Sunday, 22 January 2012

Kuksa Cup in Beech Wood - "The Snifter".

Out and about on my travels I came across at the side of a track a piece of beech wood roughly about the same size as my forearm. It looked like it had been there for years and was pretty weathered. I picked it up and had a look at and thought I might be able to use this, it had a hole running through it and bits of wood from the inside kept falling out. I thought that this might be a lost cause, perhaps it was all rotten inside.

A horrible piece of tatty old Beech
 I had this feeling that there was a Kuksa in there somewhere as long as the rot had not got a hold on the wood. Time to find out what was inside I started to cut into the beech.

Same piece from a different angle.
Several cuts into the Beech
Eventually I got to a point where I dare not take any more wood away if I was to stand a chance of getting a small Kuksa from the remaining wood. I decided that I would use the cavity area to start the work. I saw a couple of issues with the wood. Firstly there was a large gap at the bottom of the area of the proposed handle and rear of the bowl. Secondly, on the under side I could only carve to the depth of the thinnest part of the wood. The wood was so gnarl and thick but in places quite thin. However, I marked what I thought would be the shape of the Kuksa bowl and marked a proposed handle in.

Bowl & handle marked out. Problem at the bottom right of picture.
So on with the carving. I decided to start work on the area that I thought might be a serious problem the bottom right hand side. I did not want to do loads of hard carving for the project to fail once I got to the hole at the bottom of the wood. Santa Claus brought me some new shiny gouges now was the time to try them out. I have to say working with large gouges was a real experience but it allowed me to take great chunks of wood away, what might have taken a 2 -3 hours now only took 20 - 30 mins.

Gouging out the bowl.
The size of the Kuksa is going to be smaller than I thought due to the excessive amount of rotten wood I had to remove. As I was working on the bowl I thought it would be just the right size for a Whisky, I like a drop of single malt. So, as with most things I carve I give them name's this will be called "The Snifter".


Once I had taken out as much wood as I thought I could the next phase was to do the remainder with a spoon knife. I have two spoon knifes a Mora Frost and Svante Darjv so I battled on with the knifes resharpening as I went. I have to say this wood was hard to get through then again Beech is. Finally, I had finished the inside, time to work on the outer side. I then belt sanded the bulk of the wood away to leave me with a working profile. Eventually, I was down to sanding the inner and outer with Abranet sanding sheets. I found that the dark areas were starting to dry out and the area around handle and bowl I thought that I had sorted out was starting to split. I was almost finished and then I had to start doing a repair. I mixed up some araldite and filled the hole / split taped it up to hold it together.

Araldite with supporting tape.
The tape did the trick and held together the split whilst the araldite set. Its now just a case of going back to the man cave (shed) and continuing with the smoothing down. After an overnight wait I finally finished the repair work and its a really good take almost invisible amongst all the beech knots.

Finished sanding 150mm x 80mm approx size

Its now time to complete the work with a final coating of Walnut Oil.

The beautiful shapes and colours start to appear

You can just see the small repair I had to make to the bowl middle and left of the picture
So, The Snifter is finally finished. I have to say that I really enjoyed this project, perhaps because the starting wood was in such a very poor state yet the Kuksa has come out really well. Hope you have enjoyed the write up.

On a slightly different subject the Yew wood that was soaking in the Pentacryl being stabilised is drying well one more week or so and we should be starting Part 2 of the Yew handle project.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Car Fragrant Wood Spiritman.

I used to carve little wood spirits into walking sticks just add to the stick. However, I have progressed and was asked to make Wooden Pipe Tampers with the little wood spirit face, this I did as you can read about in my other posts. I have not carved a simple wood spirit for some time, but I thought I would like to make a wood spirit carving for the car. I tend to use Blackthorn wood for the carvings, do not ask me why but they seem to come out well generally. However, it was clear to myself that I was struggling to get this little piece completed. Whilst in the process of carving I thought it might be nice to try and make the carving into a wooden fragrance for the car. I have seen the wooden little fragrant apples that you can buy in supermarkets, so why not have a go.

Blackthorn wood

So, carving duly completed although not completely happy with the result, but never mind.

I wandered into the house I knew that we had the fragrance sticks that you soak and then turn upside down and they emit a pleasant smell. So I raided the cupboard and did a home trial of soaking a wooden carving in the smelly fluid. If it works on bamboo sticks, why not my carving. Experiment still ongoing, I drilled a small hole in the top of the carving to except a small piece of elasticated cord, so that it can hang in the car.

Soaking in fragrance
Here, is the carving soaking in the liquid an old Chinese food container (they are always handy) houses the little experiment. I will leave it over night and see how it goes in the morning and place it in the car.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Early morning walk by the sea.

I arose early this morning. The working week had given us some appalling weather but this Saturday it looked nice. I popped the dog in the car and drove 10 mins to the sea front. Very little wind quite warm for this time of year lovely. There will be few words in this post but the rising of the sun was fantastic and I wanted just to share the morning with you through some photographs.


Despite a seemingly quiet morning cloud from the North West started to come over. What this allowed was the rising sun to start to reflect of the clouds.




Private Pants waiting for the Sun to rise.




Sun up lovely
Starting to cloud up on the way back
On the way home it went deepest black I thought we were going to get soaked, however, all of a sudden we had a wonderful Rainbow, and no rain.

Rainbow, what a wonderful sight.
All in all a truly refreshing morning giving me a lift after some recent news. Life is good..

Yew Wood Knife Handle Project - Part 1.

I decided that the New year was the time to start a new project. Prior to Christmas I did some research online about making your own knife handles. I have to say there is a wealth of information about this topic on the net and some fantastic work. I chose the blade that I liked and found an online retailer that could supply the blade that I wanted at a reasonable price English-handmade-knives delivery was quick and the blades arrived as described. As it happens a local business to me. I will definitely use this company again.

Polar 95 Full stick tang carbon blade
Ok, so that was the easy bit completed. Next came the choice of wood for the handle. I decided that I wanted a full wood handle. I had some wood in the shed but was unsure what I had, in the end I came up with three choices for a handle Cherry, Blackthorn & Yew.  I had Cherry and Blackthorn already, but I liked the look of Yew and I knew where I could get hold of some timber. When I was doing my research it was mentioned several times that you should use stabilised wood for the knife handles. Unsure what that actually meant I researched again. Bottom line the product you use reduces / replaces the moisture content within the wood to reduce warping / checking of the wood. You can by woods that have been stabilised professionally but checking some of the prices it can be costly. So, after some more reading I decided to have ago at home. The product that I decided to use for the stabilisation of the wood was Pentacryl which I purchased from Turners Retreat the link will take you there. I went out and found my Yew wood that I planned to try and stabilise, this wood was standing dead wood, however, it looked good.

Pentacryl & Yew Wood
The wood when sawn looked really dry and I was tempted to go straight into the project, however, I thought that it would not hurt to stabilise the wood. So I chop sawed two sections of Yew and cut them to size approx 130 x 40 x 30mms gave them a quick run over with the plainer.  A wonderful pattern emerges from the grain.



There are two method's of stabilising the wood according to the directions on the side of the label on the bottle of Pentacryl. One is to brush a coat on or to the wood or immersion. Being an old sceptic I went for the fully immersed method. So I found myself a jar that would accept the wood and take all of the Pentacryl as it happens a 1 litre Kilner jar fits the bill perfectly.

Two pieces of Yew inside a Kilner jar
I love old jars,containers, boxes and unwanted pate dishes they always come in handy for something in the workshop. Anyway, so the next step is to fill the jar and wood with the Pentacryl.

I topped the jar right up after this photo.
I filled the jar as far as I could and just had a bit of Pentacryl left this will come in handy for topping up on the next project. If this works then I will cut two more pieces of different wood and start to build up a small collection of stabilised woods for handles. I plan to leave the wood immersed for 4 days on the directions it states about 24 hours per inch? not sure so go with that and see. As for the drying time again its a bit and hit and miss but it depends on optimum conditions. Might give the wood a month when it comes out not quite made my mind up yet.

Fully immersed Yew
So the project roles on. Once the wood is stabilised I will start work on the handle for the blade. I plan to  update the blog on the project as it progresses. I also hope to make my own leather sheath to go with the knife. This maybe a separate project not quite sure but watch this space.

Thanks for reading Part 2 to follow.