth making again but not just for the holidays.
Left overs for tasting later
I have some nice simple pot  / saucers for serving both accompaniment's in. I think I might carve two nice simple teaspoons tomorrow to go with the dishes. I have some Cherry wood knocking about in the shed somewhere!! I will post if I make some. Thanks for reading.

Sunny Winter Day

Winter sunshine

I managed to finally get out into the woods on Friday. The day before had been a miserable day windy (but no where as bad as Scotland) and driving torrential rain. The sun came out eventually and actually when in the sunshine it was very pleasant. I took a few pictures of the scenery on my travels. I used to take a camera with me but I found that actually it was just another large item to carry. I invested in a decent phone that had a camera I chose the Nokia E72. All of my pictures apart from the very first posts have been taken with the phone. Clearly there are some down sides with just a phone camera but for me it's a trade off which I find acceptable.

Always on the look out for future potential pieces of wood for carving I spied a lovely large Birch Burl. However, its too high and large to attempt to make a sensible cut.  

Theirs a free Kuksa in there somewhere.

The seasons all have there own beauty but some how despite the cold I find Winter a good time to be in the woods. I like the fact that you can see right into the usually dense woods / undergrowth. The leaves have all fallen a crisp sound under foot but the silence that the trees bring without the rushing sound of there branch's and leaves. Yet of course there is still colour at this time of year. I suppose the tree that almost says winter / Christmas to me is the Holly the female trees produce the berry no bearing Holly's are male. 

Female Holly tree.
My little walk took over the open heath land that the wild Exmoors & Dartmoor pony's live. They were busy grazing trying to fatten up for the long winter ahead. They do look in great condition.

Who are you looking at ?
Good looking animals.
Because we had a real heavy downpour earlier in the week I always like to check the water features to ensure that there are no problems with drainage. The reflection's on the water at this time of the year with the sun low in the sky are great for pictures.

I spotted normal animal suspects out and about the grey squirrel down from the trees feeding. The fallow deer are busy grazing in small herds and a quick spot of a green woodpecker. I was only out for a short stroll so not much to talk about. Thanks for reading have a nice holiday to all.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Gelert One man tent.

Just a quick line to tell people that I have just put small fnal update on the Gelert tent garden review.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Birch Burl Kuksa Pt 2

So just to finish off the Kuksa Pt 2 of the project. I checked the carving and found that it felt really light a good sign most of the moisture had gone. So I decided to start the finishing work to the Kuksa.

After about 10 days drying

So to the shed and start sanding I used to use just normal sandpaper going through the grades from 40 -1200 grits. However, a friend introduced my to the Abranet sanding sheets they are vented so the dust extracts a lot better preventing clogging they also sand a lot quicker. I will never go back to the normal sheets again, down side they are a bit more expensive, but then again they last so much longer.

Sanding under way

80 Grit to get us going

I purchased  a range of the Abranet sanding sheets from 10 of each ranging from 80 grit to 600. I have to say that Classic tools turnround time is super quick almost next day. I spent the next 3 hours sanding away. I always put apiece of tape of the end of my finger tips they get so sore otherwise. Eventually, I was happy with the finish I had to use the spoon knife a couple of times just to get some extra lumps out.

Completed Kuksa
I was unsure of what finish to put on the carving. I use walnut oil on my spoons it do's not go rancid like Olive oil the downside if you have an allergy to nuts it would be an issue no one in my family has so no problems. I coated the inside and outside with Walnut Oil. I have read that you put strong alcohol in the bowl followed by black coffee which should be left overnight to seal the inner bowl. I again was unsure but plan to adopt the following alcohol and coffee regime when the oil has been absorbed. I think after all that work on the bowl that it need a bit of oil to prevent any cracks. Lets hope its stable.

I have to say that I am exceptionally happy with the outcome of my first Burl Kuksa the grain s just out of this world. The walls of the carving are fine enough to be comfortable for me to drink from. I plan to keep the Kuksa for myself and use it.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my little romp through the Kuksa carving. I am unsure of my next project although I may well go back to micro carving the wood spirit faces as my enthusiasm has been kindled after looking at the work of Dave at Woodwose. Santa is also bringing me some new tools.

Happy Christmas to all.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Out and about again.....

Despite the rain today I managed to get out and was lucky enough to get some little breaks in the rain to get some sunshine. I will post some pictures I took. I have forgotten some photos that I ment to publish some time ago. I hope you enjoy.

Mr Woody Pecker at work
He can be a busy bird
This is why we should leave some old rotten trees
Even in winter the woods can be pretty
Lunch time tea
The following pictures I took in the summer that I found fascinating see what you think!!

Good enough to live in!!
No mortgage issues here
Explaination of what you have been looking at.
This Mesolithic house has been reproduced at the Ashdown Forest vistors centre. Well worth a look if your in the area. I just loved the house and would not mind living in it. Oh, for the simple life.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hobo and Stick day.

I visited the woods today and as I generally do took my daysack that is kept permanently packed just top the water bottle up. Whats in there just about all you would need for a 48 hour stop out minus the tarp and bag.

This daysack was kindly given to me by my friend Gary Wale from it serves me very well. When its time for tea then I drag out my home made Hobo Stove.

Hobo stove
On the left of the picture my boiling vessel made from a stainless steel tea caddy attached is a portion of bike brake cable held in position by fishing swivels pop riveted in place. The wires are joined using electrical connectors with the plastic removed two steam holes drilled in the lid and to top it all off a small hand made beech handle.
To the right of the boiling vessel (BV) is the grate made from a stainless steel kitchen utensils holder a square section ground out to allow for kindling etc. Two skewers that fit through the holes in the grate allow you to vary the height of the BV. Te round tin to is an old steel hard boiled sweet tin that serves two purposes one to hold the hexamine if required as an alternate fuel and the lid acts as the grate for the hexamine. The BV and grate were purchased from Wilkos at very little cost I had the rest of the bits and bobs in the shed along with the tools. Very cheap but good stove. Downside its a bit bigger tan I would have liked but that's ok.

Hexamine on the lid of the cherry tin.
Today, I decided to use natural fuels and started the fire with Birch bark and twigs all sourced just a couple of metres away.

I often just use the BV by itself to boil up and insert a boil in the bag you can just get two in at a push. I tend to use a home made tripod from wood with a home made wooden hanger the pot works fine. Enough for one.

Tea and lunch.
That just about it for my little Hobo.

I have been working on a couple of walking sticks for friends both with antler heads, I completed them just today see what you think!

Downey birch shaft with leather binding.

Finished off with Polyurethane

Hazel shaft with paracord binding

Finished off with Polyurethane 
Hope you like them, thanks for looking in.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Birch Burl Kuksa Pt 1

Silver Birch Burl
Last week I went to assist a friend saw a rotten old tree down in the forest. On arriving I quickly spied a Burl at the top of the Birch. I assumed that because the tree was rotten the burl must be! However, once dropped we chained saw the burl to see a beautiful if not slightly wet spalted Birch burl. The first chance to have ago at a proper burl Kuksa.
Other side after cut lovey spalted birch.

I decieded to make my second Kuksa the first one that I had made was from Birch but from a roll of a log split in two. For a first attempt I thought it was not too bad although the walls of the Kuksa were thick and the bowl small. Anyway coming back too the Burl. Perhaps the hardest part of this project has been deciding from which parts of the burl the Kuksa would be carved from.

The under side after cutting waste away.
 Having chosen where the kuksa was coming from I set too taking the excess away and getting off all the old bark. The wood was surprisingly still sodden under the bark. The inside was solid wood which was a relief.

I marked out the shape that I wanted and started to get on with the boring bit of chiseling the large amount of waste from the centre of the work. Even from the beginning the colours and spalting of the burl are amazing. I just use an off cut of Hornbeam as a hammer I tend to find its perfect for this type of work. 

Mora single blade spoon knife.
The next stage is to start hand carving the bowl out using a bowl knife, I like the Mora single side knife its simple and tough. You can make out the shape of the planned bowl on the picture above.

Initial roughing out stage completed.

Underside of the Kuksa handle roughed in.

Side view.

I have left the sides of the cup walls quite thick at this stage and a heavy looking handle too. The next step for me is too boil the cup in salty water.  I boiled the little blighter for 2 hours using rock salt to try and eliminate any cracking during the long drying process.

It fizzed when I placed the cup in the boiling salt water

Towards the end of the process.
After  2 hours the cup sank in the water i assumed it was water logged and so impregnated with salt. The cup showed of all its beautiful colours when it was in the water. 

Looking a bit swollen, yucky and steaming hot

Once the cup had cooled off I started work on the inside of the bowl again it was like putting a knife through butter. The kuksa is now sitting in a plastic bag with the top open to allow the wood to dry very slowly.
It may well be many weeks for the wood to dry out before I start anymore work so we will call this the end of Part 1 for the moment.