Class Calendar Update

A student checks the depth of her bowl carving.

2013 was our 36th year teaching courses with guest instructors – coming to Country Workshops from around the US, Sweden and Japan. We have now shifted to offering tutorials year around. This is a smaller format based on our successful fall and winter tutorials where classes are limited to four students. Class members will benefit with this smaller group size. And we can hold tutorials in the heated part of the workshop year round. (Tutorials may also include an intern or other guest student.) Drew Langsner is the instructor.

At Country Workshops there are no hidden fees for registration or your materials. Tuition also includes lodging in a private room. Specialized tools are provided for all courses. (Students are requested to bring more common woodworking tools.) This is an excellent opportunity to see and try the tools available from our CW Store. Tuition also includes our well-known, garden fresh meals prepared by Louise Langsner. (You can get an idea from Louise's cooking blog at

Registration can be by phone (828 656 2280), e-mail, or post. The tuition deposit is $350, with the balance due 4 weeks before class. We accept personal checks, Visa/MasterCard and money orders.

Fall tutorials will be announced on our website by mid-summer. The 2014 schedule and our CW Store tools and books are detailed in our print catalog. Send us an e-mail with your name and postal address if you would like a free copy. You can also print out the catalog using a PDF link on our Web site.

Upcoming Classes
(Limited to 4 students)

Spring Weekend Tutorials
May 3 - 4. Carving Spoons and Butter Knives – Full
May 17 - 18. Carving Half-Log Bowls – Full

Summer Tutorials
June 16 - 27. Chairmaker's University – 2 openings
July 7 - 11. Rustic Windsor Chairmaking – 1 opening
August 9 - 4. Coopering – The Swiss Alpine Tradition – Full
August 18 - 22. Make a Corner Cabinet with Wooden Hardware – 2 openings
September 1 - 5. Ladderback Chairmaking – 1 opening

Fall Tutorials
Schedule to be announced on our web site by mid summer.

Wille Sundqvist at CW.

Erik Buchakian Reviews
“The Spoon, The Bowl and The Knife”

"Carving is continuous designing" is a simple but profound observation made by Wille Sundqvist in the recently released documentary "The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife".  The program is a biographical portrait and living tribute produced and narrated by Wille's son, craftsman Jögge Sundqvist.

Almost everyone with an interest in traditional Scandinavian woodworking will be familiar with Wille Sundqvist from his book "Swedish Carving Techniques".  He is arguably the most influential proponent of the craft, having dedicated most of his life equally to the roles of craftsman and educator, and few spoons being carved today are completely free of Sundqvist DNA.

While not a "how to" video, the DVD includes significant content on technique as we observe Wille teaching his methods for spoon carving.   As he works, the name of each carving "grasp" appears on-screen in English; these are separately documented in a PDF file that accompanies the DVD.  I suspect many viewers will be unfamiliar with Wille's turning work as his book on that subject has never been published in English, so being able to observe Wille's bowl-turning technique is a special treat.

What the film does most effectively and satisfyingly, however, is to provide context - the context of Wille's upbringing in northern Sweden, the environment of his home and shop, his experiences and role in the Swedish handcraft movement, and his own personal history, motivations, and influences.  It's that context that gives importance to the technique and elevates Wille's story into something truly captivating and inspiring.

Lars Laursen, one of Wille's former apprentices, once told me that he learned as much about being a craftsman from eating breakfast with Wille, as he did from the time they spent together in the shop.  The meaning of that statement is obvious to anyone who has met the man - "craftsman" doesn't refer to what he does, but what he is.  "The Knife, the Spoon, and the Bowl" lets us all have a seat at the breakfast table.

The DVD has a runtime of 72 minutes, and is available in both English (with English narration and subtitles) and Swedish versions.

WSQ-1 The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife DVD
S&H add $7.50

Erik Buchakian (Narrowsburg, NY) has been interested in traditional Scandinavian handcrafts for many years. Besides spoon carving, Erik tries to find time for bicycle racing and some judo. He is a Country Workshops board member.

Right-click on image above to download a complete pdf version of Musick's class notes.

Dan Musick’s Notes from
Carving Bowls and Spoons

Dan Musick attended our March 24-28 tutorial “Carving Bowls and Spoons.” About 2 weeks later he e-mailed us his beautiful and inspiring class notes. Dan is a schoolteacher in Brooklyn, NY.

Riving Thirds – Thanks to the Takayama Shingle Maker
By Drew Langsner

Anyone who rives wood (for chair parts, basketry, tool handles, etc) knows that the basic rule is to split the stock into halves. When you do this there is roughly equal force on both sides of the split, so the split should run straight down the middle of the material, following the fibers. (In some cases off-center splits are made when you want to remove waste while ensuring that the saved piece will retain it’s dimensions. Also, splits off of the edge of a bolt can be done with certain wood species.)

The second half of our 2010 craft tour in Japan was based in Takayama, in the Japanese Alps. This area has long been a center for woodcrafts and was often the home of carpenters who made many of Japan’s finest and most famous wooden buildings. One day we visited the Hida Folk museum – a special place to see traditional rural structures, along with their customary furnishings. The day we visited there was a spoon carver and a shingle maker demonstrating their techniques.

In a the January 2011 newsletter I wrote about the Takayama shingle maker’s riving brake, something entirely different from the brakes that I’ve seen and used for many years. We now have two Hida style brakes in the workshop; they are excellent for working materials from about 18 to 36 inches in length.

The brake was good to learn about; another most interesting observation is that the shingle maker often splited parts by dividing a bolt into thirds. It’s actually quite simple... when you know the trick. The benefit, of course, is that splitting into halves sometimes creates waste that could have become shingles, chair parts, whatever.

- Initially, place the froe about one-third of the distance across the bolt.
- Strike it, but not too hard. Remove the froe if it’s into the wood.
- Now place the froe halfway across the two-thirds section. Strike it. Remove.
- Return to the first split. Strike a little harder and begin to crank the froe, as usual.
- Transfer the froe from one split to the other until finished.

If you’re doing this with a larger bolt (such as for the rear posts of ladderback chairs, as in the photos) you can use pairs of wedges that stay in place during the riving process.

It works beautifully. So far I haven’t tried this with particularly thin stock, but I don’t anticipate problems. Oak basket makers – Please let us know how this works if you give it a try.

It was interesting to see that the Takayama shingle maker’s froe looks just like the western froes we are familiar with. My design (which has some improvements) is now made by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Two sizes are available from the CW Store.

LN-01 12” chairmaker’s froe, with hard maple handle
LN-02 8” basket maker’s froe, with hardwood handle
plus S&H depending on zip code


140 – Mike Glasgow; 141 - Erin; 142 – Richard Turner
143, 144 – Dan Dustin; 145 - Harry Mangalan

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 shouldn’t be 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. We encourage wood carvers to develop their personal design, which should be useful and practical. 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. The collection is available for viewing and handling when you are at CW.

Since our last newsletter the collection has received six additional spreaders. All but number 142 were contributed by spoon collector Norman Stevens.

Number 140 was made by Mike Glasgow – The Spoon Guy –who lives in Homer, Alaska. Mike's spoons and spreaders are made from reclaimed or recycled wood – his motto "Spoons with a past." Our spreader is lacewood, 4-7/8 inches. Number 141 was carved by Erin. We don't know her full name, but her business in Hokitika, New Zealand, is House of Wood. The spreader wood is New Zealand Rimu, 5-3/8". Richard Turner (Baxter, Minnesota) carved number 142. Richard used white birch, with a walnut oil finish.

Numbers 143 and 144 come from Dan Dustin, Contoocook, New Hampshire. Dan honors natural form, but then goes to great length to give his work a special multi-day heated oil and wax finish. Both spreaders are lilac. Richard Starr wrote about Dan's spoons and his finish in the May 1980 "Fine Woodworking." In a recent phone call, Dan said that he is always tinkering with his finish, and that it derives from an old method for preserving tool handles. Harry Mangalan (Irvine, California) carved number 145 from red eucalyptus. Harry has made many spoons, but this is one of his first spreaders. It will be interesting to see where this leads.
Who will contribute Number 150? There's no prize, but this will be a definite marker in the collection.


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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