Bent or Hook Knives

Sunday 29th May -As I mentioned at the bottom of Fridays Blog I have a native mask workshop later this week. A while ago I made a commitment to David Western, my Lovespoon Carving mentor, that I would make him a couple of special bent knives and since I was going to be in Victoria where he is I should set to and make them. Hence most of the weekend has been spent with doing that. In for a penny in for a pound, that’s me so I selected 5 old 1/2 round files and annealed them. = Heat to cherry red and allow to cool very slowly. Below are pictures at various stages.


Annealed files roughed out with angle and bench grinder
Step 2 Drill & C’sk for mounting screws
Bent form
The process is to get all the shaping and polishing done while annealed  then return to the heat to form the hooks or curves then polish again. Next harden by returning to cherry red heat and immediately plunge into cold water or oil. Polish again and gently apply heat to chase the straw temper colour along the blade, plunge when even straw = 450C . Fit suitable hardwood handle polish and bring edges to mirror finish and razor sharp.

Watercolour Journaling

Sat 28th May  – In my Blog on the 8th April I mentioned my efforts to refine my skills with watercolour. Well I have read books from the library, attempted dozens of exercises and found most to be too demanding for me. In my youth I did quite a lot of pen & ink drawing and I think that is where I am now heading, perhaps with watercolour washes added. I recently borrowed a DVD Water Colour Journaling and that encouraged me to try and draw and or write something every day in a journal. The results have been encouraging and rewarding. I have found throughout life if you do a little toward a goal every day the results are usually impressive. Either by diminishing a huge task or as in this case slowly but surely acquiring and refining new skills.

The First page of my Watercolour Journal

Blogg’s horse – Rearing to go !

Friday 27th May – This week I have been working on making my adaptation of Brian Bogg’s Shaving Horse.

Mine being make from 3/4″ plywood and designed as a knock-down unit for easy transport.

The legs can easily be removed and stowed inside the hollow box section with the riser post. The lower jaw is attached to the ratchet riser with draw bolts enabling it to be removed for transport. The treadle arms also swing up along side the box section for compact unit. The foot pegs were turned from screw in bed legs.

Ready to Ride
Business End

Mock-up showing internal setup; 12″ rule enables you to scale off dimensions

I also received a call from Lee Valley to say that a spot had become available on a  “Native Mask Carving course at ( )  next week – Yippeeeee! Herb Rice is (  ) is conducting this one day workshop and and  I am very keen to learn all I can from this talented carver.

DIN Standard ( Dis is Normal)

Tuesday 17th May – Within normal range after 9 weeks is what Dr. Masri assessment of the new knee yesterday. He says that I will have another 15-20 degrees of movement with the year if I just continue to stretch it a few times a day for 1/2 to 1 min at a time. So this is good new since no MUA will be required 🙂
( Manipulation Under Anesthetic ) !

Brian Boggs Horse

Sunday 15th May – A Hybrid Shaving Horse.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours rounding down or roughing out two of the shorebird decoy blanks using the Kutzall bits in my rotary tool. I did not get far and did not particularly enjoy the dust or the noise from the tool and the down-draft sanding table. I am thinking that using “Sharp” edge tools would improve the experience immensely 🙂
So decide to explore using a shaving horse.
Researching this on WWW, a design by Brian Boggs a feature of Dec 1999 Fine Woodworking is favored .
This combines the best features of the traditional English and Continental styles of Shaving Horse.
It looks easy to build and inexpensive too. I have a small shop so I’ll probably modify it so as to make it a knock-down version for easy storage.  I applied some thought to its construction and did some preliminary sketches of a near identical design but using 3/4″ plywood instead of lumber to make it lighter without sacrificing its strength.
Below is a public link to my Dropbox where you may download the Dec 1999 issue #139 of Fine Woodworking beging page #122 is the article by Brian Boggs on his design and construction for a Shaving Mule

I find Dropbox is a very useful tool – a place to store information that you can access from anywhere you have internet access – sorta like your personal cloud 🙂 for further info go to :

I am off into the shop now to layout and cut the main components of  the multi-ply horse.

Here is the outcome of this afternoons effort:

Brian Boggs Mule using 3/4″ plywood constn

Here you see the 48′ long x 8″ high x 3/4″ ply frame with 4 layers of 3/4″ plywood place inside to form the head spacer = 4 1/4″ inside width. The Riser Post is seen in place made from Western Maple 3″ x width of 2x plywood ( 1.410″).  The Riser head is from a scrap of Red Alder 9″ x 4 1/4″ x 3/4″ with an Oak Brace Block. This will be attached mid length and tenoned into the 108 degree sloped top of the riser post. Lying in front is the ratchet block also Western Maple cut from the same block as the post it will have two 3/4″ spacers to centre it on the riser. The riser post will have a series of notches on the face routed with a 90degree vee bit to form a series of teeth which engage as the locking action of the ratchet.

So far so good Eh!

Classic Shorebird Decoy Carving

Sat 14th May – OK it is not my usual Friday blog because I was busy yesterday. First I had to pick up the note from my physio to take with me on Monday to the surgeon in Vanc. It was a lovely sunny day, so I got to work applying the Sikens Cetol stain/finish to the 8 uprights for the purgola. That done, since it has finaly begun to warm up. I decided in was time to reinstalled the greenhouse auto-window vents that open the conservatory roof panels as the temperature rises. After lunch I spent some time laying out details on the Shorebird decoy blanks cut earlier this week.

Yellow Cedar Shorebird Decoy blanks

I recently ordered 3 books on carving and painting classic shorebird decoys after the style of the East Coast Carvers of the late 1800’s. I was inspired years ago after a visit to the Harve de Grace Decoy Museum
.   in Maryland
I also have a friend and carver in David Parks ( who has carved and painted beautiful and faithful replicas for 30 yrs. His work is found and cherished around the world. We have about a dozen of his pieces in our home. Wood is my preferred creative medium so I decided that with the help and guidance of David I to try my hand at Classic Decoys.

The birds 6 selected are :

  • Yellowlegs – preening ( Charles Clarke, 1880 , Cape Cod ) ,
  • Yellowlegs (Ira Hudson, 1890’s Chincoteague)
  • Yellowlegs (Charles Clarke 1915, )
  • Folding Flattie – Red Knot , 1890 Mass.
  • Golden Plover- ( Elmer Crowell, 1915 East Harwich Mass.)
  • Sanderling – ( 1895 New England   ) Nodding feeding .


English Shaving Horse

David works in a very traditional manner, sculpting his birds from rough band sawn blocks using edge tools, such as the the draw knife. he holds the blocks in a traditional  English Shaving Horse. Since I don’t have this device at hand I am trying to apply the skills learned on the power carving courses using rotary tools to remove the bulk of the waste wood. I strongly suspect that Davids method are a lot more satisfying and without all the dust and noise :(0  Maybe I just need to make make one = another project 🙂

I shall be leaning heavily on David’s keen eye as I approach the final shaping of the birds and even more so in the painting phase.

Two Spoons & Bowl

Sat 7th May – This week brought to fruition a couple projects started months ago in the form of off-centre or multi axis turning projects. A technique to produce interesting combinations of blended curves on the lathe.

This pair of spoons are in Red Alder and the “love spoon” aspects were added by hand carving the double helix or barley twist handle symbolising two becoming one. The other an elegant curve terminated in a hook with a heart , a diamond, two Soul symbol’s and a piercing arrow into the bowl all taken for Welsh examples of the craft.



It has been somewhat warmer weather this week the fruit tree blossoms are just bursting forth. I finally got the veggie plants set and some seeds sown.  also I so started on a bowl to take to Australia at Christmas for our daughter Juliet. I shall probably make several and choose one. The first is one sculpted out of a large chunk of apple wood donated by a neighbour.

Apple  Roughing out  theBowl


Lancelot wood sculpting tool

The tool used for this rough-out stage is a Lancelot mounted on a 4″ dia Angle grinder. The Lancelot is comprised of a 18 links of chainsaw cutter sandwiched between two discs. I t has a phenomenal cutting rate and a matching hazard rating 🙂
I need to remove a lot more material to form the bowl inner and then shape two handles and the outer form to have a nice thin walled vessel