Spoon carving from a Bushcraft perspective with Jon Mac...
I am a spoon carver who lives and works on Dartmoor in Devon.
I carve spoons and Kuksa from green wood, using the three principal bushcraft tools. The knife, Axe and hook knife. I find spoon carving gives me a greater understanding of these tools as I can demonstrate a precision of craft in the finished spoon. I have developed my own spoon carving knife 'The MaChris' which is made by 'Chris Grant' a fantastically talented bladesmith.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Spoon carving and kolrosing.

I've been making a few quick spoons to take away with me to the upcoming Wilderness Gathering in August.
Whilst doing this I was cogitating how I might add interesting decoration to the spoon without taking up too much time. Well, needless to say I still haven't found a quick solution, but I did find something that kept me busy for a while.
If you want to have a try at this interesting art form you'll need a sharp knife, a pencil and some good quality coffee.
First thing you'll need to do is go to the kitchen and find your finest ground coffee.
Or grind your own, very fine.
Make a pot of coffee.
Drink the coffee and dry out the resultant grounds.
Carve a spoon.
So far so good.
The design you apply can be anything you can manage.
In my life I have spent quite some time behind a compass, either navigating for S.A.R teams or personal enjoyment on the hill.
I must admit, I can't draw, but I did study technical drawing at school (before computers).
So I decided on a compass rose.
I oiled my spoon and let it sit for a day or so until the oil had set.
This makes it easier for me to remove any unwanted pencil marks.
Then I marked out the design using a pencil, a rule and a compass.

I used my knife to cut into the spoon, not too deep, following the lines of the design.
Single cuts. I didn't remove any wood.
Once I had finished I rubbed away the pencil marks with a clean cloth.

Once cleaned I applied the coffee grounds with my finger.
Dry grounds and dry finger.

The grounds filled the slim cuts and defined the design.

Later in the day I added a little more detail....

Looks like I may be employing this skill to some other work in the near future as I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

All the best from sleepy Dartmoor.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

New Kuksa-Noggin design.

Kuksa with MaChris bushcraft/carver.

I finally got round to re-designing one of my favourite ale hen designs to make it a little more practical for those all important camping trips to the woods or wherever takes your fancy.
As far as I've been told, an ale hen was an important part of any big party back in the day.
Imagine a large vat of mead with many decorated wooden kuksa/noggin floating about, all in the shape of, or spirit of, a bird, a female bird.
This design came to me a couple of years ago.
A simple design that catches the eye with its planking effect, mimicking the look of an old Viking longboat.
Very nice for parties with friends, but impractical for those camping moments.

Ale hen for those special occasions.

My great friend Alan Robinson (a fine spoon carver indeed) dropped some large diameter birch off to me in the early spring.

Roughed out kuksa.

I have kept a weather eye on it and decided to open it up last week.


Nicely spalted and settled, ripe for a bit of carving.


I used the same technique you can find detailed elsewhere in the blog to shape her up with an axe.

Knife work.

Finishing the detail with my knife.


The knife bevels need to be good and flat to achieve a smooth plank effect.


Hollow out with a hook knife.
Technique is everything when undercutting the bowl.
It's worth while spending time experimenting with ways of offering your hook knife up to the work.
Invert the knife, spin the knife.
As long as your hook has a longish reach you'll find a way.

Hollowing out with a spoon knife.

My left hand thumb gets a lot of use.


Nearly done.
I guess it took me the best part of the afternoon to get her somewhere comfortable.

Kuksa before the planking detail.

Slowly adding the planking detail.

I added a couple of coats of Tung Oil made by Liberon.

The finished Kuksa/Noggin with a coat or two of Tung oil.

The underside showing the plank detail.

The underside of the Kuksa/Noggin showing plank detail.

Altogether a pleasing shape.
I'll be taking her into the woods for a drink very soon.


End view of the Kuksa.

As always, thank you for visiting my site, you're always welcome.

Jon Mac.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Swedish snow smock.

Here's a bit of kit I thought you may want to know about.
Sarah and I had business up in the big city last week 
While we were there we thought we'd call in on our old friend Kevin.
As you may well know, Kevin owns a rather splendid military surplus store not far from the River Exe.
I call him my 'gentleman's outfitter', as most of my wardrobe originates from his store.
Here's a link to his web page.

While we were there Kevin managed to slip a rather nice item into my holdall.
We got it home and I tried it on.

swedish snow smock

Wow !
A perfect fit.

swedish snow smock
A great smock for the woods.

It's a genuine Swedish snow smock.
Made from good quality, closely woven cotton.
Try holding a bit of the shirt you are wearing right now up to your lips and blow through.
I bet your breath flowed through the material fairly easily.
I just tried it on my shirt.
My breath passed through with no problem.
Mind you, I'm sat under a big sun umbrella wearing a linen shirt due to the heat.
I tried blowing through the Swedish snow smock material and struggled to get my breath through the material.

swedish snow smock
Huge great pockets, envelope style.

I've owned smocks like this for many years now, and although there are more modern products on the market, you won't find anything as comfortable and quiet as these classic smocks.

swedish snow smock
Large hood for a big winter hat.
So, they are windproof, check.
Are they waterproof ?
Well the short answer is no.
I wouldn't recommend you venture into the middle of Dartmoor with just this as a waterproof.


swedish snow smock
Left-waxed..... right-natural.

I still own an old smock which I treated with wax some years ago.
I've used this smock for hard use in the woods and it'll keep a fair amount of weather out.
It reminds me of my old Barbour jacket I used to use back in my forestry days.
In fact, the wax I used for waterproofing my old smock came from Barbour.
Heres a link...

swedish snow smock
Left-waxed..... Right-natural.

The hood is very big, plenty of room for a fur hat in winter.
The neck closure is buttoned and doubled up to keep the chill out.
I won't wax this one, instead I will give it a treatment with some Nikwax Tech Wash.
That'll proof it enough for my preference.
I use my new one for sitting by the fire of an evening.
And being cotton it won't melt under a spark.
It keeps the evening chill out a treat.

I bet some of you are wondering....
Jon, if it's a snow smock, how come it's green ?
Well Kevin has batch dyed some of these smocks a nice Swedish military green.
He has other colour varients on offer.

And the price?

If it's dyed - £26.00
If it's plain - £22.00

If you are interested in one of these classic smocks, go visit Kevin's dedicated pages...

Great value bits of old school kit.