March-April 2011 E-NEWSLETTER

It was a snowy winter at CW, but now we're ready for exciting spring and summer sessions.

Class Schedule Update

Spring Weekend Tutorials

These short courses are an excellent introduction to traditional woodworking and willow basketry. Tuition includes materials, your private room, meals and use of required specialty tools.
Registration can be by phone (828 656 2280) or e-mail. Further details are at:

April 16-17: Bowl Carving (with Drew Langsner) - Full
April 30-May 1: Bowl Carving (Drew Langsner)
May 14-15: Willow Basketry (Louise Langsner) - Full

Summer Workshops with Guest Instructors

Class size averages 6-8 students. Tuition includes materials, room and meals, and use of specialty tools (except for Japanese Woodworking where tuning your tools is a major part of the course.)

June 6-11: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner)
June 20-24: Make a 17th Century Carve Box (Peter Follansbee)
July 11-16: Japanese Woodworking (Carl Swensson)
August 1-6: Post-and-Rung Rocking Chair (Tom Donahey)
August 15-19: Carving Bowls and Spoons (Drew Langsner)
August 29-September 3: Coopering (Carl Swensson)

New At The Country Workshops Store

Svante Djarv sheath knife.

Svante Djarv Sheath Knife

I’ve known that Svante Djarv makes sheath knives since the first time we visited his workshop during one of our Sweden craft tours in the mid-90’s. Svante generously presented a leather sheath sloyd knife to me, and another to Jögge Sundqvist who was our tour guide. We’ve been selling Svante’s carving knives (and also his Baby Axes) since then, but somehow forgot about the sheath knives.

Well, better late than never. We are now adding a very useful Svante knife with a leather sheath to our “SD” selection. The 5/8” x 2-3/4” blade is a little narrower than our other SD sloyd knives, which makes it useful for detail work in addition to fairly serious rougher work.  The nicely shaped, flat bevels make this a real sloyd knife in the Scandinavian tradition. The generous handles are smoothly finished. As expected, they’re made with the same edge holding steel and they come really sharp. (The sheath knife in the photo has a textured handle, but the knives made for Country Workshops will have smooth handles. The other Svante Djarv knives that we sell have the textured handles.)

Svante and his wife, Elsa, cut, shape and hand sew each leather sheath to fit individual knives. (When do they have time for this?) These are super useful tools, and they will make a great gift. Maybe for yourself!

Sloyd knife with leather sheath

Contributions to the Butter Knife Project.

The Butter Knife Project

The feature story in our February e-newsletter discussed Country Workshops’ new Butter Knife Design/Study Project.  We’ve been using butter knives at our table, and making them as a first carving project in our spoon and bowl carving courses for the past 30 years. Recently we decided that it would be fun, and instructive, to put together a collection of butter knives. Carving these implements is much simpler than making a spoon, but designing and crafting a nice one is still a challenge. Incidentally, the same implement is sometimes called a “butter paddle” and in Swedish its smör knivar.

To date we’ve received several very interesting contributions, and many more have been promised. Our e-newsletters will be showing new butter knives as they come in. Spreader World – The Butter Knife Gallery will display the entire collection as it develops.

The first contributions for the butter knife project. All 4 of these are from John Moore, Vashon Island, WA.

Top to bottom: Rick Mastelli (Montpelier, VT), Tim Cooper (Ligonier, MO), Neil McWilliams (Pensacola, FL)

There are no set rules for the butter knife collection, just a few guidelines. We prefer that these butter knives are user pieces. They should be practical, really good for applying a spread to a piece of bread or a cracker. And lovely. Working out your design(s) may take any amount of time. Experienced carvers should not take more than an hour or so to complete a butter knife. Beginners may take about 2 hours. If you are a professional woodworker, your butter knives should be relatively inexpensive (easy to purchase.) Traditionally - and in class - butter knives are a hand tool woodcarving project. However, we are not saying ‘no power tools’ or ‘no sanding.’  Carvers will make their own decisions on these ever-present questions.

Kids Wood Carving Classes in Saudi Arabia

Zafirah Zulkifi

Shop classes in most US schools have been discontinued for many years now. We were therefore very pleased to learn that the children of guest workers at a private school in Saudi Arabia have had an opportunity to learn woodcarving. We know about this because their teacher, Steve Smith, has taken classes at Country Workshops during his vacation time in the States. Steve’s students also wrote the wood carving poetry that was included in several earlier e-newsletters.

Recently we received an e-mail from one of Steve’s students. These are excerpts, with my comments in italics:

ZZ: My name is Zafirah Zulkifi and I am a seventh grade wooden spoon student of Mr. Steve Smith in Saudi Arabia. My task is to write to you and ask you three questions pertaining to designing my own spoons and butter paddles.

ZZ: What three things do designers have to consider in drawing spoons and butter paddles?

DL: There are several things to keep in mind when you design something like a spoon or a butter paddle. First, of course is function. Will it really do what it is intended for? Second is appearance. If it is beautiful it will be treasured and also hopefully used often. Third -- it must be practical to make from wood. Wood is a fibrous material -- very strong and nice to work when you understand and carve with the grain. I'll add a fourth element. A butter paddle has to feel good in your hand when you use it.

ZZ: What would you suggest as a beginner exercise in designing?

DL: I think that drawing the butter paddles is an excellent way to start with a design. Next, it's a good idea to make the new design in a soft wood that is easy to carve. That way it is easy to refine the shape. After that, make a "real user" from some kind of nice hard wood.

ZZ: How long have you been designing spoons and butter paddles?

DL: I’ve been carving spoons and butter paddles since 1977.

ZZ: thank you so much for your time! I believe I am one of the youngest spoon designers and carvers from my country of Malaysia. I have studied six classes with Mr. Smith ... Thank you for your help.


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Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753