Friday, April 11, 2014

Bone Part 2

There are so many things that a nice piece of bone can be made into. Before I made the crochet hooks I made two shawl pins, one for my mom and one for my sister, who both knit. The Dremel tool was quite handy here especially the spherical carving bits that they make.

One of my mom's favorite animals. I tried to make the pin itself look like a tusk.

One of my sister's favorite animals, this time I tried to make the pin look like a branch.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Bone is a great medium to work with. You can create a very polished and glossy tool that will last for a very long time as it is naturally strong. I just use cow bone from the pet store. It is marketed as something for dogs to chew, but is a very nice piece of leg bone that is pure white and clean of all flesh and cartilage. Be sure to wear a dust mask if you sand because a very fine powder permeates the air around you. (If you are squeamish from dentist smells, reminds me of drilling teeth, then chew some nice minty gum!)
Here I made two crochet hooks for my mom who is an avid and very skilled crocheter. It is important that the neck remain a constant diameter. After shaping and sanding, I ran them on a buffing wheel with a fine compound, they turned out very shiny and smooth. I noticed that all of my mom's hooks were skimpy in the handle, so I went for an ergonomic design.

If they get the stamp of approval from my mom then they must work quite well! Here is a work-in-progress blanket made solely from my bone crochet hook, which has become a favorite.

A bone folder is a very useful tool and often they are not made from bone, but plastic...yuck.  Here is my one made from bone with a very shiny and glossy feel.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Using the New Hook Knife

I made two spoons for friends of mine out of a very nice piece of maple that had been freshly cut near a baseball field. This was the first true test of the hook knife I made.

Maple with my Gransfors carving axe and an old-timer that I use for splitting and bark removal

I am trying to become more proficient with the axe and remove some of the bowl wood, I find the lower end of the cutting edge works well for this.

Well I guess this was the first spoon that I made from the billet as I used the hook knife to hollow the entire bowl. Also on my lap is a leather sheath, which I wet-molded around a wood core for my Mora that I put a stacked leather handle on. 
Works quite well I think, definitely satisfying knowing that I'm making something with a tool I made.
Here are the two finished maple spoons with some chip carving in. The smaller one to the right is a sycamore eating spoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Very First Blog Post! New Hook Knife

For a long time I have been using the standard Mora hook knife and have become quite accustomed to it. After watching people use the big twca cam knives, I was inspired to make my own.

What you see here is a small hand crank forge, made in PA, that we found in an antique mall displayed as a garden decoration! After some restoration and an added heat shield, this little forge has turned out absolutely great. Behind it is a 180lb Hay-Budden farrier anvil which was found at a flea market. 

Our source of steel was a leaf spring from a truck, not exactly sure of its composition but the results have been very impressive. 
After initial forging, the piece was heated once more and allowed to air cool.

During the rough grinding stage, care was taken not to make the bevel too thin (to avoid burning it in the forge). This is the single external bevel. Single and flat bevels seem to work the best for wood carving in terms of control and ease of sharpening. The back side, that will become the internal face, was slightly hollow ground to compensate for the bending stage when the inner material will compress and become convex.

At this stage the knife was heated again in the forge and bent around the horn of the anvil. I do believe that next time I will use a two inch piece of pipe to bend the knife around because the horn of the anvil does not have a circular shape. The bend turned out alright, there is a slightly flat spot in the middle, but I think it should work. Next, the knife was heated to a cherry red and quenched in some motor oil. It seemed to work as a file would skate over the surface. To temper the blade I first gave it a thorough clean and put it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour (again, not sure what is exactly in the steel but I have heard a lot of success stories using this method). 
When out of the oven the steel was a light golden hue, so I believe that the temperature was OK. I spent a little more time at the grinding wheel to thin the bevel, ensuring to keep the blade cool by dipping it in water so not as to ruin the temper. Afterwards I spent some good time on the water stones cleaning up the free-hand ground bevel. The single flat bevel was very easy to run along the stones.

Here I have put a handle on it and wedged in in firmly. I am extremely impressed at how well this little hook knife works (already a blood stain near the bottom, this thing is sharp!) I wanted to make the large twca cam style, but the piece of steel I used was not quite large enough. Nevertheless, the extra handle length can give you some good torque to hollow out a spoon blank in no time! So far I have hollowed a few spoons and the knife can still shave the hair on my arm, I believe hardening and tempering was a success! 
I hope you enjoyed seeing the birth of my new hook knife. I plan to make another soon, this time a larger twca cam style with a big handle.