Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 2

Unfortunately as I carved into the wood I found a flaw inside

It’s rather more obvious from the outside

Based on previous experience, I was certain that the kasa would crack here as it dried so I decided not to carve any thinner but instead worked on the shape.

Even if it did crack it was worth continuing to increase my knowledge and skills in working with bur wood and carving.  And after another hours work the shape was looking good.

A couple more hours of sanding and polishing with cotton cloth and it was just about completed

I completed it by cutting in some minimal patterning with a knife and then oiled it to lift out the patterns in the wood.  The kasa holds 3/4 litre of liquad.

I had a small piece of bur left over so I also made four year old Emma her first kasa

and engraved an “E” on the handle to personalise it for her

Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 1

I’ve wanted to try and make a large kasa for some time and after an area of trees had been cleared on one of our reserves I found a large bur on an Alder (Alnus glutinosa) stump, which I removed with a chainsaw.

I removed the outer bark and using my Fiskars hatchet cut cut away faults and flaws until I reached good wood.  Then I marked the size and shape of the kasa I wanted to carve from the bur.

Using my gouge

I began to shape the inside of the bowl and after a couple of  hours work it looked like this

and after another hour it looked like this

I continued using my hatchet to shape the underside

The patterning in the bur is beautiful

and after another couple of hours work the kasa was really starting to take shape

Flexcut interchangeable Tools

My third recent purchase was a set of interchangeable carving tools made by Flexcut.  I bought their quick connect palm handle and then from their range of tools selected four that I thought would be most useful.

Three are from their #6 sweeps and one from their spoon gouges range.

The handle is comfortable to hold and the blades fit securely into it.  I used them to carve this spoon out of a piece of Almond wood

and I tried to carve a cup out of a piece of Apple wood

The spoon gouge is the ideal shape for carving a cup but the cutting blade is only 7/16 inch wide and so it would take hours to carve a cup.  The #6 sweeps have wider cutting blades but the shape of the gouge is flat rather than curved and so they are not ideally shaped for carving a curved cup.  In the picture below the spoon gouge is at the front and the #6 sweep at the back

I contacted Flexcut to ask if they have a larger spoon gouge set or would consider making them for those of us who make cups but unfortunately like so many companies who have a potentially good product they did not respond to my query……UPDATE! Flexcut have emailed today (25/11/09) and it this time they do not have a gouge suited to making cups.

A friend who is an agricultural engineer agreed to try and re-profile the 1 inch #6 sweep

Firstly he heated it

and then re-shaped it

I need to sharpen and hone the cutting edge and I will then test it and let you know how I get on.

Crusader cup cooking stand update

I have been experimenting and adapting the design of the cup stand over the last couple of days but as Boomer said in his comment “the simplest ones are often the best” and I have decided to stop and just keep it simple, but thought I would show you where I progressed to.

This design fits snugly between the gap in the cup handles and is notched in the front to allow the height of the cup to be adjusted over the fire for boiling and simmering
crusader stand-9 (Medium)

The front of the handle just sites in the groove as you can see here

crusader stand-10 (Small)

The problem with this design is that because the stand fits snugly, when you grip the handles to remove the cup from the stand, they compress on the stand and prevent you lifting the cup away!  So I shall stick with my basic design.

Crusader cup cooking stand

An idea I worked at developing in Lapland was a cooking stand for my Crusader cup.  It needed to be a simple design and quick to construct from natural materials.  This was my simplest design but works very well.

I cut a piece of Hazel with a branch coming from it, pointed the bottom of the Hazel to push it in the ground and cut the branch down to a short stub.

crusader stand-1 (Small)

I had to reduce the thickness of the stem (the exact shape of this turned out to be quite important, but more about that later)

crusader stand-2 (Small)

so that it fits between the gap in the cup handles as you can see here.

crusader stand-3 (Small)

and the base of the cup sits on the branch stub

crusader stand-4 (Small)

Here are I am cooking with Sterno gel (does anyone else find this this stuff will not bring water to the boil?)

crusader stand-5 (Small)

and here I have a small fire

crusader stand-6 (Small)

Now when cooking for a longer period of time the stub can burn through, but during the making of this tutorial I discovered that if you shape the stem like this

crusader stand-2 (Small)

the bottom of the cup handle sits on the wider base of the stem and removes the need for the branch stub.  So this is my improved design

crusader stand-8 (Small)

I used it today while at our green woodworking group meeting.  I set it up and gathered some embers from the main fire to make a brew

D (Large)

and later used a slightly different designto cook my lunch

A (Large)

Thanks to Edd for these pictures

Why not experiment with my design yourself!

Lapland Spring 2009 – 28th May

Still raining and also a very strong westerly wind today.  The rain cleared in the evening and it became sunny but with wintry showers and a temperature of 3 degrees, so I had a fire going most of the day

fire in  cabin (Medium)

I spent the day carving and sanding the kåsa and also began making a smaller one from an off-cut of the bur.

cutting second kasa (Large)

I had purchased a nice Birch tanned Reindeer hide a few months ago and decided to cut out some pieces to make pouches for coffee, flour and so on.

birch tanned reindeer leather (Medium)

I cut two pieces; a round piece for the base and rectangular piece long enough to go around the circumference of base

cut pieces of leather (Large)

I intended to use a bone awl and antler needle I had made, with dental floss as thread

bone and antler tools (Medium)

but it was not before I had broken the needle and then the awl, so I changed to a nail as a an awl and the needle I carry in my neck pouch as mentioned here.

metal tools (Medium)

Dental floss is a very good substitute for real sinew as a sewing thread and I use both sinew and dental floss double thickness.  I sew around the base first and then up the side with the leather inside

sewing (Medium)

Once sewing is completed I turn the pouch the right way out, make a series of holes around the top and thread through a leather cord with which to close the bag

bag tie (Medium)

For a toggle for the draw cord  I  cut a triangular piece of leather, role it up and make a hole through it, pulling the tip of the leather through the hole to prevent the leather unrolling.  I make two holes in the rolled up toggle and thread the ends of the cord through.  To close the bag you pull the toggle and it locks the bag closed.

toggle (Medium)

Then the bag is completed.

coffee bag

Lapland Spring 2009 – 27th May

I woke up to very heavy rain this morning and it continued all day!!

I made pancakes for breakfast using de-hydrated egg and milk powder.  I have to say they were surprisingly good.

pancakes (Large)

Last autumn I found a nice Birch bur on a fallen tree and so I decided to start carving a kåsa from it

Kasa (Medium)

Lacking a vice I had to come up with innovative ways to secure the bur while cutting it

Kasa-2 (Medium)

Kasa-3 (Large)

I had begun roughing out the shape the previous evening

me carving (Medium)

and gradually it was starting to take shape

Kasa outside

I always shape the inside before working the shape of the outside

kasa inside (Large)

I had been told that the bur would cut like butter and be easy to carve but I found it incredibly hard work

Kasa-4 (Large)

I have a nice piece of Reindeer antler that I wanted to use as the handle

kasa with original handle (Medium)

and so I spent time shaping the antler with a piece of Granite to achieve a good joint

antler handle (Medium)

My evening meal was simple but still tasty and enjoyable. Dried sausage, onion and mushrooms fried with split peas beans and oats, with a little vegetable stock added.

basic meal (Medium)

After frying a little water is added and simmered for 20 minutes

basic meal completed (Large)

It has been very quiet for birds today due to the rain; I male Smew and 1 Whimbrel flew over calling

New axe project

I was keen to test out my new axe so I decided to make a “bucksaw”.  My first task was to split a piece of Ash in half


Then I carved the two halves into the required dimensions


and cut the pieces to length beginning with the two uprights


and then a horizontal piece


I used a mortise and tenon joint to join them together, which I have to say was not easy with a knife!


I cut a groove across the bottom of each upright


into which the saw blade fits


I twisted up some Hemp as a tensioning cord and with a piece of Ash this works as a windlass to tension the blade


On another piece of Ash I scored a groove using this piece of flint


as a burin


this acts rather like a small plane as you draw it along the wood, shaving off small curls of wood


The saw blade fits into this groove and this piece of Ash acts a blade guard.

Now in the process of making this bucksaw I had an idea for another potential use for the frame and this is what I will posting about next time.

Cup, bowl, plate and spoon

During the process of constructing the livestock handling facility I had to fell some trees, including this Birch


Using wood from this particular tree I have been busy carving


Notice in the picture above that I use my axe as a “bench stop” to carve against and I have a piece of Hawthorn as a mallet.

I have made a cup, bowl, plate and spoon.  The plate and bowl are inspired by a piece of work made by my friend Sue Holden.


As I carved the handle of the cup I found a fault in the wood making it impossible to have a usable wooden handle.  So using a lap joint I secured a piece of bone as the handle.



Essex gathering

Last weekend I was at an annual gathering of green woodworkers at a private woodland in Essex. I arrived Saturday evening and set up my bed.

and was fortunate enough to arrive just in time for the evening meal

The rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and chatting. It rained heavily Saturday night but I did not wake up until 9am when the rain had stopped.

Some people wanted to try carving kuksas so after breakfast

we headed off in search of a suitable Birch tree to fell

which we then cut into short lengths and split in half ready for people to use.

Some spent the day carving kuksas while others where making shaving horses and furniture.

Unfortunately I had to leave at 4pm so did not get my cup completed, but it will be finished soon.