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.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Re helve/Re handle an axe.

Some time ago my friend Gerald bought round some Ash for me to use to re-handle some of my tools. I split it up and left it in the Apple Room to dry out...

spoon carving

One of the tools that has been languishing in a draw is a rather fine Japanese laminated Axe head. So this weekend I decided that the Ash was seasoned enough for me to set about the job of making a new helve for it. The first thing to do was select a nice piece for the job. One of the billets had a knot about a third of the way up, so I decided to use this piece as I didn't need a full length and I could cut out the knotty piece...

spoon carving

As with all this work it is best not to rush anything. Have a picture in your mind of the finished job...


spoon carving

With my Axe I gently start removing the waste wood. I am looking for an elliptical shape down the length of the billet...

spoon carving

Of course the chickeny helpers are always near...

spoon carving

Because of the unusual set of this particular head I make the helve into an "S" shape so I can fit my hand tight up and under the beard of the Axe...

spoon carving

When I am close to the desired shape, I start to use my carving knife to get things flowing...

spoon carving

I carefully shape the part that will slip through the Eye of the Axe. This needs to be an interference fit. I will tap the head on as far as it will go, and then remove it again. As you can see, this leaves a mark on the wood that I can use as a template. I will keep doing this until I have enough wood through the Eye....

spoon carving

Knock the head on...

spoon carving

And take it off again...

spoon carving

As you do this you will get a feel for the helve as you handle it more. With the knife remove more waste and add shape...

spoon carving

When the head fits the helve, I will add the final carving touches and then scrape down the helve with a small knife blade. I usually use a little Opinel, which I sharpen up on a medium diamond stone. A friend bought a set for me from a local builders merchant, very cheep, very useful...

spoon carving

With this technique I can get a very good finish that will need minimal sanding...
The next thing to do is cut in a slot for the wedge that will affix the helve to the head...

spoon carving

Cut down until the slot nearly reaches the bottom of the depth of the Eye...

spoon carving

Next I will fashion a wedge making sure to mark the depth to which the wedge will fit into the slot. This will help me to know when I have reached the fullest depth as I am pressing the wedge home...

spoon carving

First I split a small billet down to size, then fashion the wedge shape...

spoon carving

spoon carving

And mark up...

spoon carving

spoon carving

spoon carving

I will present the wedge to the slot one final time just to make sure all will fit nicely together...

spoon carving

Next step is to gently press the head onto the helve. This time it will be easier because of the recently cut slot...

spoon carving

I will place the wedge into the slot and you can either employ a lump hammer, carefully tapping the wedge in, or in my case I employed a sash clamp and carefully pressed the whole assembly home...

spoon carving

spoon carving

When the wedge is at its maximum depth I remove the excess with a saw and tidy up with a knife...

spoon carving

spoon carving

All nicely done...

spoon carving

A bit of a sharpen and away we go with some more spoons...
With Dolly the chickens help, I couldn't go wrong...

spoon carving


ENJOY...



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