One of the reasons I was most looking forward to Greenwood Fest was for the opportunity to look over Dave Fisher’s shoulder as he did some letter-carving. Dave is a maestro at this work (for example, here, here and here). He has even done a blog post specifically about lettering. But a blog just didn’t quite give me the confidence to try it – I wanted to see it in action.
To be honest, I have tried letter-carving in the past, but I was never particularly happy with the results. In fact, I actually carved my initials into the very first spoon I ever carved, six years ago in 2010. I had no sloyd or spoon knives at that point. I carved the whole thing with a gouge and a drawknife, and then I carved the letters with a chisel. The spoon is quite good – I still use it every week:
And the letters are neat enough, but also pretty bland and lifeless. Not something I really want to showcase on all of my spoons:
I didn’t try to carve letters again for three more years. When my first son was born in 2013, he spent nine days in the NICU. There wasn’t much that I could do for him, but could carve a spoon for him. I decided to try carving letters again. By this point, I had proper spoon-carving knifes, so I attempted to do the letters with the tip of my sloyd knife. The sentiment was laudable, but the execution was not. It’s the thought that counts?
Anyway, after that I was pretty much ruined on letter-carving until I had some proper instruction. After quizzing Dave about his tools, techniques, and unspoken wisdom, I was ready to give it another go. The biggest takeaway? A knife with a short blade and a rather tight radius near the tip seems to be mission-critical. He uses the tip of a pen knife. I had this little guy which seems to be close to the proper geometry:
After sketching a simple design that I liked, I did my best to follow the lines, being careful not to cut too deeply (but also not being too timid either. No need to go over the same cut five times to get to the proper depth). Long, flowing lines like this were actually pretty easy to execute. It’s the stopping and starting that makes it tough!
I was pretty pleased with how Elam’s new spoon turned out, but the cursive lettering was tricky. I highly recommend starting with all-caps font. Straight lines are a lot more fun than tight curves. It might be impolite when sending emails to your co-workers, but it’s perfectly acceptable to shout on a spoon.
I was on a roll, so I decided to keep going. I carved a quick spoon while I was at Greenwood Fest and ate with it all week. Peter Follansbee made it “famous” on his first blog post after the event (sixth picture from the top). In honor of its provenance, I decided to give the spoon an appropriate name:
So now I have a new skill that I’m not altogether embarrassed about. Score one for the home team, and Tip o’ the Hat to you, Dave Fisher.
If you follow the online greenwoodworking communities at all, then you’re probably well aware of the smashing success of Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, MA over the past weekend. Instagram, the Green Woodwork Facebook group, and Peter Follansbee’s blog have been aflurry with photos and positive comments since Sunday night. I was fortunate to be in attendance, and I can say without reservation that it was one of the most inspiring events that I’ve ever attended.
Really, I don’t even know where to begin. I still haven’t quite processed everything that I learned, nor fully appreciated the people I was able to meet. I met folks who have been a huge inspiration on my journey over the last few years, as well as folks who have slipped under my radar, but will now be certain to inspire me over the coming years.
I got to talk to Dave Fisher about bowl carving and lettering (more on that in a post to come):
I got to witness Peter Follansbee’s skilled and efficient carving first-hand:
I talked with Tim Manney about steam-bending and chair-making. I’ve been absorbed with Windsors for the last year, but Tim actually got me excited about ladderbacks again. And if I ever build another shavehorse, it will be one of Tim’s design:
One of the folks that I was most happy to meet stepped in at the last moment when another presenter had to cancel. If it seemed that Darrick Sanderson was under-the-radar when the weekend began, he was certainly well-known by the end of the week. Of course I was already quite familiar with him – I’ve been following his work for about six months and I was delighted when he got added to the schedule.
You may remember him from a post a while back: The Best Spoon I’ve Ever Seen. Well, I must revise my previous post. Darrick brought a whole chest full of The Best Spoons I’ve Ever Seen. Seriously. Every single one of them was amazing. His productivity, his creativity, and his control over form is demoralizing stunning. Like Dave Fisher, Darrick is one of those guys who is at the forefront of his craft, yet still finding a way to drive it forward. It’s a bit humbling, knowing that I was happily carving away in my little silo for 6 years, making perfectly nice spoons, but not doing anything particularly impressive. Meanwhile, Derrick burst through to the front of the pack in a couple short years, and the rest of us have been struggling to keep up ever since. He’s a special talent, and I expect that his impact and renown will continue to grow over the coming years.
If I seem like I’m gushing, just feast your eyes on this cornucopia of spoons. (And oh yeah, did I mention he also does wonderful carved and pole-turned bowls as well? I told you, he’s impressive.)
So anyway, that was my weekend in a nutshell. Like the title said, I’m still coming back to earth. Not quite there yet, but I’ve already been putting some things that I learned into practice. I have a feeling this was one of those events that will stick out in my memory for a long, long time.
You’ve probably seen them stuffed piles in the cluttered tables of an old antique store or flea market. Kicking around your grandpa’s barn. Maybe you keep one in your camping gear (like my Dad does) for driving tent stakes and splitting kindling. I’m talking about the once-ubiquitous carpenter’s hatchet. These little guys were useful for trimming odd bits of wood to size or driving the occasional nail, but most carpenters these days wouldn’t know how to trim a piece of wood with a tool that didn’t have a cord or a battery pack, so these things mostly languish unused in forgotten corners.
I’ve had a carpenter’s hatchet head kicking around my toolbox for who knows how many years, always meaning to put a handle on it but never quite getting around to it. I’m glad I waited, because I finally figured out what to do with it.
For the last five years, I’ve been using a Gransfors-Bruks hunter’s axe that I picked up for $50 (used) for spoon carving. It’s a great little axe, but the handle is about six inches too long so I always have to choke up when I use it. It’s not a convenient length for packing up when I want to do a bit of spoon carving away from home, either. Something needed to be done. I though about buying a new, smaller axe, but good ones don’t come cheap. Then I remember my old carpenter’s hatchet:
It’s a terrible shape for spoon-carving. The hammer head places the balance too far back, the wide blade gets in the way of your fingers when you want to choke up on the handle, and the straight bevel makes it difficult to carve curvaceous spoon profiles. No problem though; I own a hacksaw.
The hammer head is the first to go.
Next I turned my sights to a nice cutout for my fingers when I need to choke up on the handle:
At this point, it’s still pretty rough-looking, but twice as functional as it was 15 minutes ago. I couldn’t resist prettying it up a bit with some work on the belt sander and some 220-grit hand-sanding. I also re-ground the straight cutting edge into a gentle curve:
That shiny look is nice, if that’s what you’re into. I know better than to think it would look like this for long, though. A clean metal surface like this is a magnet for rust when carving green wood. I gave it a soak in diluted vinegar overnight to tone down the shine.
Much nicer, in my opinion. All that’s left to do is give it a handle. I shaved some riven hickory to an octagonal shape, then dried it in my kiln for a couple of days before hanging the head. I also darkened it up a bit more (and added some more rust protection) with some cold gun blue:
Not bad. But how does it work?
Very nicely. Very nicely, indeed.
I’ll admit, it will take some getting used to the shorter handle after 5 years of used a sub-optimal size. I think once I get the hang this one, though, it’ll easily be my favorite carving axe.
So, what have you got to lose? Hatchet heads like these are $5-10 at flea markets and on eBay. Maybe you’ve even got one in the junk drawer of your shop (like I did). A couple hours of work is all it’ll take to turn that forgotten tool into a fine carving axe!
I’ve mentioned a time or two the greenwoodworking group on Facebook. It took a few days to get adjusted to the barrage of spoons and other woodcrafts on my newsfeed, but my brain quickly started making connections between certain craftspeople and the work that they produced. One name that kept popping up repeatedly alongside gorgeously sculpted eating spoons was Derek Sanderson. I soon found myself looking at my own spoons, and I realized that they seemed quite dull and lifeless in comparison to his.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the same movement in the side profile that Derek has so clearly perfected. One can only learn so much from a picture, so I decided to order one of his spoons to see where the magic was. It arrived a couple of weeks later, and I was not disappointed. This little cherry spoon is a miniature sculpture, every little detail well-conceived and well-executed. It is, without question, The Best Spoon I’ve Ever Seen.
Let me lay out my argument. First, consider the top profile – very fluid and shapely, though it’s also the easiest part to get right. What’s not as easy to get right is the depth and shape of the bowl, but he nails this as well. It’s quite shallow but very comfortable, like a lollipop. I like how the heartwood/sapwood contrast splits the spoon in half – a very nicely chosen material.
The side profile is really what makes this spoon stand out. It is so active and organic – almost as if the neck is under tension. The lower curve nicely mimics the upper curve, though less dramatically. And look how cleanly the neck was shaved – since the grain reverses direction here, this is the toughest part of a spoon to cut cleanly. There isn’t a single raised fiber here, and this is completely knife-cut. No scraping or sanding.
The curve of the back is lovely and lightly faceted. The curve of the handle mimics the curve of the bowl, which makes it very comfortable to hold. It also makes the opposite ends of the spoon seem cohesive. I’m not sure how to say what I’m thinking, other than both ends “match” one another – they are variations on one shape. I’ve always used strong facets and straight lines on the back of my handles, but I realize now that it is just not as comfortable. I’m going to start trying some curved backs now.
There is even a little bit of flourish at the tip of the spoon – a bit of chip-carving just adds some individuality. Also notice the very subtle chamfers on the sides. Those flow uninterrupted around the whole spoon.
One final parting shot: compare Derek’s spoon, at top, to one of my spoons, below. I was very happy with my spoon until I looked at it alongside a superior example!
If I had but one criticism about this spoon, I would say that the bowl is just a tad wide. It’s fine for me, but I have a big mouth. I doubt the spoon would be as comfortable for my wife. That hasn’t been a problem, because I’m greedy and I’ve been keeping the spoon at my office to eat my oatmeal every morning. My family is stuck with my good-but-just-not-as-good eating spoons, I’m afraid.
I’m not connected with Derek in any way, other than as a satisfied customer. If you’d like to own one of these, you’ll have to get in touch with him on Facebook or on Instagram – I don’t believe he has a website (at least not that I could find).
Now that the fantastic insanity of the holidays has passed, my son has recorded three weeks outside the womb, and I finally have a phone again, I’m happy to resume my regularly scheduled Wednesday programming. In this week’s edition of Woody Wednesday, we’ll take an in-depth look at yet another southern forest resident that has been decimated by a foreign invader. Not as romantic as the stately chestnut (already gone), the ubiquitous and eminently useful ash (on the way out), the picturesque hemlock (give it a decade, at least in the South), it may be one you’ve never heard of: the redbay (Persea borbonia).
Redbay is the wallflower of the southern coastal evergreen hammocks. It does not grow to the impressive architectural proportions of live oak and southern magnolia. It does not have the fragrant white flowers of sweetbay and loblolly-bay. Nor does it have the bright red berries of American holly or yaupon. If you weren’t specifically looking for it, you’d scarcely even know it was there. However, if you are on the margins of a coastal plain wetland anywhere from Texas to North Carolina, it’s likely that you’re not too far away from one of these diminutive evergreen trees.
What redbay does have is a powerful and pleasant spicy aroma in the leaves, bark, and wood. It shares this trait with practically all other members of the Lauraceae family – bay laurel (a European species from which we get bay leaves); sassafras (sassafras tea, anyone?); spicebush (a native bush that lives up to its name); camphor-laurel (an Asian species from which we get camphor); and cinnamon-tree (another Asian species that produces cinnamon). I use redbay as a substitute for bay leaves when cooking beans and chicken stock. In fact, it’s a required ingredient in authentic gumbo.
So what is the pest that is killing off this little-known tree? It’s a one-two punch, actually. The Asian ambrosia beetle Xyleborus glabratus bores into the stems and carries with it its symbiotic fungus, Raffaelea lauricola, commonly know as laurel wilt. The fungus grows and spreads in the tree’s xylem, eventually cutting off the flow of water between the roots and the leaves. According to the USDA’s Recovery Plan for laurel wilt, the disease “is now well established in the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain region of the U.S. and eradication of the vector and pathogen in this region is not feasible. Continued dramatic reductions in redbay populations are anticipated, although survival of redbay regeneration in the aftermath of laurel wilt epidemics suggests that redbay will not go extinct.” Super. So we can probably expect to redbays to exist as short-lived seedlings and sprouts, only to be ravaged by the foreign intruders once they reach a reasonable size.
I suppose the best thing we can do as woodworkers to preserve the heritage of this tree is to make useful things out of it that will last longer than the trees themselves. And since we’re all woodworkers here, what we really want to know about is the wood. There’s not much information about the wood in the public domain, and frankly most of the information that is out there is generic, misleading, or flat-out wrong. Hopefully I can correct some of that nonsense today. The USDA silvics manual says that redbay wood “is heavy, hard, strong, and bright red, with a thin, lighter colored sapwood.”
So does that mean that redbay could be a domestic substitute for bloodwood? Hardly. In fact, redbay is neither hard nor heavy nor strong. Though the heartwood is indeed reddish (similar in color to cherry or mahogany), it does not begin to approach “bright red” in color, nor is the sapwood band particularly thin. Was the technician who wrote this stuff just making shit up? If you want the straight dope regarding a tree species, you can do no better than to listen to urban forestry professor extraordinaire Kim Coder [from his publication Redbay (Persea borbonia): Drifting Toward Oblivion]:
Redbay wood is difficult to find in the commercial lumber or hobbyist marketplace, and then only in small pieces. As such, redbay has only limited local use as a wood material. Heartwood is redcolored, fine-grained, brittle, water resistant, works moderately well and polishes very well. It was traditionally used for tableware (like spoons), furniture pieces, boat and interior trim, and cabinets. It was gathered for boat trim in the live oak maritime forests during the live oak gathering days of early sailing vessels.
Alright, that’s a little more informative, and it’s definitely more accurate. Redbay is pretty common in the woods here on Amelia Island, so I’ve been carving spoons with it for the last couple of months, and I’ll share a bit of my personal experience with it as well. (By the way, how cool is it that Dr. Coder mentions that the wood was traditionally used for spoons? Score! It is indeed a fine spooncarving wood).
The wood is very much unlike most temperate hardwoods in that it combines large pores with a diffuse-porous wood structure. Typically, large-pored temperate hardwoods tend to be ring-porous or semi-ring porous. It definitely has the appearance of a tropical hardwood. In fact, it would easily pass as African mahogany (Khaya) to the untrained eye. Or shoot, even the well-trained eye.
It’s easy to see why this wood was favored for the interior trim of boats. Not only does it have an attractive appearance, it works quite well also. The density and hardness remind of Honduran mahogany or butternut. Which is to say, it is not very hard or dense at all. It carves very easily and takes a nice polish straight from the tool – as long as you’re cutting with the grain. It does tend to tear out around grain reversals, and the grain can be quite wavy.
Probably the most unfortunate thing about redbay wood is the fact that it does not have a significant amount of heartwood until the tree gets to be quite large in size. A 12″-diameter tree is likely to have a hardwood core only 8-9″ wide. Since larger trees have mostly been killed off by the laurel wilt in many parts of the South, this means that you’ll likely be relegated to working with the sapwood.
Not all is lost, however. As long as you are working with fresh wood, the sapwood is creamy white and attractive, not unlike walnut sapwood.
If the wood sits around for a couple of weeks or more, however, the pores begin to turn brown, which gives the wood a grayish pallor when viewed from more than a few inches away. I waited a bit too long to carve these eating spoons, and it shows:
Luckily, all eating spoons begin to take on the same brownish tint with age, so all I have to do is use these and eventually the color will improve.
So there you have it. Redbay is a disappearing tree, but it’s a fine tree for woodworking. I can personally vouch for its pleasant nature for carving, and historically, it was commonly used for cabinetry and trim (especially in boats and ships). If you happen upon some, why not try to make something from it? It’s one way to preserve this stuff for the next generations, who may not be able to enjoy the trees in the same way that we do. I’d certainly love to get my hands on some trees that are large enough to mill for lumber, since a well-built piece of furniture is likely to last longer than my wooden spoons, but my window of opportunity seems to be rapidly closing.
I’ll leave you with a few more words from Dr. Coder:
Redbay is a biological, ecological, and cultural treasure of deep woods on the edge of an ecological precipice. People of the Southern and Southeastern coasts of the United States have been blessed with redbay along wetland edges. Coastal development, forest changes, and new pests are placing redbay under more stressful conditions. This burial tree of Native Americans, this historic wood of polished trim for captain’s cabins on Yankee clippers, and this special food and home for several rare butterflies is being pushed farther into oblivion.
This unique tree species is now under attack from new pests which could destroy this old flavor of Southern gumbo. Understanding how redbay grows and how to identify the tree may help to combat threats as well as appreciate what we have always had but may have overlooked. Care is needed to sustain our redbays for the next generation.
I have made a lot of wooden things over the last decade or so. Tables, chests, chairs, benches, desks, beds, bowls, spoons, plates, vases, tools, floors, sheds, playhouses…you name it. When I stop to think about how much I’ve actually built, it’s a bit overwhelming.
A lot of that stuff is still in my house. I have very little furniture that wasn’t built by me or at the very least repaired/refinished by me. (One project that I’ve never seemed willing to tackle is a chest of drawers. Just so…many…boxes… So we still make do with ugly dressers, but one day I’ll address that shortcoming).
The next largest portion of my work has been gifted to family and friends over the years. It’s always a pleasure to visit with people who own my work to see how it has held up and aged over the years.
By far the smallest portion of my work are things that I’ve sold. Sure, I’ve sold quite a bit over the years, ranging from $10 wooden shotglasses to a $2,000 quartersawn white oak Arts and Crafts office desk. I have never been completely comfortable with selling things, though. A couple years ago, I came upon this article by renowned British woodturner Robin Wood that I think articulates my primary hesitance with selling craft work. The article is fairly comprehensive, but here is the relevant paragraph:
The difficulty many craftspeople have with price is this. You put your heart and soul into your work, when you offer it for sale it is not like selling potatoes or lemonade, it’s not just business, it is more like asking the public to pass judgement on you as a human being. If you put a high price and people sneer it feels terrible but if you undervalue your work that is no better for your soul. The trick is to find a fair price for the work and skill and then to find people who value and appreciate it.
That quote really got right to the heart of the matter and stuck with me. When I sell work, I feel compelled to make things to a much higher standard than I would require for an item that I planned to keep for myself. I aim for perfection in my work, but ultimately I am OK with small flaws and irregularity as the mark of handwork. For some reason, I don’t trust my customers to have the same appreciation so I always seem to go overboard with the work that I sell, and yet I’ve never been comfortable asking a price that would be commensurate with the skill and effort involved.
To worsen matters, most of the work that I’ve sold has been to friends and close acquaintances (not surprising, since I’ve never advertised anything). There is nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but my difficulty here is feeling as though I should offer a discount for friends on work that I’m already in the habit of selling too cheaply. I would usually rather give the work away, because at least then I get to feel altruistic instead of like a poor businessman.
The end result of my unsatisfying history of selling work has been that I tend to find whatever excuse I can to avoid it. I have actually made a fair bit of money through my woodworking hobby (enough that is is a net gain and not a net drain), but very little of that money has come through the sale of craft work. Mostly it comes from wood sales (I always saw more than I can possibly use) and a smaller portion from old hand tools that I bought on the cheap and restored.
Fortuitously, I did have a good friend a few weeks ago who asked me about a sizable commission for her husband’s Christmas gift. She ended her request with the words “and don’t feel bad charging me what’s fair”. It was a much appreciated sentiment and I felt more comfortable knowing that she expected to pay full price for the work and not the “but-I’m-your-friend” discount that some people seem to expect. I was more confident in giving a quote that was fair to both of us.
In the end, it turned out to be one of my most enjoyable commissions, because I know the work is going to a couple who will appreciate it, and I don’t feel as though I short-changed myself in the process. (By the way, I’m purposely avoiding any discussion of what I made or who I made it for on the off-chance that her husband reads the blog.)
As these thoughts tumbled through my head over the last month, it occurred to me that my discomfort with selling my work for a fair price has bled over and caused me to avoid buying craft work at a fair price. I think that my tendency to discount the value of my own work has inadvertently led to my discounting the value of others’ work. I have this problem more so in unrelated crafts – I love pottery, for example, but my own collection of craftsman-made pottery is limited to a couple of inexpensive (but beautiful) coffee mugs. The more complex work is beautiful, but it just seems so expensive! Oh, the irony.
With woodwork, I can typically look at a piece and fully understand the time and skill and effort that it took to bring it to fruition. The problem here is that my first thought is not “I want to buy that!” but instead “I could make that!” Well, that’s really a silly way to think about things. There is no way that I can become proficient at everything. A good craftsperson can spend years focused on a single task and there is no reason that I should hope to replicate it without doing the same. Weaving an ash-splint basket and carving the ball-and-claw feet on a Chippendale chair are both “woodwork” but it is obvious that the skillset involved in each task are vastly different.
With that in mind, I decided to take some of the proceeds from my recent commission to purchase a spoon from a craftsman who has inspired me in many ways – Peter Follansbee. True, I’m a spoon-carver as well (and a pretty good one I think) but it’s been several years and I’ve still made no effort to learn the chip-carved decoration that Peter does on his spoons that I admire so much. Perhaps I never will, but that shouldn’t preclude me from enjoying it.
A very nice early Christmas present to me. Not a gift that was injection-molded in Chinese plastic and shipped 10,000 miles only to end up in a landfill by next year’s Christmas. I expect this little beauty to be my kitchen companion for many years. And hopefully a lesson learned in valuing the work of a fellow craftsman.
I was recently commissioned to carve a ladle for a good friend. I don’t carve ladles very frequently, because how many ladles does one man really need? (I think I have three in my kitchen, which is probably one too many). I was happy to fill the request. Ladles are the tougher to carve than a regular cooking spoon because of the sweeping curves and the deep bowl, but that also makes them fun. The best part is finding the right crook.
You can’t just carve a ladle from a straight piece of wood. You need to find a branch where the grain follows the handle, then curves abruptly where the bowl will be carved. Otherwise, you will end up with either a weak bowl or a weak handle.
You might be able to find a crook with the proper bend to it, but you’re more likely to find the abrupt bend that you need at a branch union. So the ladle begins with the hunt for a proper bend.
I had some red maple already cut up, and I picked out the bendiest piece that I had, but it wasn’t quite crooked enough. It will make a fine cooking/serving spoon, though.
A walk in the woods yielded a nice piece of redbay (Persea borbonia). Looks like it has a ladle in it to me. A close relative of avacado (Persea americana), this stuff carves beautifully – as long as you’re carving with the grain – but it does have some wicked grain reversals that can make it a challenge.
For most spoon blanks, I just split out what I need, but I’ve learned my lesson on Y’s. If you just try to split this out, chances are good that the bowl of your spoon blank will be destroyed. My method is to saw through the lower half of the blank until I get to straight wood.
Then you can split the rest of the way using an axe, a wedge, or a froe with no problem.
I skipped a few steps at this point, but once you liberate your blank from the tree it’s just like carving any other spoon. A little axe work to remove most of the waste, then the rest is done with a sloyd knife and a bent knife and a lot of patience.
I finished this spoon up on my lunch break today. Here’s a few pictures. I can’t wait to deliver this ladle to its new owner. Mostly because I’ll be tempted to keep it myself if I don’t get rid of it soon. It’s quite a bit nicer than my earlier ladle efforts that I’m living with at the moment!
It’s an unusual treat for me to actually have the opportunity to hang out with a fellow woodworker. We’re a scarce bunch, I suppose. Rarer still is the elusive green woodworker – those who make spoons, bowls, chairs, chests, etc. starting from green logs rather than dried lumber. Actually, as of two weeks ago, I had never met another green woodworker.
A couple weeks ago, I joined a green woodworking Facebook group and took notice when one of the posters referred to Cumberland Island, GA as “right across the state line from me”. Cumberland Island is less than 3 miles from my home, just across the St. Mary’s River. Just where is this guy? I sent him a message and asked where he was from. Turns out there is a fellow green woodworker just 20 minutes down the road from me in Yulee, FL.
We made plans to meet up at my house to swap stories and carve spoons. He brought along some fine red maple and I picked out a great crook to work with. I got to try out some new spooncarving knives (I still don’t own a hook knife – just a couple of bent knives – but using Joey’s convinced me to put a hook knife on my Christmas list).
He brought along some of his own spoons to show me, as well as some from carvers all over the world. I have only seen my own spoons in person – most of what I’ve learned is from the internet – so it was a thrill to discuss the different styles and forms with someone who really understands hand-carved spoons. I also found a willing ear to talk about my Windsor chair. I know my wife is tired of my blathering about it.
I love this craft, but it has definitely been a lonely one for me. The irony of that statement is that spooncarving has the potential to be one of the most social woodcrafts of all – it doesn’t require a shop, the tools are few, and the materials are free. I find few things more enjoyable than to sit outside on a nice day and chat while carving, so I’m thankful to have made a green woodworking friend so close by. Thanks, Joey – let’s do it again soon!
Here are a few pictures of my spoon from the maple crook:
…about the upcoming drawing. I neglected to set a specific deadline for entries into last Friday’s Giveaway, so let me remedy that right now. The deadline will be 5 PM EST. I think I’ve gotten one additional entry in the last past 12 hours, so I don’t think that should cause too much heartburn.
Thanks to all who have entered so far, and good luck!
UPDATED WITH THE WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT:
Drumroll, please…Ahem. And the winner is:
Commenter Number 6! Or as I like to call her, Jessica. Congratulations, Jessica! We’ll have to get together one night so you can take possession of your brand new spoon.
And in the interest of transparency, below are the actual results from the drawing. If Jessica gets hit by a bus or otherwise meets her untimely demise on the way to claim her spoon, then Commenter Number 18, you’re up! (Of course we all wish Jessica the best of luck)
Thanks everyone for joining in! This was a lot of fun, check back occasionally because we’ll probably do it again some time.
In a shameless effort to promote this blog, I’ve decided to give away this hand-carved live oak spoon. Here’s how it works:
If you want to be considered for the drawing, simply leave a comment on this post stating that you’d like to be entered. You have to do it on the blog, the Facebook page doesn’t count. On Monday, I’ll count the number of comments and use a true random number generator to pick the winning entry (you didn’t think I’d just pull it out of a hat, did you?). Check back on Monday evening, and I’ll announce the winner. The spoon will be shipped to you, anywhere in the world.
There is just more one string attached to this drawing. No, you don’t have to follow the blog or like my Facebook page – although you’re welcome to do so. The only thing I ask is that, if you win this spoon, you have to actually use it. I hate to think I’d be sending it away to be shoved in a dusty drawer behind the flatware. This is probably the best eating spoon I’ve ever made, I think it deserves to be used.
About the spoon: As I mentioned, it’s live oak (Quercus virginiana), which is not to be confused with any of your typical white and red oaks. It does not produce the large bands of pores in the spring that make most oaks unsuitable for spoon-carving. The annual rings are barely distinguishable. This is one of my new favorite woods to carve. It’s heavy, dense, and strong, which makes it difficult to work, but also allows the wood to be carved to the scantest dimensions and still retain its strength. I think you’ll be surprised by how light the spoon is. It’s finished straight from the knife – no sanding – and retains the smooth faceted surface as evidence. It will be finished with walnut oil unless the winner has a tree nut allergy in which case I can use tung oil (you can let me know if you’re the winner).
If there’s any interest, I’m thinking of carving a few spoons to offer for sale this fall. They’ll make great gifts for that special person on your list who already has a house full of disposable plastic shit. You can also order spoons that are better than mine from Jarrod Stone Dahl or JoJo Wood if you’re interested in supporting a full-time craftsperson.