Friday 23 December 2011

Dough bowl, flour scoop and bread

I have been making my own bread for years now, but only this year I got rid of the bread maker. This has been a liberating experience and I find making bread is now much more fun. I decided to start from scratch by making my own yeast. This is easy, by putting flour in a small bowl and leaving for a few weeks, adding a bit more flour and water every 3 days. The natural yeasts in the flour and atmosphere soon get to work. People have been known to have had their yeast 'starter', or 'mother', for decades.
Next I put my flour in a bowl with a bit of salt and water with most of the starter. This is mixed up and left all day. I come home from work and after dinner, empty the risen bread into a baking tin and let rise again for a few hours, depending on how warm it is. Then, into the oven it goes.
You may have been told that you need to knead your dough for 10 minutes or so. I have found no need for this, I may knead a bit more flour into the mix if it is a bit wet or if I need to divide it up into tins and rolls. This kneading will only take a minute at most. The actual time it takes me to make bread, including washing up is maybe 15 minutes.
After adzing out the bowl, (as shown in the last post), I used long handled hook knives to finish the inside and a Mora push knife on the outside. I wanted to have a smooth inside as I will be washing this bowl out regularly. The best and quickest way to do this is by scraping. As you can see the shavings are paper thin and leave a very good finish. Scraping is always far quicker and easier than going through the grades of sandpaper, and if you want a smooth finish then learn about scrapers. I will be doing a video on how to sharpen a scraper.

As you may have noticed from my Kuksas, I like handles. The handles on this bowl took a fair amount of time to do. This is one reason that we rarely see handles like this on wooden artefacts.

I also now buy some of my flour in the sack and need to decant from sack into a smaller container. So I made a scoop from a half log of birch.

I have found that even with a busy life, I have easily found time to make all my own wheat bread as well as rye bread for my wife. I even look forward to it. It is hard for me to explain why but it certainly has to do with working with a living organism (yeast) and also, I have control over what goes into my food. Another pleasure of this about being connected to the process of producing natural and slow food. I find a sort of meditation in the making of bread. We, as a culture, are losing connection to meaningful daily work with the hands, the everyday acts of creation. Making my own bread is a way of reclaiming that in another area of my life.

Tuesday 20 December 2011


I often give freely of my knowledge, not only in these blogs but also when meeting and talking to people. I am also an active member of the Bodgers Forum, the biggest green wood working forum in the world.

I have met and seen many people, even those who are the last in the line of their craft, who hold onto their "secrets" with an iron fist. There are also many businesses and multinational companies that want to keep all knowledge to themselves, through intellectual property rights and patents. This means that anyone wanting to use this knowledge has to pay, even if this is a gene in the human body. Do not get me wrong, we all need to make a living, but some people and companies spend far to much time and money on their secrets.

It is clear to me that the free-market capitalist system does not always work very well and we need to find other ways of working together. All this economic doom and gloom pisses me off big time and I find myself being dragged into it.

There are other ways of working. I do not mean the lovey-dovey hippy commune or Communist ways, but ways that are empowering to the individual and beneficial to society. Through this individual action we can collectively make a difference.

Take a look at this inspirational video from TED Talks. This will show you how sharing knowledge and ideas can make a real and empowering difference in the world. In fact have a look, over Christmas, at the other TED Talks. These people inspire me, they give me hope, and they leave me buzzing with new and amazing ideas.
This video is not about wood, but I think that the ideas and the ways that people can work together  are so important and worth taking on board.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Dogs, a really useful way of holding wood.

The bowl horse I have is for smaller rather than larger bowls. So I had to find a way of holding a bowl blank. This is a half log of birch which is going to be a dough bowl for making my bread in.
I dug out my dogs, these are often used for glueing up boards, and because of the shape of the points, they pull the boards the 2 board together. Large ones, up to a couple of feet long, are used for holding tree trunks in place whilst they are being sawed or hewed.
These dogs are about 3 to 4 inches long and are perfect for holding the bowl blank in place on my saw horse. Once banged in they do not move at all, and are easily knocked out when the work on the blank is finished.

If you ever come across some, buy them, they are really useful for all sorts of projects. Not sure what Milo makes of them!