Learn to scythe book feedback

Learn to scythe

Learn to Scythe courses are currently on hold as the UK deals with the coronavirus. I’m fully supportive of the measures but at the same time can’t wait to be back out in the meadows with a group of new scythers learning to mow and the joy of scything.

If you’re desperate to get started or have done a course in the past and need something to help improve your skills, my Learn to Scythe book is available to purchase via Etsy.

Here’s some lovely feedback I just received. It’s always wonderful to hear from people who have found it helpful.

What a great book.

Learning to scythe is such a treat
 Am reading your book with a large gin, sitting in the evening sun and enjoying the peace.
Tomorrow I shall start afresh with more confidence.  I know where I need to change things. Your book is really clear. Thank you.

Learn to scythe book feedback


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Hand carved birch scoops for tea & coffee

hand carved wooden coffee scoops

If you’re like me then the first coffee of the day is a bit of a special occasion. I use it to punctuate my morning and the process of making it (cafetiere in my house) is a relaxing ritual to go through which adds to the pleasure.
Like with all rituals, the items you use are important. I store my grounds in a caddy made by a good friend, have my favourite mug and, of course, a wooden scoop. These new scoops are available now in my Etsy store:Steve Tomlin Crafts Etsy shopcarved birch wood coffee scoop carved wooden scoops hand carved wooden coffee scoops

These scoops are carved from some lovely local birch wood. I give them a generous bowl for good scoopability and a solid, tactile handle yet all still small enough to store in your coffee caddy where it’s going to develop the most amazing patina over the years.

hand carved wooden coffee scoop

Of course, I’m British so I also love a proper cup of tea (brew 3mins, milk in last) and these are just as well suited to your loose leaves, in fact anywhere you need a cute little scoop that you can’t resist picking up.

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Pounded ash pack basket finished

pounded ash splint pack basket

My latest ash splint pack basket is complete and I’m super pleased with it.
All the splints for this were pounded in the UK from sustainably managed english ash (Fraxinus excelsior). They are graded, cut to width and shaved smooth before weaving.

pounded english ash pack basket

This basket is 18″ high to the rim and 14″ wide at the belly. I weave the back with a slight hollow so it sits comfortably against your back and add a grab handle made from steam-bent ash which is lashed into the rim. Lovely veg-tanned leather straps and solid brass buckles complete the basket.

This basket is currently available, please email me for details.

pounded english ash pack basket

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Making a new ash splint pack basket

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been making a new ash splint pack basket with the ash that I pounded earlier this spring. Here’s a few photos from the process.

First, preparing the splints by sorting them for thickness, cutting to width and scraping them smooth. I weave a rectangular base and then turn up the ribs to start weaving.

dressing ash splints for basket weaving by scraping them with a knife weaving an ash splint basket, UK

At the top of the basket, the ribs are split and turned down to lock them in place. I fit a steam bent handle and rims in place.

Ash splint basket making, UK fixing the rim in place on an ash splint basket

The rim is lashed on with more ash splint and then leather straps fitted. More photos in another post to come!

lashing the rim on an ash splint basket ash splint pack basket with leather straps made in UK

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Cranked eating spoon carving instructions

An eating spoon is often seen as the peak of wooden spoon carving. Making a spoon which fits the hand, feels comfortable to the mouth and also looks good is a demanding and rewarding challenge for green wood carvers of any level.

I have been making and teaching wooden spoons for over 15 years and developed these instructions and template for carvers who would like to learn more about spoon design and have templates to assist their carving.

The 10-step eating spoon axe work instruction sheet takes you step-by-step through my process for simply and efficiently carving out the cranked eating spoon shape using an axe. Having a good blank is essential for making good wooden spoons and learning to axe well will increase your productivity and enjoyment of carving.

Then cut out the eating spoon template and use it to mark your timber for carving. The plan, side and underneath view points, cross-sections and design notes included will build your understanding of spoon design and give you the knowledge to create your own shapes in the future.

My spoon carving instructions and templates are available to download as pdfs from my Etsy store now. More template being prepared for addition to the range, please favourite the store or sign up to my newsletter for updates.
Steve Tomlin Crafts Etsy shop

ps If you are posting pictures of your finished spoons on social media, please tag me @stevetomlincrafts – I’d love to see them!

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Fan bird carving instructions

Carved wooden fan birds are one of my favourite greenwood projects and a wonderful demonstration of the properties of wood. I first learned about them on a trip to Czech Republic where I bought a pair of birds in a local market in 2011. Since then I have made thousands of birds and taught hundreds of people to make them.

Now I have produced a simple set of instructions in a pdf so that you can learn how to carve fan birds on your own if you can’t make it to one of my courses. The instructions go through the tools you’ll need, sourcing the right wood and how to carve and fan the feathers to create your own bird.

how to carve a fan bird instructions how to fan bird instructions

These instructions are most suited for someone who has some carving experience already or who has attended a course and would like an aide memoire to the process.

Available as a downloadable pdf from my Etsy store now Steve Tomlin Crafts Etsy shop

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Spoon carving instructions and templates

I have been teaching people how to carve wooden spoons since 2004 and it’s been amazing to watch the popularity of this craft explode over the years. Spoon carving is a fantastic hobby and a brilliant introduction to carving wood, requiring very little in the way of tools, materials or work space while including endless possibilities for design and learning.

Following feedback from my students, I am really excited to have launched a series of spoon carving instructions and template pdfs which are available now to download from my Etsy store. Currently there are instructions for axing a cranked eating spoon blank and templates for a classic teardrop shape eating spoon, stirring spoon, two coffee scoops and a sheet of handle designs with finials and spoon decoration ideas.

Each pattern gives multiple view of the spoon including cross sections along with design notes to help you understand the shapes you’re carving. Start by copying my design then use the knowledge and experience to develop your own ideas. The handle design sheet in particular will help you create new shapes and add decoration to your spoons.

Download your copies from my Etsy store and get started now. I will be uploading more templates to expand the range so favourite the shop or sign up to my newsletter for updates.
Steve Tomlin Crafts Etsy shop

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Pounding english ash splints for basket making

springtime in the woods

It really felt like spring is in the air this weekend. I was down near Derby pounding a couple of english ash logs to make ash splints for my baskets and courses. Hammering the log breaks the bond between the growth rings in the wood and allows them to delaminate, producing long strips of wood which are perfect for basket weaving.

pounding ash splints in the UKpounding english ash splints

It’s hard work but very rhythmic and surprisingly relaxing as there’s nothing to think or worry about other than the movement of the hammer and watching the splints peel off. Seeing the pile of material grow is very exciting and inspiring as I think of all the baskets that will be made.

pounded splints from english ash - Fraxinus excelsior

I’m teaching several ash splint basket making courses in 2020 at various venues around the UK. Please visit my greenwood courses page for details or sign up to my newsletter for updates.

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Ash splint basket making workshop in Wales

ash splint basket making course

I was invited to north Wales to teach ash splint basket making to a group as part of the Halkyn Mountain Living Landscape project which is educating people about their local area and crafts associated with the landscape.

Ash splint basketry is still very new in the UK so it’s great to be able to show more people and I was very pleased to have several existing basket makers join us to learn about this different material.

dressing ash splint for basket making UK attaching the rim to an ash splint basket ash splint basket weaving UK

During the weekend we cover the entire process of grading and dressing the ash splints, weaving a checkerboard base and then turning up the ribs and weaving the sides. A triple rim is attached and lashed into place after which we went outside to look at the process for pounding splints from a fresh ash log.

pounding english ash for splint basket making pounding english ash for splint basketry in the UK

They were a terrific bunch who worked really well and were great, fun company as you can see from this photo!

ash splint basket workshop

If you’d like to learn ash splint basket making, I am teaching further courses around the UK in 2020. Please take a look at the greenwood courses page or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

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Spoon carving workshop in Manchester

Spoon carving course in Manchester

Another great day teaching a group how to carve wooden spoons in Manchester, working with axes and knives to make unique cooking spoons from local green wood.

learn to carve a spoon in Manchester Spoon carving course in Manchester learn to carve wooden spoons in Manchester

To hear first about future wood craft carving courses, sign up to my newsletter.

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