A fellow carver directed me toward this short film documenting the traditional making of spoons from boxwood in Spain. Filmed in 1994, it features a man named Pascual Mairal who had been practicing this craft since he was a child.
There are many things to consider in this short film, beginning with the harvest of the boxwood. Pascual explains that he cuts the trees only during a waning moon. I’ve heard of this before, and seeing it here refreshed my curiosity.
In Woodworking in Estonia, Ants Viires writes: “In felling trees not just the season was important, but also phases of the moon and wind direction were born in mind in the interest of the quality of timber, such as was done also in the case of many other chores. The respective regulations derived from a very old idea that life on earth grew and developed during the new moon but everything grew old, dried and died during the waning moon.”
Folklore or not, there are at least some modern companies that support the notion that harvesting according to the moon phases matters, including this architectural firm. And a Swiss tonewood supplier that supports the notion of moon harvesting as well. Or is it mainly advertising hype?
I have no idea. Just about all of the chunks of wood I use come from trees that have been cut down by somebody else for some other reason or were blown down by the wind. Tree trimmers and removers aren’t concerned with moon phases any more that the wind is, I suppose. Whether the moon matters or not, there are some interesting techniques shown in the video, including a cool sawing method, use of a stock knife, work holding, and working with rasps, scrapers, and burnishers. The channel has lots of other traditional craft videos posted as well. I’ll look forward to checking them out over time.