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Carving and Sculpture
There are a lot more pictures this time because I read that a lot of people avoid saw making, rehabilitation and sharpening. I want to show that it’s within easy reach of anyone who wants to try and doesn’t care to wait while saws take long trips to the sharpener and back. We can find many sharpening guides and tutorials online. Nearly all are very useful. For this particular saw plate, I followed Paul Seller’s recent tutorial about cutting saw teeth. The method worked wonderfully!
The plate itself is roughly 10″ by 1.5″, recycled from an old Disston that I cut down to make my frame saw a few years ago. Cutting to this shape was simple hack sawing. The tooth edge was smoothed “flat and straight” with a simple single-cut mill file. I decided to cut it to the same pattern I use for other resawing work, 5 TPI, zero rake, no fleam … just a dead simple aggressive rip pattern.
My ever handy Stanley No. 36 1/2 R rule has multiple scales in 8, 10, 12, 16 parts to the inch. The 10 scale made easy work of laying out a guide. The slideshow walks through a number of steps, with notes about each.
End result? A small piece of pine became the test victim. I set the fence to produce a kerf 3/32″ from the edge and went at it with only casual concern. What will this thing do without a lot of fussy attention? Cutting was easy once the initial grabbing was overcome. Hint: start from the far end as one does when planing a molding. You can see in one of the pictures that the kerf is not absolutely square. It’s tilted slightly. Despite that, I ended up with two boards that have less than 1/32″ of roughness left from the cut.
It will be perfect after I make an adjustment to either the face of the fence or to my right elbow.
You can still sign up for a class I am teaching at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking November 8 & 9 (changed from November 7, 8 & 9)
The class is going to be an open class where you can bring whatever you want to work on. If you have a particular project you are working on or have dreamed of starting a certain carving, bring that. If you want me to bring project ideas, I can do that also. This is open to beginning and experienced carvers. Flexibility is the key!
These are always fun classes to teach, as you just never know what people will bring. It keeps me on my toes!
I have a new monthly newsletter that I send out at the beginning of every month. It lists the recent lessons that have been added to my online school and gives a preview of the lessons that will be added the next month. It also has a free template that you can download, tips and tricks on carving techniques, my class schedule, and any news or changes happening at the school.
You can also sign up for a weekly e-mail that announces when a new video is added to the school.
Here is the link to sign up.
NEW WILD AND CRAZY THINGS HAPPENING AT MARY MAY’S ONLINE SCHOOL OF CLASSICAL WOODCARVING!
We will soon be adding a new option in how to watch video lessons on my online school. Individual video lessons will be available for purchase. In November, we will start making each lesson available to purchase and you can download it to your computer. To use this option, you do not have to be a member of the school.
Some reasons you may be interested in this new option:
1. You just don’t have a lot of time to look at all the videos on the site and can’t justify paying for a monthly membership
2. You are only interested in particular lessons – for example, you are building a Newport desk and only want to learn how to carve the shells, or you are building a Chippendale style chair and are wanting to learn only how to carve the ball and claw feet.
3. You like to focus on one lesson for several months, perfect it, carve it over and over again and then go on to the next one.
4. Just because…
The prices will depend on the overall length of the lesson – starting at $9.99 (cheaper than most DVDs).
“Hey, aren’t you done with that thing yet?” You know I can’t make something without a carving decoration. So…
Here’s the harder one first. Carving straight lines along the grain line is harder than carving curves. While I’m never satisfied with a carving, this one is done enough to set aside and wait for its partner.
It’s all Shannon’s fault. During his review of a Bontz saw, he mentioned an Art Deco feature in how the saw’s back was shaped. That sparked an old interest and I was off to re-explore the genre and come up with a couple of designs.
The curvy one is next. And yes, I’ll cut a saw plate some day.
Last week I taught two, 1-day beginning classes and a 2-day intermediate class at The Woodworker’s Club in Rockville, MD. Such a great group of people there – both the people that work at the store and the students. I really had a wonderful time. The students worked through some very challenging projects – and some tough wood (sapele and walnut) and had great success (and fun!).
It took me nearly a week to get caught up when I got back home (thus no blog posts), but I’m back! Going to spend the next few days doing a LOT of carving. Yeah!
The Sunburst fireplace is finally installed and painted. Here are the carvings just after I finished carving it. This was carved in poplar.
Here is the finished fireplace:
Unfortunately the photo is a little small, but it shows the general finished look. The customers are happy!
I am still working through all the components of the carving details for the top of a Philadelphia Highboy. So far I have carved the acanthus details and the rosette. I am just about finished with the center shell, and next week I hope to work on the cartouche.
Since I am definitely NOT a wood turner, I did not shape this on a lathe first. I attempted, but failed miserably. I resorted to using my trusty woodcarving gouges to get the general shape of the rosette before carving the details. It would have saved about 20 minutes (which I have included in the video lesson for those who don’t wish to tempt fate on the lathe) and one day I WILL learn the lathe – in my spare time…
One of my students on my online school, David Piazzo, recently worked through this lesson and decided to turn the shape on a lathe first. He was much more successful than I was and here is a link to his blog about how he successfully achieved a lovely turned piece – and a beautiful finished carving also!
I am teaching a carving class at The Woodworkers Club in Rockville, MD at the moment. Having a great time! Better get some sleep or I won’t be able to be one step ahead of the students!
So, what are those threaded holes for? Threaded rods, of course. And the adjustable fence.
The fence itself is pretty simple, two pieces glued together with holes drilled to allow sliding along the threaded rods. Tom Fidgen planed off the bottom piece at an angle, providing a way of resting the plane at an angle which keeps the blade off the bench. I liked the idea and did the same.
Now, the threading… I’ve read good and bad (too often more bad than good) about the quality wood threading kits. I was almost tempted to use metal parts (Hello McMaster-Carr), but decide to give the Woodcraft 3/4″ threading kit a try. It’s worked out very well! No problems, no horror stories. The cutters are plenty sharp enough for producing good results on cherry. I was careful to chamfer entry points, to lube the tap with BLO, and to soak the dowels overnight in BLO before threading.
The dowels are right on 3/4″ diameter, ripped from 4/4 stock and then turned on the treadle lathe.
The nuts too are turned. I stacked four 4/4 blocks together with double sided tape, sawed off the corners and turned on the lathe. Each was then drilled with a 5/8″ auger and tapped. Easy-peasy. I left them round, rather than putting flats on the sides, because they are easy enough to grip and don’t need much torque to do their job.
It comes together very nicely, allowing the fence to be adjusted right up against the blade. I’ll cut the threaded rods down some after I decide how far I might really want to extend the fence.
Resawing lumber is a part of many projects, from big long boards for the hulls of boats, to fine hardwood boards for boxes. It’s time to take resawing accuracy to the next stage. I follow the usual technique of sawing from all 4 corners and flipping frequently to stay on track, or for a very long board, still flipping frequently side to side. Even so, going astray a little bit and recovering often produces the dreaded “X” in the middle of a board. That’s sometimes a hump, with matching divot in the other piece. I’ve never had an error of that sort serious enough to ruin a project, but I would like to spend less time “cleaning up.”
No, don’t blame it on my saws. They are terrific and I keep them wicked sharp. It’s the guy pushing the saw.
Tom Fidgen published his solution, a “kerfing plane,” on his blog and in his recent book Unplugged Workshop. The idea is to produce a kerf of reasonable depth on all edges of a piece of lumber, and then use that kerf to guide the saw. We’ll see if it makes a difference.
Tom started with a fixed fence version and converted to an adjustable fence version. I’m going straight to the adjustable version. Here’s a start at the main body, in cherry. The “stains” near the upper holes are from linseed oil used to lubricate a tap for threaded holes (more on that later). The blade, needing teeth, is from an old Disston. The saw nuts are from Issac Smith’s Blackburn Tools.
Back to woodworking and carving soon.
Does anyone want a “honey pot” for advertising spam? This blog collected 3,355 spam comments in the past 24 hours. Very fortunately, AKISMET (most highly recommended) caught all but 4 of them.
That’s about 5 million percent better than the spam filtering on Blogger! … and the reason all those Blogger folks use CAPTCHAs. Blogger itself should be doing the spam filtering instead of making visitors jump through CAPTCHA hoops. (Blogger’s parent, Google, has a most excellent spam filter as part of GMail, but can’t seem to find a way to use it on Blogger.)
Way to go AKISMET!
I recently have been going through a “scroll” carving phase. When I posted photos of some of the scrolls I have carved on my facebook page, I got a request to carve a violin scroll. I thought – sure, I’ve carved a lot of scrolls in my life – how difficult could it be? Plus I was up for the challenge.
So I went to the internet, and there is an amazing amount of information out there. If you have ever studied violin making, it is an incredibly beautiful art. Everything is designed for beauty, grace, balance, symmetry, and elegance. All this makes an amazing sound, but also a beautiful work of art that requires incredible discipline and accuracy to make.
So I got my piece of wood, cut out the profile on a scroll saw and transferred as many lines as I could from any reference material I could find, and started carving. It was a real brain tease to get a nice sweeping flow to the scroll, and it is carved surprisingly deep.
Then once you get one side that you are happy with, it’s time to carve an exact duplicate on the other side – only in reverse. It’s like carving a ball and claw foot. The first one goes great, then you have to make another to match it. Not so easy…
I was able to video this process, so it should be on my online school soon.
I’m tired. That took more energy than I imagined…
Two new video episodes have been added to my online school on carving scrolls (or sometimes referred to as volutes). Next week I will be adding a third version (and maybe a forth after that because I just can’t stop!)
Since this design is often seen in period furniture and decorative elements of architectural carving, I focused these lessons on a variety of styles of just the scroll itself.
The first one is a style you might see on an arm of a Windsor chair or similar (but not exact) to a violin scroll. The sizes are not exact to what you might make on a piece of furniture, but these lessons simply go through the technique of getting a finished carved scroll. You can adjust these to whatever you are carving.
These are carved in basswood, cut out on a scroll saw, and attached to a backer board with double sided tape. After much testing and discovery, brushing along the edge with denatured alcohol seems to work the best to release the double-sided tape. It tends to leave the tape less sticky but releases the carving easily. It is also less smelly, but it is still VERY important to work in a ventilated area (outside is best) and use chemical gloves. Any of these solvents are nasty to work with.
I have a new addition to my happy little mallet family. It is a bouncing baby paper-weight!
Dave Reilly, who makes my beautiful brass and steel mallets with turned walnut and cocobolo handles just made me a sweet little mini-mallet. They’re reproducing!
And my cat, Richard Parker (did you see Life of Pie?) is enthralled with them.
These mallets weight about 1-1/3 lb, and are really a work of art – and work great too! Bonus!
The 15% discount that was offered at the Woodworking in America show this past weekend is available for any new members who sign up for my online carving school before the end of the month. That makes the monthly cost $8.49 rather than $10 for as long as you are a member.
Go to my school website – http://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool and click on the following image:
There are currently 144 episodes (individual videos) with 70 complete and unique lessons.
A new video is added every week (and keeps me hopping!)
I am experiencing the lull after the storm. A wonderful and energetic weekend at WIA in Winston-Salem – seeing a lot of friends and meeting new ones. And now I’m trying to settle in again. It’s sad that I probably won’t see many of these people again until next WIA.
I drove the 5 hour trip back home to Charleston, SC yesterday afternoon, and was feeling so worn out by the time I got home that I didn’t even unpack my car until this morning. I brought a LOT of extra things with me – like DVDs and resin castings, in hopes of selling them at the show. It didn’t turn out that way. I only sold a handful, but was really focusing on getting the word out for my online school – which I believe was a success. When I packed up after the show, I only had one small, empty box that I could leave. My poor KIA felt abused. And I barely had room for my suitcase. I think it’s time for an SUV or truck.
Here is a photo of my shop before unloading my car (nice and tidy – sort of). This is the “industrial” part of my shop – a great old General lathe that my husband brought down from Canada.
Here is a photo of my shop after unloading the car. A very daunting task. Looks like I won’t be doing much carving for a while…
Woodworking in America, 2014, has come to a close (at least for me). Tomorrow several tours are scheduled, which I won’t be able to attend – MESDA (Museum of Southern Decorative Arts) , the Blum house, and the Single Brother’s House – all part of Old Salem, a beautiful traditional Moravian village. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning – with car loaded with everything I brought for the show. Why is it that it always seems like I go home with more stuff??
Since I was not teaching any workshops during this show, I decided to set up a booth at the marketplace, focusing on getting the word out of my online school. I really enjoyed it, as I got to see a lot of friends in the woodworking world. Quite a few students who have either taken my classes, or who are on my online school also stopped by. It was good to meet these online students in person and several brought their carvings that they have been working on. It was so great to see their pride and enthusiasm in their work. Sometimes the online world can seem so distant, so it was really good to get some interaction and feedback.
I was not able to go around and visit with many people outside my little area by my booth, since I was the only one at my booth. It was pretty much non-stop people streaming by. So I spent most of the weekend with the SAPFM group that was right across the aisle from me – a great group of guys.
I also started a twitter account today (carvingguru). I have been very reluctant to do this, as I didn’t want to be completely consumed with checking e-mails, twitter accounts, etc. I’m already spending a lot of time on the computer, but realized after speaking with several people, that twitter and instagram (another thing I should venture down, but have not pursued yet) seem to be the current way to get the word out. As I was told, Facebook is so “yesterday”. Well, I tend to live in “yesterday” on many fronts. After all, I am a woodcarver – one of the oldest professions out there.
Tomorrow I head off to Winsten-Salem, NC for the yearly festivities of Woodworking in America. I will not be teaching workshops as I have for the last 2 years, but will have a booth set up in their marketplace. Come by to visit and see how to get a 15% WIA discount for my online school membership ($8.49/month instead of the regular $10/month). Think of it as a FREE cup of coffee every month!
Also lots of things for sale at discounted prices – Brass and steel mallets, T-shirts, Instructional DVDs, Resin Castings of the Ball and Claw foot, various Acanthus Leaves, both Newport Shells, McIntire Fruit Basket, Camellia, Rosette, the Shell and Acanthus design, and the Dragon carving
I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of friends in the woodworking world. Come by and say HI. I will be across the aisle from the SAPFM booth, and will probably be spending some time over there playing. I’ve got a couple projects that I am bringing to carve. Will Myers and the SAPFM group have been gracious to loan me one of their wonderful workbenches (mine wouldn’t fit in a KIA). Thank you, Will!
Have chisel, will carve!