As part of the process of learning about the characteristics of willow, I carved a large scoop from some of the River Kennet wood that I used to make the bowl in my earlier blog post.
The orange colours have been brought out by the raw cold-pressed linseed oil that I used on the wood. It’s about 32cm long (bowl about 15 cm, handle about 17cm). It’s all one piece of wood, carved from half a log. The back of the scoop’s bowl was at the outside of the log.
Just like the bowl I wrote about earlier, the cleanest cuts were those across the grain. The smoothest surface is the outside of the bowl. The handle surface isn’t bad either, except where some fibres were lifted by the cutting edge and tore out. Cutting parallel to the grain was very difficult to manage. Even the thinnest of fibres lifted up on the handle, and when I tried to cut or scrape these off, others would lift in the opposite direction.
The interior of the bowl also presented problems. This was because of the steep sides and relatively sharp angle between the sides and the base. The willow fibres tended to lift or crush in this area. Although the upper internal sides of the bowl are quite smooth, the lower sides and base are noticeably rougher. The narrowness of the bowl meant that I could not place my hands correctly to get the direction of cut I really wanted with my spoon knives. Perhaps this would have been easier if I had left-handed spoon knives as well as right-handed.
The wood is still relatively green, having been cut about this time last year. I shall have to leave what I have left for some time before seeing how it cuts when well-seasoned. In the meantime, perhaps I need to read about how willow is managed for making cricket bats, and whether the different British willow varieties have noticeably different qualities for wood-working.