Thursday, June 17, 2010

Into the wood...

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With the preliminaries all out of the way, it is time to glue the pattern to the domed blank and get hacking!
By gluing the pattern straight on to the workpiece, I can save myself many tedious hours of transferring lines or tracing onto carbon paper that never sits still. The pattern guides the saw guides with great accuracy and in some woods keeps the top of the cut from getting ragged. All in all, it is a great method for ensuring the design gets rendered onto the wood with the greatest accuracy.

I generally scroll away the outer waste first. This lightens up the piece substantially and lets me see more clearly how the spoon is going to look. Some like to cut the inside away first so that they can keep the greatest strength in the wood, but to be perfectly honest, I have never noticed that one method is any better than the other.

I find scrollsawing is a love/hate type of job. Some days I really enjoy the zen state you can get into as you simply follow lines for hours on end...other days I could go up the wall with the monotony and drudgery of it all. I'd love to be able to say that its all zen and focused energy as I saw, but usually I am cursing myself for putting so much bloody knotwork into the design and wishing I was just doing some chip carving instead! On this spoon, I am going to saw about half the design out and then take a nice break and do some carving. That way there will be something to write about and I won't be an ill-tempered little chappie! This picture shows how things are taking shape nicely and how the neat lines of the photocopy really help to guide the saw blade.

Before I get into the knot carving, I like to shape the spoon bowls. As this is often an area of 'energetic' carving, I rather get it done first in case there is a breakage. That way, I won't have invested too much time in the piece before I have to go back to square one. This piece is going to have nice, swooping bowls and a swan neck section joining the bowls to the handle. I use a bandsaw for this operation and make sure to keep my hands well out of the way!

Here's a close-up showing the detail I am after. Later, the back of the spoon will be thinned away to exaggerate this 'swan-neck' effect. But for now, it is a good guide to show me where the bowls are going and where the handle will swoop down to join them.

With all the roughing done, I like to shape out the spoon hollows and to this I use a custom made bent knife. Hand-made for me by Mike Komick at Preferred Edge Tools, this knife is a wonder tool!! I have replaced dozens of gouges with 3 or 4 bent knives and will use this knife to do any cutting where a convex or concave surface is required. Much faster, cleaner and quieter than all the power tool attachments I have ever seen, this is a remarkably swift and invigourating way to cut a spoon bowl!

I don't completely finish off the bowls as there is a long way to go with the carving and it is possible to ding or otherwise damage the bowl a bit. Having a bit of 'play room' should something unfortunate befall us makes life a lot more pleasant. Next week I will start to tidy up the knotwork and will go to work on the little dragon who is appearing just above the bowls.

In the meantime, I hope that you will consider donating to the Left Coast Eisteddfod and that your donation will win you this spoon when Laura and I have finished it! Remember every dollar gives you a shot at this lovely spoon, so the more you donate, the better your chances!

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