Month: May 2011

Gun Powder River Artfest

This weekend is the GunPowder River Art Festival, Last year it was on the Gun Powder river in Monkton Maryland. This year its at Boordy a fun relaxing place not far, just outside of Baltimore, with a scenic ride from any direction. last year was the first for this event, it promotes the arts in the north county, something that is highly underrated considering the natural inspiration of the area. Admission and venders cost go toward a scholarship to a graduating high school student who resides in the North County and will attend a 4 year college in pursuit of a degree in the visual arts.

So come out and support the artisans who do their damnedest to make high quality items while keeping the price at a reachable level for the economy scared while still trying to support their own families. It’s the same at all layers of this giant onion of finance, when money is spent it is also earned then that person will in turn spend and so on.

I’m still waiting on the Hickory seating tape I ordered for the ladder backs. Yes I found some since that post on “ladder bach chairs” it was a lead from Drew, this family is 5th generation chair makers in Appalachia, so I think this tape will give my chairs a look different from the past suppliers. Its been too wet for them to get to the trees, they are in Tennessee and we follow their weather, what system they get we get here in the north county and we have had a lot of rain this spring, so I wont have those chairs(might have enough hemp tape for one, will try weave it) but I will have living room tables, woodenware, a few firewood carriers left and some new items you need to see!

Axe Handle

The axe and handle went together within a few days of the last post. The handle was already dry like 3% moisture content but I wanted the tenon to be completely dry at assembly so it went in the kiln for a slow dry, till the weekend when I had a chance to work on it. The handle had a twist to it, that’s to be expected when working with a  limb section. The pith was running off and the side that exposed it was cupped along with the twist.I was getting a bit worried that it would lose too much thickness and be skinny as mentioned in the last post but it was thick enough to get parallel sides, fit the eye and still be shaped to my needs, with out laboring to get the desired effect.I shaped it with the draw knife and my new sloyd knife then finished with a couple three coats of shellac,rubbed out with a scotch pad  and applied past wax.

I bet that’s the accuracy the maker has, to get a piece rough shaped green and dry it to a dimension that can be shaped to the users liking in a short amount of time, that’s impressive.It’s the same in green woodworking rough em out and let them dry close to final dimension, but that’s a streight riven piece that’s predictable, a crook handle has a lot of reaction wood in it, each one is different.

This is a huge improvement on what I was using, not saying the other handle didn’t work it did but this is much better.The larger diameter is what stands out at first, it might be too big near the end of the handle, that can be reworked if necessary, the rest feels real nice I don’t have to grip so hard. I can swing this for longer periods before fatigue sets in.I get more power with less effort due to the bend and when hueing a split billet for a bowl that is wide it reaches across comfortably, when taking thin slices off I still get some deflection from the head hitting before the edge on the downward swing to remove the waste, I think that’s due impart to the flat face opposite the bevel face not being as flat as it could be.It was fun to use before now its even better.

As far as new tools with lots of plastic and rubber go…………………bit off topic…but want to share, I was given as a compilation prize at a woodworking show I did over the winter, a set of bench cookies.

When making wedges( been using Locust lately) I use the band saw,not that it matters,whatever sawing technique is used I want to plane off the saw marks and be left with two flat smooth surfaces for gluing. Its tough trying to slide that small piece of streight grained hard wood over a razor-sharp blade let alone a slightly dull one, hard on the fingers. As always when doing this task I think of better ways to go about it ,this is a winner, chock up the 41/2 in the vice and go at it like your playing the final tourney at the shuffle board worlds!

Viking Axe Handle

I spoke to Drew Langsner  the other day, he gave me some great advice. He asked if I was still riding the bike and skate board,I said its been hard to squeeze it in, his advice was to keep doing those things.I know it might sound obvious but its good to hear it especially from someone you respect. I take it as make sure you keep doing things other than just work it’ll keep you young at heart and fresh in mind,woodworking you can do late into your years but some activities not so much.He has said other things that have stuck with me,when I was a summer intern in ’98 he said ” some people can make it (furniture) some can sell it but few can do both”, I have found this to be very true.I ‘m not sure why that stuck with me but it has and when I do something that is a big deal to me maybe a furniture show or looking at a job I really want to do, it reminds me that my strong spot is not in selling my stuff and I need to try harder, spend more time thinking of ways to execute these things that do not come easily, and there are more than I care to indulge.

 So in the spirit of staying active and keep doing the fun things in life a friend and I are shaping Alai’s I hope to post about that soon.

As I mentioned in an earlier post a lot of my tool handles need replacing. I have wanted to change the handle I put on the carving axe I have. It requires a bent handle, be that a streight piece steam bent or a natural crook sawn out.I have a piece of Locust set aside with a natural arch in the grain but has dried a bit much, it would be a lot of work is what I ‘m getting at and to steam one I need to make a bending form, I just don’t have time so I asked Drew if he had any of the Red Oak handles he use to steam bend for the Viking axe head they were selling.

 The bent handles he has are seconds but he found a handle that is the crook of a Birch tree from Sweden that the maker of the axe head sent over I guess with a shipment of heads.

 A Ronkvist is the black smith and the town Tora is a hub of ancient metal workers. Ronkvist got permission from a museum that held the oldest known axe head believed to be from the vikings, found on the sea floor, to take measurements and reproduce it. It is hand forged the eye is raped around and pound welded into itself the way it would have been done centuries ago.It’s as much a treat to look at as it is to use.

To get this handle is really cool, and to have it set up the way it was meant to be by the maker is just….wow.

When I got home that summer I made this handle from Hickory,I didn’t by an axe handled from Drew I wanted to take the skills I learned that summer and apply them to something I would use.I remember how much spring back it had when I unclamped it from the bending form I made. I was disappointed but really wanted to start making some bowls and spoons so it went together. My biggest complaint is the handle’s too skinny, I get fatigued from holding it in a short time.You can see how much more a proper handle angles away. This will be like getting a new tool.

I also got one of the Svante Djarv sheath knife advertised in the CW news letter.

I have always used a Frost knife for carving spoons and other shop tasks.I cant say enough about these knifes, laminated steel and holds an edge so well, hard to sharpen but it gets super sharp and the handle is a fine shape, the price is amazing for what you get. I think I paid eight bucks for this one probably in 1998. I don’t think the price has gone up much. But the Svante Sloyd knife is what the Frost aspires to be. It came sooo sharp I hope I can sharpen it like that when the time comes. CW is a great resource for fine tools.