Sunday, July 22, 2012


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Did you think we had thrown in the towel? Naaaaa - Dave and I have both just been swamped with each of our own commitments on our respective ends of the continent. I can't believe it's already late July! Well, in any case, as much fun as I had finishing up several other projects over the last several weeks, my focus has finally been able to shift to this wonderful project. I honestly wasn't procrastinating - I have been chomping at the bit to get to it! I think this may prove to be one of the most fun spoons I'll ever get to carve, so I wanted to make sure I could give it the focus it deserves.

So here we go! I had two cherry boards that were large enough for our spoon, and I had to choose one...

Each board had its pros and cons, but after placing the pattern in various positions on each board, I ended up choosing the lower board. The lower board ultimately won the edge because (and you can't really see this here) it had fewer unavoidable little knots. I think I was able to avoid all but one, and also place the pattern so that the spoon's bowl fell in an area of the grain I hoped might be especially pretty, since that's the largest solid area where you'll actually see the grain.

Now - since Dave and I live about 2500 miles apart, and in different countries, we'd be wanting to keep shipping to a minimum. That meant we'd need to carefully consider the order in which we do things. If I carved first, would Dave want to do his own sawing on his part? I would completely understand if he did, as I know I sometimes make minor adjustments to the design while I'm sawing, so he probably would like that flexibility, too. It would also leave him more flexibility with any of the more irregular depth decisions. But if he did want to saw his part, would the part I'd already carved be able to stand up to the vibration from the angle grinder while he rough-shapes the back of his section? (that couldn't be done ahead of time, because he'd need the flat back for sawing). I didn't know, because I've never used an angle grinder. I was willing to learn to use it, but didn't want to cost Dave any flexibility of sawing and shaping the back on his part himself. Anyway, after discussing these considerations, Dave felt it would be safe for him to saw and rough-shape the back even after my carving was complete, so we may as well leave him that flexibility.

I would, however, rough-shape the front of the blank. After getting some tips from Dave on using the angle grinder for that task, since that would be a new tool for me, I ended up opting for a hand-plane instead. Had I been planning to saw everything and hollow out the back, too, then I'd have learned to use the angle grinder. Perhaps I still will, some day. :) You may think I'm just being a girl with my avoidance of power tools, but I am actually perfectly comfortable with most. It's the little, hand-held ones that make me uncomfortable. Well, those, and I also have an irrational fear of routers. But I digress....

So, the first step was to decide exactly where to place the pattern on the board. I did that, marked the outline, and then sawed about 1/4 inch outside of that (more, in some places).

And then, I moved on to shaping it with the plane.

By the way, Dave and I also talked about that 3rd dimension of the handle - we both like to make arcs, so the fronts of our handles tend to be convex, and the backs, concave. But I think that arc normally goes in a vertical direction for both of us (or, sometimes both vertical and side to side). This time, however, since there are the cages there at the throat of the spoon, just above the bowl, it changes things a little. Cages are deep - You can't really make the part of a handle including a cage thin. So, I thought it might look more natural to have that arc going from side to side this time, more than from bottom to top. If you think of the handle like a paper scroll, rolled towards the back plane think of those edges that roll on the sides instead of on the bottom and top of the handle. Anyway - so that's why I planed it the way I did, as you saw above.

Next, I needed to get the pattern onto the board. Some people like to actually take a paper copy of the pattern, and glue it to the board. A big benefit to that is that there is more contrast. On the other hand, I sometimes can't see well enough WITH the paper, because it starts coming up, and I lose track of where I was supposed to be sawing. Instead, I tend to transfer the pattern with carbon paper onto the face of the board. In this case, since it's so easy to get confused about what is negative space and what is not, so I also filled in the negative spaces (most of them, anyway) with pencil, so I could keep track. Dave may still prefer to stick a copy on there, and I'll make sure he has one that's the right size, but meanwhile, I have it directly on the wood.

Next comes the drilling, then sawing...

Well... I think that's about enough rambling for today. Next up is the carving. I hope you'll check in on us again very soon! Meanwhile, click on the donate button at the right, and follow the instructions to make your donation to Americymru's West Coast Eisteddfod to get your chances at winning this spoon!