Whimsical Wood Blog Pages

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This blog features the current woodcraft, Art and Graphic work of David Stanley.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Work Holding Bench-Hook and Board

Using palm tools while holding the work in the other hand is very much my preferred working method. However after starting a few carving projects that seemed to call for  heavier cutting and also re-discovering some larger carving tools I had acquired earlier I constructed some work holding aids that would  help with that work.

I have also experimented with using a lighter weight board version, without the bench hook cleats and using it in the hand with palm tools in the usual way or clamped to a small table for very light mallet work  A common and useful method for holding small pieces of relief carving is gluing them to a flat board with a paper joint. However I wanted something that would enable frequent quick release and re-attachment.

The board has a grid of evenly spaced holes that accept screws to position cams that hold the work in place. These cams hold firmly and safely and palm tools can be used while holding the board in the other hand.  However unless you do intend to clamp the board down to a rigid bench, and use a mallet or conventional carving tools using both hands, then I can't see much advantage over totally hand-held.

The bench hook version with a few added cleats and fences also holds the work well using the cams and on a bench top it would do the job for two handed or mallet work.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carving Work Station

Before posting step-by-step progress on the several projects I have started. I thought I would begin with my not-so-new-anymore, work-space and later, the clutter of tools that have now encrusted this work-space. I have stayed with the lap-bench idea that I have been happily using for some time now. The overall size of the bench has been increased proportionately all round to gain more work clutter space.

The lap-bench now consists of a torsion box with the part circle cut-out in the centre, the same as before. A bench peg has been added to the centre, as in a jeweller's bench, so that my hand fretsaw and piercing saw can be used when needed. The use of a torsion box construction keeps the weight down and the extra thickness makes for a useful storage opening at each side.

The carving-tool-holding, arc-shaped box at the back, is pierced with openings to hold various carving tools and more holes have been gradually added to suit needs. The front of this tool box/rack is fitted with perspex to allow the tool profiles to be seen — Yes I know.., but it might be a useful idea for someone who agrees with the 'less is more' principle. This is the one paradox that just doesn't work for me. Not with tools, materials, projects, interests or in design! I wish I could add 'useable space' to that list but that would be no paradox just simple contradiction.

The use of this type of bench suits my needs and most usual carving methods very well. Most of my carving is Welsh lovespoons  and other miniature carving work. These projects are first cut to shape with a scroll saw and band saw and then carved with palm tools and knives. With this carving method the work is held in one, protectively-gloved hand and the carving tool is used in the other. The principles involved working this way relate closely to conventional carving but that would take quite a bit of explanation, which I will leave to another time.

One of the great benefits of this set-up is, I can do the bulk of the work with this very portable bench, seated in an arm chair, with the company of family, through the after-dinner hours of television. The addition of an old towel attached under the bench and at the sides, plus being held up at the front with an around-the-neck clip-on strap, collects chips and can fold forward over the work on the bench top at the end of the session. 

A second towel can also be used to cover the whole set-up and when tied up in a parcel, with a length of light rope, the whole lot can be carried away and can easily be transported, as-is, on the back seat of a car for club attendances and shows.

When I am working with this lap-bench at home I can place it on a small folding table drawn up close to the chair. Or if the bench peg is removed, sit the bench across the arms of the armchair. When at a club or other event it is possible to get by with just a chair with the bench across the lap. A second chair or small table is best though. 'Less is more' people could do perfectly well with a smaller version of the bench and just the chair.

For convenient lighting when at home, a folding LED light wedges nicely in place at he side, providing a raking light to carve by. More about this 'painting by shadow' aspect of carving later. That pretty much wraps-up the carving station set-up. I don't do much conventional bench carving with conventional carving tools but I have begun to venture into this a little and have experimented with ways of incorporating these methods with the current set-up, more about this next time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Re-starting Blog

It hasn't Been my intention to discontinue this blog but here it is dormant for a long time now. So I will throw a few recent and not so recent projects on here just to prime things up a bit in my own mind and see if I can provide something useful. 

I have a few projects that I can post about in the near future where I can show incremental stages of their development, my internal thoughts about the why and how of doing them and their varying successes and failures along the way. I have also just published a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/whimsicalwoodart but I have no idea how it all works yet.

Welsh lovespoons will probably remain the main subject on this blog but I will be working through a number of diverse projects; other carvings, small decorative clocks, automata and some graphic works.

First a double sided carving of a dragon set on an oak mirror stand enabling the viewing of both sides. The dragon carving sits loosely on a peg enabling it to be picked up and turned. It is titled: The Desolation of Smug with an Ozymandias/Hobbit reference. The Dragon is carved from pittosporum, an Australian native timber and finished with polyurethane and wax.

The Dragon is perched on a gold hoard.

The dragon is a fossil and the gold has been taken.

 The carving began as a smug looking dragon.

And the desolation side was drawn directly on the block and then carved.

The polyurethane and wax finish has proved to be an economical one in every sense except physical effort. Just one very thinned down coat of polyurethane then the waxing, often in a one sitting process. It seems durable enough for the purpose and enhances the timber with no visible coating.

I will outline the whole process in detail when I reach that stage in the next full described carving project.

Here is the latest Welsh lovespoon carving. It is a panel style lovespoon showing elements of the James family crest, a celtic knot heart, a kentia palm leaf and a daffodil. This lovespoon is carved from rock maple and finished with polyurethane and wax.

And one from last year, a more complex lovespoon carved from New South Wales Rosewood and finished with polyurethane and wax.

Finally a coloured pencil drawing on grey mount board from the same image earlier used for a pyrography work. I am planning on more coloured pencil drawing in the future but I'm still experimenting with this medium.