Class Calendar Update

Carl Swensson instructs Coopering students.


2013 will be Country Workshops’ last summer with guest instructors. Three of our summer workshops are now fully enrolled; we will start a waiting list in case of cancellations. Phone or e-mail if you are interested. Ladderback Chairmaking, and Carving Bowls and Spoons will also be scheduled as fall and winter tutorials. In 2014 we will continue our summer workshops with Drew Langsner.

As always, Country Workshops tuition includes lodging, garden fresh meals prepared by Louise Langsner, and class materials. Specialized tools are provided (with the exception of Japanese Woodworking.) Class enrolment averages 8 students.

June 10 - 14. Carving Bowls and Spoons (Drew Langsner) - Open
June 24 - 29. Coopering (Carl Swensson) - Open
July 15 -19. Japanese Woodworking – The Byobu Project (Osamu Shoji) - Full
July 29 - August 3. Ladderback (Post-and-Rung) Chairmaking (Drew Langsner) - Full
August 12 - 16. Make a 17th Century Carved Box (Peter Follansbee) - Full

A pair of spoons carved by Wille Sunqvist.

Wille Sundqvist teaches a spoon carving class at Country Workshops around 1980.


Plans are moving forward with the Wille Sundqvist video project. Jögge Sundqvist  is now working on details for the actual video recording this summer. Country Workshops is helping as a  conduit for contributions towards expenses. American contributions will be dedicated towards production of the English language version of the dvd. In accordance with  U.S. tax laws, contributions are not deductible.

Extra Good News! Taunton Press will be publishing a reprint of Wille’s hard-to-find book Swedish Carving Techniques. Of course the book and video will be available from Country Workshops.

Following is a recent communication, direct from Jögge:

Hello woodworkers!

I am deeply satisfied to tell you that the documentary film project "The Spoon, the Knife and the Bowl" about my father is now listed on the cloud funding site Kickstarter. You can see the prospectus and contribute with this link:

For those of you in the U.S. who would like to make a direct contribution  (to avoid the Kickstarter fees) it is possible to send a check directly to County Workshops. For the check payment line please write Sundqvist Video Project. Send to:

Country Workshops
990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.
Marshall, NC 28753

Contributors will receive a copy of the dvd, a spoon carved by myself or Wille, or a turned bowl depending on the level of support. Details are on the Kickstarter link.

Contributions from the U.S. will primarily go towards an English language version of the DVD. We currently have funds from the Swedish Department for Culture and Crafts, which will cover the video recording this summer.

The financial need for making a professional production is really high, so I hope you will spread the word about this non-profit project.  I also set up a Facebook-site  -- Documentary film about Wille Sundqvist --  which will be updated with information about the project . Please “Like and Follow.”

Best regards

Jögge Sundqvist

Polish-Sharpen Your Gouges

Shop made wooden buffer mounted to a lathe.
Hard felt wheels on a generic arbor. The wheels must turn upwards from a front view.
Shop made soft wood polishers.
The process of sharpening woodworking tools can be divided into 3 steps. 1) Shaping. This is coarse work (often grinding), defining bevels, taking out major nicks, etc. 2) Honing. Getting an edge while following the proper geometry. This usually ends at around 1200 grit. 3) Polishing. This is the process of taking out the most minute abrasions from honing. 6,000 grit and up.  In practice, the 3 steps blend together.

One summer when Wille Sundqvist was at Country Workshops we learned about using white buffing compound for sharpening gouges. One of the class members was Del Stubbs, our friend who now makes and sells carving tools through his Minnesota based business Pinewood Forge. Both Wille and Del were very enthusiastic about doing the final polishing using a shop made wooden wheel mounted to a lathe headstock. The advantage of using wood is that it has very little “give” compared to a cloth buffing wheel. They used white buffing compound, which is available as a bar or cake. Very hard felt buffing wheels (which seem to be mostly from France) also work, but you have to be extra careful to keep the outer bevels flat. Very slight compression of the wheel can quickly remove the required bevel flatness.

One big advantage of this method is that you will no longer mar the surface of polishing water stones (which are often very soft) when sharpening your curved carving tools. These directions are easily adapted to polishing other curved blade tools, such as carving knives, axes or adzes.

(This operation is done after honing at about 1200 grit. For honing we like monocrystaline synthetic diamond with a uniform coating bonded to a flat steel plate. The CW Store sells these hones made by DMT. The polka-dot pattern plastic base diamond hones are not useful when sharpening tools with a curved edge.)

If you want to try polishing on a wheel, it’s critical that the rotation is away from the edge that you’re polishing. If not, the edge will cut into the wheel as it becomes extremely sharp. You could lose control of the now very sharp tool, damaging the wheel surface and possibly injuring yourself. Always wear eye protection when sharpening with any powered equipment.

Switch the wheel on and apply the white compound to the perimeter and the outer side. Then shut off the motor.

For exterior bevels use the flat side of the wheel, not the curved perimeter. Before turning on the motor practice the rotating movement that you will use on the outer bevel. You want to keep the bevel flat. Turn on the motor. Apply some compound. Usually 3-6 passes is adequate. For the inner face of medium and larger gouges you can do a light polishing (mostly removal of any wire burr) using the arris of the wheel. The arris is the junction of the side to the perimeter.

Now the nice surprise... You can get the same results using a piece of flat soft wood as the polishing matrix and the same white compound. Good woods to use include most pines, tulip poplar, linden (bass) and soft maple. Something about 3/4 x 1-1/2 x 6-inches works fine. It should be clean and planed flat.


White buffing compound is sometimes labeled as “aluminum oxide” or “stainless steel” compound. For most woodworkers a single cake will last many years. Our white cake is about 1 x 1 x 5 inches. Order this with something else, or the shipping will cost more than the compound.

MS-11 White buffing compound

Rub the white compound onto the wood.

The trick here is to polish using an action moving along the direction of the edge. Don’t try to polish with an action perpendicular to the edge, like you would with a flat, straight edge tool like a chisel. The wood hone can be secured to a vise or workbench. However, you might do more accurate polishing with the tool secured bevel facing upwards -- in a vise or on your workbench. Then you work the wood polishing hone over the static tool.

For the inner faces of gouges you can use a wooden dowel. Or better,  make these from a small board about 3 inches wide so that it’s easy to handle.  Use one of the softer woods, like pine or poplar. The curvature should be somewhat tighter than the sweep of the gouge. You can make a similar polisher for v-gouges. The enclosed angle should be less than the v-gouge you sharpen one side at a time.

You can learn a lot about the steel quality of a tool by observing the burr formed on the inner face.  Tool steel that is not particularly hard and/or tough (wear resistant) will quickly form a large wire burr as you finish honing the bevel. The better grades  (such as the ball bearing steel used to make the Hans Karlsson gouges)  will form a very minute wire edge. With the Karlsson gouges you shouldn’t need to do much work on the inner face.   And you will need to re-sharpen/polish much less often.

When you’re finished polishing use a rag with some paint thinner (or other solvent) to remove the blackened compound that remains along the bevel.

To check for sharpness try carving into a piece of clean, soft wood. The carved surface should be glassy. And it should be easy to keep the tool cutting at a constant angle.

For the best results protect your honing wheel (wood or felt) and wooden polishers from other abrasive materials. Any grit or air born dust lodged into the surface will compromise your results.


A few of the spreaders in The Butter Knife Gallery.

#14. Neil McWilliams. Pensacola, FL. Sycamore

#36. Richard McHugh. Rumford, ME. Maple

#74. E. Gregg Kritophal. Harmony, PA. Cherry

#75. Dale Randals. Maurey Island, WA. Cherry

#34. Meb Boden. S. Woodstock, CT. Maple

#83. Bjorn Mejers. Tållberg, Sweden. Pine?

Butter knives, which are also called spreaders, are carved wooden utensils that can add a special hand-made touch to any table setting. Making a spreader isn’t difficult, but designing one that functions well and has a personal, artistic signature is a challenge. They can also be an excellent gift, or a comfortably priced hand-carved item to sell.

We invite wood carvers to contribute their version of a spreader to our design/study collection. There is no budget for this project, and it’s not a contest. Newly acquired butter knives are featured in this newsletter, and there is a complete Web-site archive at Country Workshops’ Spreader World Gallery. This includes “as seen from above photos” that are not in the newsletter. Of course the collection is available for viewing and handling when you are here at CW.

No new spreaders were received since our last newsletter report.  For inspiration we are showing a few examples from the very interesting and diverse spreaders in our collection.


An author’s reprint edition Green Woodworking is now available. Rodale Press originally published this title in 1987. In 1995 Lark Books published Drew’s revised edition. Corrections were made, and the text was brought up to date. The new author’s reprint is the same as the Lark version, except for the covers. Contents include chapters on materials, knife-work, hewing, riving, shaving, boring, bending, and joinery. Each chapter concludes with a project that showcases the chapter subject and techniques. There is an appendix on making a Swiss-German style shaving horse, and another on hickory bark seating. 176 pages; soft binding.                     

DL-14 Green Woodworking - Author’s Reprint Edition  $35.00

We take orders by phone (828 656 2280), e-mail and regular mail. Payment can be Visa/MasterCard, personal check, or money order. Our new, lower s&h charge for media mailing (books, dvd’s) is  $7.50 for the first item, plus $1.50 for each additional item.


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Phone: 828 656 2280 (9 AM to 6 PM, Eastern time, any day)
Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753