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! 

Monday, 1 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 8 - Second Drawer Front Finished

I've really enjoyed carving this strap work design. Nice and therapeutic to make, audio book on and just plod away making the cuts and removing the waste. 

Setting it out and getting the right proportions is probably the hardest bit. As well as making sure I had the chisels to match the curves. 

Removing the background took the most time. I left this as a heavily tooled finish. I would pop in and out the workshop (as I'm looking after the children at the moment full time) to steal 10 minutes with a gouge to try to do another panel. 

Fitted and oiled it certainly has the effect I was going for. 

I then went on to try to set out the two narrow drawers. This time trying S scrolls. I struggled to get the proportions right and I will flip this one and start again as it just doesn't look right. I'll use the rest of the space to try to get the pattern I want right first though.

As it is it needs a lot more detail and I just don't think it's symmetrical enough! But practice is always the answer so I'll be back out there again tonight hopefully! 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 21 February 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 7 - Second Drawer Front Started

 So the first drawer front is finished! 

I added a very simple border on the top and bottom just using the V tool and a shaped punch. I think it offsets the main carving quite well. I then gave it a coat of boiled linseed oil for a bit of protection. 

Once I had fitted this I then started machining up the second drawer front from the same slab of lime that the bottom drawer was made from. 

This time I'm going for what is called strap work. With struck lines, not carved with the V tool. The idea being that you use the chisels to dictate what the curves will be. 

Laying it out took a fair bit of time (and head scratching). Everything was divided up evenly to try and make it look right and symmetrical, although it will never truly be as it's carved by hand, but the eye wants it to be!

Once I got it laid out I then started to strike the lines with chisels and mallet blows. I plan to leave the lowered areas with the tooled marks on this one as I think it will be hard to get it to be a clean background. 

Watch this space to see how this one progresses! 

Sunday, 14 February 2021

52 Weeks of Carving - Week 6 - 17th Century Style Drawer Front - Part 2

This week I managed to spend a few evenings carving in the workshop. Was nice to lay out all the chisels and chip away, I also had a great audio book I was listening to so the perfect combination!  

I just worked on this one in a systematic way, making the curves fit the tools I have. 

I did make a few things difficult for myself, I shouldn't have left such a tight gap around the leaves - made it very difficult to tidy up. 

I added a bit of shape to the leaves before carving the veins into them. I think more practice with this type of shape and curve would be great. 

I then added detail to the two centre circles, I decided to make them rosettes like I had previously carved for practice - smaller so used a different range of chisels. 

Next I need to carve a decorative band top and bottom to finish this one off, but I have a feeling it will be simple as there is already a lot going on!

Anyone else carving much at the moment?

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Building A Paulk Smart Bench

 For years I've looked at building a Paulk style workbench. He has a few different designs and I always thought they looked well thought out and ideal for the types of carpentry I do. 

And for years I've kept working off a couple of trestles with some cls on. It's been fine, it means I can cut into the timber, replace them every 6 months or so but they don't stay very flat and it doesn't give me a great worksurface. 

Monday, 8 February 2021

52 Weeks of Carving - Week 5 - 17th Century Style Drawer Front

 So leaving my last project on the shelf for a few weeks I decided it was time to crack on with something else. 

My sharpening station is useable but still incomplete. When making it I thought that carved drawer fronts would work well with the carved legs and it has been my intention to make some that will work with it. 

As the legs were a 17th century style I decided to stick with this for the bigger drawer front (not sure if the smaller ones will or not). I like the "busy" style where every space is filled up. 

Although I know most were probably done in oak or walnut, nothing I had was suitable so I decided to go for [easy to carve] English Lime again. 

The plank had a fair bit of twist so I surfaced it and then ran it through the thicknesser. The max width of my machine (305mm). 

I then started to lay out the design, again the most important bit. A geometric design so it's essential to get this right, the smaller circles echo what's on the legs of the workbench. 

Simple work holding this time on my new MFT bench - just four dogs and some folding wedges. 

Lining in is mainly with a v tool, so doesn't require much force with this wood. Hard to get the curves looking even but quite a nice job to do in sequence, carving all the similar lines. 

By the end of yesterday I had a rough layout lined out. I'll now start to lower some other areas around the circles before working on the leaf pattern in the middle and adding detail. There will also be two decorative borders (top and bottom) but not sure on the design of these yet. 

Probably a bit much for a workbench - but great practice! 

Monday, 1 February 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 4 - Muffin Box Lid

It's air to say I'm not 100% happy with this. It looks a bit messy and there is a few things I'd alter about it if/when I do it again. But it works well as a practice piece and it's good to see it through. 

The base of the cake I made a bit of mess by crossing the lines over. I think I hit the mistakes but no that well. The piping on the cake should have curved more as well. 

I decided to texture the background with a stippled punch I have. I might stain this area darker and if I do it should pick up the punch work really well. 


So now I'm not sure if I should colour the wood or not to make it brighter. Maybe on a test piece. Of course now I have to build the box for the rest of the game I'm making the or the children - when that will happen is anyone's guess! I might completely remake the piece yet as I'm really not happy with it and know that the little things will bug me if I don't sort them out, if that is the case then I will use this one to experiment with colour - I have a set of bright wood dyes in a tool box that hasn't been used for a long time. 

Not sure what this next weeks carving work should be. Maybe a small sample piece, like Celtic knot work, or maybe to start to lay out the drawer fronts to my sharpening bench, which I plan to do in a 17th century style much in line with what Peter Follensbee does (although not as good obviously)! 

Monday, 25 January 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving - Week 3 - Muffin Much...

An incomplete one this last week, but I made a start on my next carving. 

My children play what they call "playdough bake off" this is like the bake off on the TV but with playdough. I wanted to make them a box with different themes and tasks inside and decided that having a carving on the top of the box might be nice. 

To start with I drew a simple design of a cupcake on a small block of lime. 

As this is to be a light relief carving I gauged the depth round the outside to rough out the work to. My phone ran out of battery at this point but the next task was to roughly line out the outline with the V tool. 

I then took down the background to a rough level - still needs work but I might texture it yet. The next step will be to add detail to the carving and try to make it look a bit more realistic. Time is tight at the moment as I'm home schooling the children during the day but trying to get out into the workshop each evening if I can (also good to put the heating on in the workshop for a few hours full blast!).

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