Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's in there Somewhere

 Spoons and chairs have much in common and some huge differences. One similarity that I've been noticing both while carving and chairmaking, is that I am constantly moving to get new views of the object. Both are absolutely 3 dimensional and must succeed from all angles. I enjoy the challenge.

On the other hand, the choice of trees for each couldn't be more different. For chairs, I want the most straight, boring tree possible, with no branches or curves in sight. But for spoons, I look for the wildest and waviest. I used to go to the woods looking for natural crooks in the trees to get the spoon crook, often leaving a bit disappointed at the scarcity of "perfect" crooks. But then I started horsing around with the branches and trunk union and now I see spoons everywhere!

Here is how the spoons look while still in the tree.  The natural curve of the fibers on the underside of the branch works great. The only issue is making sure that you don't include the pit from the trunk or branch in the final spoon.

 I like to start by splitting the trunk portion down the pith and then I generally find it easiest to saw down the branch and along the bottom of the bowl.

Of course, I have to say that using a bandsaw on odd shaped stock like this is ill advised. But it sure makes quick work of it. I haven't had good luck splitting down the branch portion. It just seems to crack up the wood and the tough union with the trunk isn't easy.

Here is the part of the trunk where I split along the pith. There is a bit of hatchet work to do.

Here I've used the hatchet to clean it up a bit, and I've drawn on the growth rings so that you can see how much I need to remove if I want the fibers to be continuous.  If you want a deeper spoon, you can just clean out the pith and use what's left.

Being a chairmaker, I decided to reach for my drawknife to follow the fibers out to the end.

Here is the result, you can start to see the spoon.

And since I've already broken the rules on safe bandsaw use, I finished off the roughing with some power.

It's a big blank that should make a good server.

Once I finish off roughing out the shape, I wrap the spoon in a cotton clothe for a few days to slow the drying process and prevent checking. A paper bag also works well.

I've been finishing up some chairs in the shop (yes, I still make chairs) and will post some images soon!


Christopher said...

Thanks Peter. This already clears up some things for me. Green wood vs. dry wood, using crooks. It's starting to make sense

Pablo said...

Great post. Your photos give me a clear picture of how the raw material influences the final shape. I have had problems achieving the shapes I want and now know it is because I have been limiting my self to straight stock. I'll be looking for crooks in future.


Follansbee said...


Nice posts about spoons. I take a run at them myself from time to time; having learned it from Jogge, his father Wille, and Drew Langsner. Your readers might like to know about Drew's courses in spoon carving - www.countryworkshops.org

I like your apple wood. always wonderful to carve, often tough to split. Here, I often use cherry, same thought applies there too.

Nice work, thanks for posting it.

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks for the comments! I've been having a lot of fun with the branch and trunk blanks. I'm lucky to live in a place with abundant crabapple trees, but I must admit that it can wear me out. I have some birch trees (not as abundant) that I have been eyeing, they are much easier on the hands.

good idea on the link, I'll post it in the sidebar,

Anonymous said...

Peter, your post was so welcome, and then to see the follow-up by Follansbee. Well I need to go and get after some spoons that I started last summer when Joggee was here in the states, and they have gone beyond dry now and will be much more difficult to finish.
Suggest you follow up Follansbee's suggestion with a visit to the Santerglantan school in Sweden's website to see what Joggee is teachinng there in his next class. Wished it were closer and I would be there.