Pinwheel Coin Pouch Video and Free Plans!

pinwheelcoinpouchvidI have been dabbling with leather work for about a year now since I first made a leather sheath for a knife I made. I enjoyed that process so much I wanted to try and make other leather products and one project I wanted to try was making a leather pinwheel coin pouch. A friend had one of these and I always thought it was a neat little object and wanted to try making one myself. Making a pinwheel coin purse is a pretty simple process, if you have a good template or pattern to go by. When I first tried to find a pattern I had very little luck finding one, at least not one that wasn’t for sale for $20US or more!

After searching for a while I eventually found a free one but it wasn’t very well drawn or explained. I figured I should come up with my own pattern and make it available to anyone looking to make one of these coin purses! I also thought I should make a little video showing how easy it was to make.

So here are the patterns, I have a PDF with some simple instructions as well as a .dwg file so you can scale this up or down to fit your needs exactly.

greenspreepinwheelcoinpuch – PDF of the template

.dwg file of the template

And finally here is the video showing how the pinwheel pouch is made:


On the Internet and Learning Craft

Recently over on some Facebook craft groups I belong to and some blogs I read of other craftspeople I respect, there has been a discussion surrounding the definitions of some words and labels we use such as green woodworking, their histories, the evolution of the craft movement around the world and the impact of the internet on all these things.

Jarrod Stone Dahl wrote an interesting article about the rise of masterless apprentices who learn their craft through website tutorials and most often YouTube videos but do not have the benefit of experience or a mentor to point out the bad technique and instruction from the good. There is also another class he talks of newcomers to craft who are chasing recognition, “likes” on facebook, “thumbs ups” on YouTube, etc… There are not so much interested in mastering their craft as mastering the presentation of craft for recognition on social media.

These two issues are indeed a negative aspect of the internet on the world of craft but it got me thinking of another dangerous pitfall to social media and the overload of information (good and bad) online. Jarrod mentioned that when he first started out with green woodworking it was from a books and face to face time with masters in their craft. That kind of lack of access to information has a benefit that most would not immediately recognize. It removes the buffet problem, too much choice, too much content available to all of us. It is very easy to get distracted and dazzled by all the different possibilities of different crafts to learn.

I fight with this often, I started off with spoon carving after my brother gave me a Mora spoon knife and carving knife. I had no idea what to do with them so I looked up some stuff online and found Robin Wood on a YouTube video carving a spoon in his living room. I was hooked right away and it led me to watching all his other videos on bowl turning. Soon I wanted to try that out as well and started building a lathe to try it out. It was a dismal failure but I learned something from it.

After getting to take a bowl turning course from Robin and Jarrod last year I knew exactly what needed fixing on my lathe and got right to it when I got home. In the meantime I had also become interested in knifemaking as I watched YouTube videos of master knife makers like Trollsky and John Neeman Tools and tried my hand at that, starting off with making handles for Mora blades and then after getting a taste of blacksmithing through the bowl turning course, I made a blade of my own (which I have yet to handle). The second knife I made I decided to try my hand at making a leather sheath and this resulted in my becoming interested in leatherwork. I got interested in bookbinding and have made some leather covered books as well. I have also played around with tool restoration by rehabilitating a Stanley No. 4 plane of my Dad’s, tried my hand at traditional woodworking and hand cut dovetails, birch bark canisters, and have another 3-4 crafts that I would like to try my hand at.

So in the last two years I have taken up:

  • spoon carving
  • bowl turning
  • knife making
  • leatherwork
  • birch bark craft
  • blacksmithing
  • book binding
  • traditional carpentry
  • tool restoration

The upshot of all this is that I have not been able to devote the time required to progress very far in any one craft. I have probably made more spoons than anything else in this list and it shows as my knowledge of the tools and materials in this area are much better than any other.  Being a Dad of two young children, full time civil servant and part time university student though means that I have precious little time to devote to getting better at my craft to begin with and spreading myself as thin as I have and being tempted to spread myself thinner means that I will not reach the skill levels I desire and any craft.  This is the buffet problem, too much access and choice does not lead to excellence, especially if you have anything else resembling responsibilities in your life.

While all of the crafts I have listed have brought me joy and satisfaction, knowledge and mental stimulation I am becoming increasingly aware that I need to make some choices of which crafts I want to pursue and give them priority over the others if I ever want to progress beyond the point of being a passing hobbyist.  There is nothing wrong with viewing these activities as passing hobbies, nor do hobbyists not progress and become more skilled with time but they also don’t achieve the highest level of skill, knowledge and intuition about their craft.

What would I be doing with my life if the internet had not shown me these crafts?  Would I still be passionate about making things if it had not been for the internet?  I am not sure, but I do know that I need to mindful that I not let it distract me from just getting on and doing the work, really doing it and not just scratching the surface of a score of different crafts.


Gluten Free Bread

So after YEARS I finally have a fairly consistent GF bread recipe.

Mix dry ingrediants:
13 oz  GF flour blend (Bob’s redmill or Bulk Barn works fine)
3.5ts   xantham gum
1.5 ts  salt
1/4C   brown sugar packed

Proof 5-10 minutes till foamy:
1.5c    warm milk (or 1 cup milk + 2/3 cup plain yogurt)
1TB    yeast
1ts     sugar

Mix wet ingrediants:
2        eggs
1.5ts  apple cider vinegar
1/4C   melted butter/oil

Mix and let hydrate:
2TB   psyllium husk
1/3C  water

After psyllium has hydrated whisk into egg mixture (don’t let sit too long before this or the husks will turn into a gummy mass hard to mix) and when the milk and yeast are bubbling add to the rest of the wet ingredients and add wet to dry.

I just mix with a wooden spoon till incorporated then pour into a 9×5 silicone loaf pan (which sits inside a metal one so it doesn’t sag) and let rise somewhere warm covered in plastic wrap till even or slightly above the rim – slice the top to relieve tension.

Put in a preheated 190degC oven for 15 minutes till it starts to brown then cover with foil and bake for another 45-55 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely.


Making a wooden bowl on a pole lathe

This past spring I attended a course at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota on bowl turning on a pole lathe. The course was being taught by the renowned Robin Wood who revived this craft in England a couple decades ago and is a master craftsman. This was his first time teaching in North America and I was thrilled to be able to attend this course as it was limited by 8 students selected randomly from all who signed up to take the course.  I was the student who traveled the farthest from PEI!


The class room at North House Folk School, my lathe for the 3 days in the foreground.


The instructor Robin Wood demonstrating the first morning, he made it look deceptively easy!


Robin also taught us how to forge bowl turning hooks required for turning on a pole lathe which are not made commercially.


A look at the bowls and hook tool I made on the course.


The group poses with their handywork!

After I got back I remade the lathe I had built last year and hadn’t used as using a real working one had shown me where my design was not going to work.


The reworked lathe and a quick bowl I turned to test it out.

I have since turned three bowls and have forged another hook at home as I have acquired a forge and anvil to do my own blacksmithing.  I will probably do another post on that new hobby soon.

Custom Leuku/Puukko Knife

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This is a handmade Nordic style knife; it was leuku/puukko inspired. The blade is a Mora 6″ high carbon steel blade with a flat or scandi grind and is 3/32″ thick. The blade was the only portion not handmade.

The handle is made from stacked white birch bark which was sustainably harvested. The birch bark handle was hand sanded smooth and treated with 5 layers of hemp oil and lightly buffed with beeswax. The brass bolsters are made from a salvaged piece of brass rod which was used as a mechanics punch and are 1″ in diameter and still show some work marks.

The sheath is made from heavy tool leather, hand stitched and molded around a wooden insert for the blade. It features one seam on the back of the sheath and a hand made D ring and belt loop which allows this longish knife to dangle freely which helps keep the sheathed knife from jabbing you when sitting. The leather was treated and buffed with beeswax and hemp oil.

I have one or two more knives to make this summer for other people and I think I may customize a knife or two I own now and make sheaths for them too.

Video of the making of the knife and sheath:


How I Make Wooden Spoons


I recently uploaded a video to YouTube showing how I make wooden spoons.

In this video I show my method of making wooden spoons. It was the first warm day since this long winter finally ended in eastern Canada – as you can tell by the snow in the background it just barely ended.

The wood is native to PEI, Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides), and is soft for a deciduous tree and somewhat fibrous when carving. This particular tree has some great spalting in parts of the trunk however the piece I am carving here does not.

Tools used:

Yardworks cheapo 1-1/4lb hatchet for splitting with a rubber maul
Hultafors Bruks 1-1/4lb hatchet for carving
Mora 120 wood carving knife
Mora 164 and 163 spoon knives


Spoons and Finland swap


This little spoon is my latest attempt at carving. It’s made from wild apple from a hedgerow on our land and was sent to Ari in Finland as part of a spoon swap organized by the spoon carving and green woodworking group I belong to on facebook.  The branch I pruned from the tree had a natural bend in it which I left in the spoon making it a right handed spoon.  I haven’t received my spoon in the mail from the swap yet but Ari enjoyed mine and posted this photo of it using it to spoon some jam on his bread and including one of the postcards of PEI I included.


This is a photo of my first four spoons, the on on the left is the first one I carved from grey birch and the others are carved from sugar maple.  Spoon carving is quite relaxing and addictive and I hope to get more time to continue to hone my skills!


Green wood carving

Wooden spoon made from grey birch

Green as in wet, and green as in sustainably harvested. I am embarking on a new journey this summer trying my hand at green wood carving. I was inspired by a number of crafts-persons on YouTube and via their blogs such as Ben Orford, Mike Abbott and especially Robin Wood. These British green wood workers are keeping alive a very old traditional craft of using a shave horse, pole lathe, chisels, axes and knives to create beautiful and useful wooden items such as bowls, spoons and chairs from green wood using only human powered tools.

I have made one spoon and one spatula so far, made a shave horse and plan on making a pole lathe soon.  I have a small draw-knife, carving knife and two spoon knives, all from Mora of Sweden.  I hope to have my farrier neighbor or the blacksmith selling his tools down the road make for me or even better allow me to make some bowl turning hooks for use on the pole lathe this summer as well.

I hope to make it a an actual small business endeavor as I really enjoy the making process and sharing these simple, useful and natural implements with people.


Shire Straw Bale Home Video series

In the process of building our house we took lots of photos but very little video. Partly because we did not have a video camera, just a simple point and shoot digital camera and also because it was quicker to take snapshots along the way while taking video of a process or task meant one less pair of hands doing the actual work!

Recently while backing up our photos and videos on two new external hard drives sue to a scary failure on our only backup drive I gathered all the (usable) videos of the house building process and uploaded them on my YouTube channel.

Much more info can be found on the building process under the house category here on the blog and I am planning on consolidating more of the photos and writing much more about the process either in book form or a series of more coherent posts here on the blog.