First Spoons

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First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:07 am

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Re: First Spoons

Postby Ian G » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:51 pm

Hi, nice spoons, what's the wood your carving with and are they sanded or knife finished.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:50 pm

Ian G wrote:Hi, nice spoons, what's the wood your carving with and are they sanded or knife finished.


Thanks. The lighter of the two woods is Mango, cut green and carved. After drying some pieces are sanded, some are knife finished and others are a combination of both.

The darker color wood (I think) is Huamochil which grows everywhere here in Mexico.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:59 am

Nice designs and, apparently, finishes. Excellent beginning! Recommend you hang on to these. In a year or two or ten, you will be amazed at how far you have come!
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:00 pm

Steve Martin wrote:Nice designs and, apparently, finishes. Excellent beginning! Recommend you hang on to these. In a year or two or ten, you will be amazed at how far you have come!


Thanks Steve, I had thought of doing that very thing....hang onto them for giggles at a later time but..............a very strange thing has happened (grin) people are finding out that I make spoons and now everyone wants some. Might be hard to keep them. Now that I'm starting to get an inventory of sorts built up I was thinking that they would serve as very nice Christmas presents to friends, neighbors and family.

In those photos there is one with a spoon on the right that I made from a crooked branch and I made lots of mistakes the biggest of which was not ensuring the pith was all removed and when I got half way through hollowing out the bowl I discovered the ugly streak. Then after it had dried the handle went all crippled on me, it really went crooked.

Perhaps I should have done myself a favor and started by trying to find some softer wood to begin the learning process. These two varieties so far have been very hard on the hands to carve. Keeping a keen edge on the tools has been a must. Even with carving knowledge I still managed to stain the handle of my crook knife red lol. Guess what that came from. I immediately went to the strop after closing the wound to sharpen things up.

I've ordered some additional crook knives and I'm looking for a good hand forged axe to come available. The axe I currently have doesn't hold an edge well at all.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:07 am

If you haven't tried it, keep the blanks submerged in water, even when taking a break for lunch, etc., that will keep the wood as "soft" as possible. Also, you can add about a teaspoonful of cheap dish detergent to a gallon of water for the soaking water. Detergent is a "surfactant" which makes the water wetter and insures even a very dry blank will absorb water to ease cutting. It also, in my experience, if rinsed off, will not affect the taste of the wood upon finishing. Another trick I use is to dry the wet finished carved blank in the microwave. Weigh the blank on a kitchen scale, record the weight, heat in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes, let cool, weigh, record weight, heat for a shorter time, let cool, weigh, etc. until the weights between hearings are equal. After the first two heatings, watch because the wood may burn, so you may want to try using a lower setting for an equal time. Burned poplar definitely stinks up the microwave. My wife wasn't happy. Practice and watch as you learn how different woods react to the heat. You can actually see the water/steam exiting the end grain. Than you can put final cuts and oil/stain/paint on the wood. It is a delightful journey. Please enjoy it as you learn!
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:27 am

I've done lots of microwaving of wood so very familiar with that but I generally avoid the long cooking periods that you stated. I normally do only 30 seconds twice with cooling in between and then I do 20 second intervals with out as much cooling till I no longer get a lot of moisture feel coming off the wood.

The woods I have been using have been dripping wet right off the tree green. There hasn't been a need for soaking in water yet. Although, I have placed the roughed out spoon in it's own shavings overnight to keep moisture loss to a minimum in a plastic bag. I'm sure the water would have done equally well.

I see talk once in a while of guys boiling the spoons once completed. What's that all about? tnx
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:13 am

I haven't tried the boiling but I believe the theory is somewhat similar to the use of the microwave. The heat causes the water in each cell to expand and escape (through osmosis) reducing the internal amount of water in the piece of wood. So when the exterior dries, the inside is already "drier" which is what you're after, right? Depending on the kind of wood, I also use shorter time periods but find that woods I have easiest access to, sweet gum, elm, poplar, often need the longer time, at least on the initial heating. Observation and appropriate interpretation make the technique work best for your circumstances, IMO. Have a great week and happy carving.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:31 pm

I have noticed out of the dozen or so spoons I have carved now that perhap 3 of those after drying developed very small cracks at the leading edge of the bowl. With a little judicial trimming I was able to cut out the cracked areas but the final shape of the spoon was different afterward than what I had originally wanted it to be. I'm thinking that perhaps I kept carving longer than I should have in the roughing out phase whereby I made the bowl too thin too quickly. More experimentation will be needed for me to figure out what I'm doing wrong or what I could do differently. The idea of leaving the spoons soaking in water I think has merit. It might stop those little cracks from forming at all.

With the boiling method, are the spoons left soaking the whole time until boiled and then taken out/wiped down/and dried right away or are there other intermediary steps used to arrive at the final dried state?

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I was on a mini vacation with my wife to a neighboring state checking out the fine food, beer, tequila and mescal of the areas. We spent time in San Julian, Leon, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. A fun time was had by all. I think I gained a pound a day while gone. arrrrg.

Woops, I forgot to ask.......does the boiling change the color of the wood at all? tnx
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:13 am

I believe the boiling should be done prior to starting carving to get each "inside" cell to lose as much water as you can expect to lose. Then keep the piece wet as you carve so the small splits are less likely to happen. Don't think boiling effects the final color, any apparent loss of color will be corrected by the final finish/oil/wax that you use, IMO.

I also advocate scraping rather than sanding. Sanding is making gouges in the finish, the size of the gouging just gets smaller as your sand size decreases. I use old spackling or dry wall blades to make my scrapers. I frequently find these at yard sales or flea markets for $.50-$5 each, with varying sizes to achieve a variety of curves to do the inside of spoon bowls, etc.. The secret is to get a clean 90 degree edge along every edge of the blade, with a bevel barely distinguishable. Then take a hard round rod (I use an old Craftsman screwdriver shaft) to further move that bevel to about 5 degrees along each edge. I normally get 2-3 burnishings with the rod before having to renew the 90 degree along each edge, with a stone/diamond hone/file.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:36 am

I have several good quality furniture scrapers of various shapes and sizes back in Canada. Only had room to bring down so much and the rest had to remain. They don't use drywall down here, it's all brick mortar and then plaster over top. I'm trying to think of what other types of materials could be used to fashion a bunch of scrapers as I know I'd use them. Scrapers can efficiently remove a lot more wood than people would give them credit for. The biggest bonus though is that the surface just scraped is pretty much in a finished state when done. I would imagine they would also work well to remove the bumps and grooves on the insides of the spoon bowls also leaving a nice mouth feel when done. I wonder if a regular putty knife blade would work? Why not a leaf spring from a small vehicle ground to shape after drawing out the metal while hot? The steel would hold a wire edge pretty well I'd think. Must they be of thin metal or could they be made from thicker material as well?
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:05 am

Putty knives have worked for me, the older ones seem to have better edge holding steel. Leaf springs should work, if you have the capacity to thin them down.
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Robin Fawcett » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:49 am

Some people use pieces of broken glass for scraping...
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Green woodwork courses, treen, demonstrations & talks http://www.treewright.co.uk[/url]
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Re: First Spoons

Postby ilerner2 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:36 pm

Steve Martin, I've put through two spoons trying your suggested method incorporating soaking in water between sessions to keep the spoon blank wet. It worked well but seemed to take some color out of the wood in doing so. The wood was definitely softer, no question there. I will be using this method again in the future. Thanks for the great tip! Got any more? LOL.


Robbin Fawcett, thanks for the suggestion but how does someone find a piece of the correct shape? Knapping?
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Re: First Spoons

Postby Steve Martin » Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:24 am

Thanks for the kind words. My experience has been that the color will pretty much come back 100% when you apply oil or whatever your final finish is. Also, a knife making friend gave me several blade shapes he cut out of worn-out circular saw blades. He made errors in laying out the shapes and didn't want to use them for knife blades. They work great for scrapers. Glad you acted on Robin's suggestion re: glass scrapers. Maybe I haven't practiced enough but I can't seem to get clean edges on glass for scraping.

Sometimes I find I can't seem to get to a higher level of performance by trying harder. Sometimes the jump to a higher level of carving/shaping occurs only after I step back and try other stuff, such as making stools or walking sticks, then when I go back to spoons I have to develop new patterns of looking/carving/shaping and these new patterns turn out better shapes and finishes. I realized this after almost giving up when I seemed stuck on a plateau. Whatever makes your gears click, keep on trying.
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