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My Welsh Spoon Brit-Style #1: Sanding

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Blog entry by TracyT posted 05-06-2017 02:25 PM 1368 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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As a very, very new carver, I looked for a project idea to hone my skills. I fell in love with the beautiful Welsh Spoon that the Brit did, and thought I’d try it based on the great tutorial that he posted. This is my modest thank you to all of you that take the time to share your knowledge.

This is made from a piece of cottonwood bark that I found on a beach here in British Columbia. Cottonwood bark has gorgeous burls in the grain but it can be problematic if you discover a soft patch or cracks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the project so far and have left my two greatest frustrations to the end.
1) Getting my ball in cage to be a ball instead of an egg, and
2) Sanding all the surfaces to remove any tool marks. (The one unfortunate thing about cottonwood bark is that it’s very soft.)
I’m not sure how or what to use to get into all the crooks and crevices so I’m hoping i’ll get some sage advice with my first forum posting.

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo



17 comments so far

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waho6o9

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#1 posted 05-06-2017 03:30 PM

Amazing work and welcome to Lumber Jocks!

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Brit

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#2 posted 05-06-2017 10:22 PM

10 out of 10 Tracy. Very well done indeed. One thing I think would improve it even more is if you made the bowl of the spoon a bit deeper and the walls of the bowl a bit thinner. To my eyes the bowl looks a bit too ‘heavy’ at the moment.

As far as sanding is concerned, when I did mine I went and bought some of those fingernail sanding sticks to do inside the cage where the ball is located and some of the other areas. However, you will also find a set of needle files indispensible for getting into all the little nooks and crannies of the chain and spiral. Expect to spend a number of hours sanding and filing it all, but it is worth it in the end.

I’m glad my spoon inspired you to have a go and I look forward to seeing your future projects.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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TracyT

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#3 posted 05-10-2017 05:41 AM

Thank you so much, Andy … I’m so glad you found my blog!
Your feedback is great and I’m working on the spoon to thin it out as you suggested. I don’t have a wide range of carving knives so it is a little more difficult. Add the fact that I still have to work for a living (darn it), means it may be a while before my next update but I’d love any future critiques you have.
Thank you again for your fantastic tutorial!

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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TracyT

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#4 posted 06-07-2017 05:27 PM

Hi Andy,
I’ve worked on the spoon to thin it out. I think I still have some work to do (see photos attached), but I’m heading to a part of town tomorrow morning with one of the best woodworking shops and so I wanted to ask if you could give me any advise on what to use to finish / seal my project?
I have read some about 100% pure tung oil, Polymerized Tung Oil Sealer and a range of Minwax products but really don’t know what to choose, how many coatings of this, then that to get a nice finish!

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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Brit

7309 posts in 2654 days


#5 posted 06-08-2017 08:56 AM

Hi Tracy,

What finish to use is very much a personal choice. In my opinion, a project like this which is not going to be used for anything and is only for display purposes looks best with one coat of an oil finish like boiled linseed followed by two coats of a clear wax. The oil will bring out the grain, but will also darken the wood somewhat especially where there is exposed end grain so it you don’t want to darken it, just use the clear wax.

Now the type of wax I am talking about here is not a hard wax, it has the consistency of hand cream. My favourite is Briwax, but I’m not sure if you can get that in the US. An alternative (and one I used to use) is Lord Sheraton’s Wood Balsam. With either of these waxes, just apply them with a clean rag or an old toothbrush sparingly and use a hair dryer to melt the wax into the grain. Leave it for about 20 minutes and polish surface with a clean lint free rag or a natural brush like the kind of brush you would polish shoes with. Two coats of wax is normally enough to afford the wood some protection and provide a subtle sheen.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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TracyT

13 posts in 199 days


#6 posted 07-15-2017 08:04 PM

Hi Andy & all,
I’ve applied ring oil to my project, first coat cut 50% with paint thinner and then two pure tung oil. The first layers I let dry for a week and just added the second last night, but I’m seeing patchy areas with a sheen and others areas dull. Also some of the shinier areas look uneven, like dust in it though i always used lint free clothes to take off any areas of excess oil every day.
Any advice … I.e. should I do more tung oil? Should I just start with adding wax?
P.s. my brothers wedding, for which this spoon is a gift is on the 29th of this month so i’m feeling the pressure of finishing!!

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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TracyT

13 posts in 199 days


#7 posted 07-15-2017 10:06 PM

Tried to photo the evenness of the finish but i’m not sure if you can see it.

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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Brit

7309 posts in 2654 days


#8 posted 07-16-2017 11:28 AM

Hi Tracy,

Thank you for the photo above, I know exactly what you mean. The first thing to point out to you is that you are not alone. Everyone who applies an oil finish, experiences this issue. Why does it happen? Well wood is a complex material. Even in a project such as this which is made from single piece of wood, the grain can vary enormously and this affects how much of the oil the wood absorbs in any particular spot. On areas where the grain rises to the surface and anywhere that end grain is exposed, the wood will absorb more oil and is less likely to show shiny spots. On surfaces where the grain is flat on the surface, the wood will absorb less oil and so rather than soaking into the wood, some of the oil remains on the surface. Once dry, it will show as a shiny patch. This is just something you have to realize will happen with any oil finish. So what do you do about it?

With oil finishes, when you apply the first thin coat to bare wood, the wood will usually just soak it up. Once dry the finish will appear matt and the sheen will be relatively even. On end grain, the oil will penetrate deeper than areas that don’t have end grain. Bearing this in mind when you apply the second coat of oil, it will still soak into the end grain areas, but is likely to sit on the surface more in areas that don’t have exposed end grain. However as you rightly point out, the finish doesn’t just display shiny spots at the moment, but has also picked up some dust from the environment as it was drying and therefore feels rough to the touch. Again let me say that we all experience this and it is nothing that you have done wrong. Even if you apply a finish inside your house, without fans blowing or people moving around, the finish will still attract ‘dust nibs’ as they are called and sometimes the odd insect or two.

If you just keep applying more coats of finish over the top of these dust nibs, it will end up looking worse not better with each successive coat. So starting after the second coat, what you need to do is ‘de-nib’ the surface. De-nibbing (sometimes called ‘rubbing out’) is a process whereby you remove the dust nibs and prevent the shiny spots from building up too much until the unshiny parts of the wood reach the same level of sheen. More often than not, woodworkers will use ‘0000’ steel wool to de-nib the surface of a project like yours. The important bit in the name is the four zeros. If you were to ask for this product at a hardware store you would ask for ‘4 ought steel wool’ (pronounced like bought without the ‘b’). Just as an aside, steel wool comes in a number of different grades of coarseness. 0000 is super fine, but you can also buy 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 with 4 being the coarsest. You only need 0000 for this project. In my experience, the best steel wool is made by Liberon shown below, but don’t worry if you can only get another brand.

Any good hardware store will sell steel wool and it isn’t expensive. There are also modern alternatives to steel wool in the form of nylon pads like the ones shown below which again range from coarse to fine.

If you were de-nibbing a table top, I would recommend you use these, but for a fiddly project like your love spoon you will find it easier to get into all the knocks and crannies with 0000 steel wool.

Steel wool comes in a roll and all you need to do is take a pair of scissors and cut off about 3” from the roll. If you just pull a piece off (which is tempting to do) you will send a load of metal dust into the air and you don’t want to breathe that in. Fold the steel wool in half and GENTLY rub it over all the surfaces in the direction of the grain (where possible). I should point out that the finish should be completely dry before de-nibbing. When the finish is dry, the steel wool will produce a very fine white powder which is the finish that you have removed. If you run your finger over the surface before you start you will feel the dust nibs, but after the few swipes with the steel wool, the surface will be smooth again. Pay a bit more attention to the shiny patches, but don’t overdo it as you don’t want to rub the finish back to the bare wood if you can help it. Also lift the steel wool away from any sharp corners as the corners will wear faster. Once you have gone over the entire project, brush, blow or wipe it thoroughly to remove the white powder and any steel wool fragments that have crumbled off. Then you are ready to apply your next coat of finish. You continue de-nibbing until you think you have applied enough coats and then you de-nib the final coat so the surface is smooth. I would recommend that you apply a couple of coats of clear soft wax after you have de-nibbed your final coat of oil. This will leave you will an even sheen that is soft to the touch like a baby’s backside.

Hope that helps. Good luck and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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Brit

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#9 posted 07-16-2017 11:31 AM

Looking at your photo again Tracy, you probably have enough oil on there now. I would just de-nib the surfaces so they all feel smooth and then apply a couple of coats of clear wax.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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TracyT

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#10 posted 07-16-2017 06:22 PM

THANK YOU .. THANK YOU .. THANK YOU ANDY!!! You are my hero! I’m off to the hardware store.

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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TracyT

13 posts in 199 days


#11 posted 07-19-2017 07:40 AM

Hi Andy,
The spoon is looking much better now after #0000 Steel wool. The shine level is still a little patchy but i’m assuming this will go away with the wax.
At the closest carving shop, they didn’t have the brands you mentioned but they recommended this orange wax by Town Talk which looks similar to Briwax. I’m going to start on that tomorrow evening … westcoast of Canada time so wish me luck.
Thank you again for all your great advice and direction!!
Tracy.

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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Brit

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#12 posted 07-24-2017 08:45 AM

Can’t wait to see it Tracy.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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TracyT

13 posts in 199 days


#13 posted 07-25-2017 07:57 PM

Hi Andy,
Although it’s not perfect, I’m pretty proud.
You have been invaluable so you must take credit too!
Thank you so much!

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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TracyT

13 posts in 199 days


#14 posted 07-25-2017 08:26 PM

-- "Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop." -- Michelangelo

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Brit

7309 posts in 2654 days


#15 posted 07-27-2017 01:23 PM

Awesome job Tracy. Well done. I like the key too. What are you making next?

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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