Maple spoon; an unexpected experiment

Today was another hot one, which made it a good day to finally go into the basement and see what I could do with the various pieces of wood I’ve brought down there.

Since getting my wood carving kit, I haven’t had much chance to make things with it. I used the spoon blank it came with for my first attempt. Then I used some of the lilac wood pieces to make a hair pin for my daughter. I have since made a longer, plainer lilac hair stick for my daughter, and tried to make one out of cherry for myself.

I say “tried” because when I got a bit decorative at the thick end, it ended up breaking, twice. The inner core of the piece of cherry I was using was rotted just enough that when I tried shaping the wood, it was just too weak. This was true of the lilac wood, too, but I hadn’t tried to carve anything that would affect the integrity as much, so they were fine.

Today, I wanted to make something with some of the maple pieces from the tree I had to cut part off, earlier this year, so it would be safer for my brother to move around on the shed roof he was patching.

I had a branch of it set aside, waiting for a day like today, and I cut a short piece to work on.

I was thinking of going very simple, and making a spreader or something like that.

Thinking of the lilac and cherry wood, though, I decided to split the piece and see what it was like on the inside.

Well, crud.

I’m not going to be able to make a spreader out of that.

So I cut a piece from a larger branch I had set aside.

Dangit!

I really hope it isn’t all like this. The stuff I want to make uses the heartwood. For the larger pieces, I’m thinking of cups or bowls. Stuff I plan to actually use.

In fact, there was a particular piece of dead maple I’d found while cleaning up the maple grove, I think in our first summer here, that I was looking forward to using.

It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but when I cut it, this particular maple had red rings inside it.

I cut a piece off the end and took a look.

That does not bode well.

So I split it.

*sigh*

Yup. The middle is rotted.

However…

What about the edges? The parts with the red it in still looked solid.

So I split it again.

It did not split well, but the wood did seem pretty solid. Could I do something with this?

I wasn’t sure.

Over the next hour and a half or so, I hacked at it with a giant knife (which I’ve been using in lieu of a hatchet), decided to try the sloyd knife to carve out a spoon bowl, gave up on that and tried the Dremel (the two different tips I tried did the job, but the friction actually charred the wood!), finally broke open my new set of rasps and used a bar rasp with 4 different surfaces, and yes, even the carving knives.

Part way through, I dragged one of the chimney blocks from the old basement to use as a lower, solid surface. Especially for when I was hacking away with the big K-bar.

So that hunk of wood up there?

This is what I got out of it.

I didn’t stop to take any photos while I was working on it because, to be honest, I didn’t think it would work!

So here, I am at the stage of using my coarsest grit sand paper.

As I moved up to finer sandpaper, I would sometimes use my little vice.

You can really see the gouges left by the rasp. The vice made it much easier to just use a narrow strip of sandpaper around the handle and pulling back and forth.

Working my way through ever finer grits of sandpaper took probably another hour and a half.

Sanding the inside of the bowl was the most difficult. While I could use the curved sloyd knife a bit, the wood was really too small for the blade. What I really needed was a wood gouge, but I don’t have one. So that’s where the Dremel came in handy, to get the bulk of the wood out of the bowl, but I still had to cut out the bits that charred from the friction and shape it. I ended up using the other carving knives more than the sloyd knife, because of that.

Here it is, after final sanding.

You can see on the scrap wood, where the knife was hitting while I was chopping away the excess wood on the spoon. πŸ˜€

I also included the bar rasp, to show the different surfaces.

Of course, I just had to get a picture of it next to a piece of the wood it came from.

I still can’t believe I was able to get this out of that chunk of wood!

As I was sanding it, I noticed black showing up in the non-red parts of the wood.

Having done my research before I started with my first attempt at carving, I recognized it as spalting. There are people who go out of their way to use spalted wood. It’s basically a sign of the wood’s decomposition.

It was very faint as I sanded, but how would it look after being oiled?

And how would that red show up after being oiled?

Let’s find out!

Wow!! What a difference!

I could have cut this part out, but I kind of like it.

Unfortunately, I find the spalting makes it look like it’s dirty. 😦

On the back, you can still see some of the roughness of the would that I didn’t quite get rid of completely. They look a bit like scratches on the lower part of the spoon. The part that became the outside of the spoon bowl had some chunks missing from how the wood split. It meant less excess wood to remove in that area, at least.

So this experiment was a lot more successful than I had dared hope! Not only was I able to get something out of a partially rotted piece of wood, but I was able to start and finish a spoon in one sitting!

One of these days, I want to try making a fork. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Maple spoon; an unexpected experiment

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