In a book I saw a picture of some guy with sacks wrapped around his shins to protect himself from his adze. This was not a black and white photo of hand tool user from years ago, but a recent image. I have heard of this leg protection before and always thought it a bit odd. The way an adze is used means that it should be almost impossible to cut ones shins. As you will see from the video I am happy to work right into my shoes. I am comfortable with using an adze in this way, and I have been using one for 20 years now, on and off. I would suggest that if you are new to using this tool that you always work between the legs so that any follow through or miss strokes will not be an issue. As with any hand tool we are using it with highly controlled motions, not widely throwing it through the air in the hope that it will cut in the right place. Every stroke counts, well that is my aim, even the best of us occasionally have glancing blows.
The adze is a great tool and works by cutting having the pivot point which is the end of the handle in a fixed and stable position. My hand usually holds the handle firmly against my crotch or thigh. Once you have found and anchored into this point then everything falls into place. If the hand holding the end of the handle is floating then it can be very difficult to create a good finish.
I have been making my own bread for years now, but only this year I got rid of the bread maker. This has been a liberating experience and I find making bread is now much more fun. I decided to start from scratch by making my own yeast. This is easy, by putting flour in a small bowl and leaving for a few weeks, adding a bit more flour and water every 3 days. The natural yeasts in the flour and atmosphere soon get to work. People have been known to have had their yeast ‘starter’, or ‘mother’, for decades. Next I put my flour in a bowl with a bit of salt and water with most of the starter. This is mixed up and left all day. I come home from work and after dinner, empty the risen bread into a baking tin and let rise again for a few hours, depending on how warm it is. Then, into the oven it goes.
You may have been told that you need to knead your dough for 10 minutes or so. I have found no need for this, I may knead a bit more flour into the mix if it is a bit wet or if I need to divide it up into tins and rolls. This kneading will only take a minute at most. The actual time it takes me to make bread, including washing up is maybe 15 minutes.
After adzing out the bowl, (as shown in the last post), I used long handled hook knives to finish the inside and a Mora push knife on the outside. I wanted to have a smooth inside as I will be washing this bowl out regularly. The best and quickest way to do this is by scraping. As you can see the shavings are paper thin and leave a very good finish. Scraping is always far quicker and easier than going through the grades of sandpaper, and if you want a smooth finish then learn about scrapers. I will be doing a video on how to sharpen a scraper.
As you may have noticed from my Kuksas, I like handles. The handles on this bowl took a fair amount of time to do. This is one reason that we rarely see handles like this on wooden artefacts.
I also now buy some of my flour in the sack and need to decant from sack into a smaller container. So I made a scoop from a half log of birch.
I have found that even with a busy life, I have easily found time to make all my own wheat bread as well as rye bread for my wife. I even look forward to it. It is hard for me to explain why but it certainly has to do with working with a living organism (yeast) and also, I have control over what goes into my food. Another pleasure of this about being connected to the process of producing natural and slow food. I find a sort of meditation in the making of bread. We, as a culture, are losing connection to meaningful daily work with the hands, the everyday acts of creation. Making my own bread is a way of reclaiming that in another area of my life.
Sometimes it takes a simple addition to lift an item into being a great artefact. If you read my last post I was happier with the hummingbird drinking nectar from a wooden flower on a thin bent willow stick, which was totally impracticable. The other set up was functional and long lasting, but lacked something. At the workshop I had an idea of putting leaves onto the base of the flower. Needing something that was quick and simple I picked up some ash shavings from the shaving horse and fashioned them into petals.
The whole fanbird and flower is now more balanced. I have noticed that it so easy to go too far with finishing or embellishment and ruin a piece of work. The” KISS” saying has a lot of truth to it, “keep it simple stupid”. I thank my good sense to use waste shavings rather than making or carving wooden petals, which could have made the bird with flower more expensive and time consuming.