I was working at a friends in March and April when work here was slow, he has a tree service and was real busy ,too busy to take care of the operations there at the shop. He wants to make and sell benches, has a saw mill (more on that later) there’s work in his house, it’s awesome lots of unique wood , hand rails, steps ,doors etc. any way he brought a whole load of birch back one day and I dove right in, he said “I thought you’d want some of that”. It’s really great stuff the kind of medium that takes you to another place and time when working it.This is a great vid. It was good timing for the upcoming shows I have. Making wooden ware is fun you can be creative and although there are rules to follow in the beginning it’s not real strict. Work around knots and scars and figure out where the top and bottom will be and, split. This stuff was sopping wet, the sap was running , she was in full spring mode, the bark stripped off in sheets. I was able to hold this blank between my feet while adzing, made sure there were chips from the hewing under it so not to collect grit from the floor and roughed out. You can see I established a center line this helps to draw a roughly uniform shape to be excavated.I am ahead of myself here there is a process to flatten the split side with the axe and winding sticks, scrub plane and smoothing plane first, then go with the adze work. I’ve been making bowls lately this way, from the bark side, its more challenging to get a lot of depth but I don’t think salad bowls need to be super deep anyway. You get a nice grain pattern it follows the contour of the shape your creating on the outside and the growth rings swirl smaller and smaller to the bottom of the bowl. I was gettin real restless for some water time when making this, spring fever?
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I have always wanted to shape a surfboard, the foam and glass kind.A few months back Sievert’s called and talked me into making an Alaia, a traditional Polynesian surfboard, it didn’t take much convincing I was immediately searching the web for information. I always thought Catalpa would be a great wood for a surf board and still do but sawn it’s not very plentiful. Turns out Paulownia is the wood the Polynesians used before reaching Hawaii. It grows like crazy around here it’s not unusual to see one popping from a crack in the sidewalk . The three woods of choice in Hawaii at that time seems to have been the Wiliwili (Hawaiian Balsa) a very buoyant wood used in floats for fishing nets and to make the Olo, the longest of the wooden boards at 18′ to 25′. The Ula (or bread fruit) has sap used as a glue and the leaves used as sandpaper. And the Koa, similar in strength and weight to our Black Walnut, it was used for bodyboards and alaia’s. There has been a revival or new-found interest in these boards brought on largely by Tom Wegener. I remember in the late eighties there was a lot of talk of Paulownia how its a fast growing tree and praised in Japan,….. so start growing it now and maybe yours will be ready to harvest before everybody and their brother gets on the band wagon,it was talked about as the new cash crop by guys I worked with,not to many people did it though. As luck would have it Sieverts found a guy here in Maryland who did listen and invest in the propagation of these trees, he has a plantation in South Carolina and one here in MD. and he’s the guy that the big shapers get their stock from, he ships all over the world. Pretty cool, no ordering some exotic species that has to be shipped from a far away land and shaped with love and devotion just to be a complete failure, snap in half and sink to the bottom cause I really don’t know what I’m doing. Me being of little space and minimum power tools had to bring Cris into my confined hand tool world. We did thickness plane them with the Dewalt 13″ power planer but had to flatten one side by hand first because they had some twist, this was a bit of planing using the winding sticks .He like a lot of people, don’t use hand tools much and he didn’t seem to mind.No power jointer so we edged em by hand, with a sharp blade and properly set up plane it doesn’t take long to square them up for glueing.This wood is really soft and planes easily. Then glued with west systems 6×10 wich is super over kill I know now after messing around with it, it’s not going to come apart at the glue joint. Next time I’m going to use Titebond III. Then we traced from templates Cris got on line in a PDF format. Jig sawed them out and hand planed to the line. There is a good set of instructions that come with the template PDF from Wegener its well worth the 15 bucks, he illustrates how to do the basic shaping.