Hi Stewart, it seems I need inspiration and motivation to get carving these days, without the weekly incentive of the carving club meetings I was finding any excuse not to get back into it. So you can imagine my surprise at just what sparked my interest again, it wasn’t Angela asking where all her wooden spoons went although that has a bearing on this narrative later. In fact it was the gift of some chain sawed Lime logs I was given last year now dried enough to work with.

 My aim was to just get them into workable squared off sizes. So only having a small band saw (picked up at a car boot sale for 15 quid couple of years ago) but not big enough for the size of logs I had, I proceeded to hand saw the logs into rough shapes, getting a good sweat on in the process and giving myself a good work at the same time.

 Then I thought I would try out the collection of wood planes I bought of a fellow wood worker, that Bill put me onto last year. He really gave Bill and I some fabulous bargains, he let me have the planes for five pound each on average, one is fetching over one hundred pounds on eBay in poor condition and I told him I will cherish them and look after them. You know how men are with tools.

 Anyway, out came the plane’s, now this is where the magic happened. Being a machine tool fitter in a previous life (before BT) I was well used to working with tools, but not so much wood tools. Taking time to get some knowledge from YouTube on planing techniques, and learning how to sharpen them properly, another hidden dark art, and I set too. Soon I was getting the shavings along the whole length of the log, which gradually was turning into usable wood as if by magic, checking with square and flat edge I was in a world of my own and the shavings were by now over a foot deep. The rhythm and the sheer pleasure of planing that wood combined with the work out was the catalyst to get out the chisels out, this is where Angela and then my Grandson come into the story.

 Having not seen me for hours she popped into the garage with a cup of tea and spied one of her old spoons covered in paint you can imagine words were said and new spoons were mentioned.

 Right says I, a spoon but not just any spoon a spiral tapering spoon at that. But just to be difficult not from the wood I had so much enjoyed preparing earlier, no I would use some hardwood from the door frames we had just had replaced with plastic sacrilege I know, but I’m getting too old to keep up with the painting and Angela wanted the wood not to just sacrificed in the wood burner.

 The first spoon took a day, then once the process was mastered, I could make one in half a day, even without a spoon knife. Then I thought let’s get my grandson involved if I could, no problem, nine years old and all for it, so last Thursday he produced a usable spoon, spokeshave tick, saw tick, gouge and mallet tick, you get the picture, I think we may have a new recruit. Anyway I hope you have stuck with this until the end, pass it on if you think the gang would be interested, a happy story all around for Dave, Rory the grandson happy with his spoon, Angela happy with her spoons, Daughter in laws with theirs, Angela now says think of something else already, ah well, all the best Mick.


The Bonanza of Free Wood 3 March 2021


Just thought the gang might be interested in another journey that some free wood has taken on. Me being a hoarder, (Angela claims) when offered some free wood pallets and crates from a building site just up the road from us I had to accept. My thoughts were, good kindling for the log burner if nothing else, so with the help of a dump truck the wood was deposited in the field behind my house. Over the next week or two I slowly dismantled the crates and took my chain saw to the pallets.

The crates were put together with corner metal cleat steel bands and plenty of nails. Damn them nails. But eventually I managed to strip the crates down and store the wooden slats and the two-by-two posts. It was the crate wood that piqued my interest, it was bent, twisted, warped and split, but immensely strong, red to golden yellow in-various hues, I thought there must be some use for it beside crates. The crates were made to carry natural stone slabs that came from India so you can imagine the wood has to be very strong, what could it be?

Quick search on the internet took me to Kota India, to a company where the crates are manufactured to order, from eucalyptus wood. Eucalyptus wood - wow, a new one on me. Carrying on the research it seems that eucalyptus wood is resistant to termites (my spoon should be safe) rotting, burns well, I can testify to that, but is prone to splits, warping, and cracking. Some Indian manufacturers have tried to make furniture from it but have given up. We shall see what happens when my spoon is finished, the wood was actually easy to plane and had a lovely tight grain, gouging out the bowl of the spoon was satisfying and finishing it with my new Mora spoon knife was a pleasure - once I stopped nicking my fingers. The other plus side was the lovely aroma coming from the wood as you worked it, I love the smell of eucalyptus oil so I really enjoyed working on the spoon. It’s amazing what ‘rabbit holes’ a gift of free wood can take you down.

Free eucalyptus wood anyone?



Yes, more inspiration if it was needed 5 March 2021


Yes, more inspiration if it was needed, I just happened to be watching the same program as Angela for a change, after soaps, and before football.  Me in charge of the sky remote in the lounge, Angela in the kitchen lounge diner, warmer after the cooking. But no sky.  j k. Rowling was explaining where she got her ideas for the inclusion of individual magic wands in her Harry Potter books. Bearing in mind that we have a fanatical Harry Potter fan in the family, also being the magnanimous sort, I decided to watch the program with Angela for a change in the kitchen lounge diner!

What caught my interest was two old blokes in a wood surrounded by sawdust, piles of timber, old tools, and a nice smoky bonfire, my idea of heaven. The one chap looked big and round, the other looked like Mr Pastry remember him, most of you should. You expected mice or birds to pop out of their pockets after fighting past the straw stuck to their apparel at all angles, hedge backwards sprung to mind, countryfied?  is that even a word, apparently not, our instructors in the art of wands-man -ship appeared one slice short of a loaf. Any way you can guess what they were up too. That’s right carving wands.

But only from wood cut in the mornings with their trousers tucked in their socks after drinking dew from a spider’s web, and after a full moon of course (made some of that up). Who knew there were so many superstitions about carving a magic wand? To be honest some of the wands were not that good twisted old sticks with the bark removed. But boy oh boy the prices some people are prepared to pay for a hand carved wand (cut in the morning with trousers tucked......stop it) perhaps not so daft after all.

Anyway, I shall be out one morning in the near future looking for a suitable stick to carve for my granddaughter Elsa, this will go with some of her official Harry Potter branded collectible wands, seems her parents have more money than sense. You can rest assured I will be following all the protocols related to wand manufacturing to ensure the magic is stored for use by our budding little witch, our good little witch of course. My inclination is to carve a wolf’s head at the top of the wand tapering down to a short barley twist, and then tapering to a point. Anyone fancy joining me in this very worthwhile project, you should write to me on real paper, set it alight and throw it up the chimney, I shall retrieve your message as soon as I finish my first magic wand, let’s have some fun. Happy carving.