Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wooden Bowl and Spoon

Final push in the final weeks before Pennsic.  The projects are getting faster and faster so this is clearly not my best work.  What I was looking for was a passible option for feast gear.  I simply wanted a period looking bowl and wooden spoon.  I called a friend who had chopped a tree down last fall.  The pear tree was still in a pile of firewood in the back yard so it became my next project.

Here is the log before splitting.

This particular species of wood split very nicely and I love almost everything about this log.  If I had other options I might look for a slightly wider log and perhaps one with less cracks in it.  That will cause a problem you will see later.

Here is a smaller branch from the same tree.  It split just as easy as the larger log.  I looked for a small log with a slight curve to it.  As I planned to make this one into a spoon, I wanted a slight curve so that when I split the spoon along the grain it would have a natural bend to it.

Split log.  Only took about three good wacks to get it done.

I did as much carving as I could with just the axe you see in the image below.  I have seen some videos of period spoon carvers and it seems that the most of the work was done with an axe.  It is much tougher than I thought.  To hit hard enough to cut and yet control the stroke really stressed the muscles in the forearm.  I really look forward to trying more of these when I get back.  I hope to try it again on a greener branch next time. 

This is where the work with the axe ended. 

Time to start the bowl.  After spliting the log I used the axe to smooth out the bottom of the bowl.  I then took a hand planer to the bottom to make sure I had a smooth flat surface to place the piece on to start carving the top.

Here is the bottom smoothed out and ready to flip.

Did the same thing on the top.  This time I paid a bit more attention to making sure that the top and the bottom were parallel.


Once the top and bottom were smoothed out to my satisfaction I started carving the shape of the bottom with the axe.  The basic shape you see below was done primarily with the axe and cleaned up a little with the plainer.

Ready to start dishing out the top of th bowl.

At this point the project was going a bit slower than I liked and I didn't have the proper tools to do this in the period manner.  I didn't have any deep gouges or spoon chisels so I opted to cheat and use some power tools.  I used a router with a rough bit to hollow out the inside of the bowl.

Done with power tools now, I switched back to my small carving tools to try and finish it off.

Not too bad actually.  Still couldn't get all the small cuts smoothed out sufficiently. 

The biggest regret I have with this project you'll see below.  I had seen how some folks would use fire to hollow out logs to make them into canoes and such.  I thought the same idea would work here.  Well, it worked.  The problem was with cleaning out the burnt wood to then use the surface to eat off of.  Yuck.  The inside was smoothed out nicely but the char was so bad I spent more time trying to scrape it out.

I finally settled on filling the bowl with clean sand and using a mortar to grind it in.  That worked as a sort of sand paper to grind out the burnt wood.  I then rinsed it out a bunch of times until no more soot came out.  I had to settle with a burnt looking bowl though.  Very unhappy with this project and will not likely use it after Pennsic.

On to the spoon.
Some further carving done with the three knives you see here.

At least I didn't have to use any power tools on this part of the project.  I am very happy with the spoon, so all is not lost.

The slight natural bend along the grain made the spoon fit in my hand nicely.

The finished pair of items ready for feeding.