How It’s Made

Thanks for stopping in to see how your hand-crafted wooden objects are made! I look forward to showing you, step-by-step, what my process is like, from taking down trees to applying the finishing touches, and every step in between. I want the whole process to be visible to you, so that you have a glimpse into what it’s like for your piece to make its way from the tree to your home!

It all starts with a tree…

Most of my projects begin in the forest! I use a Stihl chainsaw to take down trees, and then switch over to a sledge and wedges for splitting. I have a milling attachment for making planks. With each tree, I try to maximize what I can get out of it. Some sections are set aside as half-rounds for bowls or benches, and long, straight sections become a mix of lumber, from beams for future building projects to planks for future furniture. Treen generally comes out of smaller trees or side branches, sometimes even just from cutting back some of the old apple trees and wild cherries and maples scattered throughout the property.

Working green…

While large furniture projects require lumber that has dried and cured, lots of smaller projects start while the wood is green. All kinds of tableware, from bowls and trays to spoons and spreaders, are roughed out while they’re green. This includes laying out the shape, roughing out with an axe, shaping with drawknife and gouges, and then setting aside to dry slowly.

laying out a bowl

Meet the Scrub Plane

The first step in working with something from the tree is leveling, or truing. In a factory, industrial planers shave down the surface, reducing all the roughness into piles of sawdust, and turning out a smooth finish. In the by-hand workshop, the tool for this job is a scrub plane. This scrub plane is my own design, to fit my hand, and is a real workhorse!

Projects…

Once the green work has been set aside to dry, there are a variety of directions to turn in the workshop. Projects like furniture and boxes and dovetailed trays are made from dried lumber, which is planed and smoothed and joined using traditional hand-cut joints. This part of woodworking creates a lot of shavings! But this is also the time when I might use my foot-powered lathe to turn some bench legs, or when I might bore out some boxes to hold pencils or utensils or seedlings, or when I might grab something from my stack of drying treen, and put the finishing touches on it.

Sharpening…

It’s not all building and crafting! There are a wide variety of tools used in hand-crafted woodworking, and most of them have sharp edges! And so for every day that I spend axing and adzing and draw-knifing and gouging and planing, you can bet there are some hours of sharpening in my future! While it’s not considered the most exciting part of woodworking, it’s got its own quiet rhythm, and its own sense of satisfaction in creating that perfectly sharp edge that is going to make the next day of woodworking so enjoyable, and is going to give the next hand-crafted item that remarkably smooth hand-cut finish.

Finishing…

Finishing work spans a wide range as well. There’s the final smoothing with smoothing planes or fine gouges on dry surfaces…There’s chamfering all edges so that there’s nothing sharp to catch your fingers…There might be a little bit of carving, inspired by God’s beauty right around us here in Maine…There might be a bit of blackening with a torch…I might even do a little bit of hand-painting with hand-mixed pigments. And then applying a finish coat for beauty and protection. I primarily use plain flaxseed oil for eating items, and my own hand-mixed combination of flaxseed oil, turpentine and beeswax for everything else.

Eastern Knubble Trail, Cutler, ME

Thanks for visiting!

One of my favorite things about wood-working is that you can take it with you everywhere. It’s nice to have a shop all set up, and certainly necessary for a lot of projects, but sometimes it’s even better to just take a couple of tools out into the trees and come back with a spoon! I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into a wooden craft’s journey from the tree to your home…See you around the forest!

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