Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chipping Away at the Future

This week I carved out a spoon and my first bowl. The bowl was carved from a 4" x 4" x 2" piece of butternut. And, before you ask, yes, it was intentionally asymetric. Still turned out looking a bit like a flower pot. I'm considering trying to correct that by extending the concave curve of the side all the way up to the rim. And, no, I didn't do it on a lathe. I used bent knives, hook knives and sloyds. an interesting process for me, but not much to say about it otherwise, except watch your grain direction!
The other thing I finished this week was a spoon carved from alder. I pierced the s-curve in the handle to give it a little more interest.

What I really wanted to talk about this weekend were my thoughts on reading A Handmade Life by William Coperthwaite. It's a beautifully done book on high quality paper with lots of color photographs. The introduction by John Saltmarsh was, IMHO, pretty much a waste of paper. As soon as I got into the first chapter, however, I started seeing things I could relate to.

I am at a time of life when most people start wondering what they are going to do with the rest of it. In my case I figure I've got maybe another 25 years of productive life left, if I'm lucky. I don't want to spend that being an engineer. I've been doing that for over 30 years. It's time to do something else, something simpler and more satisfying. I think Coperthwaite is pointing me in the right direction.

One of the things I like about him is the fact that he is not a luddite. For all of his living in the wilderness in a permanent 3-story yurt, he uses modern technology when it is appropriate. He paddles his canoe 40 minutes to get supplies rather than using his pickup to do the same thing in 15 minutes because he prefers the silence. That is the same reason I use all hand tools, including most recently, a hand drill. I don't begrudge anyone the use of power tools, just don't try to get me to use them. 

I've only read through the first chapter, but I am looking forward to chewing and digesting my way through the rest of it.

Enough navel-gazing for one day. Until next time, let the chips fly!


  1. Congratulations on your first bowl--terrific!! The butternut looks great. And the grain is well-placed on your alder spoon. The circular pattern drops right down into the bowl. I've been thinking about using a drill and brace for fun. Is yours an antique?

  2. Nope, my drill is a Stanley egg-beater of fairly recent vintage. My Dad had an older Stanley egg-beater with the cut-out wheel and a screw-off top to the handle for drill storage. It has since disappeared.

  3. It takes me about 3 trys to post a comment here. What's up? Nice bowl! Better than turned.

  4. Thanks, Tom. I think it's better than turned, too. The only thing that turning allows you to do better is make use of the "waste" to make a smaller bowl. I don't know why you are having so much trouble posting comments. I've done all I can think of. I'll check the "Knowledge Base" and see if there is something I'm missing.