A question of wood!

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MSkiba

Settler
Aug 11, 2010
842
0
North West
Hello :)

Now I got the forums help with sharpening a knife I will move onto the next subject bugging me. Ive searched the forum and havent found the answer, please point me to the right thread if Im repeating another post.

I love wood. Love making stuff out of it. But everything is self taught = poor results. Some questions :)

1) What type of wood is best to carve stuff out of, example a spoon. Within the UK, something that is plentyfull ? Birch?
2) Best to carv when the wood is alive and wet? Or from a dead dry tree? (wet seems easiest)
3) How do you harden the wood once you carve something out? Im fimiliar with the hot ash trick, but bigger stuff is harder to fit under your campfire. Let it dry naturally? place near fire for a day?
4) Anything found plentiful that will colour/stain wood? some sort of berry?
5) How do you drill perfect wholes out in the field? Special tool or technique?
7) What ever happened to question 6?

Thanks in advance..
 

badgeringtim

Nomad
May 26, 2008
480
0
cambridge
hey there well im sure there are not just single answers to these questions but i ill have a go (disclaimer - im not very good)

1 - depends what you have - birch is easy but rather soft, sycamore is easy to carve and hardens very tough and food safe, holly is the same but some people not sure is 100% food safe, same for ivy. birch i llike a lot. Any wood green will be much easier to carve, however if you sdo carve dry wood i belive the fruit woods are generally easier - pear and cherry are both pritty and relatively easy. I always work green it is so much easier - althoguh there is then the drying issue.
2 - see above
3- well im not familiar with the hot ash trick, basically patience and look at the grain and work the peice so that its structure is least likely to break - the more difference in curve you have through the work the more likely it is to split (plus some woods like eucalyptus just like to split allover the shop).
4 - no idea never thought of it - but beries certainly do - blackberries for example wil make it red/blue depending on how many and how long u leave them, pink/red from vertually any red fruit..beyond that i dont have any ideas i just oil them and let the wood shine through!
question 6 was probably where do you manage to et the wood from and for that i refer you to my answer 1. Work what you can get and keep your eyes open. Even oak green can be worked ok - just dont let it dry or you will really ave to test those sharpening skills!

Will be interested to see what else comes from this thread!
 

Shewie

Mod
Mod
Dec 15, 2005
24,260
18
44
Yorkshire
4) You could use burnt birch inner bark to infill kolrosing, not sure about staining a whole piece though but I reckon Tim's on the money with some kind of berry concoction.
5) Traditionally you'd use an auger or something similar, to improvise though you could start a hole with the tip of your knife then use a bow drill to finish it off.
 

Ray Britton

Nomad
Jun 2, 2010
320
0
Bristol
Hi.
1. Best for a spoon in my opinion is lime. It is very easy to carve, and not too difficult to find. It is more suitable than birch, as you have suggested a spoon and lime has natural antiseptic qualities, so is better than 'food safe' lol

2. if you need it here and now.....wet seems a good choice lol

3. Ties in with question 2. If you are going to carve with dry wood, then is is best to air dry it (as a timber merchant would). You do not need to dry it with any kind of heat, as you are not in a hurry to satisfy commercial gain.
If you dry wood too quickly it may split (obviously before, or after you have carved it) and this will waste the wood. Green wood is nice to carve, but once dry, you can do more intricate things with less chance of the piece breaking.

4. lots of berries will stain the wood, but this would not be ideal for a spoon as it may taint or stain the food.

5. There are lots of ways to drill holes in the field should you need to (consider whether you need to). Most types of commercially made drill bit are designed to work with dry wood and not green wood, so this is something to consider. If you need to drill a 'perfect' hole then you will need to secure the wood in some kind of vice, and this counts double for drilling into round pieces such as spoon handles.

For a good hole, you can simply use a cordless drill, brace and bit, hand drill, or you could burn a hole (but to get this perfect.......see the first three options lol)

7. I saw question 6 head off into the hills, as is was freshly written and did not fancy getting staining blackberry juice on it! :)
 

MSkiba

Settler
Aug 11, 2010
842
0
North West
Thank you guys!

So far I follow this forums advice to the letter as I want to minimise "waste" materials and ruined tools.

I went to BnQ and got some boiled linseed oil. I got an axe I would love to use it on. Ive been oiling this axe with Ikea Mineral Oil (one you get for the thick wood ikea chopping boards) so I will sand it down and go again. My question is :

How do I apply linseed oil, and if it needs to be soaks, will it evaporate? A knife I can understand, leave it inside a jar with the rinseed oil, but an axe? can I just apply with a brush instead?
 
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tombear

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 9, 2004
4,078
169
51
Rossendale, Lancashire
Its really worth collecting a large amount of linseed oil when you see it cheep as a handle, however big, thats been soaked for 24 hours or more, ideally in a warm place will last a lot better than one that hasn't. I've used drainpipes with a cap on one end or a bit of guttering with the ends taped up. I have a big old rum jar that I use to store the oil between time, which is now a mix of linseed, tung and teak oil. After soaking you just need to give it the odd wipe down if you want it to look pretty.

For normal tool handles Horlicks mixer jars you see on car booits are ideal, tall thin and heavy.

ATB

Tom
 

MSkiba

Settler
Aug 11, 2010
842
0
North West
How do you avoid the wood splitting during the drying stage?

I leave my wood by the window for a week (codest place in the house) and the ends still split.

I got a 1 week old peice of birch, split it and made a spoon, and still it starts to split =(
 

ex-member Raikey

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 4, 2010
2,971
1
i have wood from last year on a rack above/nect to my wood burner,...

i put this years wood at the back and use from the front ,...like at the ASDA

hahaha

so if i,m steady i always got 6-9 month old wood to work with,....sometimes still splits when drying fully in the house, but not as much as bringing a new green wood finished project striaght into the house,..

in fact,...i had a rough monday so went to my manspace for some "therapy" made a lovely bowl out of ash,....about a year dry,...

got it really thin too,., misjudged when parting it from the spigot and basically i have a 6 inch diameter wooden polo,

oh hum!
 

Mojoracinguk

Nomad
Apr 14, 2010
496
0
Hereford
so far my ash, Willow and hawthorn drying/carving method has worked for me, it goes a little something like this....

1.cut limb off tree (say sorry to tree)
2. split as required
3.carve carve carve
4.when night time comes or my hands hurt, wrap the work pice in an old bin bag not overly tight but just make sure it is all covered.
5.leave it some where cool left mine out side in the garden leaning against the wall.
6.take it out and carve carve carve.
7.wrap the work pice in an old bin bag again
8.finishing the item with sand paper etc.
9. wrap the work pice in an old bin bag
10.keep it in the bin bag until dry...Totally dry!!!!!!

I've dried out some 2" hawthorn in under 3 weeks using the bin bag method for knife scales (they stayed nice and stable since)
and my bowl (willow) is really chunky so took a few months before i felt happy enough that it would not split.

I'm sure you can do other things to help, but I'm no pro!

Mojo
 
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MSkiba

Settler
Aug 11, 2010
842
0
North West
ahh bugger. seems I goto stop carving for a few months while my wood dry's =(

I will try the bin bag method, maybe it will dry in time for a xmas pressie or three.
 

ex-member Raikey

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 4, 2010
2,971
1
ahh bugger. seems I goto stop carving for a few months while my wood dry's =(

I will try the bin bag method, maybe it will dry in time for a xmas pressie or three.

hahaha same as owt mate,...trial and error,...

i made a "hoop" to take a clock face ,...

i gave it to someone as a pressie, its been on their mantlepiece for 6 months,...

then it virtually exploded,...the "O" in now more like a "C" with a 2 inch gap in it,....hahaha

should have got em a gift voucher ! lmao!!

cheers

Stu,..

PS ,

its the trying thats fun,....

i wouldnt have an "exploding clock" story if i was perfect!
 

Mojoracinguk

Nomad
Apr 14, 2010
496
0
Hereford
I just dropped the piece in there and rusttled the top down.

I have just cut some staves fro walking sticks and they are drying slowly now in bags, and i think this is because it's nearly winter :(

From you previuos posts it sounded like you are waiting until the wood is dry before carving it, why is this?

I'm too impatient to doo that (apart from things like knife scales wich ned to be VERY dry), If you use the method i use then you should be able to carve whilst the wood is wet and easier to cut, but not have to wory about cracks appearing in your work....although if you are needing any precise work with tight tolerances then you will need to leave the finish ing of the work unti l it is dry and stopped moving.


Hope it works out for you.
 

ex-member Raikey

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 4, 2010
2,971
1
My old fella uses a microwave for green wood pieces, to semi dry them...seems to reduce the splitting on some stuff,...

buggered a microwave tho,...he has a dedicated "shedowave" now tho, its black as coal on the inside .....
 
Oct 23, 2010
1
0
Scotland
SWMBO won't let me use our microwave - something to do with the amount of smoke drying wood seems to generate.

Instead I store stuff in places where it is cool and dry and isn;t draughty. As wood dries out quickes from the end grain coating it in something that slows down the drying is good - varnish, vaseline, cling film, etc. Also, the thinner the wood the less reistant it is to cracking.

Have also started to experiment using radiators. Have just put new handle on an old axe head where i dried the handle as above for a month or so (started last winter), left on wardrobe top for a couple of months and then placed on radiator for a couple of weeks. No cracks (but always worth leaving the handle a bit longer than you need just in case) and hoping that it has less moisure content than previous ones that were just dried in the loft and come loose over time.

Mike