Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Woodworking Advice

Believe me, I do know how bad this kuksa is starting to look. And I also found out—the hard way—that you should carve the inside of the bowl first.

So right now, I'm trying to figure out how to get Robin Wood to come to the states so he can teach me how to carve one of these correctly.

We're leaving for vacation tomorrow and I'm taking this gumpy, misshapen piece of wood and my carving knives with me.

And as I'm trying to learn a new skill, I'm reminded of a pearl of advice from the man who taught me lettercarving: Walk away while you're still having a good time. If you wait until you're frustrated, you'll never go back to it.

I think the drive through the spectacular Shenendoah Valley to our destination will be the perfect walking away experience.


will said...

Have you packed a Dremel or Foredom tool?
Or a hand-held grinder with a coarse tooth tungsten 2" wide cutter?

I hear chainsaw carving is also popular in campgrounds, especially in the early mornings.

rgdaniel said...

LOL @ gumpy !!

Anonymous said...

You can take a forstner bit and bore out a starting hole. And if this gumpy, misshapen piece of wood (as You call it ) is bonedry, find another piece of wood.

Heinrich H

InsideBevel said...

If you are going to the Shenandoah Valley, you could visit this guy that lives there:

He has been making furniture for a living for 30 years, and has a great blog, online videos, DVD's etc...

Kari Hultman said...

Early morning chainsawing--more pearls of wisdom! Thanks Bill!

Is gumpy a word?

Thanks Heinrich! I'll do that tonight before we leave.

InsideBevel, a friend of mine has taken classes with Charles Neil and just raves about him. I've only just discovered his online videos and they seem to have lots of great information. Plus, he has a fun southern accent. ; )

Shazza said...

Have a GREAT vacation you two!

Charles Davis said...

Hey Kari,

Have a great vacation... I will do what I can to slow time down this week. Hopefully the campfire will not be stoked with a particular kuksa at any point.

Ohhh and thanks for passing on that pearl of wisdom. I will make certain to apply to all my relationships henceforth. ;-]

lol, my word verification for this comment is "asess"... I thought it said "multiple donkeys" when I first saw it and wondered how you customized it for me... hehe

Bob Tinsley said...

If you're carving in your lap (my method), you're better off roughing out the outside of the bowl first. Fewer sharp edges to dig into your legs. The hardest part of hollowing is getting started! Once you get the hole started, it gets easier from there. You can start the hollow with the tip of the axe by cutting cross-hatches in the center. That way the bent or hook knife has an easier time getting purchase. If you don't have a bent or hook knife (two different things, remember?), wait until you do! BTW, that kuksa looks like a magnum size. You could get a lot of whiskey in that!

Have fun.


Unknown said...

Wow, here is a picture of my kuksa in progress. Same shape, same exact tools. Mine is birch, what wood are you using?
(Link to flickr picture.)

If you figure out who to get Robin over here, let me know.


The Great Ethan Allen said...

Hey! Don't dispair! You can always burn the evidence so no one finds out! As for carving, it's so simple and easy it's difficult: Take small bites out of the wood. Sounds like I'm a sage or wise man right? Nope! I just had to learn that the hard way, Beaking chisels that got stuck to deep in the wood, etc! Small bits of wood and you're golden.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks Shazza!

Charles, if I could customize your word verification for you, I surely would!

Bob, thanks for letting me know about starting the hole with an axe. I had heard that you could do it, but wasn't sure how. The kuksa's bowl is about 4" long. I figured I'd better start large so when I messed it up I could whittle it down and maybe salvage something out of it!

Will--that is freaky! You even have the same axe and knife. Except your kuksa actually looks like a drinking vessel. Mine looks like a pregnant fish. I'm using (green) maple given to me by a friend (thanks, Shazza!). I've never worked with birch--is it softer than maple?

TGEA, I will take all the advice I can get--thanks! I was hoping you carvers would chime in. :o)

Unknown said...

Kari, it is freaky. Imaging my surprise.

The birch I'm using is fresh. Very fresh. I got it within a couple of days that the tree was down. I used an wedge and ax to split it and to discover the grain flow. I made thick planks out of it using ax and wedge.

Here is where I started to cheat. I laid out the spoon shapes and keeping in mind the flow of the grain, I used the bandsaw to rough them out. 16 spoons out of one round of the tree. It was maybe 15 inches in diameter.

Here is my secret. I put all the rough blanks in a bag and popped them into the freezer. I got the idea by watching this set of videos by a "carverfromnowhere". Keeps them green till I get around to carving them.

Roughing part one

Roughing part 2

Carving spoon part 1

Carving spoon part 2

Carving spoon part 3

Bonus- roughing out a crook!

This has been the first time I've carved on green wood and it has been so exciting that I feel born again.

Even the kuksa has been kept in the freezer.

We'll have to see how long it takes to slip back to the dry wood carving dark side.

Unknown said...

Forgot to add link to picture of the splitting work on my birch spoon blanks.

This shows how I make the planks. From here to the bandsaw.

Josh P. said...


Long time blog follower first time commenter (sort of like a tormentor I guess).

Where did you learn to carve spoons and kuksa? Did you have any training or just dove headlong into it?

I really enjoy Robin's site. I would gladly pay top $ to get him to teach a few classes to us Amuricans.

Enjoy the vacation and good luck on the kuksa.

Regards, Josh

Woodbloke said...

Kari - having just watched 'the Patriot' on the telly the other night, just make sure you don't do anything too creative with that hatchet!!
Have a great holiday and don't forget we need pics with a full account on the Blog...or it didn't happen! Have a great holiday - Rob

Kari Hultman said...

Will, thanks for all the links and tips. I had recently discovered that guy's videos but haven't had the chance to look through them. With your advice, I kept my kuksa in our cooler the entire vacation. :o)

Josh, thanks for commenting! I am in the process of learning to carve spoons and kuksas by reading Ville Sundquist's book: Swedish Carving Techniques; watching youtube videos like Will posted above; and perusing Robin Wood's website.

Rob, is The Patriot the movie where Mel Gibson builds Windsor chairs that fall apart? I can do that!! :o)

Jim B said...

Another book - Carving & Whittling The Swedish Style by Lark Books, Authors Gert Ljungberg and Inger A:son-Ljungberg has good info. Also have you looked at♠ Look at the course by Jon Strom and Fred Livesay.

Anonymous said...

If you have seen The patriot film what is the name of the chair he is trying to build?

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks for the book and school suggestion, Jim.

Anon, I believe that was a Windsor chair he was trying to build.