Some of the spoons I've been carving for the upcoming "Free Range Art Show" at Nancy's Chicken Coop - 6503 Pleasant Valley Road in Grafton, WI.
Fri. May 2nd, 6pm 'til 9pm
Sat. May 3rd, 10am 'til 4pm
Sun. May 4th, noon 'til 3pm (email or call if you need directions)
After a really long, exceptionally cold winter, we finally have open water here. The old fart's body probably needs a few warmer days before getting wet, but the promise of spring did inspire the first new paddle in a while. This is a new pattern for me, somewhat Cree in blade shape I think, but mostly my own design and I'm anxious to try it out.
This paddle is red (soft) maple, about 1.25lb, 4.75"at it's widest point, and 58" long, my favorite length at my height of 5'10", paddling a small tandem, solo, Canadian style. I think a paddle of about this length suits many folks quite well and carve most of my paddles somewhere around this length, plus or minus a couple of inches. With all the variables of body and canoe size, water type and paddling style, and personal quirks, I hesitate to recommend paddle lengths. I have read so many "scientific" methods and listened to so many "experts" prattle on about paddle sizing, that I will avoid adding to the confusion in print. That being said I'd be glad to give you my own totally personal, unscientific, opinionated opinion privately if you desire. For the record, in any one day I may happily use paddles from 54" to 60" for messing around in quiet and gently moving water. I don't do whitewater or anything approaching expedition paddling, and if you do, you probably already know what you want and need. Basically, if your blade is in the water and your grip hand is somewhere between sternum and shoulder high you're good, so go out and enjoy yourself! Custom made for you, my paddles are usually around $250.
I've had quite a few requests for spreaders recently - here's what I came up with. Let me know what you think. The wood is cherry, maple and walnut. The noggin, which my wife refuses to let me sell, is crabapple.
The past couple of weeks crop of new spoons. The four on the left are paper birch, the one on right is soft maple. My prices are generally $20.00 - $40.00 depending on wood, size, and style.
Thanks a lot to folks who have been buying my spoons! I'm relatively new at this and am gratified that you've liked my work enough to purchase. For anyone who's interested, I still have a few paddles around but due to the difficulty of procuring nice clear straight wood and the reality that I'm personally not canoeing as much as I used to due to knee problems, the paddle making is on hold right now. I will probably do a few more next winter. I will be taking part in the Covered Bridge Artist's Studio Tour in Cedarburg, WI in October where I'll be showing my spoons, bowls, and a few paddles and doing carving demos - hope to see you there!
Here's a new carving block/ portable workbench I just completed. Calling it portable is a bit of a joke since my guess is that it weighs in at about a hundred pounds - I can just barely lift it by myself and manage to move it a couple of inches at a time. I had been looking for a suitable stump for this project for a while and happened on this one a few weeks ago. The tree was already down when I found it, so identification is iffy but I believe it's locust based on another tree nearby and the weight and the density of the heartwood. Carving the tapered leg tenons with axe and crooked knife wasn't a problem, but drilling the mortises in the end grain was really tough - brace and bit was a no-go, so I went out and bought a 1-1/2" Diablo Forstner bit. Three mortises with a 1/2" corded h/d drill went ok. The bit didn't burn, but seems pretty well dulled. Still, I think it's a good bit for about $19 @ the depot. If I do anymore of this kind of thing I may try to get one of the japanese ring-eye augers I've seen on a couple of euro tool sites.
This is a photo of my first spoon using the new carving block. I'm transitioning from the kiln-dried stock I'd been carving during the winter to using greenwood and more traditional techniques. While I question whether carving spoons and bowls in dry wood is quite as tough as some folks would have you believe, and I think there are even some advantages, it was very satisfying to get out in the woods after a long winter and find myself a newly wind-felled white birch to carve. As luck would have it about a mile in on one of my favorite trails I came on a very large old birch that had lost about a third of it's crown probably a week earlier in our last big storm. I should have wood for lots of spoons for the next few months, at least until the downed stuff starts getting punky.
In the center of the photo is a crooked knife that was made for me by Paul Jones @ Deepwoods Ventures. This is a wonderful tool that's been on my bench continuously since the day it arrived. Paul made this for me as a prototype for evaluation and it isn't a tool he offers on his site at this time, but if you're interested call him, I'm sure he'd be happy to make another one. If anyone out there wants a more in depth review, I'd be glad to communicate via email. Some time in the future I may write up a comparative review of Paul's knife and the one I have made by Jarrod StoneDahl, but as my experience and skill with the crooked knife/ mocotaugen is still rather limited I don't feel it would be fair to either of them to go that far quite this soon. Both are beautiful tools - I'm a lucky guy.