Sunday 27 June 2010

Pure beeswax finish on willow box

Applying a beeswax finish with heat

I finished the other willow box (the one which I made too small) with a pure beeswax finish; melting the beeswax until liquid and painting it on the inside which had been warmed with a heat gun. The wax sets quickly and the hot air gun was then used to melt it into the wood. The outside of the box was then waxed and any remaining liquid wax rubbed off; the box was then buffed.
I use the same technique with shrink pots and drinking cups, but if the cups fit into the my wax pot I just leave them to soak, turning them around occasionally.

I like this technique as the wax is soaked into the wood and does not just sit on the surface. Wax inside the shrink pots means that they are food safe and do not smell. Use Danish oil and the smell of the oil takes months to disappear. With my green woodwork items I am wanting to use natural finishes that can be made at home, it is a big subject and I do not have much time to research it at the moment, any recipes are gratefully received.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Hook knife finish

Hook knife finish on wooden surfaces

A hook knife finish can be quicker than other ways of smoothing the surface of wood. As I said in my last post, it is a beautiful textured surface.

This technique is for long handled tools, it can be achieved with a short handled knife, but it will take longer and impose greater strain on the hands and arms. One hand holds the tool near the cutting edge, this hand moves in an arc, back and forth. The other hand holds the handle at the end, and this hand is held against the body so that it acts as a pivot. The process is fast, not like carving the bowl of a spoon out, the hand holding the tool is moving back and forth at speed.

I have been making my own tools for a while, and use a small two brick gas forge.  What I like about it is that it is instant, just fire up the gas and 2 minutes latter the forge has properly heated up and I am ready to go.
If you want to learn how to make simple tools and make your own gas forge, I am running a workshop in October in Devon. The emphasis is on doing it all as cheaply as possible, do not worry about not having an anvil, there are ways of using everyday objects to act as an anvil. So if you have a gas torch at home, most of us have a hammer and a few other tools needed, the set up costs are minimal.

Some of the tools below do need longer handles, the longer the handle the greater leverage you have, so it is easier to use. To make and design the right tool can take a few goes. I have just recently found out about the Spear plane or Yariganna, a tool from Japan, this tool is used for and in the same way as I have been using my hook knife. If anyone has any more information or links to websites about using them, please leave a comment.

I have replaced my old website with a new one, which I hope is easier to use and navigate. If you have any problems with it please let me know. I work with a great web designer, Richard Croft, who redid my template and has been teaching me how to put it all together. I am in the process of doing all the boring SEO and hopefully soon there will be a Paypal shopping cart. If by any chance you want to buy anything just email me and I will send you a Paypal invoice, I am also selling Mora knives and Gransfor Bruks axes.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Bread Box

Bread Box

I was asked a while ago to make a box to store bread in. I gave a minimum quote and said I would cleave wood and nail it together. Not any old nails you understand, but nails made from pure natural iron drizzled with the sweat of the blacksmiths. I had a huge lump of rippled willow, which unfortunatly would not cleave very well. I sawed the wood out on my bandsaw and stickered it with weights on to dry out over the weekend. Because the wood was not quite quarter sawn and it wanted to move a bit from internal stresses. I thought it would be best to dovetail it. I have never made a nail in my life and I thought the young lady concerned would not appreciate my sweat drizzled over the nails.
I needed the dovetail practise as I have some apple wood boxes to make later in the year. Believe it or not, I have managed never to make dovetails in my life before.

I also wanted to use my trade mark wooden hinges. Not wanting to rely on glue to hold them onto box and lid I made them dovetailed. The wood for the hinges is English walnut. I did use a bit of glue but, this box can be made with no adhesives at all, just a couple of small dowels through each hinge to stop them sliding out.
 Knowing my client prefers a natural finish, I got one of my long handled open sweep hook knives and starting in one corner, went over each side of the box. This was remarkably quick and gives a beautiful textured and tactile finish.
Willow is a lovely wood to use and I highly recommend giving it a go. The hook knife finish also works just as well on other woods, you may have to spend slightly longer on it though.
I was really please with the box, and wanted to make a longer one for our kitchen, but somehow I got the measurements wrong and made the first box 2 cm to small, so no wood left over. The old adage of measure twice and cut once is very true, but does not take into account misreading the measurements in the first place.