Seeing Red

Looking at the sites stats for this blog the most visited post is getting started with carving wooden spoons, which is totally weird as that’s not really a focus for Between the Ocean and the Sea. However given the interest and that the related blogs I look at, have recurring questions around getting cut, I thought I would share a recent experience. If you’re using good technique, correctly you won’t get cut, but most of us make mistakes, don’t we? Please tell me I’m not alone in this, because here’s a doozy.

Caution the first photo is somewhat graphic

I see red when I make a total stuff up

and I see red when I reach for the repair kit

red is the colour my face goes when I realise the mistake is all mine (who raised that finger into harms way).

Then too, when I realised an earlier mistake was a clear sign to quit

Redzone was how I was feeling (in the sense of Split ENZ and their 1979, ‘I See Red’ – song and dance routine)…

follow this link for “I see red” by Split ENZ

Now in getting into spoon-carving I read a fair bit, particularly the blogs of Peter Follansbee, Robin Wood and Sean Helman, then I bought Willie Sundquist’s book Swedish Carving Techniques and his son’s video, Carving Swedish Woodenware.

The latter two can be found through this link, Country Workshops, along with several other helpful publications and videos.

I was using a wrist grip with a hook knife and at one level it was pleasing to see such smooth edges (proof of effective sharpening), on another, how embarassing and a little worrying.

The really stupid thing is that I had been working for a while, having started on a nearly finished cooking spoon. It was going nicely and then for reasons that still elude me, I cut an ugly hole in it. That should have been warning enough clearly my head wasn’t in the game, but nooo, pick up another that was still in the roughing out, therefore requiring less precision, or so I thought.




That was my mistake


The wrist grip I was using is perfectly safe when used correctly, cor-rect-ly!!  Although some of them look anything but safe, which I guess is where wits come into it.

The wrist grip requires that you push the knife away from you just by rocking your wrist so that your thumb moves toward the elbow while the little finger moves away from the elbow, this pushes the knife in an arc to create the bowl. While doing this the elbow should be locked against your side. So what did I do wrong? Maybe I’d gone too long without a break or maybe it was just because I wasn’t paying enough attention but what I’d started to do was push with the arm as well (quite unconciously)…you get the picture. Even then if I hadn’t curled my fingers around the bowl the kitchen floor and sink wouldn’t have been painted in red!

If there’s a moral it’s that one should heed the warnings that come your way and having done one daft (absent minded) thing with a knife, the knives are probably best put away for a while.

As for repairing the damage, well a spoon with a hole is a sieve and there’s nought to do about that, and while you can’t get blood from a stone you can shave blood stains off wood. As for the finger, A &E probably would have done more harm than good so I dragged out my back-country first aid kit and with Kirsty’s assistance popped the divot back in place wrapping it in Leukoplast Red for a tidy outcome.

Ten days later and the plug was nicely grafted in, but like a patch in furniture the grain doesn’t match.

So now here’s the suggestion on personal repair: Red Leukoplast (not Blue) is my go to for all nasty cuts, heel and toe blisters, flaps of loose skin etc. It’s awesome stuff, at first the glue is a weak bond so it can be repositioned but after around 20minutes it has formed a chemical bond to the skin and won’t shift without serious encouragement (hence great for blisters as second skin or fake callus). The glue has a zinc component which prevents infections (provided the wound is clean) and the tape has an open weave that allows the wound to breath and any fluids to drain right away. Unlike Bandaids and Elastoplast there are no edges to lift or gauze pad to harbor infection. The downside is that Leukoplast needs to be left on while healing progresses. Trying to pull it off can reopen the wound.  Before steri-strips, Leukoplast was used to make butterfly-strips for when stitches were needed but couldn’t be done.

In case anyone is interested my back-country first aid kit is very basic.

The bag is a hunters ammunition pouch

The most important item is Leukoplast Red, 2nd is the survival blanket (which I hope I’ll never need), go for gold on one side,. The kit usually has a cheap knife, chapstick, anti-histamine + Stingose, pain-killers, nylon cord, a whistle, a compass, penlight, cigarette lighter and matches in waterproof container, and where I used to have a crepe bandage now I have a small roll of ‘Vet-wrap’ which is truly awesome stuff, something I’ve nicked from Kirsty’s horse gear.

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