Rejects. Discovered flaws. Design dead ends. Patterns. I save these as reminders.

More thinking on ‘working to honesty and integrity’. Working with our hands and seeing the outcomes of our labors is a powerful learning experience. Evaluating our work and comparing it to our own expectations is tricky. Some of us are of the nature to be self critical and focus on the flaws. Some of us are of the nature to be to lax and ho hum. A balance it to realize that our imagination, our creative eye is always ahead of our abilities to execute. This is a good and natural thing. This is where honesty and integrity come in. We must be honest about out intentions and their outcomes. What is it to make a spoon? If we make something with the intention to make it pretty then call it pretty. If we make a spoon, make the best spoon you can.

Repetition. Malcom Gladwell suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. This maybe true or not but it is clear that repetition and focused practice lead to skill and mastery. I started a project about 2 years ago to carve and make 400 spoons. This is a modest goal of which I yesterday finished my 200th spoon. Others have carved more and yet others have carved with more skill (prettier, more ornate, more traditional) but that is them and I am me. My skill has dramatically improved. My skill has not caught up with my creative eye and that keeps me going.

I don’t know anything about art. I must be honest about my making. I am a amateur in the best sense. I am too focused on my own making and creative eye that the distraction of “Art” doesn’t enter my world. This is all a way to get clearer. I don’t know what I think till I write it down.

This week in the shop I plan on finishing the stool tops for Paul, I have a job creating a butcher block cutting board in a special application for our landscaper, I’ll be making a tall narrow bookcase for cookbooks for Mary and I’ll be welding up a cart for my welder.

Why we are woodworkers

Listened to Shop Talk Live 29: Secrets for Sharp Blades and Perfect Plane Irons this morning and Asa and Matt 'waxed poetically' about what motivates them in the shop. 68147b98fd904f8e8f0301323aef0214

Asa was articulate in talked about how when one simple skill is learned and repeated, a sort of forgetting of the steps, a flow of the repetition, the noticing of little refining steps, all lead to an experience of flow or do I dare say rapture? It is the small things that bring us to the shop. Progress slowly and gaining confidence little by little focusing on little tasks.


Matt seemed to be most excited to be in the (his) shop when everything is setup correctly. The example he used was resawing with a properly tuned jointer and bandsaw. This is a skill learned after much trial an error. Now that a system is in place with upgrade tools and skills, it just added power, creativity, and expected results to resawing. The tools and techniques become invisible and background to creativity.


Will, adding my 2 cents worth to this conversation. I couldn't agree more with Asa and Matt. They bring up great points about learning to the point of automation, in a good way freeing us up for higher tasks like creativity and safety. For me there is a strong sense of "flow" when I'm in the shop. I didn't see that in my professional life and not nearly as much as I wanted in my social life. It doesn't seem to matter what I am working on, I love going into the shop. I like to start the day with swiping the floor, it gets my mind in a place to be receptive to the thought processes for the projects ahead. In some areas of woodworking I am skilled and other I'm a beginner. In the former areas, I see and refine my skills, in the latter, I am learning backs skills known to other for 100's of years.

Spoon Carving with Jögge Sundqvist

I'm back from a week of being bathed in wood carving. Specifically, spoon carving and more specifically spoon carving in the Swedish style. There were 11 of us including Drew and Louise Langsner, the hosts and Jögge Sundqvist from Umeå, Sweden over for here for near a month giving classes.

I want to be sure to mention that Country Workshops is a first class place. The shop facilities are great. Huge selection of tools selected to fit the needs of the styles of wood craft taught. While the lodging was shared and rustic, it definitely fit with the whole character of the week. The food was superior. Louise does a magnificent job of creating a feast at every meal. Lots of goodies from her garden and from neighbors. Local food lovers rejoice.

It was so nice to immerse into an environment where there was so much energy devoted to spoon making. I'd divide things up into four themes. Spoon carving technique, spoon design, materials and something that is a bit harder to describe but for now we'll call it meaning.

Spoon Carving Technique

Jögge hollowing a
spoon bowl with a bent knife.

Maybe it was my imagination, but I remember

Jögge and his father Wille are cultural treasures in Sweden. Jögge studies

Smooth sanded spoons

Spalted Maple with ripple figure

Birch spoons, near spoon from birch from UofI arboretum, likely exotic. 

Also birch, near spoon River Birch.

The spoons are of the last few weeks production. I do work in a rustic leave the knife makes on the wood style and also a sanded smooth finish. These are of the latter. Buffed and waxed with a fine luster. The maple spoon really look great finely finished. I am looking for so wood that will led itself to a rougher finish. Fresh, I doo have a lead on some Honey Locust.

My Spinal went uneventful. Probably worked too much around it and took it too lightly. It will be a week or so before I'll have the results. Many of the tests are not usually done locally and have to be sent out by the lab. It seemed as I escaped the headaches usually associated with spinal taps but yesterday and today splitting headaches. Of course the walking into the tree headfirst causing scalp bleeding might have something to do with it.