May Make A Folder

My nearest city is Sheffield, the home of the steel industry and thus cutlery and knife making in the UK. As this year is the 100th birthday of stainless steel, Exciting Things are happening! One of those things is lead by Grace Horne, an exceptional knifemaker and very good friend of my Mum, and so I got in on it.

May Make A Folder is a project to encourage non-knife making craftspeople to have a go at making a folding knife in the month of May. We each received a pack of bits, and after a demonstration day were packed off to do our own thing..

I, of course, opted to make mine with a wooden ‘scale’.

A lovely piece of ripple plum, rescued off the firewood pile because it was just too beautiful to burn. Too hard and dry to turn into spoons, it was just perfect for a knife handle.
Combining metal and wood like this was a tricky business. Most wooden handled folders and made using seasoned wood and power tools, and I can see why. The scale needs to be perfectly flat and even to fit the metal liner, something which would be far easier with a bandsaw and a planer-thicknesser…
Nonetheless, I managed it and successfully completed a knife before the month of May was over!

I’m feeling quite inspired, and very much looking forwards to getting the opportunity to chat knives with Nic Westermann and Dave Budd at SPOONFEST in two weeks time!
Check out the facebook page for more details on the MMAF process..

Away adventuring..

I’ve been away! I’ve done more things and met more people over the past couple of months than I could ever possibly fit in a single blog post, so you can expect a few over the coming days….

My adventures begin one gloomy Friday evening in April, sprawled on my sofa on my laptop getting absolutely nothing done, as I’ve been doing for most of the year. On a whim I started composing an email to someone who needs no introduction, Mike Abbott… A few hours later I received my reply.

Sure thing, I’d love to have you, how does Monday sound?!

And so within 48 hours I was packed and away to the woods, and I’ve been busy ever since. It’s been a marvellous roller-coaster of playing with sharp things, meeting great people and all round fun and shenanigans..

I had a wonderful group for my first course, and they made some amazing chairs (with expert advice, of course!).

As well as making progress on my own first chair, I also got roped into re-seating an old chair of Mike’s…

Although a little time-consuming, it was wonderfully challenging to my brain as well as my dexterity. I’m hooked.

Before I’m allowed to join the Seat Weaving Society of East Herefordshire, I have to start wearing glasses and a bushy grey beard.. I wonder if I could get away with a knitted one?!

Bowl Carving

I’ve always fancied being able to use an adze. Especially since I’ve been doing more spooncarving it’s seemed to be a very valuable skill – when used properly it it is to a spoon knife what an axe is to a straight knife. So when Rob had a spare space on one of his courses, and I had an empty week I jumped at the chance.

 It was a lovely group and we produced some stunning work, as well as learning some pretty handy techniques – including adzing, hurrah! I’m expecting my spooncarving to now speed up by roughly 182%

I also discovered a new tool which I found rather enjoyable-

A beautifully sharp chisel and some beautifully clean green lime wood results in one of the most pleasurable woodchip-making experiences I have ever had.

At the end of day three I’ve produced two bowls and a heck of a lot of blisters.

The first bowl was relatively simple, and primarily a learning experience. The second one was an attempt to copy a bowl which has lived in my kitchen for many years now, and I find very pleasing. A duck bowl. I’m very happy with both, and shall be going to bed tonight sore but satisfied!

Spooncarving at the Ideal Home Show

My dad’s not only a fantastic woodworker, he’s also the founder and chairman of the Heritage Craft’s Association. You might have heard of it. Due to this splendid family connection, over the Easter bank holiday weekend I had the pleasure of demonstrating on the HCA stand at the Ideal Homes Show in London. Two days of solid spooncarving!

As my first experience carving spoons under the watchful eye of the public, I learnt several things.

  1. The eye of the public seems to enjoy watching a pretty girly wielding a large axe.
  2. Wielding a large axe in a hot stuffy indoor environment is incredibly wearing.

I’ve been working on developing an eating spoon carved from straight grain wood which I enjoy both making and eating with, and spending a couple of days just carving eating spoons was invaluable.

My weekend’s spoons. Some went exactly as planned, some were happy accidents, some were slightly less happy accidents, some aren’t quite finished yet, but all of them taught me something, and I’m finally starting to create some things that I truly like.

new year, new blog, new axe.

Welcome to the first post of my new blog!

It’s my birthday today, and my wonderful father got me an axe.

It’s sexy and shiny and wonderful and everything I could have ever asked for, and what surprised me the most was that I’d actually used it before…

It didn’t look like this when I used it though. No, it was an ugly piece of kit the like of which I wouldn’t be seen outside with. Originally it was a Bahco axe – you may have seen them before? They look like this –

It’s an ugly looking thing, right? Costing around only £15 it’s what you expect, really. The thing is, it actually works remarkably well (once sharpened – it comes blunt as anything). While not as nicely balanced as a Gransfors Bruks carving axe, the cutting edge is almost as long, and it weighs considerably less.
As a friend said on facebook –

Nothing says,”I love you,” more than a well balanced axe as a gift. Better than diamonds any day.

I’m inclined to agree.

I look forward to spending much more time with this beautiful tool making many more spoons to share with you.
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