Sunday, 31 August 2014


As the title suggests I have just started carving, greenwood carving for now.

A few weeks ago we had a massive storm in York and a willow tree split in the storm.  Since I was a kid I would pick up a stick and a pocket knife and imagine carving "something recognizable". The only thing I did consistently was leak red stuff from one of my digits.

I scoured the web for beginners guides and found a raft of information.  In todays world YouTube is the Oracle.

I bought the following online.

Gransfors Hand Hatchet (

  from - I phoned them as I wasnt sure if as a beginner I should go for the Wildlife Hatchet or the Hand Hatchet - both have the same heads - the difference is in the length of the handle. 

My next purchase was from Springfields via Amazon. 
I got the Mora 106 (longer straight blade) and the Mora 164 single edged spoon knife (also known as the Mora Hook knife .  On all the reviews for the Mora 164 it is very clear the 164 does not come as sharp as the 106. In fact - just about every review said you are best opening the package and then sharpen it yourself before you attempt to use it. 
Next port of call was YouTube for some instructibles on how to sharpen knives, the 164 in particular. 
I found 2 very useful videos, they both follow the same idea.

With sharp tools and a couple of hours to play with I hit the shed. 

My first attempt was on a short branch of Alder that was lying on the pavement and had been there for a few weeks.  
I split the branch (log section) and chose the smaller half. 

I thought I had a couple more photos of the next stages but I seem to have lost them somehow. Lets just say its MUCH smaller than it is in these photos. 
Feeling a bit lost and deflated I went back to YouTube for some more tips.  I found Porkbrick's video and it made a huge difference.  Thanks to Porkbrick for breaking it down into a logical sequence. 
His first of 4 vids can be found here :
Carving a spoon

(Edit 29/09/2014 - the not finished first spoon - the bottom of the 2 - with its better looking sibling from the other half of the piece it came from.) I have decided to stop trying to "fix" it and just leave it as is as a reminder of my first attempt.

So a week later I dashed out and split a piece of the Willow tree I had scavenged. Here are some of the photos. 

The split half - This is the thicker of the 2 halves.  as you can see the grain does not run in straight lines.  One of the mistakes I made on the first spoon was that I tried to carve straight lines and got rips and snags all over the place.   This time round I was going to follow the grain - thanks to Porkbricks vids. 
I used the axe to smooth the open surface and remove the bark off the outer side. 

I mapped out the bowl of the spoon - as this was where I was starting from and the rest would evolve as I roughed out one section. 

With a rough spoon outline shaped using the axe it was now time to start refining things.  I setup a temporary vice/bench with some old 2 x 4s that had been lying around for years.  I have an idea to make a more permanent version in the near future.  
I used a gouge to rough out the bowl.

Unfortunately I dont have any photos of me doing the next stages - I got lost in the moment and 4 hours later realized I was straining my eyes, and had shed a few drops of blood as well.   Silly mistakes, none of them while actually carving.  One nick was due to me holding the spoon AND the knife in my left hand to get a drink of water. I managed to bump the spoon on the "bench" and in turn push the blade into my finger - not deep but deep enough.  ( I now wear a glove on my left hand).
Below are photos of the first phase of the Big Spoon. 

** the "smudges" are a drops of the red stuff.  
The spoon fits quite well in the right hand - using the natural curve of the grain kinda forced the outcome. 
The spoon has been drying in a plastic bag for a week now.  As it is made of Willow I am being diligent and expect it to take a full 2 weeks to dry out. 
(Update,  Ive just sanded the spoon with varying grades - 70 - 100 - 120 (wet and dry) - and its showing some really nice patterns.  Ill use walnut oil to harden it. ) 

I will post a part II to this,  I also carved another spoon after the Willow Big Spoon - a smaller Soup Spoon out of the other half of the alder log I split earlier. 


1 comment:

  1. Nice work Jo, how long will it be before I can come round for tea and get a full set of cutlery?