Sunday 10 April 2016

Spoon carving adventure.

Sarah and I have been on a small adventure on our recent vacation.
We loaded the car for a trip to Scotland.
Chris Grant has been asking if I could run a few spoon carving courses up in his neck of the woods. Well, finally we managed to get something sorted.
Chris has a friend, Peter, who runs Skillshare Dundee.
You'll find an over view by following the link highlighted above.
Peter organised a course at their HQ in Dundee and another at Chris's home.


We organised the spoon carving course at the end of our visit to give Chris time to make up a batch of MiniMacs especially for the occasion. 


The MiniMac's are all  handled in Walnut with workshop sheaths.
The Westermann hook knives also sport a walnut handle of my design.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Nic Westermann of for making and delivering five of his finest hook knives in time for our course. Nic is an absolute star who makes what I consider the best hook knives for spoon carving.
A fine set of top quality tools for our students.
Chris's mother Kit has promised a tool roll for the set, I'm looking forward to trying it out.
The visit wasn't all work though.


We spent an afternoon at the coast, taking photographs and picnicking.
Lunan bay is a beautiful place, we'll definitely visit again in the summer when the sun fully returns.

Lunan bay

Chris and I spent time chatting, on the second day, in the wee hours after a fine dinner and a sip or two. It wouldn't be a MaChris design vacation unless we designed a new knife... so we did. 
I'll let you have a peek sometime this summer. We're a bit busy with MiniMac and MaChris production at the moment, so on the back burner it goes.
The Macs and Grants love a bit of history so we took in the castle at Dunnottar.
Such a fine castle, ruined in battle....

Dunnottar castle

However, the highlight of our visit, save for the designing, making, eating, teaching, walking .......
was a visit to the
It's a must !
Especially if you're interested in bronze age history.
We were given a talk and a guided tour of the Crannog, which is a thatched roundhouse built on stilts out in the loch. 
As you can see, it's a large affair, timber built from the round with wattle walls, doubled up, with insulating material stuffed between the walls.


I had a chat with the management about carvings found at various Crannog sites throughout Scotland and thought it would be a good gesture to leave one of my ale hens with them for safe keeping, plus a spoon or two.


I'm hoping to organise a course at the site in the summer school holidays.
I can't wait !


We visited a Pictish fort with vitrified walls.
No one knows as yet how this came about.
A mystery wrapped within an enigma....


We had a sit down and a chat to try and work out the why's and how's.....
To be honest.... It's still a mystery.

Pictish fort

However... What we did know was that at the end of the week we had two groups of folk hungry for information on how to carve a spoon and perhaps more importantly, how to safely use an axe, knife and hook knife. These tool handling skills are interchangeable. What you learn carving a spoon can be moved across to the kitchen or to the world of hunting and camp craft. It's all about familiarity with the edge tool one might take out on a wild camp adventure.

Skillshare+skillshare dundee+spoon carving+jonmac

My first course took place at Skillshare Dundee.
We decided to run the course on the lawn as the weather was being kind.
We have the capability of doing the same indoors so a winter course becomes possible.
We started with the axe.


I had a fine mix of folk of all ages with different interests.
I was able to take them through the whole process of spoon carving mainly focusing on edge tool techniques.


I kept the class size down to a manageable amount so I could keep a weather eye on my students.



The MiniMac knives went down well with the students.
Good and sharp with superior edge holding they went for two days with nothing more than a light strop. Chris has certainly mastered the heat treatment on the 52100 bearing steel. It takes seven separate stages until he is truly satisfied the crystal structure is correct.


We had an indoor course as well, my word, it took some hoovering after I can tell you.


All of my lovely students managed to finish up with a spoon after just one day of tuition.


I'm now in talks with the management at an estate with plenty of woodland, so perhaps I will be able to offer a camping/bushcrafty type course up in Scotland in the near future.

I'd very much like to thank all the folk I met this visit. My students were Wonderfull and full of questions, the stewards I met at the historic sites were full of answers and so accommodating.


  1. Sounds like a great trip Jon

    1. We had a super time George. We met some wonderful folk. Ready to go up in the summer... J

  2. Jon, what a great few places you chose to visit, whilst sharing your skills for the benefit of others. The smiles on your students' faces says it all. You have just helped us too. I've added Dunnottar to our list of must visit castles.
    Crannogs are so fascinating. We were blown away by Finlaggan when touring and wild camping on Islay
    Can I just add my endorsement of Nic too. I have a few of his blades from when I met him at a spoon / blademaking event a few years ago. A master craftsman (and a great guy to boot).
    May I also add I admire your photographer's eye.

    1. Thank you W.K. Just off the phone to Chris. Planning our next visit. Looks like the Crannog gig is on. Thanks for your support... J

  3. Replies
    1. Hoping to run courses in the summer hols. Looking forward to getting back up there... J.


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