Kuksa Carving Tips (from tree to finished kuksa)

Discussion in 'T's Custom Outdoor Gear' started by T. Pollock, May 3, 2017.

  1. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Thanks brothers!
     
  2. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    A little update to the tutorial on orientation.

    In post #3 I covered the two different orientations from which a kuksa/bowl can be taken from a log, my preference and the reasons why. I like the grain pattern that results from doing them in the top to bark orientation much better than I do top to pith. So the last dozen or so bowls/kuksa I've done I oriented that way to give it another try. Every single one checked or cracked! I still can not scientifically explain it (wish I could). As much as I like that grain pattern it's not worth it if the piece cracks and you loose all the hard work you've put into the piece. I'm always trying different methods etc. that's the way you learn and improve but I have proven well enough "at least for myself" that for a kuksa top to the pith orientation is the only way to go. Also, the tighter the radius (smaller the log) the more likely it is to crack.

    I wish I could explain the reasons why for you guys, all I know is from lots of experience what works and what doesn't for me.

    T-Man-Do :)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2018
  3. WildMedGuru

    WildMedGuru Scout

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    could you provide a photo to further illustrate "top to pith", I think I get your point, but a photo may help the group as well.
     
  4. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Sure, just like the photos in post #3 only instead of bowls as it shows in that photo it would be a kuksa.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  5. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Here's the two photos from post #3 showing/explaining the two orientations (top to bark or top to pith) and the resulting grain patterns.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  6. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    And here's one with notations to make it more clear/better explain.
    Sorry for my struggle at times to find the right words to say what I mean.

    Top To Bark or Top To Pith Orientation.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  7. Jmanworks

    Jmanworks Tinder Gatherer

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    You can't imagine how much I appreciate this post...I just need more free time to get after it !
     
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  8. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You're very welcome brother!
     
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  9. Bobsdock

    Bobsdock So long, and thanks for all the fish Supporter

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  10. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You're very welcome brother! Glad it was some help to you.
     
  11. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Due to having severe carpal tunnel and being too stubborn to have surgery, I as most of you know I do the biggest part of mine on the lathe. Only the outside is finish carved by hand to give them the tooled finish.

    Still I thought some of you might enjoy seeing these photos of one in the works from the perspective of doing one on a lathe.

    Outside after being turned.
    IMG_6646.JPG
    Reverse chucked to start hollowing the inside.
    IMG_6648.JPG
    A hole has been drilled in the center as a depth guide so I know how deep to go, making sure I don't get the bottom any thinner than the sides.
    IMG_6649.JPG
    Carefully checking the wall thickness with a set of calipers. As mentioned earlier in the thread maintaining a consistent wall thickness is crucial to making sure they don't crack from uneven drying.
    IMG_6651.JPG

    Filled to the rim with 100% pure Tung Oil.
    IMG_6654.JPG
    In these next two photos you can see how the Tung Oil has wept from the inside out through the end grain insuring that the open pores of the end grain are completely sealed with Tung Oil.
    IMG_6656.JPG
    The end grain is where wood loses moisture the fastest and where a kuksa will crack 9 times out of 10 if not sealed properly.
    IMG_6658.JPG
     
  12. 1066vik

    1066vik Guide

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    this one's river birch - from the tree you and @Broke cut down.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Awesome, that looks great brother!

    It tickles me to see photos of things made from trees I personally harvested being used all across the US and occasionally across the pond... I love it! :dblthumb:

    PS. @Broke is a chainsaw running machine and a super good dude! There's probably photos of that tree being harvested or milled up here somewhere in the Dirt Time In TN meetup threads.
     
  14. Oiler20

    Oiler20 Scout

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    Bump, for an Awesome thread!
     
  15. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!
     
  16. Tree_fish

    Tree_fish Supporter Supporter

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    This is an awesome thread! This is on my list of things to try in the near future and you definitely saved me some wasted time and heartache, thank you sir!
     
  17. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Thank you brother, glad you enjoyed it! If I can be any further help or answer any questions feel free to give me shout.
     
  18. Dale Thompson

    Dale Thompson Tinder Gatherer

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    Thank you Tim for an excellent blog, I've learned a lot from it. I have one question, when is the wood (birch in this case) considered dry. I'm using a moisture meter. Thanks again.
     
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  19. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You're very welcome Dale, glad you enjoyed it brother! 10% or below is considered equilibrium MC for most areas but depending on where you live it could be a little higher than that. With crafts such as a kuksa or a spoon it's not nearly as critical as it is for building materials (but still very important), as a general rule I try to get everything down to at least 12% but I prefer 10%. 2% I know doesn't sound like much but it can make a considerable difference. At 12% your concerns of a piece developing checks/cracks is pretty much gone but at 12% the piece won't absorb the finishing oil nearly as well as it will at 10%. Sanding is also easier at 10% because your sandpaper will clog up much less than at 12%.

    ETA:
    The main reason I started offering the Carve-A-kuksa for folks is that unless you're really skilled at carving and have good tools for doing a kuksa it's very difficult to carve one by hand quick enough to stay ahead of the drying process. If the walls are left too thick the wood pulls against itself while drying and it will crack. When they're thin (and even all the way around) it allows the wood to flex/move much more easily and significantly reduces the chances of it developing cracks. Even turning them on a lathe I still occasionally will have one that will crack from the drying before I can finish getting it turned thin enough. A good rule of thumb for the thickness is 1/4" or less. The thickness being the same throughout the whole kuksa is just as important as the moisture content.

    If I can be of any more help just let me know,

    Tim
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
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  20. Dale Thompson

    Dale Thompson Tinder Gatherer

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    Thank you Tim I really appreciate that info. I am referring to kuksa's. Over the past 2 years I have had at least 15 kuksa's crack. I am pretty sure that is a result of following the instructions of the folks that you refer to in your blog. I now feel confident I will have a much better success rate following your instructions. Birch, 100 percent tung oil, and drying it properly. Thanks again.
     
  21. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You're super welcome Dale! If I can be of any more help just let me know.
     
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  22. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    @Dale Thompson I did an ETA: (edit to add) in my first response to you. If you didn't by chance happen to see that you might find a little more help in my further explanation.
     
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  23. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    My brain works a little slower than most folks after my TBI :8: so I oftentimes add more info to a post after posting it and having a little more time to think about my answer.
     
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  24. Schmittie

    Schmittie Supporter Supporter

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    How have I missed this thread? It’s great! @T. Pollock

    What are your thoughts on a quartersawn piece used for a spoon?
     
  25. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Thank you brother, glad you enjoyed it! And my apologies for the late response, I noticed it was fairly cool outside so I went out to mow the yard but forgot to log off the forum before going out. I love quarter sawn wood especially oak. You're quarter sawn wood is actually the most stable section of wood in a log so it's great for just about anything. The only think I can think of where you wouldn't want to use quarter saw is a spoon with a significant crook in it. For a crooked spoon you'd be better to find a piece that the grain naturally matches the amount of crook you'd like in the spoon.
     
  26. Schmittie

    Schmittie Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for the detailed response! I feel like I’ve got lots of reading to do here in your forum. Especially since I just split some catalpa yesterday for spoons and another kuksa. @T. Pollock
     
  27. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    You're super welcome brother!
    Awesome, if I can help in any way please don't hesitate to give me a shout!
     
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  28. Keftonb

    Keftonb Tinder Gatherer

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    I'd be interested I. Seeing what that Catalapa looks like. What it like carving it and have you tried persimmon wood.
     
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  29. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I personally haven't used either.
     
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  30. Keftonb

    Keftonb Tinder Gatherer

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    I'm currently using the method you described on my kuksa. How fine of a grit did you take yours? I'm at 600 after the 2 soaks.
     
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  31. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    600 is as fine as I go. Most of the time I'll wet sand with (using the tung oil as the lubricant) and stop at 400.
     
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  32. Keftonb

    Keftonb Tinder Gatherer

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    That's cool I didnt think about that I'm burnishing the outside right now. I dropped on the tile floor a few days ago and got a crack through the front. I took a fine tipped paint brush and put epoxy on the outside of the bowl to stop leakage.
     
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  33. Ambertlinda

    Ambertlinda Tracker

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    Tim

    Can you tell me where I can find your tutorial.

    Thank you, Linda
     
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  34. 1066vik

    1066vik Guide

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    it's the first 7 posts in this thread?
     
  35. T. Pollock

    T. Pollock T's Custom Outdoor Gear Vendor Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  36. Ambertlinda

    Ambertlinda Tracker

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    Thank you,
    Linda
     
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