Archive for May, 2010

Making a hand forged spoon carving chisel

Posted in Blacksmithing, knifemaking, metalwork, Spoon Carving, Tool Making on May 30, 2010 by Jim

This all started with a rusty ring:

RingForChisel

I have been wanting to do some blacksmithing for a while now and I just got my excuse. My neighbor had a bucket full of these rings. They are end cut offs from larger springs. His company had thrown them out and they were just rusting away in has back yard. When he offered that I could have as many as I liked, I took him up on it. Spring steel is lovely high carbon stuff and I have had a need for a curved bladed carving chisel

Why buy it if you can make it?

I could certainly buy one of those beautiful new Flexcut brand scorps, but then I wouldn’t get to make one myself! There is magic in making things and double magic in making tools I’m sure.

We lit the forge up and after some instruction, I got the ring mostly straightened and the curve in the end roughed out.

RighAfterForging

This picture is just after the initial shaping. I took the the chisel out of the coals and dropped them into a bucket of ashes to cool. Letting it cool slowly like that left it soft (annealed) for finish shaping. I took the rough chisel to the grinder and got the blade edge ground down, close to done.

Once the blade was mostly shaped, it was back to the coals. I got the piece good and hot, almost translucent on a piece this thin, then dropped it into a vat of quenching oil.

AfterOilQuenching

This picture shows the chisel with blade shaped, holes drilled for rivets, and fresh out of the quench. (click on any of the pictures to see them larger)

Too hard to use

When the blade comes out of the quenching oil, it is too hard to use. It is really brittle like glass – you have to temper it. Tempering is a way to leave the blade hard enough to stay very sharp but not so brittle that it chips or breaks. I polished it up so I could watch the colors change and into the oven it went. When it got to a the right color for the temper I wanted (I went into bronze-ish), I cooled it again.

Here is the finished chisel:

I had this piece of walnut burl in the scrap bin and I used 1/8” brass rod for the rivet.

I am really happy with how it turned out. Now, we will have all the wooden spoons we can stand! I enjoyed this work so much that I may have to make some for other folks.

Happy Memorial Weekend,

Jim

had a need for a curved bladed carving chisel

A flood and a catfish – what a combination

Posted in Carving, Toy Making, Uncategorized, Woodworking on May 21, 2010 by Jim

Wow, the last two days have been about water. Squirrels in my yard decided that my gutter downspouts were lovely walnut dispensers. They brought walnuts from the other side of the house to stack in my gutters. It was like a giant Pez dispenser for squirrels.

Without gutters to give the rain something funner to do, it all ran into my shop. I have been moving water from one side of the shop to the drain on other side since yesterday.

On a happier note, I got to play with the new draw-knives that my dad made me (see post just before this one). They flew through this poplar like butter. I am finding that I can rough out a carving like this faster and more happily with a spokeshave, hand plane, and a draw knife than with power tools.

Hand Carved Wooden Catfish Toy with a crown

This little catfish survived the flood. I was laughing a lot of the time I was carving him. I have been making up epic tales of his exploits in my head. (Maybe I was breathing too many paint fumes in the shop…)

If you need King Catfish to swim in your pond, or to recite to you his heroic exploits,  he will be available on my Etsy shop here.

Why I write Make Stuff With Your Hands

Posted in Blathering, Forging, knifemaking, metalwork, Tool Making, Woodworking on May 6, 2010 by Jim

An ulterior motive!

Could it be that I have a sneaky ulterior motive? Well of course. Sort of. Except, it is not sneaky, nor ulterior.

I love to teach, I really do. I want to teach classes on how to build things. I want to write books that help people learn how to build things. So many of the techniques that I use, I learned in books and I want to write one of those great books. I want to write something as amazing as The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking by James Krenov. I want to write something as useful as Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. I want to write something as beautiful and inspiring as Sam Maloof, Woodworker. This is why I am here. I practice my writing so I can put my thoughts in words and pictures for you – even as I practice my craft. This blog will help me write a book that will be easy to learn from and full of amazing projects that you will want to build!

Amazing Teachers

I surely did not figure all this out just with books. My dad is a maker and put tools in my hands straight away. I also had an amazing apprenticeship with a master carpenter. Besides being a carpenter, he had an art degree, and was a musician. He stood next to me every day for years and he taught me how to make things. When I asked him if I could be his apprentice, he told me that I could if I promised to pass it along. Passing along making is why I write Make Stuff With Your Kid. I apprenticed under a master furniture maker for a year and he and I inspired each other – then we made a ton of wooden hand planes and patted ourselves on the back a little too much. (but anyway…)

My Future

I am going to keep writing for you. I will share my projects, and if you ask, I will help you with yours. I am making teaching and craft a part of every day of my life. It brings me great joy and I and hope that I can help you like others helped me. (John, you said I had to promise, and here I am!)

Alright, enough jawing already and on to the Craft…

I promised you some draw-knives and here are some draw-knives:

Hand made draw knife

My dad made these little beauties out of an old hand saw blade. I hope to turn some handles for them this weekend. I could not wait for handles, so since I took this picture, I sharpened them and tried them out. The are as sweet as they look. I took a few pulls at a duck decoy I have in the works and they are lovely. I can already tell that these will be my go-to tools for roughing out a new carving.

Thanks for coming by,

-Jim

A Murder of Crows

Posted in Carving, decoys, Woodworking on May 4, 2010 by Jim

I am really pleased with this new crow. I am getting quite a set of watch crows around the house. Somehow, they are comforting if you put them at the top of a bookcase where they can see the whole room.

I find this cedar surprisingly hard to carve.  I have to keep my knives very sharp but the incense of the cedar shavings filling the room makes it worth the extra effort.

This decoy is available for sale on Etsy here.

-Jim

New Crow Decoy Pattern

Posted in Carving, decoys, Woodworking with tags , , on May 2, 2010 by Jim

I have been working on a new fuller bodied crow decoy pattern. Here is a the first rough carving using it.

Do you have any old wooden crow decoys or carved wooden crows?

If you do, I would love to hear about them.

-Jim