Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wood is Good: Foraging for Wood to Carve

"When we were kids if we wanted something we made it!"- Alex Izzarelli reminiscing about our creative childhood.

Ron and I cut up a nice black locust trunk from the banks of a riparian corridor in a deep canyon. He had his buddy rip it into three planks on a band saw after it had seasoned for a few months and we had a look at our foraged tough-as-nails bow staves. 


The two outer planks are well suited for carving traditional California flat bows; a bow style used extensively by some of our local tribes. The interior plank was not well suited for bow carving as it did not have its original outer layers, which are essential for forming the back of a good self bow. Yet, a good opportunistic forager follows the old creed "waste not, want not." So I set to work on my half of that central plank and in a half hour's time was proud of the result...a very hard black locust spatula.

The colors really came out when I coated it with some bees wax

Next I split up an old apple trunk from a fallen tree in the orchard and carved down a unique plate, which we loaded up with ripe blackberries straight of the bush.

Finally, I used another small scrap of  the black locust and fashioned a fork. Now it's time to go put them to use.

Remember, foraging for materials can be as much fun as foraging for food. Bushcraft is truly at the heart of what foraging is all about. And there is no better feeling than gathering blackberries on your own foraged and carved plate, shellfish in your own foraged and woven basket, or hunting with your own foraged and fashioned bow and arrows. By engaging in making your own tools of the trade your connection with the whole experience of foraging and feasting off of the bounties of Earth and sea is expanded and enriched. When the berries aren't in season, you can still have wood seasoning and you can always get carving. No need to buy exotic hardwoods when ash, oak, plum, apple, locust, walnut, and cherry all grow in abundance in the heather. The materials are there, free of charge, beckoning that you come and gather on your next adventure. Keep the old ways alive! 


  1. We are historical reenactors. I would dearly love to give my husband a trencher and fork like you made as a gift! With a job loss, and not many 'treats' in recent years, he would LOVE these. We both appreciate all things homemade. Even our little 18thc. cottage was a dump when bought and we did all the work for years and years.
    If you would ever consider selling a couple, (one for each of us), would you PLEASE email me? (Even one of each would be something I know we'd both treasure.)
    Thanks so much.
    Loved your post.

  2. Kevin,
    This awakens deep Spirit within us
    Your connection with our humanness is very thrilling
    I would be honored one day to meet you and your friends
    Please keep on letting the world know that we should not forget our connection to the planet in this plastic world. Thank you Martin

    1. Thanks man! I appreciate that. Let me know next time you're in northern CA and we'll set up a foraging outing. Sorry it took me so long to reply, I've been in remote northern Mongolia for the last month and a half feasting on trout and wild strawberries! I should be back in the states next week though. Thanks for the comment and for reading.