Sunday, 6 June 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 21 - Daughter's Scythe Peening Pony

 Had a random week this week, but managed to start to learn to a skill I'd always wanted to learn how to Scythe. 

I'm going to talk about that in my other blog, but it involved meeting a very interesting chap who teaches people how to use Austrian scythes and how to sharpen them. Part of the sharpening process is called peening, which is the cold treatment of the metal by hitting it on a small anvil. To do this well you need a rest for it and this little set up is sometimes referred to as a "peening pony".

My eldest daughter using her "new" wooden plane given to her by a friend.

As soon as I saw it I thought that the small stool like "pony" would be an ideal project to build with my daughter. It was a great little project using fallen branches from one of our old oak trees and some scraps out of the firewood pile. When it was nearly done she mentioned about carving something onto the front of it. 

So I suggested she sketch out a design and then we could see about putting it on the pony. She looked at the scythe resting outside and drew a simple design with it's shape. I asked her what tool she would like to use first - "V tool" was her reply, she's going to be better than me soon! 

This was her first time using the small (ish) carving mallet I made, as it was oak she was carving into. She went slow and steady, didn't rush and only made one little mistake. I loved how well she used the mallet for the rhythmic tapping needed to outline a picture. 

When she had lined in I gave her a gouge (14mm No6) to just lower the background around where she carved. The only thing I did was help keep it stable as she carved and trim two bits that were tricky to remove from the background. 

It's fair to say she was as pleased as punch with it! A lovely simple carving on a piece of oak. 

I love having something like this personalised in such a lovely way. She's always so keen on this little project and it was great to find the time this afternoon to make this with her. 

So not exactly my carving this week but I hope you'll forgive me for that! 

Monday, 31 May 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 20 - Practice Peony Flower

I used a bit of scrap Tulip to try a different type of flower a bit more like a peony.  

Just a practice piece so only really messing around. Background roughly lowered. 


The piece feels a little "scratchy" and normally I would spend some time tidying it up, that said the shape is okay and I like the undercut centre ball of petals. I'll try and practice this one again this week and keep going until I get it looking better and I can carve it quite quickly. I have some more tulip coming this week and I wonder about carving a few toolboxes as the trumpet shaped flowers are getting much easier to carve! 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 19 - Flowers

 So this week has been quite a good one for carving and I managed to get a project completely finished (unfortunately whilst not wanting to start a big project as I was supposed to have a delivery of timber).

I won't show a picture of the completely finished piece as it's for a project I'm working on but I'm quite pleased with how these flowers came out and I enjoyed layering the leaves around it. Tulip turned out to be a great wood for this project, not too heavy and takes detail brilliantly. 

Hopefully you'll see the project fairly soon! I have something else to put on the blog this week  - an article I wrote for this months Furniture and Cabinet Maker Magazine. 

Now I'm not sure what carving to tackle next week - any ideas?

Saturday, 15 May 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 18 - Flowers And Leaves

 Very late writing this one up - I slipped with posting last week but I have the perfect excuse as to why I didn't get any carving done. 

I'd left it until Sunday to spend a bit of time carving, but my younger daughter was feeling pretty ill when she woke up. In fact she was so ill, and had symptoms we recognised from last year, that we decided to take her to A&E. Luckily it was easily sorted with a course of antibiotics, but by the time we got back the last thing I wanted to do was go into the workshop after spending most of the day in a windowless room. 

A fair excuse I think.

So I've done a bit of practice carving for a piece I'm planning on making next to make up for any carving missed. 

I wanted to do some more ornamental relief carving, but wanted to do something that wasn't necessary a formal design, but a bit more free flowing.   

So I decided on carving out some simple leaves and flowers, making it up as I went along. Flowers in place first then adding the leaves in. 

It's not finished yet, I need to lower the background more and add in some branches, but I might leave it there and start on the proper piece now. I also need to make sure that I give the leaves a bit more flow and although I'll probably leave it heavily tooled I'd like the flowers to come out a bit smoother. 

Sunday, 2 May 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 17 - Carving Mallet & Celtic Weave

This week I did try to start to carve an Aztec style face in some poplar and struggled with my carpenters mallet a bit. I decided it was time to make a smaller, turned, carvers mallet.

I have some branches of pear and know this is a good wood for mallets so set about with the froe making it a close enough size to mount on the lathe. As the wood is green it turned easy. 

As I haven't done much on the lathe lately I snatched the wood when using the skew chisel and fetched it off the centres before I'd had chance to finish it. 

In all honesty what I'm going to do is use it for a bit as it is, turn another one tomorrow (I have plenty of this wood) and then season that one properly. This one can be used for a while then discarded when the other is ready. I'm annoyed at myself for such a simple mistake! 

I decided to try out the mallet with a simple and quick Celtic Weave. 

 I printed off an outline and stuck it to the off cut of tulip I've been using to practice on. This piece isn't my tidiest work, but took me 12 minutes to do, so ideal as a practice piece and something I might try to do a few times to get faster at and to try to carve cleaner. It would be ideal to decorate some of my seed boxes I make to sell, or on the side of a tool box. 

So a good craft week - good to get back on the lathe, something I need to do more, and good to practice smaller bits in between projects. 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Little Cupboard

 Build and fitted this little cupboard unit for a regular customer this week. Nice little job - I was worried as they'd sent me the measurements to save a visit - luckily it all fitted nicely. 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 16 - A Beetle & A Poor Cranked Spatula

 I need to get back to the more tradional carving as this almost feels like cheating - but with the weather being so great we've been messing around lots outside doing green woodwork. 

I picked up some pear logs from my parents farm (a huge beautiful old tree that decided to split in two last autumn. The pear will dry to be as hard as nails so I thought it would make a great mallet/beetle. I roughed out the shape with the froe and axe (it is really hard to work). 

Then my daughter removed the bark and made the handle nice to hold.

It's potentially a little big, but it'll dry lighter than it is now and will be good for hitting the froe into wood. 

For my project this week I used a cranked branch of sycamore a friend had dropped off for me. I wanted to keep the crank in the work. 

I tried to do as much as possible with the axe and get it to be as light as possible. 

I got fairly close then worked on it with the draw knife and a carving knife. 

In the end I really hate it and think it'll end up on the fire. The crank just seems the wrong shape for it or in slightly the wrong place. Although it's not he end of the world it just doesn't feel right. Still it was nice to do on a sunny afternoon while my children were making clay models not far from me. 

At least it'll give me a bit of heat when I burn it. Also good to have a few failures as it makes the successes even better when they happen!  Also good to practice and try to make things symmetrical, the only way I'll learn is to keep making things, even if they all don't turn out to be useable. 

Sunday, 18 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 15 - Spatula

This week has been a fun week for some projects getting done. My eldest daughter and I managed to finish our "spoon mule" - a shave horse type device for holding fine things to be worked on - like spoons. I'll do more on that in another post but it turned out to be a great project to do together, using purchased plans which were great to work off. 

I also made a raised cutting block! This simple project is something I've been meaning to make for years. It gives you good control with an axe at a height that is comfortable to work at. After putting it off for ages in the end it took me about 30 minutes to make it! I used some oak from the branch that fell in the drought last summer and for the legs I used some fresh cut hazel. I know the oak might not prove to be ideal as it is prone to splitting but this piece looked knotty and will do for now. The legs will shrink as they dry but I can always wedge them if they get loose or make some new ones.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

52 Weeks of Carving - Week 14 - Simple Acanthus leaf

 So for my birthday, a few weeks ago, I got the book "Carving The Acanthus Leaf" by Mary May. I decided that it's silly to read the book and not try to put anything into practice. So for a skill building session this week I decided to tackle the first leaf in the book - the simple acanthus leaf. 

I started by cutting the rough shape out on the bandsaw, then sketched the leaves and shapes onto it. This was possibly the trickiest bit of the carving! Tools ages to get the symmetry needed. 

For work holding I decided to glue the piece to a piece of paper and then mount it to a bit of ply. It's always surprising how well this works! 

The book was good and works through the steps really clearly. I like that within a few steps I can already tell her favourite chisels and the order that she approaches jobs. 

My carving was a bit messy as had quite a few faceted edges, I need to learn to smooth these out as I go. It's a really simple design but a great learning tool.

Not sure what my next project will be. Possibly another task from the book, a leaf with a curl maybe. 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 13 - Strapwork Finished

I didn't get chance to start on any oak beams this week but I did finish the strapwork piece, I was worried that I would just shelve it and it would never get done so I'm pleased that I have. The reason for doing this second strapwork piece I'll share with you all in a few weeks time. 

I now need to make a box for it (with dividers) and get it listed and sold overwise it'll hang round the workshop for ages! 

 It was my birthday last week and I got given the book by Mary May about carving the agapanthus leaf - so expect to see me trying this style out fairly soon as well - only flicked through the book so far but I'm impressed - seems very well laid out and interesting with stories in between the how-tos. 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Another Work Is Possible

It was my birthday last week and as mum asked me what I'd like I rather decadently suggested this book - Another Work is Possible. 

It's probably not a book I would have bought myself as it's quite expensive (best part of £50) but one I kept looking at. 

I almost felt guilty when I read it in just two days. To be honest it isn't heavy on the words, but it is a simply beautiful book. Every picture is glorious. 

It's about a group of carpenters (carpenters without boarders) that every year take on a timber frame project somewhere in the world - normally community based. They all volunteer their time and their skills and build the entire project using hand tools. Taking the raw freshly felled logs, hewing them into beams and creating all the joints and raising the frame as a group. 

This book follows the project they undertook in 2019 - building a blacksmith's workshop for the team behind Mortice and Tennon Magazine. 

I don't think it's a book where you'll learn much individual skills - it's not set out like that or supposed to be that kind of book. But what I loved about it was it shows that there are some seriously passionate people out there in the industry, it had some beautifully written pieces about the work and the community that makes is possible even feeding a team of that size is amazing). There is one really poignant piece written by a father about his 12 year old son and how he was made to feel a part of the project. In fact all the writing is pretty emotive, the passion for the craft really comes through. 

In all I loved it. Yes it's a bit of a coffee table book - but it is beautiful and inspiring, I'd love to sign up to a project like this and can only imagine the skills I would learn. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 12 - Practice Cuts

So this week I have started to make another strap work piece to drive home the setting out skills. 

The design is the same as the one I did a few weeks ago. So really it's just chisel practice. 

 Once this is finished I might make it into a small box to possibly sell on Etsy. 

I'm thinking for my next project I have a few spare oak beams from a porch I made a couple of years ago that need using up. I might make a simple frame to create a lean-to over our boiler. But on this frame I might carve some patterns and designs. I've seen a few I like the look of but will try to make them my own.

Anyone know of some ornate beams I could get inspiration from? What style would you favour for something like that?

Sunday, 21 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 11 - More Strap work & Draw Knife Work With My eldest

 So I've not done huge amounts on the carving front this week, even with full intentions. I just needed to get some other jobs out the way first! 

I have managed to start on another strapwork front for a project I'm working on. I'm quite excited by this and looking forward to seeing where it goes. I've laid out the basic design and started to strike the lines with the chisel. 

The other bit of carving/craft work was today, on the first day of spring, with my daughter on the shave horse after a friend dropped off a few sycamore logs to play with. 

Sunday, 14 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 10 - Carved workbench Finished!

 So I managed to get drawer number 4 finished this week.

I went for exactly the same design as number three. I did this because I think that will look the best but also because to practice repetition is also really important., I want to be able to carve things that look the same. 

Sunday, 7 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 9 - Third Drawer Front

 So this third, narrow, drawer front has taken a bit of messing around to get the proportions right. I ended up carving a number of different sizes and layouts until it looked okay.

I tried to free hand the curves to start with, but my brain can't quite get it (yet) so I laid it out with compasses. 

I drew it out completely before starting to carve, it seemed to look about right. 

Done in much the same way as the strap work with stamping cuts made with the right curved chisel (in this case a carpenters gouge) and a mallet. I go round this and cut out the outline. 

Then the waste is removed before a few deatil cuts are added on the leaves. 

For the whole front I added a centre circle to have the handle and then a half circle to compete the look of the carving either end for symmetry. 

I've oiled this one and made a start marking out the forth drawer - this one will be the same design and pattern. Hopefully the whole thing should be finished next week! 

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