Thursday, January 30, 2014

Loffel Brecher

Three broken spoons does not a spoon carver make. In fact, it makes the opposite of a spoon maker, it makes a spoon breaker, which is now my new nickname at work.

For Christmas I got some Frost Mora knives. I will keep comments on the knives to a minimal (read "do your own d@%n research") but I do have to say the 106 is a fantastic knife, while the 164 leaves a lot to be desired.

New spoon carving knives #106 and #164

On to the spoon My first victim came in the form of a straight piece of Sassafras.  I started hacking away with a hatchet, and then switched to the knives. There was some strange grain in the handle so I kept going back and forth trying to get a smooth cut. Before I knew it there was 1/16" of wood left in the handle. Botch number 1.

The bowl is funny shaped anyways.

Next, I did some independent research into spoon carving methods and forms. I highly recommend this Woodwright episode, anything on Follansbee's website, and Robin Wood's spoon porn. My second attempt I used a piece of Sassafras with a crook and whittled it down to a fairly respectable impersonation of a Swedish style spoon. It wasn't till the very end when I was getting to the anal retentive bowl thinning phase that I cut too deep...which ended up with a nice hole. Botch number 2

A hole in one side...and a pinhole knot.

For my third spoon shaped object I talked to P.Follansbee and got some great pointers on wood selection, spoon geometry, and he even gave me a tour of his spoon carving tool roll. Before leaving he let me take a nice clean piece of Birch. I thought for sure that this would be the time that I actually completed a crappy spoon, but again when thinning out the bowl I took one hard cut and snapped off half the spoon. Botch number 3.

A broken birch spoon

While cutting rafter poles for a house frame I walked the woods for some suitable white birch. I didn't find the birch, but I did run across an interesting tree with olive green heart wood, internet says it is Staghorn Sumac. So I should have plenty of branches to mangle into spoon shaped chunks of wood in the next month.

This is neon green in real life, my next victim.

P.S. Sassafras, fun to say, fun to spell. Also, the oils from the tree were used as a cure for "Social Diseases" in the 17th century. Look it up, you will eventually get it.

P.P.S. I may have just found the topic for my next post.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My new mistress, Mary Rose

In the words of Buddy the Elf.

"I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it!!!"

That's right inter-world I have found a new mistress, and her name is Mary Rose. She is from the UK, loves the water, and looks pretty darn good for her age. We met at the museum and it was love at first sight. Before The Boss gets too nervous over my new affair I should mention that Mary is a 500 year old, 700 ton warship that sank over 400 years ago, 1545 to be exact.

Thankfully someone had the good sense to spend an inordinate amount of money excavating the remains of the ship from the bottom of the sea and documented every artifact that was found aboard. As far as I can tell, the Mary Rose is the single best collection of Tudor Era....stuff...that has been discovered in one place.

A second fantastic idea by The Mary Rose Trust was to publish a book covering in detail most of the artifacts found aboard the ship. Before the Mast; Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose is by far at the top of my recommended reading fact most of my coworkers are probably sick of me with my nose stuck in this book stopping only to show off a new picture, tidbit, or tool that I come across.

This book is far larger than any of my Engineering textbooks....but WAAAAAY better

Of particular interest to me (being a 17th century carpenter philosopher) is the amazing catalog of 16th century tools that were found in and around the ship carpenter's cabin. Rules, planes, chisels, chalk reels, mallets, grinding wheels, braces...I could go on and on. The archaeologist's descriptions and assumptions for some of the artifacts are suspect at best...but their drawings and documentation are top notch.

So if you love historical tool reproductions then stay tuned because I am currently working my way through this book in whatever tickles my fancy. However, if you cant stand historical hand tools and work ways, you should probably find a different blog, because this is totally my jam.