Spoon and Kuksa carving in Turkey.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 08-30-2017 12:04 PM 6446 reads 3 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Spoon and Kuksa carving
in Turkey….

Hi LJ’s, I’m back in Copenhagen after a month and a half of summer vacation in Turkey under the sun.
So I will like to share a little of the atmosphere and some of the woodworking I managed to do as I was there.

After arriving in Turkey to our house, I soon started my Jawa motorcycle and drove out to get some wood in the forest.
Found some olive trees and a fig tree in a remote spot, where no one would notice a few branches was cut off.
When I came home I jumped into the carving again, first in a fine piece of olive.
Since I never heard of fig wood in food grade stuff and it had a white sticky juice running from the branch once cut, I decided to look it up and found out it can provoke allergy… So that will be for the fire I guess.

I have some tools down there and I brought these gouges I have made my self and my tin of minimum sharpening gear also. Believe it or not, when I came my suitcase was lost by the airline company… but luckily after few days they found it and I were united with the tools and all my other stuff again.

Small spoon from small branch.
First roughing out and yes I hone my carving tools quite often on the wee strop, like this they cut easy and leave a fine cut surface.

Then finishing up.
I like these small spoons quite rough, I want one to feel nature after they are done.
No sandpaper, just carving and scrapers.

And the back with texture.
As you can see I drink plenty of cold water, the air is 36-38° C so during the day so no running, carving and reading is just perfect.
For a man with chronic pain, the hot sun is a true gift, I can swim for hours and are almost free of pain, so that really is a place to charge the batteries, before going back to the cold and gray weather of Denmark.

Next morning the spoon in use.

I had made some fresh fig jam from local figs, trust me it was a bite of paradise. ;-)

Ok, time to hang out with a book and the Jawa. ;-)
This summer I read Moby Dick and can recommend it, some how not as great a masterpiece as I had expected, somehow wish I had read it when I was a young man… But yes read it if you never did, it is worth it.
Next I read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, that is a wonderful book! The story of us, everyone should read it, to understand where we come from is to understand who we are.
Last I read The hidden life of trees by Peter Wohlleben. I have no comment besides: READ IT!!! If you are a wood worker, I have one more comment: READ IT!!!, if you are a lover of nature, one last comment; READ IT!!!
Need I say more…
(Please notice the neighbors dog came and napped with me).

Just a wee tour, to tell where it is.
Here I stand with my feet in the water, looking at the house and the mountains behind it.

Night hunting with spear, no need to go shopping.

Cleaning fish and calamari in the sea, in the morning, giving back to the earth.
Yes you might hear a smile on my lips now…

Back to reality.
Here I’m up the mountain, deep in the forest.

My wonderful friend and neighbour Ahmet, knew where there where a Sandal wood tree deep in the woods, so he took me there to cut some branches, a good walk up the mountain and it was hard to keep up with him in the wilds and a joy to see how he knew the forest as if was his backyard.
The tree has been harvested in generations, just cutting a few branches and allowing the next to grow.

That’s a man of nature, no nonsens.
I love that guy!

Before we went up there, he instructed Filiz how to hack into the water pipe, that comes from the spring 500 meter longer up.

So the car was full of fresh wood and mountain water as we drove back home.

Fresh Sandal wood a branches and the bark of the old part of the tree.

Let the carving begin!
As you can see it is lovely fresh and the branches a fair size for some small spoons.

The tools cut like butter in this wood.
No wonder it is the favorite wood for spoons in Turkey.

Now it’s all about enjoying as the hours go and the sun are at the highest.

Really a joy to cut, with a sharp tool.

It chips off, more than it splits, so it’s really also easy to work in when splitting, it never makes the long dangerous splits.

A rough spoon.

Take it easy MaFe, it’s hot and you are in no hurry. ;-)

The local Imam comes for a visit as he has done so often and as I enjoy a lot. He is impressed with the fact that I work with my hands, even more that I harvest local wood and he is speaking out loud Allahs name, when he finds out, that I make and forge my own tools. This makes us laugh a lot and as always, we enjoy the shared moment and both know and agree that religion is not supposed to make wars, that the religion we believe in, even they are not the same, were supposed to bring love and peace, but the world are on a wrong path now.
I attend the Friday prayers also, this summer only once, too many spoons that were calling me inside branches.

The Imam has a field next to our house and often leave us veggies, from his field, while we are still asleep in the morning.

This summer he told me to just pluck what ever I needed from his field, yes people are kind all over the planet, if you meet them with kindness and an open heart, there are no them or us.
Thank you Imam.

So I stole a branch from the Sandal wood tree and brought home it’s leafs.

And I became a happy monkey.
The simple joys are often the greatest.

Spoon and tools.

Again I leave the back side with marks from the carving.

Ohh yes and guests as usual, here Ahmet is telling a story to Filiz brother Aslan and his wife to be, while Filiz serves them tea.

Filiz alo got bit by the wood bug…
Suddenly she came and asked for tools and wood.

The bug did not get her, but my really sharp hand forged spoon gouge did…
We had to go to the hospital and get her patched up, nothing serious, just really deep.
I was happy with my sharpening skills from that point off. ;-)

She did manage to finish a beautiful spoon.
I have to say I was really impressed, my first spoon did not look that beautiful and was not done with such patience and sense for the wood and detail. (She said she had a good teacher, I say she got talent).
(The gouge on the picture is the one that got her, I forged it my self and it is no doubt the best gouge I have, it gets sharp as hell and hold the edge forever, also I managed to make the bevel just right, so it attacks the wood in just the right way).

Time for some axe work.
A Kuksa, wood cup or Tas as they call it here, is the goal.
A Turkish axe (Manark).
A branch of Sandal wood that splits in to two branches.

Chopping away.
Wauuuu I love that part.
To be precise with a tool that has the potential to destroy it all, if I make a wrong move.
Respect for the tool and the wood.
Reading the grain.
Trying to figure out what story it will tell me and ask to bring out.
The chips.
Suddenly the outside is there.

I start the hollowing with an Adze (Keser).

Then the smaller gouge for better feel, while getting thinner on the sides.

This is a combination tool I recently made and forged.
I am really happy with the way it works, here I have changed the head position into a gouge with good lever force

Ohhh yes Filiz wished for a toy, so she got one.
Y branch, inner tube band and a small piece of leather.

Great joy.
Here my friend Ismail and his kids (Ahmets son).

The swan neck gouge was perfect for the deepest part, I forged it from an old tractor rake tooth, that steel is amazing!


And guests of course, we have been welcomed here so heartful, so many kind people, so many fine moments shared by our table.

The view from the house.

Since Ahmet was so kind to help me with the wood, I decided to make him a small spoon, he said he would like a traditional small Turkish spoon, since he ate with one of these as a kid.
Here on top you see one İ bought last year and that İ tried to copy the main lines from and under you see mine.

I was not all happy, the original has more of a tulip shape…
But somehow I think it was fine it became a MaFe version.

From the side you can see I let mine bow down, this to follow the grain.
All in all a fine little spoon and I got to learn a few new cuts and ways.

Here we are, Ahmet and I.
When he got the present, he put it away fast, as if he was ashamed, I think he was touched and he is not used to get a gift, so no words were to be put.
This summer Ahmet said: ‘Ohhh Mads I wish I could go with you to Denmark, then I could work and live in your workshop’. Need I say more? That man is so pure as water from the mountain.

New and old spoons from my fingers.

A basket of tools, for the holiday house.

Now MaFe gone nuts…
No I just play and tried to make a double spoon.

One end axed, middle split, one end cut and carved.

Ohhh yes I also had to do some scorpion hunting.
I got 9 of them, a family seemed to have moved into the stones in front of the house and one of them got my daughter lat year, so we had to bring her to the hospital.

I left the Kuksa to dry for a day or two in a sack with wet paper, then a day out and this happened…

The energy in the wood was too strong, and so it cracked right from the core of that branch and out.

There’s no problem in this.
Just fix it!
It’s wood.

I made a wedge and glued it in place.
This while the wood was dry, since I then knew it will close up and tighten the wedge in place, once I give the wood oil.

After drying and carving.

And on the outside.

Then oil, plenty of oil, many layers until the wood cant suck it up.
I had some food grade Almond massage oil, it do have a wee Anis in it, but since I oil only the outside, this just adds joy.
I stopped soaking it, when I started to see the color change on the inside, this should mean that the wood is as protected as it can become.

Of course the Kuksa was with me on my next hang, here on a cliff side looking over the Sea.

You can spot it in front of my backpack.
And yes it is a joy to drink from, I think it will be my favorite cup now.

I drilled a hole in it and gave it a strap from car inner tube, this is used a lot here in Turkey, so I felt it was the right thing.

Outside cut by axe and oiled.

Inside, carved and smoothed up with card scraper.

I also made a strange stick….

Found out the Kuksa had suck a wonderful sound, that I had to make it an instrument also. ;-)
The stik can drum it and run down the side to say a wonderful sound, just as an African instrument.

I just could not help it.

To go with the cup I carved a small spork, that can fit inside it.

And a spoon.

Backside with visible carving marks as I like it.

It seems small, but I used it on a mountain walk and it works just perfect.

Olivewood, then first Sandal wood spoon, double spoon (measure 1 spoon and 1/2 spoon), Filiz spoon.

As I like it. ;-)

It’s not all spoons, it’s also eating all the wonderful fish a green, beer, tobacco, feet on the chairs and the daily bread.

Ok I also carved a small long bowl.

And finally find time to make origami with the kids of Ismail.

What a wonderful summer, so much to absorb and relive, thank you.

Hope it can be to some inspiration or just bring a warm smile.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

21 comments so far

View lew's profile


13385 posts in 4917 days

#1 posted 08-30-2017 01:12 PM

I envy you, Mads.

Thank You for allowing us to share your love of life.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View tyvekboy's profile


2118 posts in 4175 days

#2 posted 08-30-2017 01:15 PM

Wonderful picture story of how you spent your summer. Wanted to join you on your adventure. Loved the spoons and other carved items.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View CFrye's profile


11329 posts in 3002 days

#3 posted 08-30-2017 01:25 PM

Wonderful tales of adventures and friends and tools, as only you can tell, Mads! I do hope Feliz healed quickly and without dampening her desire to carve more beautiful spoons. Thank you for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View PPK's profile


1861 posts in 1971 days

#4 posted 08-30-2017 02:11 PM

Wow! I think a lot of people wish for the relaxing and fellowship that you have done. I really enjoy reading your stories. Thanks for sharing. You are right – there are a lot of good people in the world, and at the same time, there’s a lot of trouble in our societies… We’ve got to do our small part to make it better!

-- Pete

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5259 days

#5 posted 08-30-2017 02:43 PM

What an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7964 posts in 1744 days

#6 posted 08-30-2017 03:10 PM

That sounds like a wonderful summer, MaFe. And thank you for the ideas of new tools I should try and fashion. I like the idea of your kuksa, and think I have the perfect piece of wood for it. Just need the right tools to release it from the wood.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26457 posts in 4267 days

#7 posted 08-30-2017 03:36 PM

Mads you sure live the good life. A very interesting visit and you made some nice carved tools!

cheers, my friend!!!!!!!!!............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1131 posts in 3474 days

#8 posted 08-30-2017 03:59 PM

A blissful summer to remember when you are back on Kobenhaven!

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3957 days

#9 posted 08-30-2017 06:50 PM

Great update MaFe, and well worth reading. Glad to see how much you enjoyed yourself. Thanks for sharing.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5214 days

#10 posted 08-30-2017 07:11 PM

Mads, Thank you for sharing your wonderful life with us…

You are truly ENJOYING LIFE the way it was intended… out in Nature… Using Nature… Helping Nature… Having a Natural time!

Your carving was obviously one of the best ways to enjoy nature… Wonderful work… ignoring the mundane and just doing it from the heart!

Thank you again!


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View sras's profile


6255 posts in 4291 days

#11 posted 08-31-2017 12:31 AM

I always enjoy reading about your creations. Thanks for sharing!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View swirt's profile


6346 posts in 4134 days

#12 posted 08-31-2017 01:24 AM

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4737 days

#13 posted 08-31-2017 01:47 AM

I enjoyed sharing your wonderful summer vacation my friend.
You are a good story teller and a great carver.
Thank you for sharing your summer adventure with us.
And my best to Filiz.

View shipwright's profile


8734 posts in 3960 days

#14 posted 08-31-2017 02:06 AM

Life lived to perfection!
Love it all Mads

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View oldnovice's profile


7709 posts in 4530 days

#15 posted 08-31-2017 05:24 AM

What could be better?
A beautiful time, with lovely people, in a different part of the world, doing what you love to do!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

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