Thursday, 20 August 2015

Silver maple ladle

***This blog has moved to my new website. New posts will be made here***

On Friday the 17th of July I quit my job at Keep Britain Tidy and on the Monday I flew to Madison, Wisconsin. The lead up to the move and the past month were both very busy, so there wasn't much time for carving. 

Near the Capitol building
This corner of the United States has a good amount of trees. Lots of maples and birches, plus species I'm not too familiar with (locust, mulberry, walnuts, etc). So between converting dollars into pounds, and pounds into kilograms I have been distracted by all the spoons hiding in the trees.
The Wisconsin countryside
It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I managed to get hold of some suitable carving material. I was pointed towards Wisconsin Urban Wood whose aim is 'Bringing dead trees to life'. They suggested a few partners (wood processing companies and arborists) who could help me find carving material. 

In the end, I stumbled across a pile sitting in someone's front garden while taking the dog for a walk. I knocked on the door and the homeowner was more than happy for me to help myself. So I've ended up with some lumps of silver maple.

The first lump I tried to split had an overall twisted grain, plus some ripple, or flame figure in the grain. While this figure looks great, it makes for a slightly tricker carve. It was a bit of a challenge, especially being so out of practice. That said, I cranked out four spoons on my first day back in the carving seat. 

Today I knocked out another two spoons before I felt comfortable again. I'm amazed at how quick muscle memory returns. Yesterday's spoons were a bit of a struggle, but today it started to feel natural again. So I decided to have at one of the crooks in the woodpile. 

 Splitting out the crook took a while. It was a side branch in a thicker limb, which was eventually freed. When carving a spoon from straight grained wood I usually set the crank along the top of the spoon and then refine the bottom of the spoon to fit it. Using bent wood like this the bottom of the spoon sets the overall shape.

Always a good idea to take regular breaks.

I used pretty much every hollowing tool I have on this ladle. The adze is unmatched for quickly removing material. The Nic Westermann twca cam is also great at quickly removing material, but it can be tricky to get to all part of a small, deep bowl like this. The Hans Karlsson hook knife is always a pleasure to use, but new in my tool roll is a Lee Stoffer scorp. This was the first time I've used it, and it is a much more versatile tool than the HK hook knife, especially for things like ladles. It is going to take me a while before I think I will be able to get the most out of it.

I'm happy with how the ladle turned out. I'm leaving in covered in wood shavings to slowly dry out a bit before doing the final cuts.


  1. Awesome job Tom. I am glad you are getting your rhythm back. Will you be carving full time?

    1. I don't think I'm quite at the skill level to go full time. That said, I have a while to wait for my paperwork to be processed before I can start applying for jobs in the US, so when I'm not walking the dog I'll probably be carving!

  2. What are the names of the tool in the bottom picture from left to right?? I am interested in getting some tools to give it a try.. Thanks

  3. What are the names of the tool in the bottom picture from left to right?? I am interested in getting some tools to give it a try.. Thanks