Tools and Utensils

Today I have two finished utensils to show off. The one that I completed first (and mentioned in a prior post) is the flipper/spatula carved from cedar. I'm mostly happy with this piece. The symmetry worked out fairly evenly and the end grain management was a lot better with this utensil than the cedar spoon pictured a few days ago. I didn't have any chip out on the handle end and it rounded off nicely. The part that I don't like is the quality and off-centered orientation of the hole. I did have a bit of tear out along the grain there even though I didn't bore the hole completely through, but flipped it over and finished the hole from the reverse side. The hole is also a bit sideways, though nobody would probably notice unless they were looking real close. I was able to clean it up alright in the sanding process, but you can't really fix an off-center hole in a reasonable way.

The second piece which I started and completed today is a small sort of spoon that could be used for everyday eating. It would make a good soup or cereal spoon in my estimation. I'm unsure what kind of wood it is; I had brought back the very straight branch as a dead fall years ago and shaved off the bark at that point. If I recall correctly, the bark was not chippy like oak, it was more smooth and stringy when shaved off like a young maple would be. I'm not sure whether it's a hard or soft wood either due to my complete lack of variety in carving woods. That said, it looks pretty to me with very straight, smooth grain, and the dark spots are in no way structurally detrimental. They add some personality to the piece. I feel that this piece also turned out decently symmetrical. It sits flat and will go back to a flat orientation when rocked after bobbling roundly a while. The taper on the handle allows the spoon to lay almost perfectly horizontal to the surface upon which it sits. The walls of the bowl are thinner than previous pieces because I've gained more confidence in my carving ability without hacking a hole clean through. It's fairly simple to use your fingers in the capacity of a caliper to check that you have an even thickness all over the bowl. I can still feel room for improvement in that area, but my progress is readily apparent to me. The end grain played along nicely on this spoon for the most part, and you can see a tiny bit of the pith on the very front edge of the bowl which adds a splash of color to the generally drab wood. Thankfully I have more of this wood if I want to continue working with it. I'm sure that I could likewise find more down in my local woodland.

To round out what I consider to be an elementary toolset, I procured a Wood River spokeshave today. You can see it pictured alongside my Pfeil drawknife. It's made out of a hefty cast iron and a good high carbon steel blade. It'll take some practice to get used to it, but it's a very easy tool to use and I got some very nice results with it right out of the box. Speaking of boxes, it comes in a pine one with a sliding lid, but I'm going to cast that aside since it rests in there among some foam padding to keep it from knocking around. It's more of a classy shipping box than a good storage box. But that leads me to a future project that I'd like to tackle soon: A custom tool box to hold my wood carving tools. Each tool can have its own particular slot that it fits snugly into. It'll be a safe, compact storage mechanism that has to be better than a pile of tools on the floor in the corner of a room. I may think about the design tomorrow and sketch out a rough plan after laying my tools out in whatever pattern will fit best on a pine board that I already have. I want it to have some extra space that I can add more tools to later on since I do anticipate eventually getting more gouges or flat chisels as I progress. All that can be considered tomorrow, though.