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.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

MaChris Sandvik 14C28N bushcraft/carver (special edition)


Chris Grant and I have been in cahoots again.
We’ve been pondering whether or not a stainless steel knife can be hard used for camping and camp work.
Chris and I decided to look into the matter.
Imagine, a knife that can be used in damp/wet conditions without staining or corrosion.
A knife that will keep a good edge and is easy to sharpen.
A great idea, one that I was keen to explore.
Chris sourced some good quality stainless from Sweden, apparently the popular 12C27 steel is no longer made. I have some French Laguiole eating knives with this steel, treasured possessions. 
He used some new 14C28N, doesn’t roll off the tongue, but there you go.
This 14C28N steel is very similar to 12C27, fine grained, with a keen edge, it also contains Nitrogen molecules, which significantly increase the stain resistance, with no loss of that desirable keen edge; it’s VERY stainless, stainless steel.
So, what handle would compliment this ultra modern blade?…
Previously, Chris has made several ‘Special Edition’ MaChris knives utilising Stabilized wood. This is a process whereby softer woods, like birch or walnut, or weaker woods, such as spalted woods, can be impregnated with a thermo-setting acrylic resin.
Also, this plasticising process makes the handle waterproof!
Ideal for a multi purpose outdoors knife!
As this was the first proper custom knife he had made for me, Chris wanted to do something different and appropriate, personal.
So, for the handle, he opted to use Birch polypore mushroom!
This fungus, often referred to as ‘the razor strop fungus’ has a rich history and many many uses.
It was a very appropriate choice of material considering I have used it many times in the past for honing blades.
The Polypore and I are intimately connected to the Birch tree.
It’s part of our lives….
 
After some telephone conversations about slight design changes, Chris got to work.
 
One sunny morning, the postie arrived with a package…
Here it is !!!

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N

Blade: 
Sandvik 14C28N. A variant on the very popular 12C27 steel, used for razor blades, French Laguoile, Mora, Brusletto and Karesuando knives.
This variant allows for much greater stain resistance having 0.11% Nitrogen added to the alloy. 
The fine grain structure allows a very fine edge, finer than the vast majority of stainless blade steels.
Hardened to 58/59 HRC
 
 
Handle:
Stabalised Birch Polypore (Pitoporus betulinus) a common Birch fungus renowned for its many uses.
(I think the use of Pitoporus betulinus for knife scales may be a world first)
It was cut, dried and impregnated with methylacrylate resin. 
Most wood when stabilized takes on 20-40% mass, this fungus took on 737%!! 
Stabilised/plasticized by Cliff Schooling of Crandart Knives.
 
Sarah and I took it for an outing up the Dart gorge.

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


 The first job I gave it was dressing up some Chanterelle.

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N

I took it to the Wilderness Gathering and demonstrated spoon carving with it.
Carving some easy Birch.
Now I’m home again, unpacked and settled, I thought I should give the knife a good test against my current MaChris made in 52100 bearing steel.
First off I gave them a good sharpen on Japanese water stones supplied by Matthew Platt 

Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+14C28N


Bushcraft knife+spoon carving knife+jonmac+MaChris+52100
I selected some year seasoned Laburnum.
Of all the types of wood I have carved in my time, I find that if a blade is going to get damaged, it’ll get damaged in Laburnum.
I carved a small spoon using each knife and gave the blade a light strop, a couple of passes, once, at the half way point.
spoon-carving+spooncarving

Both spoons turned out well.
 
I inspected the blades under a magnifying glass. I remember testing the 52100 steel some time ago through Laburnum, the results were the same then as now, there was a slight blunting of the cutting edge, the knife was still useable and became sharp after another light strop.

The surprise of the match was the Stainless steel.
There was a little damage noticeable under close inspection with the magnifier, tiny micro pressure chips, pretty well invisible to the naked eye. Even with this light damage, the knife was still sharp.
An aggressive edge that would still, without any further work, see you right for your remaining camp work until you had time to attend to it.
I used it in this state to cut some leather for a strop, it cut without a problem.
The stainless MaChris deals with softer woods without any issues.
The handle material is something else to look at, beautiful.


I worked some of the carving in direct sunlight, the handle remained quite neutral with regards to grip. Not at all slippery.  

I gave both knives a quick go on the waters stones, both became sharp with minimal work.

 
I am super impressed with this Stainless steel.
Chris Grant and I will add this to the family of MaChris now available as a special order item.
A great knife for those of us that may wish to paddle their way into the great outdoors.
Or for those who live and work in some of the wetter parts of the world.



Chris and I have also been busy with the design pencil, we have only the one and we share it between us.
If you are interested in this MaChris Stainless steel type, please feel free to contact Chris Grant at…

In a few months time I should be able to show you something new and quite special from the MaChris design shop.

scone-boy@hotmail.co.uk


Thanks all.
Enjoy.
J.




The Wasp King.


This year at the Wilderness Gathering I was honoured to be crowned
The Wasp King!

Last year at the show we had quite a few visiting wasps and hornets, some folk don't rub along with these creatures too well, my super mate Kaya, being one of them.
She is a dancer and even resorted to a wasp dance to charm the stripy, buzzing creatures away.
I'm lucky to be able, on the whole, to simply ask that they leave. This usually works - much to the amazement of others.
So it came to pass that Kaya decided I would be crowned the Wasp King...

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

My good friend Terry Longhurst, Scout leader and fine carver was sharing a beer with me at the days end. I noticed Kaya approach and Sarah with the camera....

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

There was something afoot....

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

After an explanation I was soon crowned.

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

The Wasp king !!!

wilderness gathering+wasp king+jon mac+spoon carving demonstration

Kaya even wrote a poem for the occasion.


The Wasp King.

He's Lord of the woods.
The spider in the web.
The shepherd of the wasps.
The keeper of keys.
The fire in the hornets nest.
The sailor of the sky.
Protector of the realm.
Saviour of the lost and confused.
He is King, the Wasp King, with the golden crown.
© Kaya Strachan

I can't tell you how much we laughed that evening and during the following days of the show.
Thank you so much Kaya.
And thank you to all the friends I caught up with.
Terry, if you read this, I'll chip carve your spoon when you come down to visit next.

J.