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Disconnected Offroad


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Everything posted by Phoenix

  1. This post covers installing the bungee (replaces the pole) and making a treadle. Please make sure you read the previous posts in this series. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Congratulations on making it this far, we are in the home stretch. I installed 2 eye hooks about 4 inches down from the top of the posts in the center board. The size of the eye hook should be determined by your bungee. Mine are inch and a half. I pre drilled the holes just an 1/8th of an inch smaller than the diameter of the threads. Make sure the eye hooks are installed so all the threads are in the wood. The eye hooks take a good amount of stress. I oriented the eyes so they are parallel with the floor. One of the bungees was falling out, just a bit of twine did the trick.I use 48 inch bungees. The length of the bungee corresponds with the length of the cross member. The length of the bungee is based on when no stretch has been applied. Any multiple of this length will work as well. As we are talking about bungee, you have a bit of wiggle room. I now use 4 bungees, I started with 3 bungees. The number of bungees will have an effect on how hard you have to push down on the treadle. You can install multiple bungees or have one long bungee looped through the eye hooks. I would imagine that for larger bowls, you would want more bungees to bring the wood back to a starting point. Based on how you attach the cord to the bungees, you can change the number of bungees you are using. This may help as you reduce the amount of wood. Eye hooks near the top of the post. Bungees for the spring. A little bit of string to keep then ganged together and falling out of the eye hook.To attach the cord to the bungees I use a piece of thick scrap leather. I buy scrap leather from a local arts & craft store and use it for everything other than sheaths. Leather has a bit more friction and is better at staying put on the bungee. I originally used an inexpensive carabiner, this moved around quite a bit while turning. Chain saw starter cord, on a bargain carabiner, and a piece of scrap leather wrapped around the bungee. I found that the leather has just the right friction of keep the cord where I want it.For cord I use 3/16th starter rope. Starter rope is used on lawn mowers and chain saws and so far has been very durable. The treadle needs to be durable. You will be pushing on it with your foot. I suggest that you use hard wood rather than pine. I broke my first treadle in less than a week. Mine is shaped like a triangle and attached to a board I stand on with leather hinges. I added another eye hook on the far side of the triangle with another piece of scrap pine and some screws to secure the cord. The longer your treadle, the more rotations you will get. My treadle is just over 36 inches in length, and I would make it longer if I had more room. Getting the right length for the cord is a bit of trial and error. I started by putting 3 wraps on the mandrel, and then feeding the cord through the eye hook on the treadle until the treadle was at a 45 degree angle to the floor. Test this out and adjust to what feels comfortable and gets you the rotations you want. The treadle with leather hinges. One of the few parts that is hardwood. This takes a ton of abuse. The triangular shape and two points of attachment keeps it from wandering. The leather hinges are thick leather from a bag of scraps sold at a craft store.Congratulations, you’ve built a pole lathe! I would encourage anyone looking to start turning to take a class. I would also encourage you to watch the following videos on Zed Outdoors YouTube channel. I think Zed has done a wonderful job of documenting that craft is alive and well in the UK. The first of the videos are a two part series of Sharif Adams, first video, second video, the last is of Yoav Elkayam. Sharif and Yoav are highly accomplished turners and I am hoping to meet them and take classes from both of them some day. I have hooks from Sharif, and they are great! I watch these videos, or parts of these videos regularly, most often when I’m frustrated. I’ve found encouragement and solutions for my challenges, and who couldn’t use that in their day? I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  2. This post covers centers and a tool rest. Please make sure you read the previous posts in this series. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 There are plenty of people that will tell you that centers are easy to make. I am sure they are right. I like wood, my garage is covered in combustible material, and I really do not want to learn right now. There are a few people in the US and UK that can outfit you with centers, mandrels, and hooks. You may need to wait, but anyone that wants to buy a hand crafted tool should have developed the patience. I haven’t but I am trying. Search #polelathetools and #polelathe on Instagram, check out Sharif Adams or Matty Wittaker . Centers, Hooks, and Mandrel.Once you have acquired centers you want to drill two holes in your poppets. The first is on the top of the short poppet, dead center from front to back of the poppet, and allow the center to hang in space a few inches. Like the picture below. There are no hard and fast measurements as every center is made of different stock and size. It is important to make sure the center is level. I used some wood shavings and epoxy in the hold I drilled to get it just right. Also remember, this is 3,000 year old technology. I’m not sure how the Vikings did this, but it wasn’t with a laser. The Poppets. You want the two centers to be in plane and at the same height. The tall Poppet could be shorter.I let the short poppet sit until the epoxy was cured and then used it to create a mark in the tall poppet. I slid the short poppet over until the center was touching the tall poppet and then gave it a whack with the mallet. I drilled the right size hole doing my best to ensure it was level and in plane with the existing center on the short poppet. Same method, wood shavings and epoxy if needed. Let the epoxy cure and you are one step closer. After everything has cured and you are happy with the centers it is time to add a tool rest. A tool rest has two parts to it. The first is a fixed piece I have screwed into the tall poppet on the left side. Mine is 24 inches from the back of the poppet to the end of the piece of wood. I used multiple pieces of scrap as I did not make it long enough initially, and used dowels for stops. A few dowels keep the tool rest from moving around. The second piece of the tool rest moves to change the angle of approach. This is another place I used some scrap hard wood. My tool rest is 36 inches long and I would be happier if it was longer. Here is how I would suggest you determine the correct length. Move your poppets as far away from each other as possible. Then measure from the front right corner of the short poppet to the end of the fixed piece of your tool rest. I then drilled a hole in the front, right most, top of the short poppet and used a shouldered screw and some washers to attach the pivoting end to the short poppet. The short Poppet and the tool rest. Notice the tool rest is below the center. About an inch and a half.In my next post I’ll cover adding bungee and the treadle. I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  3. This post covers making the poppets. Please make sure you read the previous posts in this series. Part 1 Part 2 Let’s make some poppets. You may be surprised, but we are going to make another sandwich. This time the center piece will be longer than the outside pieces. This will create a tenon that fits into the mortise in the cross member. The most important part of the poppet is that the two outside pieces that ride against the cross member create a shoulder for the longer tenon created by the middle board. There is a tall poppet and a short poppet. My assembled tall poppet is 22 inches above the cross member. If I built another tall poppet, it would be shorter by a few inches. The tall poppet should be at least three inches above the bottom of your sternum. Now is a good time to take measurements that fit you and adjust the numbers above. The center board is 15 inches longer than the outside boards of the sandwich. Once you have the boards cut to length, glue and screw the boards together to look similar to the picture below. My assembled short poppet is 14 inches above the cross member. The short poppet should be at approximately 2 inches below the bottom of your sternum. Now is a good time to take measurements that fit you and adjust the numbers above. The center board is 15 inches longer than the outside boards of the sandwich. Once you have the boards cut to length, glue and screw the boards together to look similar to the picture above. It is now time to make the through mortise in the poppets. First you will want to lightly plane each side of the poppet’s tenon until they fit snugly in the mortise of the cross member. As the tall poppet rarely moves, it is more important that the short poppet’s tenon will slide in the mortise. At a minimum both poppets need to fit snugly in the cross member mortise. Place the poppets in the cross member mortise. Strike a line across the tenon against the bottom of the cross member. Do this on both sides of the tenon. You want to make sure you take your time and get this as accurate as possible. Now it is time to layout the through mortise. The top of the through mortise should be an 1/8 of an inch above the line you struck. The mortise should be as close to dead center across the width of the tenon. The through mortise will accept a tapered wedge to lock the poppets in place, so you will need to create a tapered mortise. My front mortise (the side facing you as you turn) is 2 ¼ inches tall and the rear of the mortise is 2 inches tall. I originally used douglas fir wedges and they did not hold up, I would suggest using hardwood wedges. The width of your mortise should be the width of your wedges plus an 1/8 inch. I would suggest your wedges should be at least 1 inch wide, mine are 1 ½ inches wide and do a good job. The length of the wedge needs to be at least 9 inches. You want to create the wedge so the taper is 2 inch tall at least 2 1/2 inches from the short side of the wedge. I drilled out the mortise from the back side and then used chisels to remove the tapered section from front to back. Don’t tell anyone but I buggered this up, patience and sharp chisels are the best way to do this in Douglas Fir. Even buggered up, they work. Through mortises and tapered wedges are incredibly robust ways to temporarily fix something into position. Once the mortises are complete and the wedges created, place everything in the cross member and tap the wedges home. Tapered edge of the wedge should ride against the bottom of the mortise, straight edge of the wedge should ride against the bottom of the cross member. In my next post I’ll cover adding the centers and tool rest. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. View the full article
  4. This post covers making the cross member that the the poppets will sit on. Please make sure you read the previous post in this series. On to the cross member. You will need two 48 inch pieces and two 10 inch pieces of 2 x 8 and a few scrap spacers. I chose 48 inches for the span of my cross member because it would accommodate any size bowl I could imagine and because I could get the two 48 inch pieces from one 2 x 8. If you want to have a smaller span, do it. We are going to make another sandwich, but in this one most of the cross member is a giant mortise with two tenons sticking out each end. Put the first 48 inch piece on your work surface. Then grab two pieces of 2 x 8 for spacers and put those to the left and right of the 48 inch piece running perpendicular to the 48 inch piece. Now stack a 10 inch piece on the left and right making sure the end of the 10 inch piece is flush with the outside end of the spacer and running parallel with the 48 inch piece. The 10 inch piece should cover all of the spacer and at least 3 inches of 48 inch piece. Put the second 48 inch piece on top of the sandwich. Make sure the two 48 inch pieces are aligned on all edges. You have just created two tenons that will slide into the mortise in the posts and a large mortise that will accept the tenons of the poppets. Clamp this up, remove the spacers and add screws to the 3 inch section of overlap. I didn’t glue this section and used as many screws as would fit. At this point I test fit the cross members into the posts. It all fit snuggly. Test fitting the cross member.Progress! I can assure you this was because my son is a student cabinet maker and worked with me (corrected me) several times during this build. Just another reason I feed my son bacon and pay for his tuition. He’s not just good looking, he can pick things up and put things down. Did I mention I feed him bacon? I built the foot boxes next. I cut four 36 inch lengths from two 2 x 8s. This will leave you with two 12” pieces of scrap. We’re going to use them and the other scrap from prior steps. We’ll also need 3 pieces of 2 x 8 that are the width of a 2 x 8. The three pieces will fit inside the two 36 inch long pieces at the end and the middle. Screw those together. You should now have two foot boxes. The foot box. Add shavings and a bowl and you have a place to let your projects dry in the shavings.This is the point I put the posts in the foot boxes and the cross member into the posts. The posts should slide into the foot boxes snuggly. Gravity should get it home, but lifting and dropping will do the rest if needed. The cross members might need a little encouragement and that is a good thing. At this point I put a ratchet strap above and below the cross member on the posts to synch it tight and then drilled two holes through the posts where the cross member tenon is located. I then added bolts, washers, and nuts. These bolts keep the mortise and tenon of posts and cross member nice and tight.In my next post I’ll cover creating the poppets. I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  5. I wanted to build a pole lathe made from a large, heavy slab of oak, all of the legs and posts riven and hewn, with poppets that look like they grew that way, and a long sapling to provide the spring in my spring pole lathe. (Can you hear the birds chirping in the background and see a bucolic forest scene with dappled sunlight?) But I live in suburban Philadelphia, and sourcing wood for my greenwood craft is a challenge in itself. Luckily enough I came across some posts on Instagram from Nate Chambers. At the time Nate was making wooden bowls and teaching how to turn on a pole lathe. In order to teach he was building pole lathes that set up and broke down in a relatively short period of time. For me, the most striking aspect of the lathes being built was that they were made from 2 x 8, lumber that can be found at most lumber yards. Additionally the joinery required was simple as the construction is based on using the full board width and thickness. I want to make sure you understand something very important about this series of posts. This describes how I built my pole lathe. This is the first pole lathe I built. When talking with a few pole lathe turners one of them said, “just build one, you will be tweaking it forever”. I can turn bowls on the lathe and it has not fallen apart. I am not an expert; I just want to share how I did this as I have been asked by a number of people looking to do the same. I purchased 12 hemlock fir 2 x 8. If you can find and afford a denser wood, that will benefit you in the long run. You can build this with fewer boards, but I have a tendency to cut and then measure. It is also fairly common for this type of wood to have a flaw that you may not have noticed sorting through a stack of 2 x 8 while the lumber yard employees watch over your shoulder. Don’t worry, the scrap pieces can be used in a variety of ways. I stippled the lumber and let it acclimate to the environment in my garage for a few days. As this grade of lumber is rarely straight or true I chose to face plane all of the lumber. You don’t need to do this as everything will be glued or screwed, or glued and screwed, but the glue and screws will work better if you do. 2 x 8s milled. If you don’t know what a mortise or tenon is, do not panic and read on. If you know what these are, move on to the next paragraph. A mortise is a hole or recess cut into a part which is designed to receive a corresponding projection (a tenon) on another part so as to join or lock the parts together. A tenon is a projecting piece of wood made for insertion into a mortise in another piece. All but two of the mortises on this build are the full width of a 2 x 8. All the tenons on this build are the full width of a 2 x 8. Yup, it is that simple. The two mortises that are not full width are through mortises on the lower tenon of the poppet. I will cover that in greater detail later. The parts of the lathe include two foot boxes, two posts, a cross member, and two poppets. The posts have a mortise on the bottom to slide over the tenon in the foot box. The cross member has a tenon on each end that fits into the mortises at hip level of each post. The two poppets have tenons that fit into the mortises of the cross member and through mortises to fix the poppets using a wedge under the cross member. Throughout this post I will use the term “the width of a 2 x8”. Most likely that is 7 ½ inches, but as this is dimensional lumber sometimes it isn’t. I used scrap pieces throughout this build as spacers and to determine the width of a 2 x 8 instead of a ruler. It worked. The first task is to build the two posts. Each post uses three 2 x 8s sandwiched together. The center piece is cut to create two mortises and for length. The first mortise is at the bottom of the post and used to fit the post into the foot box. This mortise is the width of a 2 x8. The second mortise is to allow the tenon from the cross member to be fit into the posts. The location of the mortise is based on your body and the width of a 2 x 8. The bottom of the mortise should be the same as the top of your hip bone. The top of the mortise is the width of a 2 x 8 above the bottom of the mortise. This means you need to cut the center piece twice. One for the lower part, and then you will need to cut to length for the upper part of the sandwich. You will remove two widths of a 2 x 8 from the length. Save this piece as it will be used later. For now it can be used as a spacer when you assemble the post. Take two full length 2 x 8s and mark out where the mortises will be. Put glue everywhere except where the mortises will be on both full length boards. Place the lower and upper boards you cut to length on one of the full length boards. Use a spacer to make sure they are placed accurately. Place the other full length board on top to make the sandwich. Make sure your spacers are nice and tight and add clamps. Once everything is flush and your spacers are perpendicular to your full length boards start adding screws. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. Once I added screws to each side I removed the spacers and cleaned up any glue. Once you have the first post completed, do it again. Test fitting the cross member.In my next post I’ll cover creating the cross member and foot boxes. I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  6. Phoenix

    4 Little Bowls

    Like many of my projects, this was inspired by David Fisher. I’ve had the good fortune to take a class with David. He is a Master Bowl Carver, and one of the nicest, most patient, and humble people I have ever had the good fortune to meet. If you aren’t following his blog I would encourage you to do so. He has a number of blog posts regarding making smaller bowls. As using an adze is much easier on a larger piece of wood, he hollows out multiple bowls from one piece and then separates them with a saw to work the outside of the bowl. In my case I had a long maple branch and a request for a few nut bowls. This size bowl could be made without using an adze, but what is the fun in that? First step was to layout the bowls on the log. Inside and outside rim established. I like to use a lumber crayon to show me where I should not remove wood.Then some adze work, not much due to the size of the bowl and adze. I love my adze, but this size bowl doesn’t allow you to get very deep.Onto some gouge work. Gouge work to clean up the adze marks and add depth.Creative measuring. Barn the spoon suggested using putty for scoops. I used 4 ounces of oats in a bread bag. No oats were wasted. They were delicious the next day.Get out your saw to separate. Separated with a saw and ready for the axe.I decided I wanted to make each bowl a little unique. One of the other bowl carvers I follow is Danielle Rose Byrd. She is fearless with her use of texture, shape, and color. None of which is true for me. The first bowl I decided to use octagonal facets. I hung this off the side of my bench with a hold fast and used the carvers draw knife to create the octagonal facets.The second bowl was texture and milk paint Click to view slideshow. The third bowl had a bit of a flower pot form and some subtle gouge marks. This is much more my style. Hold fasts are wonderful! A piece of scrap leather to protect the edge of the gouge.The fourth bowl has some issues with the wood, but some lovely spalting. I spent some time with a sloyd knife and did what could be done. I’ll take three out of four. Click to view slideshow. I really enjoyed making these bowls. I never would have thought of carving such a small bowl were it not for a request. I recognize it has been a while since my last post. I am going to attempt to add posts on a regular basis. I hope you find these posts useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  7. Phoenix


    According to Wikipedia a Quaich, quaigh, or quoich, is a special kind of shallow two-handled drinking cup or bowl in Scotland. It derives from the Scottish gaelic cuach meaning a cup. If you continue to follow this blog, you will learn over time that I will take liberties based on the wood I have, the skills I want to develop, and any random thought that might move through my mind at the time. I think some call this creative license. I’m comfortable with that. Additionally my ancestors are from Ireland, a land known for its generosity. The Scottish on the other hand, may be known for other things. See how I avoided an international incident. This helps me move from a shallow cup, to a larger bowl. The Scottish are also known for their excellent spirits, while I believe the Irish are famous for their beer and stout. This is the limit of my intensive supporting research that allowed me to casually move from a shallow two-handled drinking cup to a two handled beer bowl and still call it a Quaich. Gaelic is Gaelic after all and at one time spoken in both Countries. I started off with the smaller half of a cherry log I had used for another bowl. There is a satisfaction I feel when I can make multiple objects out of a single log. I laid out an ellipse and added some handles. The size of the ellipse was dictated by the need for tall walls, room enough for someone to drink out of, and the goal of the Quaich holding at least a pint. The handles dimensions were based off a comfortable knife handle. Layout is basic, and ellipse and some comfortable handles.I used a small adze to remove as much of the waste from the bowl as possible. An adze is great for this purpose, but on smaller bowls the handle will get in the way and you may need to move to a gouge. I have a heavy duty gouge I use when the adze won’t work and for cleaning up after adze work. It is great fun hitting a gouge with a wooden mallet and watching the chips fly. Some quick adze work to remove the bulk. Follow up with a hearty gouge to get down to depth.Once the bowl is hollowed to depth, I guess at the center point and draw a base on the bottom of the bowl. Generally I like to make a base that is roughly one third the size of the rim of the bowl. This is not a hard and fast rule, just a starting point that may be tweaked as the carving continues. Then I hit the log with an axe repeatedly. This is just as much fun as using the adze and heavy gouge. As more wood is removed I switch back to the adze and work cross grain under the handles. This makes removing end grain from the bottom of the bowl much easier and allows you to get closer to the desired thickness. For me, desired thickness at this stage is a half inch or less for the walls of the bowl, a full inch for the handles. Hit it with an axe in the right places and it begins to take shape. I went back to the adze to get under the handles.This is an ongoing struggle for me. It gets a bit better on each bowl, but every once in a while I find myself being too timid with the axe or adze. The downside is it takes longer to finish the work, and thicker bowls are more likely to crack while drying. I was able to use the bowl horse to clean up the exterior of the Quaich including the walls and handles. It was fun learning how to work with the drawknife. Unfortunately one of those lessons included a visit to the local urgent care and resulted in really cool scar on my right pinky. If you don’t respect sharp steel, it will cut. Bonus Forged in Fire reference. I would suggest keeping the draw knife away from your finger. Most significant cut to date. It just takes one lapse of concentration. Good scar.After the bleeding stopped I was able to get back to work. I was able to use the draw knife to rough in some facets on the handles. I think facets are fascinating and I’m attempting to incorporate more facets in my work. I like the way light hits the facet and makes it just a bit more interesting. Used the bowl horse to hold the quaich in place and the draw knife to start removing waste from the handles.I finished up the roughing out with a twca cam in the bowl and tested a few times with a pint of water to ensure it would hold more than a pint. I was expecting the bowl to shrink while drying. Using the twca cam to clean up the bowl and ensure it would hold a pint.After a few weeks in a box with a lid in my dry basement, I used my swanneck gouge, spoon knife, and sloyd knife to remove a small layer of wood that looks a bit grungy after the moisture has escaped. I also removed a few inadvertent gouge or knife marks along the way. I used my spokeshave on the rim and handles to finish off the facets I had roughed in with the drawknife. I then used by sloyd knife to add some small facets around the rim to make it comfortable in the mouth, and made sure there were no sharp edges on the handle. Every time I oil anything made from cherry, the results make me smile. Click to view slideshow. I would like to thank all those that follow this blog and welcome new followers. It’s very encouraging to seeing the list of followers growing. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  8. This post is the third of a three part series on what I have “humbly” deemed my sloyd horse. You may want to read the first post on the Spoon Mule, and the second post on the Bowl Horse as I won’t be repeating much of the information found in those posts. Additionally, they are also fascinating and very well written. I use italics to denote sarcasm or hyperbole. I have to be honest, I built the shave horse because I had the plans and it just seemed like I had to build one. In my mind, it is the most recognizable of the three holding devices. What I’ve found is that it is also the most versatile. But let’s get to the good stuff, where to find what I learned from people far more experienced than I. My main sources of information for the shave horse came from Tim Manney and Sean Hellman. Tim has written several blog posts on the topic that go into much greater detail than I ever will. I see Tim as an expert, the knowledge he shares is detailed and easy to understand. That is a long winded way of stating I’ve drank Tim’s Kool-Aid and liked the taste. Sean Hellman has a book of clamping devices that can lead to sensory overload, but I found it not too hard to start seeing what I did and did not want in my shave horse. It is a wonderful book filled with options and I look forward to building something from the book. The versatility of the shave horse comes from the clamping action. You push on the peddle and the clamp comes down and traps the material against a platform. The more you lean back, causing you to add more force on the peddle, the tighter you hold onto the material. I often feel like I am rowing a boat when I start removing large amounts of material, and then switch to just moving my arms when removing smaller shavings. As you can move the head up and down on a series of pivot points, you can work on something as small as a ¼” dowel, up to a quartered log. This post is a bit short on pictures. With two hands on a sharp blade, it is tough to take pictures with my phone. I try not to bore my family too often with taking pictures of me making larger pieces of wood into smaller of wood. I would like to thank all my recent followers to the blog. I hope you find it useful and encouraging. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy learning more, and have an ego large enough to share my mistakes and a few successes along the way. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  9. This post is the second of three part series on what I have “humbly” deemed my sloyd horse. You may want to read the first post on the Spoon Mule as I won’t be repeating much of the information found in that post. I enjoy carving bowls. That is a bit of an understatement. If I had an unlimited supply of wood, time, and money, I’d spend most of every day carving bowls. But I find some aspects of bowl carving to be a real pain in my back. At certain points I need to clamp the bowl to work on end grain. I hadn’t found a good solution that allowed me to spend the time needed without being hunched over my bench in a rather uncomfortable way. I’ve used clamps, hold fasts, sand bags, bench dogs, and changing the height of the work surface in an attempt to find something that would allow me to work on the bowl without beating up my back. Heck, I even tried exercise and stretching. This challenge led me to researching another clamping solution. David Fisher has published drawings of his Bowl Horse. I imagined a way to build it using the common base from the Spoon Mule and the Shave Horse. The common thread between the different clamps is a piece of wood that goes through the base and is secured using a wedge and a through mortise. The primary difference for the bowl horse is that there are two vertical pieces used. One piece is stationary and acts as a post. The other piece has a head very similar to what you would find on a shave horse, but instead of clamping the piece to a platform below the head or vertically, the bowl horse clamps the bowl horizontally against the stationary post. The post is very straight forward, a long piece of 2 x 12 that goes through the base with enough length for a through mortise and wedge to keep it stationary. Then there are two cheeks that ride on the top of the base. The cheeks can be fastened to the center post with glue, or wood screws, or both. Based on the drawings the cheeks are set forward from the center piece of the post. This configuration is very helpful when you clamp a bowl on its side to work the edges of the bowl or to work the base. For the head, I started with Tim Manney’s design for the arm, and used David Fisher’s plans for the size and shape of the head. For the pivot point, I winged it. You don’t need so many holes in the arm as you do for a shave horse. I used some 8 ounce leather on the post and head. I have the rough side exposed to the bowl for traction. So far this has not been an optimal material, especially when it’s cold. I’ve read that thinner leather is good. I’ve also seen some people use rubber or exercise mats. If you use a yoga mat, be careful, as yoga mats that have not been used for a decade were going to be used the following day. I’ve used the bowl horse for a few bowls now and I have to say it has been a game changer. It is much easier to get the bowl walls thinner and while end grain will never be fun, it is no longer a pain in my back. I’ll do my best to post up my reflections on Tim Manney’s shave horse in the next post. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  10. I have often found myself admiring the different clamping devices I see for spoons, bowls, and anything that can be shaped with a draw knife. Dawson of Michigan Sloyd sells plans for a Spoon Mule. Tim Manney sells plans for a Shave Horse. Dave Fisher has published drawings of his Bowl Horse. Sean Hellman published a great book that shows just about every type of woodland vice you can imagine. With all of this input deciding what to do can be a project in itself. I recently read somewhere that one thing accomplished people have in common is that they start things. Seems a bit silly, but that seemed to bang around the cavern above my shoulders every time I admired a post on Instagram with one of these holding devices. I ended up purchasing plans from Dawson and Tim, as well as Sean’s book. I studied David’s design as well and realized that each design has a base with 3 legs and 2 rails. As I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, I made the decision to pursue all three designs, but using a single base. Some might ask why make all three. A Spoon Mule pinches wood by clamping materials using arms that are pushed out perpendicular to the base. A Shave Horse clamps materials down on a platform with the force being applied by pushing a lever forward in line with the base. A bowl horse squeezes material horizontally with the same lever action as the Shave Horse. As I like to make spoons and bowls, those two were easy to pursue. I decided on building the Shave Horse to make tool handles for now, and maybe some staked furniture in the future. Before I go too far in this post I should note that while the ideas to do this project were mine, this wouldn’t have gotten done without my son. My 18 year old son was a major contributor to this effort. I never would have completed this in the time I had during my Christmas break. It also would not have been nearly as enjoyable a project. He’s quite a capable young man and I was was thrilled to have his company and skills on this project. I decided to start with the Spoon Mule as spoons are what really hooked me on green wood carving. Dawson’s plans are excellent. The cut list and companion document make the base a breeze to build. His companion document on building the Spoon Mule is a very detailed document that even someone like me can follow. All the complexities are spoon fed to the weekend wood worker. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anytime you get confused, stop. Take a break and re-read the document and plans. The information you need is there. This is another time having a partner on the build is a huge advantage. I added some length to the base in order to accommodate the additional room needed for the Bowl Horse, other than that I followed the plans. Building the Spoon Mule head was straight forward, even with some mistakes on my part. Below are a few things I learned that might help out others that don’t regularly take on these types of projects. Take your time, read all the plans, cut lists, companion documents, or find information on the web before you start. One step at a time, build the base, revel in the fact that it is standing and solid. Just a bit of confidence goes a long way. If you think you have enough clamps, try clamping things together before you introduce glue. Mark out everything on the wood. I’ve got notes (“don’t cut here”, “top”,” bottom”), and angles, and arrows that indicate the front of the sled. You’ll remove material from pieces you glued up, you want to check twice before you start cutting. Before you drill a hole, check to make sure you are vertical from front to back and side to side. Did I mention take your time? When creating a through mortise, if you don’t have a drill bit large enough to remove the vast majority of the hole, create a pilot hole and use a coping saw. Drilling a number of holes and then trying to remove lots of waste with a chisel led to tear out in my case. Regarding tools, I think this can be done using a circular saw, hand saw, plane, drill, a few wrenches, and chisels. That being said, a chop saw and table saw can speed things up, and cover you in annoying sawdust. I would suggest a longer drill bit. It makes a few of the bolt holes much easier to align. Making spoons on the mule is much different than just using an axe and knife. Most of the time I save is hogging away material that those with better axe skills most likely remove with an axe. Using a drawknife and push knife is new to me, but it’s always fun learning to use a tool with a sharp edge. I’ve got three fairly simple designs for a cooking spoon, serving spoon, and spatula that I think I can produce quickly and with some good consistency. If that works out, maybe I’ll actually start selling some spoons. I’ll do my best to write up Part 2 & 3, the Bowl Horse and the Shave Horse as soon as possible. That being said, after a few weeks of night time temperatures in the teens or lower, it is supposed to be a bit warmer, so don’t hold your breath. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts; I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  11. Phoenix

    The Twisted Bowl

    I enjoy making spoons and bowls that are functional, and let the wood decide a good deal of the finished form. I enjoy finding the grain, and maintaining as many of those long fibers as possible. So if I’m making a long bowl, and the log has a twist, it is going to show up in the final form. There are a number of philosophical names and schools of design that may help you understand this concept, I refer to it as “because that is the way the tree grew”. I had a 31” piece of sugar maple with a branch coming out of the center that from the pith side appeared to be fairly small. I knew this was a risk. I confirmed that with Amy Umbel from Fiddlehead Woodworking. She is so very nice and encouraged me to go with another piece of wood, but for some reason, this piece of wood felt like the right piece of wood for a bowl for my sister. The split went well. I removed the checking and some sketchy wood from both ends with a saw. I then removed the bark, used an adze to remove most of the branch fork, and laid out an ellipse using the technique from David Fisher’s blog. I added some handles and went to work hollowing out the bowl using the adze. Adze work is fun! The adze can produce lots of large chips very quickly, or can produce smaller refinements with some practice. I used a jack plane to create a base. With the twist, it took a bit longer, but after a few iterations of plane, check, find the high spot, I got to a good place. One of my goals for this bowl was to make sure I removed enough material from the bottom of the bowl where the bowl transitions into the handle. I had seen a technique of cross cutting material using the adze and wanted to see what I could accomplish. This proved to be a vast improvement, and much quicker than using a gouge to remove end grain. While I used my axe to remove most of what wasn’t a bowl from the bottom of the bowl, the adze did the majority of the work to get this bowl to its final shape. I also used a gouge in the bowl and on the bottom to clean up tool marks and refine the shape in some areas. I finished off the rim and handles with a curved spoke shave, as well as some work with my sloyd knife. Click to view slideshow. The wood had some spalting and a few wood pecker scars. I did my best to keep the wood pecker scars. After 10 days of drying, I bathed it a few times with some flax oil. It travelled with my family to South Carolina for Thanksgiving where I delivered it to my sister. Click to view slideshow. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts, I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  12. Phoenix

    A fortuitous mistake

    If you have read any of my posts on bowls, you will notice that there is a regular reference to David Fisher. This one is no different in the fact that I once again reference techniques that he has shared. Between his articles in Fine Wood Working magazine, his blog posts, and the information on his website, he has shared more than enough information for anyone to pick up a log, axe, adze, and any other sharp piece of steel and make not only a functional bowl, but something far more sculpted than I thought I could achieve. I started out with a 31” long piece of sugar maple from a tree we took down in our front yard. After splitting the log I had approximately 9” wide by 4” tall piece of wood to work with, it also had a nice twist. The other side of the log I used for my Twisted bowl. For this project I wanted to make a few bark down bowls. I started by using the technique David shares in his Daily bowls. I’ve done this once before with a smaller log. Both bowls are still being used, one of them by me for breakfast. Like any first attempt, you will see where you could have done better, and this project is really about applying what I’ve learned from using my bowl, from reading David’s blog, and some information I’ve received from Amy Umbel from Fiddlehead Woodworking. Two bowls bathing in liberal amounts of flax oil and sunshine.Something I learned when attempting this the first time is that having a good base and rim can be achieved fairly quickly and easily if you spend some time with a jack plane while the wood is a split log. If your log has a nice twist to it, you can still do this by putting a few lines on the rim side, putting a few wedges on the bottom, and plane each section. My goal at this point is flat-ish. I use straight edges to help, but I hope my work leaves one with the impression that this came from a tree and was shaped using hand tools rather than created from dimensional lumber using machines. The base is achieved in the same way. The result is two parallel surfaces. I can assure you; this is easier and more efficient than using a spoke shave on a carved bowl to attempt to flatten out a rim. Layout was fairly easy for these bowls as they’re circular. An inside rim and an outside rim with some small handles were laid out using a compass and a ruler. For the base, I start with a circle that is 1/3 the size of the rim. I like to use a #6 pencil to write on wet wood. I also find a low abrasive eraser helpful. At this point the really fun part starts. Using an adze is more fun every time I use it. I feel much more confident each time and that results in bigger or smaller chips flying, depending on what I’m trying to accomplish. This is also when it becomes obvious why having two bowls on one log is a good idea. The weight of the log just makes it easier to remove large amounts of wood and the length of the log keeps your hand well away from a sharp edge. While I was able to get closer to my lines than in the past, I’m still not confident enough to go right to the line. I have a few gouges amongst my tools, and used one to remove the last ¼” of the inside of the bowls. SeparatedOnce both bowls were the shape and depth I was looking for, I separated then with a saw. I put one bowl blank in a trash bag with some wet chips for my next project and pulled out the axe. I enjoy using an axe almost as much as I like the adze. One thing they have in common is that you can remove large amounts of wood very quickly, and over time learn to remove small amounts of wood much quicker than you can with a knife. Roundish, more wood needs to be removedWhile I was able to remove much of the wood I wanted to from the outside of the bowl, it wasn’t enough. Once the bowl is roundish on the exterior, I find I have trouble holding it safely and keeping it secured so the axe can remove what I want. My solution was to go back to the adze. I started chipping away the exterior with more of a push motion than a swing motion. This results in wood being removed, but tons of tools marks. At some point I tucked my elbow next to my body and just swung the adze from my wrist. This left a very nice surface, so I continued. As I continued, I noticed I was creating a convex surface on the outside of the bowl. I also realized I really liked the shape. This was my fortuitous mistake. Many times I’ve heard from those far more experienced that sometimes you just need to play with the wood. As each of my projects generally start with a desired outcome and certain skills I’m trying to develop, playing generally doesn’t come into my carving. But now that I’ve had this happen, and went with it, I have a better idea of the concept of playing to learn. The shape of the bowl reminded me of a crystal bowl my grandmother had on her dining room table. The crystal was fluted and the sun would shine through and create these great reflections all over the room. My grandmother’s home and the things in it regularly influences my spoons, it just made sense that it would influence a bowl. Luckily for me, David Fisher wrote a blog post on fluting. Notice a trend? Layout your pie slices on the based first, then around the top rim. Cleaning up the tool marks first, would have been a good idea.I redrew a circle on the base of the bowl and stared with creating 8 pie slices, to my eye this would have resulted in some very wide flutes, so I went to 16 and was happy with that. Now we get to the math section, math will not appear on the quiz. I found the diameter for the outside of the rim, multiplied by pi and divided by 16, the number of flutes. I used this number of mark out the flutes on the rim of the bowl. As I put handles on the bowl I oriented the flutes so a peak would be at the center of the handles and adjusted my layout lines to reflect where the rim would have been without the handles. I hope that made sense. You can do something similar with a divider and without the math, but my house is full of beautiful women that are awesome at math so that is how I did it. Now is the time to sharpen your gouge and keep you strop handy. It is also the time to read David’s post on fluting as I’ll only cover what I could have done better. Learning to flute a bowl in near freezing temperatures on a sugar maple bowl is not the easiest or quickest was to develop this skill. Spending time to refine the outside vertical rim is something you should absolutely do prior to marking out your flutes or starting to carve them. Of all the time wasting mistakes I’ve made, this is ranked way up top. Over a few cold evenings I created flutes with wide peaks, then removed more material for thinner peaks, then removed more material so only the pencil line showed. At this point I checked for thickness over the entire bowl. I used my gouge to remove some additional material at the bottom of the inside of bowl to get under a ½” and then realized I had too much wood where the bowl transitions to the handles. As I was happy with my flutes on the outside of the bowl, I drew an arc near the handles and removed enough material to get my walls to 3/8”. The resulting shape of the bowl was no longer circular, but still very pleasing. I think it added some movement to the top of the bowl which hopefully will make it a bit more interesting. As it was the evening before we were to travel south to celebrate my Father’s 80th birthday and Thanksgiving, and I have a problem saying it’s done, I loaded up the bowl with wood chips and shavings and put it in a lidded box in my basement and started packing for my trip. After a week of drying and a very good time spent with family in Beaufort SC, I’m happy to share that the bowl has lost 15% of its weight and has no cracks! If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts, I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  13. I can make a spoon out of wood. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing spoon, but it transfers food and liquid from a cup or bowl in my mouth and I don’t have any splinters on my tongue. Fairly low bar, but everyone needs to start somewhere, and it has taken me a while to get to this stage. Click to view slideshow. Like most novice green woodworkers, I have spent hours watching YouTube. ZedOutdoors has been particularly good at promoting UK greenwood carvers including Lee Stoffer, Adam Hawker, Martin Hazel, Paul Adamson, just to name a few. I’ve watched everything Barn the Spoon has posted, and am a very supportive member of the Green Wood Guild. While this medium is great for some aspects of learning, an in person class is really what I am looking for, and I’m located in Northeastern US. In my ongoing search for information regarding green woodworking, I happened upon some information on GreenWoodFest which is run by Plymouth CRAFT. Plymouth CRAFT has gathered some of the most well-known and talented greenwood makers in the world for a week in June for the last two years. Each of those years one of my children has graduated from high school so the opportunity to attend hasn’t come for me yet. Peter Follansbee has been a regular instructor at Plymouth CRAFT and is very involved in GreenWoodFest. Peter’s blog is one of the many I follow. One of the posts on his blog included his teaching schedule for the year. I really had two choices, go to Maine in August, or North Carolina in October. I’m not a patient person, and happen to love Maine, so while I would love to meet Roy Underhill, I decided to pace myself. As you “mature” some things are supposed to fade away, like being overly optimistic, or excited to drive 9 hours to learn from someone you’ve only heard about. I can’t say any of that applied to me. I was very excited to meet Peter. Every time I mentioned I was going to his class to another carver, I was told I was going to have a blast. Spoiler alert, I did, and I learned. The class was held at Lie-Nielson Toolworks in Warren ME. This is a very dangerous place for me to be allowed to visit without financial supervision. I’m a big fan of what and how Lie-Nielson does what they do, and I believe that hand tools, and the manufacturing of quality hand tools, aligns well with green woodworking. Lie-Nielson has a grove out back and as the weather was beautiful, we quickly moved from the class room to outside. 15 carving blocks, some benches, and a cutting station were quickly set up next to a wonderful pile of freshly cut birch. Peter does a great job of introducing new carvers to the basics, while providing enough details and witty banter for those that may have carved a spoon. Soon enough we were cutting logs to length, making a billet, and axing it out to a blank. Peter provided a template of what he calls one of his good spoons he’s been trying to recreate. Someday I’d love to be able to distinguish why one of his spoons is better than another. I found them all to be excellent. But then again, it was actually why I went to the class, to learn what is good, and how to get there from where I am now. Click to view slideshow. For the rest of that day and the following I had the opportunity to sit and carve and commune with fellow carvers. Jokes were told, additional instruction was shared, the opportunity to axe out additional blanks and carve additional spoons was certainly available. I thoroughly enjoyed the time. Peter would stop by every once and a while and look at my spoon, make some suggestions, or just sit and chat. It truly was what I was hoping for. Quite a bit of the instruction re-enforced what I knew, a couple of things I thought I knew, I found that I didn’t know quite right, I learned a number of new grips, and the class got to go through Peter’s spoon collection. Click to view slideshow. Being able to touch and compare world class spoon carver’s creations to one of your own is a humbling and educational experience. For me, a very humbling experience. Someday I’ll get there. Taking a class with Peter certainly made that day a little more acheiveable. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts, I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  14. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    I can spoon anywhere. Smaller toolkit than what I need for the Jeep. And I get to play with sharp steel just about everyday.
  15. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    To each their own. I'm not going for big rocks
  16. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    For a radiant heat floor to be most effective, you need to have ceiling fans pushing air back down from the ceiling. That being said, I'll gladly lie on my back on a warm floor over a cold slab for at least half of the year.
  17. The two most dominant trees on my property were a weeping cherry and a sugar maple. Both of these were important as the weeping cherry was planted soon after we moved into the home over 20 years ago, and while the sugar maple was already planted when we moved in, each fall we were visited by many of our neighbors to collect it’s beautiful orange leaves. Unfortunately both trees developed root issues and were beginning to fail. My son and I were able to take down the weeping cherry with a pruning saw, a large cross cut saw, and some help from our local tree surgeon. Click to view slideshow. A local tree surgeon took down the sugar maple as it was simply too much for me to handle. Weeping cherry is a tree that is just dominated by crooks. I believe there are a few bowls from the trunk, and the rest will keep me warm in a year or two while I sit next to the fire pit and carve spoons. The sugar maple was loaded with great sized branches for spoons and the trunk will create more than a few bowls. I have some more clean up to do, and need to store the wood in a less sunny spot, but I think I have enough wood to keep me through the winter and well into the spring. My wife and I harvested 30 seeds from the sugar maple and are trying to get them to germinate. I would love to replant this tree from one of it’s seeds. My wife picked out a new cherry tree. I was told upright branches and pink blooms. I happily agreed. Until the seeds sprout and we plant the new cherry, I find it sad looking out at the yard. There were some good memories in those trees. Hopefully some of the spoons and bowls from these trees will find their way into our home and the homes of our family and neighbors. If you enjoyed this little view into my greenwood journey, feel free to like, comment, and or follow. I know some people look at these posts, I would enjoy getting some feedback. View the full article
  18. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    I kept feeding him. He's taller than I am, and will be learning cabinetry for the next 2 years at Thaddeus Stevens in Lancaster.
  19. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    I'm dropping off my navigator at college.
  20. Once I’ve completed the greenwood carving, either a bowl or spoon, I let it sit in a controlled environment for drying. Around here that is a large lidded cardboard box in my basement. The basement has a dehumidifier, so even in the summer the humidity level isn’t likely to fluctuate too much. The same is true for the temperature, or at least it has the minimal temperature fluctuations available to me. For spoons, I can tell if they are ready for final cuts by feel and sound. To date, this has worked. For large projects including larger cooking spoons, ladles, and bowls, I use a postage scale and check for weight after a reasonable amount of time. For the larger projects I’ve found a week is the shortest amount of time before I weigh, and three weeks is usually the longest. I’ll come back after 3 days and put it back on the scale. If the weight is the same, I’ll start the finishing carving. If the weight continues to lessen, back in the box. My finish carving generally starts with removing the areas that my sweaty hands left sweaty marks. After that I look for sharp edges or areas I just want to touch up. I often find it difficult to recognize when to stop touching up. I hope someday to recognize that my level of talent dictates the level of quality and finish I’m going to be able to achieve. I’ve carved away a few projects while attempting to clean up the neck of a spoon. After that I chamfer all the edges that require chamfering, and call the project ready for oil. For the first coat of oil I use a 50 / 50 mixture of flax oil and a citrus solvent. The citrus solvent I use is food safe, bio degradable, and significantly better smelling than mineral spirits. Thinning the oil seems to allow it to penetrate deeper and the cut oil dries a bit quicker. The second and third coats of oil I apply is 100% flax oil. I try to let everything dry in a dust free, sunny spot. I find that the sun has some positive effects on the wood and helps decrease the drying time. There are a number of ways to finish a greenwood project, this one is mine. I developed it from researching on the internet, and from my own limited experience. Leave me a comment if you think there may be an improvement I should try. View the full article
  21. How many miles do you have on those mats? Mine look like new after 50K
  22. I have the second ones as well, am bedlined, no rugs, and don't really notice the heat from the floor. They are stiff enough so you can remove them and all the "debris" doesn't fall off. I load up one of them when "cleaning" the jeep and then take it to the trashcan. Easy peazy
  23. Phoenix

    The Base Camp

    Seat covers look nice. Congrats on the one on the way. Imagine I added something inappropriate about having sex with your wife, still on the first cup of coffee and it isn't coming to me right now.
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