Turning Archive 2007


john lucas
>I know many of you want to add carving to your skills. You look at what the carvers do and say that's way too hard for me. Let me assure you it's not. Sure carving quickly and cleanly with hand tools and no sandpaper clean up is well beyond most of us. However there are a lot of ways to add carving to your turnings without being that skilled.

I've done a lot of carving over the years. Mostly duplicating pieces on old furniture or clocks. My first award in woodworking was partly carved. I carved full size baby legs on a clock I called the Biological clock. I use a wood rasp, jig saw, coping saw, jewelers saw, my dremel and sandpaper glued to sticks. Was I skilled. Not really, just patient. I bought a baby doll at walmart and simply copied the legs. You should have seen the looks I got when I lifted their skirts to look at their legs. I had to buy the right ones. I'm probably on a Walmart video on how to pick out a pervert.

For years I used the Dremel with various bits to carve. You learn to carve down hill with the grain. It reduces the sanding. You pick these tips up as you go. If you really like this try using a Flex shaft machine. If you want really delicate work try one of the higher speed carving tools or even a really high speed tool like the Dental grinders. With a steady hand and patience you can do an awful lot of work. Start with shallow carvings because it takes less patience. Just find a subject and try to copy it. It might be a detail on a piece of ceramics or glass. Just have fun, take your time and see if you can add that to your turning.

It's surprising what you can do with a wood rasp. Get a good one. A cabinet makers rasp from Highland Hardware is a good place to start. You can do spirals on spindles, carve flutes in vessels and change the shape of the lips on bowls. It's fun. Plan on a lot of sanding but it goes fast if you start with coarse enough paper. You can wrap or glue sandpaper to sticks to make it easier if the shapes allow it.

To learn to use carving chisels try green wood. It's much easier to work with. don't pick piece of dry cherry or hickory as your first carving. It will frustrate you. I learned by making a Windsor chair. carving the seat gave me lots of time learn to work with the grain. Start with just one tool. A small gouge is a good choice. See what all you can do with this one tool. Then get a V tool. The V tool is the hardest for me to sharpen so read a good book on sharpening this tool. Sharpening carving tools is extremely important. It's like the first time you really got your bowl gouge sharp. There is a huge difference in how much control you have. I bought a 5 piece palm carving set from General tools. This is a cheap set but suprisingly decent in edge holding ability. I still use 3 o the tools in this set even though I have a bunch of higher quality tools.

The easiest way to learn is to copy something. Pick a piece that you think you might be able to do with the tools you have on hand. This might be a flat chisel and a wood rasp, or Dremel and sanding sticks. It doesn't matter. You can do something with almost anything in the shop if you really want to do it.

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