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Blog

Riven Wood, Spoons, and Hand Tools

jarrod

Wow! February just flew by. I cant believe that it's March already, with only one Blog entry for Feb. I've been meaning to for some time, things just kept me from writing.  So to make up for it this entry will be a snap shot into my month.  Last month was a whirl wind of activity, Starting off with the last post and toboggan building class, every weekend I found myself teaching at varies places. I spent two different weekends the local liberal arts college teaching snowshoe weaving and toboggan building. Then headed up to North House to teach a class on making a crooked knife. I ended up being snowed in for an extra night so spent the time carving a few spoons and spreaders, as well as trying out my newest tool, as Gransfors Bruks carving adze. I had a chance to carve with and visit with a friend, fellow instructor and green woodworker Fred Livesay one evening. Fred has been teaching at north house since it's inception.  He also invited me to sit in and share on a knife sloyd tutorial for the new interns at the school. That was good as it's always fun to learn and to listen to others describe their techniques for some of the same knife grips we all use. I learned a new knife stroke too. We split  a piece Box Elder left behind from a turning class earlier in the month for some butter spreaders. It was beautiful wood, with large streaks of pink and some figure as well. Butter spreaders are a great project for beginner carvers. I don't carve spreaders to much as I feel that the designs I come up with just don't work as well as the simple metal butter knife.  I did find a new design that I like that evening and will be exploring more spreader design this week.

This brings me to my newest thoughts as a woodworker. Over the month of instruction I spent a lot of time milling wood for snowshoes and toboggans, so I'm flat out sick of power tools. I even fantasized about getting rid of all of them. I won't.... but the thought sure sounds inviting after all the dust I inhaled while prepping for those classes.  When I began woodworking, I started as a laborer on carpentry jobs. One job and one carpenter changed my whole world many years ago.  At the time I was living in a canvas tee pee (I lived in it for 3 years) and the axe was part of my life back then as I lived by a fire.  Well, on this particular job the carpenter John Ruff was up framing a hip roof.  One of the rafter ends needed trimming, so instead of climbing all the way down to use the power saw, he pulls out a hatchet and proceeds to trim the compound miter cut on the rafter with great accuracy.......my jaw just about hit the ground. "you can use an axe to carve?" I thought. This blew me away, never had I thought you could use the axe for such things. I thought it was for splitting wood and cutting trees down. Later that year he thought I'd be interested in house sitting while he and his family went for a trip. He built his house with hand hewn cedar logs. The scribed dovetailed type. All with an axe and chainsaw. I sat in the house looking up at the hewn surfaces of wood everywhere, I was hooked. I began to gather all information on using hand tools and one thing led to another. Today, I find myself after nearly 20 years of woodworking, finding refreshment and renewal in the thought of riven wood and hand tools. The surface of wood shines cut with razor sharp hand tools.........

toboggan class at Northland College





hand filling is a very important skill



trimming the handle to fit hand




taking the time to fit the blade nice and snug




wrapping the handle




some knives and unshaped blades




the kids helping with splitting spruce




simple tools to get the job done




loaded up and heading home




spruce hand split boards draw knifed and drying




spoons from crooked wood




another perspective




spreader, new shapes




crooked yellow birch harvested yesterday, spoon wood