The old time woodshop journals #36: Additional training in treenware

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Blog entry by jjw5858 posted 11-21-2012 10:48 PM 4305 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 35: From hearts, to trees, to hands Part 36 of The old time woodshop journals series Part 37: Woodworkers thoughts by way of world works »

Like any process through the creation of wooden spoons this has enabled me to become more adept at understanding the process of making bowl shapes. This work is small, and I find it to be just the correct size for beginning to grow the skill.

A spoon carved from pine: DSC04475
Hopefully as time goes on I will have more equipped larger timber, a hand adz and a bowl horse for correctly jigging in the blanks and working them to finality. For now this small piece of cherry wood presents a strong first lesson and the opportunity to understand more about the overall process.

Making the kuksa was a challenge but provided me the results and additional confidence to try a bowl. I would say the kuksa was more of a difficult task having to make such a deep bowl and a handle with a hole in it.

My first try at a Kuksa done here in cherry: DSC04520
This particular Swedish influenced small cherry bowl was at first a real tough catch to grab. The main ingredient with doing most of this bush craft business is having proper, sturdy and safe jigs for the hand work. So it looks like this guy has to create a bowl horse soon because even this little bowl was very interesting and satisfying work to perform as I would love to do more of it.

I really love that this work for me personally gives so much back in the lessons of timber, patience, and dealing with frustration. Behold lumber jocks, make no mistake about my words…this work does not always start out with an artisans glee, for there are pitfalls, sour starts and a few choice words at times…lol.

But in the entirety of the climb for fashioning a small humble hand worked bowl there are mysteries of something great unlocked inside the human spirit. To hew timbers, work calluses to a leathery numbness, sweat and conceptualize the next maneuver. I am without doubt that my efforts may be inspired by a sober combination of joys, grief, fear, and wonder of what this one simple man can do with honed tools and ideas.

The only thing that can hold back the ongoing quest of any of our plans to work new ground is our lack of fire to calm the storms of an innocent child like excitement. Whenever I take hold of something I want to engage in the steps with the simplicity of an enjoyable spirit.

But of course once the work has set it’s course it becomes very physical and ever challenging. I still recall the best aspects of the battle of building or shaping things are when your body is in full tempo like a championship boxer in the 5th round, everything is instincts, rhythm, and focus. The work is difficult but rewarded with hard efforts and somehow the psyche is massaged by wooden pieces fitting from our learned skills perhaps when life’s obstacles are left with dissatisfaction it may be a wonderful recipe to hold all things together.

Sometimes the particular piece seems to call us out making us humbled in our fumbled attempts. Yes woodworking green or dried sure has it’s moments of taking our energies down a notch. That is where I feel the actual work of wood takes place. Maybe the discouraging portions of the problem teach our hands the correct way to work though the knots, broken tails, or improper cuts. Possibly we may agree to be found incorrect and find new avenues to comply and compromise the worked plan around the woods telling tales. Many of these timbers before saw mills and lumber yards sat tall, strong and proud with there forest families so I suppose although cut apart from its whole those pieces they still have some weight to throw around our way far after the fact of their inevitable demise.

I love it and I cuss it, I care for it and I fuss for it. The many grains, leaves and barks masquerade in a wooded paradise as I walk through my daily purposes to attain a calmness in my very small spot in life. The future is masked in jaded throw away applications, minds are educated faster than ever all the while having little knowledge of the fields so ever green and waiting to show us more than our status on facebook.

I try to always set time aside for the places that provide me with works as well as wonders: DSC00404

So the tools are the instruments that I use to conduct the music in the specific way I hear it for any given design following the grains hoping for small victories, keeping my emotions in check. This game of hand tools is an out dated idea a silly notion passed on by increased ingenuity. As I continue to try and charm those old hand tool relics with oil cans, stones, and spirit I find the truth in our modern days that it’s the individuals attitudes that receives most of the rewards of any attempted charm as the tools just guide us there.

The roads are open to explore as this sought after craft of history may only serve us best if it is placed in our future. We might produce muscles we never knew we had by expanding our minds and depending on our craft work through the basic senses of ourselves.

Here is a brief slideshow of some of the moves taken to achieve a small carved bowl.

The beginning blank of black cherry:

The aroma is as wonderful as the wood carves: DSC04649

A nice trick if your without an adz is to take the heel of your hatchet and gently adz in the start of your bowl:

A nice sharp gouge and sturdy jig or vice will help remove the inner wood and carry out the tasks for the hollowing:

Now the process begins to take shape: DSC04652

A spokeshave for bowl work makes for nice shaping in concert with your carving knives!:


Lucky we are to dabble inside a once mandatory vocation for outside our workshops we have food, water and health wether the project is square or crooked. I give thanks for this and look forward to more of the experiences sharing with words and photographs some small part of my world. I hope it may keep you boxing and feeling alive, creative and happy. Look inside the tree as well as past it.

Take care friends and remember to laugh more!


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

2 comments so far

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2513 posts in 3678 days

#1 posted 11-22-2012 02:39 AM

Nice blog, that is real wood working.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29217 posts in 2332 days

#2 posted 11-22-2012 12:08 PM

As always, your work here is educational and inspiring.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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