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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Heating and beating

Gotten a little whittling in, more rosebuds imagine that.  Also got the house painted (partially) and spent a pile of time in the garden- well deserved time if I say so myself.  Haven't had soil under my fingernails for too many years.

Been doing a little heating and beating, forging little carving knife blades.  I made a little forge out of a juice can, mortar and perlite, fired with a propane torch, only to find out I don't need it.  The little blades I've been making to stick in wooden handles heat up more quickly directly in the torch flame. It takes longer to heat the forge, and heating the blade is not as even.

I got myself a little anvil- happy birthday to me.  Its called a stake anvil, little thing with a 2.5" square milled face.  I have two ASO's (anvil shaped objects) made of cast iron- look nice but don't function well as anvils, they are too soft.  At 15 lbs they are too heavy for paperweights or doorstops- not sure what to do with them.   I stuck the new anvil in an old newel post I saved from the destruction of my house.  I also modified a broken claw hammer I had laying around, wanted to try a gentle straight peen and figured the cheap way might be best until I figure out exactly what I want/need to make my little knives.  Hardened steel anvil and modified hammer work great, more forging and less grinding suit me just fine.  One day soon I'll step up and try forging one of my leather handled integral knives.

Friday, June 19, 2015

New knife

Little Birdseye Maple handled detail knife, off for 'independent assessment' today.  Forging a little blade like this lets me learn a little quicker- make it, take notes and go on the the next.  I have a hard time photographing the blade- hi polish reflects light no matter what angle I try.  Eventually I'll get to forging a integral knife with a leather wrapped handle.  Few more bugs to work out first...

June 22- sent this knife off last week to another carver, wanted his opinion on it- his comment floored me on the forum:  "I swear that it starts to cut before it touches the wood. "

Thank you.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not exactly whittling....

I have been busy, bit of yard work, new fence and some gardening for the first time in 6 years or more.  Decided to raise a bed, cheap and easy is 2x8 from the big box store, not so easy when I decided to make the front piece look like something else.  I used a little Proxon grinder with an 8-tooth chainsaw wheel for most of the faux rock, and an abrasive carbide wheel to round the edges. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, celery, zucchini and a few favorite roots- radish, beets and carrots.  I've been planting a mix of roots every week for a staggered harvest (that's the plan)  I don't want to hear from anyone about my tiny plants, I'm working on it.  I'll do better next year.

Just past the bed are four little patches planted last fall or so- garlic, onions, chives, and more onions.  At the end of the year I'll raise another bed for all those items.

There's another bed-in-process just off my right shoulder in this pic, I'm about half done on a matching front piece.  That one will have basil, strawberries, daisies and maybe a little thyme.

Some new study says digging in the dirt is therapeutic.  Wonder how much we paid for that?


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life is not all about whittling

Sometimes you have to garden, or if you are in the frozen north in March, you think, read and dream about gardening.  The seed companies know this and send out catalogs to arrive during blizzards.

I like perennials, or annuals & biennials that reseed themselves.  Generally this means heirlooms as modern hybrids don't necessarily breed true.  In my Interweb wanderings for perennial herbs & veggies I came across a site suggesting I could perennially grow veggies from kitchen scraps.  Hey, I wasn't born yesterday, I've sprouted an avocado pit, or a green potato, and been semi successful with pineapples before.  Fun, but hardly useful.  The only thing I've been 100% successful growing from kitchen scraps is mold....

However, I'm always on the lookout for some tidbit of trivia that might prove useful or entertaining, so I took a look and got taken to school.

The first site was a couple coeds blogging about growing scallions, they'd seen the idea elsewhere and gave it a try.  The basic process is to only use the greens of your store bought scallions, stick the roots & whites in water to grow more greens.  OK, slightly useful, but I like to use the whites too. Then a little light bulb came on, and I realized a cup of water on the window sill would probably let me keep my scallions fresher, perhaps indefinitely.  We generally stick em in the fridge in the plastic bag we bought em in, use a few then forget them.  I hate finding them spoiled, sometimes I find more than one partial bunch in there.  Waste and Inefficiency- my two biggest pet peeves.  It works well by the way, have a few in a glass on the sill as I type.  Roots are growing, greens are growing- they are advancing instead of declining like they would in my fridge.  Woo Hoo!

Hmmm, one page got me one tidbit, so I searched some more.  Turns out there are more useful edible things people claim you can grow from veggie parts you'd throw away anyway- new celery from the bottom of the stalk (looks promising, mine is sprouting), cabbage, lettuce, broccoli(?), maybe even mushrooms.  That's in addition to the old standby potato/avocado/pineapple routine.  Neat hing I see there is I'll (eventually) end up growing at the same pace we consume at.  Lets face it, if I buy a pack of celery seeds I'll plant all 25 or 250 seeds and never want to see celery again.  If I grow another plant every time  we use a stalk, we'll end up with a staggered harvest that pretty much matches our rate of consumption- I think.

We all need to eat more veggies anyway.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Start where you are.

Came across the following quote by Arthur Ashe (tennis player):

Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.

I think that's a great way to approach carving.  The world is full of the next great tool you absolutely have to have in order to be a better carver.  Lets face it, many of us have the tool collecting bug anyway.  That doesn't mean you can't start right now-  If all you have is a knife, get some wood and go for it.  if all you have is $20, get a knife and some wood and go for it.

Maybe you're a whittler and that's all you need.  If not, you can always get more, later.

Just go for it  (Don't tell Nike I said that)

Buffalo Bif

Monday, January 26, 2015

Toolmaking again

Spent some time lately trying to get a better gouge than the one I have, the one I used making the spoons in the last entry here.  Mine is a little gouge from an inexpensive set like you might find at the local big box craft store.  The edge was ground wrong when I got it, too low and angle and the edge wore badly on one spoon.  Before I finished the last spoon I managed to get the edge in good shape. However, its a little soft and I'd like something better.  Has to be high carbon steel, hardened RC 60 or so, 1/2" wide.

Of course I want to use my own material for a handle, in this case I've picked a Tagua nut my Mom gave me years ago.  Its pretty big, 2+ inches long, and I've looked at it dozens of times over the last few years trying to come up with the perfect project.

I can find unhandled gouges, or I can find gouges made the way I want, but I can't find both.

Dammit.  I may have to learn to make a gouge.

Here's the nut I want to use- has a great organic shape, symmetrical left to right but not in any other direction.  Turns out if you remove the bark carefully you can leave some of the it in the vein pattern on the nut.  Cool, huh?  I scraped it clean, sanded through the grits to 600 then buffed with the same green compound I use for stropping.  There's a flat on the bottom, I'm thinking I'll add an ebony ferrule when I glue the blade in.  Planning on a beeswax finish.

Stay tuned.

Buffalo Bif

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Waxing Moon Spoon

So here's a little spoon I did for a 'love spoon' exchange with 4 others on the WCI forum.  I ended up whittling 7 to supply looky-loos who wanted one (wife & daughters).  I'll include a couple pics of the thought process involved in designing my spoon.  It's by no means a tutorial, just an example of how my mind worked.

Here's the finished spoons, set to go.  You may recognize my fridge magnet moon.  Spoons are bass, finished with water based poly, so not food safe by any means.  Since they weren't going to be food safe, I left the gouge marks in the bowl.  First real use of the gouge for me, by the way.  Lotta fun.  I glued a rare-earth magnet to the back of each to let them hang on the fridge.   They're about 2" x 6" or so, not too big for a decoration.

Started the process with a concept sketch, easy to grab the moon from the pattern I kept, quickie sketch in the forever notebook to give me an overall size.  Notes below the spoon are dimension measured from the sketch, notes to the right are about the attributes of the waxing and waning moon taken from a pagan website (see my previous post)

Never having done a spoon before I grabbed my favorite soup spoon from the kitchen drawer to help establish the curves in the handle and the bowl.

First roughouts cut, I was able to stack more than one up and make consecutive cuts in one block of wood 2" thick x 6 or so wide and long.  Had to adjust a bit for each  additional spoon to keep the grain running the length of the handle.

There you go.  Not the last spoon I'll do, that's for sure.

Buffalo Bif

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Waxing Moon

The Waxing Moon
Waxing Moon means the moon is getting larger in the sky, moving from the New Moon towards the Full Moon. This is a time for spells that attract, that bring positive change, spells for love, good luck, growth. This is a time for new beginnings, to conceptualize ideas, to invoke. At this time the moon represents the Goddess in her Maiden aspect, give praise to Epona, Artemis or one of the other Maiden Goddesses. The period of the waxing moon lasts about 14 days.
' the moon waxes and wanes,
and walks three nights in darkness,
so the Goddess once spent three nights
in the kingdom of Death.

I found the above on The White Goddess Pagan Portal

Why I'm posting it here will become apparent later this week.  There is a good deal more there, take a look if you like.

Buffalo Bif

Friday, January 2, 2015

Meet me in a dream

The holiday crush is over, all that's left is to pay the bills.  The stemware I whittled ended up being a bit of a full court press; I thought I had started early enough, but two or three restarts on the cat set me back.  Getting them done meant whittling every day, and I can't tell you how good that felt.  I haven't put that much effort into whittling in far too long.

Sittin' here now on the edge of the New Year, looking over the year to come with a head cold, lucky me.  I got involved in a spoon exchange on the WCI forum, roughed one out over the holiday and started whittling- I can't help it , it's making me giddy.  (could be the cold meds... )  I feel like Allister Sims as Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning in that old black & white movie I love to watch every year.  Been thinking of a spoon for a while, the exchange is small so a perfect time to stretch my limits a little.

Makin chips, trying something new, and dreaming abut having my bare feet in some hot sand, head in the sun, making chips on a tropical beach.  Sounds of surf and seabirds, and no watch or clock to be seen.

See you there-

Buffalo Bif