It’s not my most glamorous tool, but it is one of my most used ones – my sinking stump. (It is also one of the cheapest since I found it in the woods.) I use this tool when sinking a bowl. The flat sheet if pushed out with my sinking hammer just above the stump to give it a concave structure.
In school we had a variety of sinking stumps which all had depressions in them. Many people used them like dapping blocks and just hammered the sheet into the depressions. When I took my toolmaking class I started on a stump of my own. It was some sort of hardwood and I was using cheap chisels and long story short it never got a full depression in it. At some point it was also disappeared by my father after sitting in his garage or shed for too long.
So when I set-up my current studio I needed a stump. I found this one (or actually my husband saw a bunch laying around on his way to work and we went back and I picked one out) and decided to use it as is. It’s short so I have to either crouch on the floor (what I usually do) or place it on a table to sink with it. You probably also notice that there is no depression in it. That’s because you don’t need one. A depression can be a crutch. You really just need a cushion of air between the metal and the wood. In theory I could use a 2 x 4, but I like the rustic look of the stump.
This is one of the tools that I remembered my visits to the Folk Life Festival and how people in other countries find a way to work even without all the fancy tools that you and I can buy here. It works, it’s simple, and it’s free. Remember that next time you think you need all the tools your school had.