Sunday, 15 July 2012

It's About Time...

OK, so it took me about four months, but the spokeshave that I alluded to a while back is finally done.  Well, all done but sharpening the bevel, that's a subject for another post.  Here is my list of excuses in no particular order:  Back pain, foot pain, tax pain, Wood '12, yard work, building fence, and general laziness. 

The shave is made using a kit from Lee Valley and the wood came from a pallet.  After working with it I decided it was poplar.  It's finished with three coats of tung oil.

You may notice that the lines are not exactly those of the traditional shave in the background.  I wanted this shave to have an aggressive look, almost evil.  Here's another shot of the front.

The shape is not just for looks though.  Ergonomics played a big roll in determining the way the shave was shaped.  If you look at the grip that I use you can see that my fingers fit naturally on the shave in a way that they can't on the traditional shave.

On the back side those walnut plugs cover up a couple of nail holes.  They also add a sort of  'thumbs go here' target reference. 
Finally, here is that brass strip I was posting about earlier.

Yeah,  I overdid the polishing, but I did get a nice, reflective surface.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Exotic Wood Close to Home

Woodworkers love exotic woods.  Vivid colors and strong grains catch the eye and can give a piece that wow factor we all want.  Wood from far away places like Africa, South America, and Australia add extra cachet to your work.

Exotic can also be in the eye of the beholder, I've found.  A friend told me about a time he was on vacation in the Carribean and watched a worker use a sledge hammer to drive a beam of purpleheart into place.  He said it almost made him cry.

In that spirit I would like to tell you about some extremely rare wood that I recently harvested.

That tall spindly thing between the houses is an apple tree.  It is shaded from the east by my neighbor's house, from the south by the large pine at the front of the picture, and from the west by large trees on the other side of the yard.  As part of our plan to rejuvenate this side of the yard these two trees, along with two more, are coming out. (Before you get too upset about four trees being cut down, you should know that this still leaves eight trees in my front yard alone.  If you are still upset, come over and rake leaves this fall.)

There should be enough there for at least eight bowls, although I hear fruit wood is also good for making spokshaves.  That rings a bell for some reason...

Whatever I choose to make from this tree, no one else will have wood quite like this, and that's about as exotic as you can get.  I have a couple of other 'exotic' woods in my collection already.  These pieces are made from a mountain ash that grew in my back yard:

This bowl came from a big leaf maple burl that grew in the back alley two doors down.

No, I didn't cut it down in the middle of the night.  I happened to see the guy cutting it down and offerred to help if he gave ms some of the wood.  He gave me a piece about two feet in diameter and three feet tall, covered in burl.  It was all I could do to roll it over to my yard.  He said a friend of his was going to take the rest for fire wood.  Doesn't that almost make you cry?