Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SCFS Spoon Carving Follow Up

Learning hook knife technique
I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to support the Steel City Folk School and lead the spoon carving class this past Saturday. A big thank you to the students as well, you couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic and engaged group. I just wanted to post some additional information, some covered in the class and some not to help those who are interested continue their journey in the craft.

Axes are probably one of the more difficult purchases as quality varies wildly as do the the prices. The axes we used in class were:
  • Fiskars X7 hatchet (Orange and black handle) is probably a good choice for the beginner as it comes ground with flat bevels on both sides making it good for left or right handed carvers and only requires basic sharpening to get it going. Also a good value at under $40.
  • Kobalt hatchet from Lowe's is the budget choice. I found it to have good edge retention and good steel. It requires grinding of a flat bevel on the work side to suit your hand and sharpening after that. It also requires a sheath to protect the user once its sharpened adequately. Under $20
  • Craftsman hatchet made in USA. This is a vintage hatchet so prices vary. I thought it made a good spoon carver. Still needs a flat bevel on the work side to be ground. Prices vary in the used market. May or may not need a sheath.
  • Condor Scout Hatchet. This is the lightest of the four being under a pound. Required flat bevel grinding on both sides to get the edge angle more acute, but there is ample metal to do this. This also makes it suitable to share between left and right handers like the Fiskars above. Comes with an excellent sheath. Under $60
There are many different straight knives that can be used but I prefer the kind with a Scandinavian (Scandi) grind like we used in class. I think this provides for more natural carving and control and they are also easy to keep sharp without any special jigs or fixtures. Some popular models for spoon carving are below.
  • The Morakniv Carving Basic is the knife we used in class and is available under $15
  • The Morakniv 106 Carving Knife is super popular with spoon carvers, main difference is a wooden handle and a laminated carbon steel blade. I like this one better primarily due to the handle. Under $25 
  • The Morakniv 120 Carving Knife is pretty much a 106 with a shorter blade. I like it for details and small spoons. Also under $25
For hook knives I really only have experience with two, the ones from Morakniv and from Pinewood forge. Of those I only can recommend the ones from Pinewood forge as used in class. 

Students preparing spoon blanks
There was also the topic of wood selection. In class we used apple wood which has a nice closed grain structure and is relatively hard and clean cutting. Other good woods that I've used and enjoy are maple, cherry, and linden. While I have no direct experience I've also heard that rhododendron, lilac, and other fruitwoods are good choices.

Inspiration and continued learning are also important. Here I turn to books and Instagram. My favorite spoon carving book is "Swedish Carving Techniques" by Wille Sundqvist. It's this book that covers the knife holds we talked about in class and a ton more information as well. A must have for the spoon carver.

As for Instagram, I've gotten a lot of inspiration and know how from the following feeds in particular but in no particular order:

  • @sylva_spoon
  • @jarrodstonedahl
  • @thehungrysquirrel
  • @peterfollansbee
  • @alloway_handcraft
  • @jojowoodcraft
  • @robinwoodcraft
There are tons of others as well, and you'll find them if you follow most of these. 

Finally, I guess I should provide a list of where I get my tools, so here you go. You can also find most of these on my Blogs & Links page.
If there's anything I should add let me know in a comment. Class was a great time and I hope to offer it again in the future at Steel City Folk School

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