Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back to the Knives as Valentines Approaches!

I'll wager that I'm not the only one who has the knives out on Valentine's Day! Mind you, I'll be carving a beautiful love token for a loving couple and not planning to moyderize someone for forgetting the big day!

In fact, I've been so busy with the knives frantically trying to get Valentine's orders in time for delivery on the 14th, that I haven't had a minute to spare for the Left Coast Eisteddfod spoon.

While I apologize for that, I did have time to answer a couple of questions that have come to me via email. A number of people have written to me asking what tools I use when carving my lovespoons. In particular they are interested in the power tools I use to save time and turn out spoons in double-quick time.

I'm sorry to disappoint, but the only power tools I make use of are an electric band saw for roughing my timber to size, an electric scroll saw to rough out the actual spoon blank (especially if there is a lot of Celtic knotwork involved) and very occasionally I will utilize a 4.5-inch angle grinder (!!) to sand my way through difficult grain figures. Other than that, it is all hand tools. I've included a picture of my workbench to show the tools necessary for carving the Left Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon. The vast bulk of my work is done with one or two straight and bent bladed knives. I use some small chisels and gouges to get into tight spots, some needle files for cleaning rough spots and lots of stropping compound and stropping to keep things sharp as I go. Those with keen eyes will notice two other necessities on the bench; glues for those little disasters which occasionally befall even the noblest venture and my collection of Simpsons characters who are present to help me laugh my way through those same ignoble disasters!

I'd love to be able to tell you that there are miracle tools out there which make things go super-quick and smooth, but really there are no finer tools than the ones you see in this picture.
Even though I have to work at a brisk pace if I want to survive, I firmly believe that a carving takes as long as it takes and trying to shortcut anywhere only leads to a half-hearted looking lovespoon.

The second most common question I am asked is: "How do you sit and carve for 8 hours straight every day?" The answer is proper nutrition! I've included this photo taken during my Christmas visit to Cardiff where I was able to stock up on the very type of nutrition which fortifies me so heartily for the upcoming season of lovespoon carving! The key, as with so many things, is moderation. As you can see from the picture, I am careful not to over-do things.

Any former or current citizen of Cardiff can tell you that with two simple foodstuffs, Clark's Pies and Brains Beer, the body can be sufficiently and efficiently fed to perform at peak performance! Add a half and half curry on the way home and you're set!!

So there you are, my Valentine's Day gift to any and all you carvers out there seeking the secret to woodcarving success.

Next week, we'll resume action on the Left Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon but in the meantime, why not consider a romantic donation to the Eisteddfod in your sweetie's name? It's a great gift which might net this one-of-a-kind, hand-carved lovespoon!

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  1. Hi, David.

    I know you like to carve both sides of the spoon to make the spoon more "finished" and to give the client more value for their money. But what do you do with chip-carved spoons like your "Pearse Elk"?

    Bob Tinsley

  2. Hi Bob

    Lots of times the spoons only get finished on one side. Such is often the case with the chip carved ones (although there is nothing wrong with doing both sides!) and many times the clients prefer I spend my time (and their budget) concentrating on the front only. Often, my spoons get framed or will be permanently hung with one face visible so the clients rather I put all my efforts into the visible face. With Celtic Knots, I generally try to do both sides (unless the budget says NO) because it looks so much better even if it is framed and you can not see the back.
    Hope that helps

  3. You look right at home with a Brains and a Clarkie!