Thursday, September 29, 2016

Burl Bowl 2

Here is my second burl bowl. Considerably more difficult than the first. . About the size of a half a coconut. The wall is pretty thin.
The grain is nice in places, but nothing spectacular. Tung oil finish.
Things always seem to expand over time. I started out small, am getting bigger and more complex with each endeavor.
I am currently working on three more projects. A burl bowl the size of a fruit bowl. with some incredible Bird's eye grain. It will take a quite a while to do, but it will look incredible when done.
The second is a 14" platter with some really interesting grain.
The last is a 24 X 30" flat piece with some incredible birds eye grain. I will need to figure out how to mount it on some kind of base so I can use it as a side table. That will take some creativity. I have already smoothed out the table top and the grain is spectacular.
These will keep me out of trouble over the Fall and maybe into Winter.
The burl and the table top came off of the same stump. A maple I cut down last month. If the table top is that nice, the matching piece left on the stump should be just as nice.

Friday, September 23, 2016


My latest creation, a ladle, with a normal sized teaspoon thrown in for perspective.
The grain of the wood in the handle is incredible.
I recently cut down a good sized maple for firewood, and it is the source for the wood I have been using.
Yesterday I went out and started looking at the stump, and it appears that the whole base has some nice looking carving material.
I took my brand new chain saw out and cut off one burl, and the grain is incredible. Birds eye with flame grain. It is so pretty I am hesitant to carve on it. I rough sanded the face of it to bring out the grain, now I need to figure out what to do with it without wrecking the grain.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Burl Bowl !

So here is my first burl bowl.
It is about the size of my open hand.
The decoration is a hand blown glass marble that we picked up at a glass place in Canon Beach. I made the bowl specifically to display the marble
The wood is burl maple.
I have been keeping my eye out for good pieces of fancy grained Maple for some time, and every time I come across some I set it aside. I now have quite a stack of fancy grained wood set aside.
Wood whittling will be a good fall/winter passtime that will keep me out of trouble and will make some beautiful and usefull items.
 I am just about finished with a second bowl, about the size of a cereal bowl, and just started cleaning up a bigger burl, about the sixr of a fruit bowl.
I also cut a quartersawnn a slab out if piece of Maple that has some outstanding fiddleback grain to it. I think it will make a beautiful platter.
Down at the Northeast corner of the property there is a Cedar that has a large growth on it about the size and shape of an elephant seal Nose. I will wait until I have a better idea what to do with it before I harvest it.
Lots of fun times sitting out in the garage listening to my bleus collection whittlin' on wood coming.
Come on by and set a spell.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Farm Truck

Whatever happened to that staple of the American Spirit, the Farm Truck?
On the farm in Idaho we always had at least one farm truck. No frills, basic, a tool for gettin' her done, with the minimum amount of fuss.
Usually they were Fords, but not always, a few Chebbies thrown in the mix.
I was in the mall (an hour away from where I Ive in Sequim, Wa.) and there was a new truck for sale. You know the type. Extended bed double cab four wheel drive with a zillion dollar stereo system and air conditioning behemoth. Able to haul a double wide vacation trailer AND a trailered boat, or enough quads for a football team. I hated it the moment I saw it, and when I got a glance at the sticker I about had a heart attack right there in front of the J.C. Penny.
A behemoth with a price tag to boot. It was pushing sixty grand, on sale.
No one offers a basic no frills farm truck any more. Every one of them has enough gadgets you need to read a three hounded page instruction manual just to understand ll the frills. Well, I don't want or need all that crap, but if you want a truck you are going to get it whether you like it or not. The truck manufacturers have in their arrogance decided what we need, and by God they are going to give it too us whether we like it or not.
A basic truck should come with a torquey six, four speed manual transmission with a granny gear. it should have a full size bed, be able to do freeway speed and get 20 mpg city, 28 highway. Radio optional. It should have a set of good all terrain tires and a radiator big enough to keep it cool all day long hauling a load ( which should be at least a ton).
Price tag around twenty grand. Not going to make the manufacturer a ton on each vehicle, but I bet you could make it up on volume.
At least as an alternative offer a mid sized truck. I run a '97 S10 pickup with modified suspension so it will haul a ton. Four cylinder, 25 Miles per Gallon. I don't think there is anything on the market that could replace it. I don't need to haul a boat or trailer, just go into Home Depot and get enough lumber to build something small. If I need more, I will have it delivered.
But when it comes time to replace it, I would sure love to be able to go to a dealer and buy an honest-to-God farm truck.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Fiddleback Spoon

I recently cut down a medium sized Maple tree for firewood for next winter. I figure I got about a cord and a half of wood out of it
While splitting the wood I came across a real nice small piece of fiddle back maple. Fiddle back can be very valuable in large quantities. Say large enough to make a fiddle.
This piece was not nearly big enough to make a fiddle, so I wondered what else I could do with it. I also had come across a couple of interesting burls, and I have always loved burl wood. So first I took a small burl, cleaned it up and put a finish on it. Digging out the interior of the burl turned out to be a real chore. I had a real cheap set of wood carving tools, but they just weren't equal to the task.
So I went on the Internet and see what was available.
I came across a set of "Swedish Spoon Knives" that looked like they would do the trick.
I finished the burl and it came out real nice, and we are using it as a display for a small decorative art marble we had.
After I was through with that, i was pondering what to do next. I thought of that small piece of fiddle back sitting in the garage. Swedish Spoon Knives + fiddle back maple = fiddle back spoon.
I have never been trained in wood working, but have Fiddled around at it, so I  hand carved the piece into a spoon.
Here are the results. Not bad for a first time. It was fun. I have been going through the stacks of firewood looking for more fiddleback. I have a few more pieces set aside to turn into spoons. It will be something to keep me busy this winter.
I also have a couple more burls that I will attempt to turn into bowls.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Yesterday I was very busy all day long.
I had selected the next tree to be turned into firewood, a good sized maple, about two feet in diameter, out in back of the wood shed a good distance. That area is very overgrown, so first I needed clear a path, for a couple of reasons.
First, I will need a clear path to get away from the tree when it starts to go over. Falling a tree is dangerous. Things go wrong, trees get hung up, a breeze comes up at the wrong moment and the tree goes in an unexpected direction, the tree is rotten in the middle and it collapses. A limb hits a nearby standing tree and comes back at you, the tree hangs up on another tree and kicks back on you. If any of these things happen you can end up dead or badly injured, so first and foremost safety needs to be your constant companion.
The second reason is to be ale to access the area to carry the wood out in the wheelbarrow. I don't have any heavy equipment, so that means doing things the old fashioned way. Muscle ans sweat.
When felling a tree you need to consider a couple of things. First of all, is it leaning in one direction or the other. If it is, that is the direction it is going to go. If it is more or less vertical, choose the direction you want it to go. Make a horizontal cut the direction you want it to fall. Make a slanting cut upward below the first cut so you can remove  a pie shaped piece of the tree about 1/3 of the way through the tree.
Then make another cut about a little less than half way through the tree on the opposite side of the tree. Remove the saw. Insert a felling wedge in the side opposite the pie cut. Sledgehammer the wedge into the cut. With any luck the wedge should supply enough to provide enough push start the tree going over. If not, you may need to make a plunge cut at the side of the pie cut .
Just be ready to move in any direction. Remember that whole clear a path thing?
So after felling a good sized maple yeaterdy, I started cutting it into rounds for splitting. and started splitting the rounds into firewood.
I finally got to the point where I could hardly generte enough force to split the rounds, so it was time to call it a day.
Today I am a little sore, but mainly it is too hot to go out and do hard physical labor, so it didn't take too much encouragement for me to take a dy off.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Purple Pod Beans

Today I was putting up purple pod beans for the freezer.
I don't think purple pod beans are substantially different than regular green beans except for the color. Even that moderates with cooking, since they change color when they cook to green. A slightly different shade than regular beans, but not a big difference.
You might wonder why purple pod beans.
As with most things, there is a back story.
Over on the farm in Idaho, the growing season was very short, so any crops have to be short season crops, and through time and experience we settled on purple pod beans because they are a good producing short season crop, and they preserve well. They also require very little attention.
I planted about a dozen plants and have eaten beans for the last month, so now I am putting aside some for this winter.
My mom used to can them, but I am not quite domesticated enough to take up canning. The idea is rattling around in my head, but I have not yet convinced myself to go but the equipment to actually get into canning. That is a door that once you go through there is no going back. I like the idea of having a reserve food source in case of  troubles.
I guess I am not a full fledged prepper, but have tendencies in that direction. With all the insanity and troubles in the world, I would like to be prepared "just in case"".
SO I have enough food for a couple of months, we can heat the house with wood, I have a small generator that can supply a limited amount of electricity, given some gasoline.
The one base I don't have well covered is water. We have a well, so as long as there is electricity, no problem. The well pump requires  220V, and my generator only is 110V so If the electricity goes out, no water.
For short term I have a food quality 55 gallon plastic drum filled with water. That would last for a short while, but I need to think about a longer term solution. The well is 180 feet deep, so it will need a pretty skookum pump. The hand pump systems I have seen that can draw water from that deep cost about $2,000.00, an investment I am reluctant to make. I need to read some more to see what I can McIver together out of old ball point pens and straws.