(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
We had a couple days of frost during the week, it got down to almost 50 degrees, which is well below the 56 degree frost temperatures down here. When it starts getting cold, you almost have to sleep under a blow torch to stay warm. Today it was 66 degrees early morning 77 in the afternoon. Mixing between some small clouds linked together wandering to the north west, to some almost pregnant clouds herding their babies. Light breeze, some sun. This Weather report is Brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
This week is the celebration of my starting wood working back in January 17, 2000. This year it is on Thursday, while in 2000, it was on Saturday. I considered faking the start of the new year today (I had adjusted the days of the week earlier this year due to an error and starting it next week, but then decided to give in and do it today.
Before that year, I was writing stories and building scale houses for a model railroad layout. Dad kept asking me to take up carving, and I had no interest at the time. One day I decided to try it. I borrowed one of his knives and a piece of wood and carved a man with his arms down his side. The brim of the hat was supposed to go all the way around, but kept breaking. It ended up looking like Charles De Gaulle. The Famous French leader near that time but with the brim of his hat on an angle. The brim kept breaking on me
Dad had gone through a period in learning to carve where you could see the shape of the block of wood he started with, as he was doing more like relief carving on all surfaces rather than shaping. I had made the decision that I would, instead, dig deep into the wood with my carvings. I still have my first five carvings.
Dad did a carving style popular at the time where you have tall cowboys, their legs straight and arms at the side. The head was made separately and stuck on, turned to a different directions. I wanted movement from the beginning, legs bent, arms crossing the body, in almost any position except straight.
Dad had a really good way to teach me carving. I would finish a carving and he would pat me on the head and tell me to do another, is the best way to describe it. Other than having his stuff as examples and showing me how to make my own knives, Dad really never taught me how to carve. “A self made man is a prime example of unskilled labor”.
It was not until the last couple years of his life that I saw how good a carver he really was. He had taken classes from some of the best carvers in the world at different symposiums around the country.
He made some clay platters with 3D faces of my nieces and nephews. He had planned on using them to go by for some carvings, though that never happened. The faces were instantly recognizable as to who they were. On the other hand, with my fairy carvings, I as lucky they looked female.
In 2003, I got a lathe and that took up a lot of my carving time. I would turn for many weeks, then carve for many weeks. Each time I swapped, it felt like I was returning to an old friend. In later years, I have done more turning that carving, though I did a series of vases with faces carved into them, usually using the dremmel for that carving. Most years I have done carved Christmas ornaments.
In my carvings, I concentrated on the knife. I avoided chisels because you had to have so many of them to do anything and know when to use each one. I figured if I learned the knife, I could master it, and would fully understand when it just would not do the job. I did find that in some cases a chisel would solve a few of my carving problems.
Dad was in a carving club for retirees and one guy would come in with a different, brand new, chisel every time they met. I concluded that they had the belief that if they had the right chisel, it would allow the figure to come out of the wood, rather than the actual act of carving creating the figure. Many of the people there were there more for the social atmosphere than to do the work or learning. That is also why I decided to concentrate on the knife.
I have also used the dremmel or other power for much of my carvings. I am not a purist, where “all work must be by hand” or “Only use specific tools.” I worked from the idea that whatever gets the job done is to be used, though my first thought is the knife.
Wood working has been a hobby that has been satisfying, even when something was not going right. I am glad I learned how to do it.
We wore coats when we went for breakfast but did not need them when we left.
We had to go to a memorial for the husband of Mom’s friend. I was not able to do too much or get really dirty.
During the week, I went to Harbor Freight (they are having a sidewalk sale and for some reason, they did not want to sell the sidewalk, but instead the stuff they had setting out on it), Home Depot twice, and I found a Sears store that was open. That was a real shock. It was the oldest one in the county. Between them, I got a little spendy, getting things I thought I needed.
My first project was to distribute the tools and materials I got to where they needed. I got some belt sander belts at Sears. I was not sure the size I had so I got two different sizes. One size fit and I had four packs for that one. I put one on the sander, and took out the two belts that had unglued, and put it the rest of the sanding belts, squishing them into the box with the sander. The other sanding strips will be used in another way, Later.
I had picked up a metal cutoff saw blade for the angle grinder. I mounted it onto the grinder, then put the grinder into the vice. Turning it on, I ran the bowl gouge I was modifying last week, under it. I first cut straight down a short amount, then angled the bowl gouge on an angle so the blade rounded the bottom. I worked it up and down the flute, correcting little problems. I am not doing this carefully, but by hand and eye. I got it down to where it is close to what it is supposed to be. I then sharpened the end. I can see that making it exactly round on the bottom does make a big difference on the edge. A little ridge in the flute will cause it the metal to extend out at that point. I had caused a slight groove in the end, which I was trying to avoid touching and that caused the edge to go in at that point where the edge was sharpened.
I am working mostly with trying to replicate the factory flute at this point, but I know I will have to take time and likely use a round file in a drill to clean up the shape of the flute and smooth it out..
I am thinking that if I started out with the cut off saw from the beginning, it would not have taken near as long and likely be much better a job. By angling the work to the blade, you can get a rounded shape at the bottom, though it might be oval. I mounted the bowl gouge on the lathe and sanded the outside of the turning rod as it spun so it looks cleaner and hides any tiny mistakes like where the grinding wheels I was using slipped and touched the outside.. I also touched it to the grinder to sharpen the edge.
Periodically I see videos where guys will lay a board down on the table saw and push the board at an angle to the blade. This causes a rounded cove in the wood where the blade passed. One can change the angle the wood goes through the blade to make the cove wider or narrower. This was the thought I was using on rounding the bottom of the flute.
I then put everything back where they needed to be as I had to get ready to go to the meeting. When we got back, I decided it was best not to get all dirty all over again.
I have a turning club meeting Thursday. I intend to bring the bowl gouge and the two finished balloon ornaments (possibly a few other ornaments) to the turning club meeting. I will concentrate on the ornaments , getting them carved painted and ready to show. I might, though, stick a piece of wood on the lathe and test out the bowl gouge to see how it does.
I will see what I do tomorrow.
Year 19, Week 01, Day One (week 991)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
Mom’s plants were watered in the early morning. 66 degrees early morning, 77 late afternoon. Mostly blue skies with some clouds around the edges. This Weather report is Brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
Going to Mom’s I found three yard sales. One had mostly glassware of an ornate kind. I have no need for that. Another had mostly clothing but I did buy a Carafe for coffee. It was not the design I like but it will do the job of keeping coffee hot.
One yard sale had a lot of stuff, but most I could not take home. She had a knee high cabinet that had shelving on the doors. It is good for display. It also will lock. I decided I had a use for it and got it. Now I have to find a place for it.
After Lunch, I set up out back and day lighted the space between the basket and the balloon on the two balloons I made last week. I later painted them.
I also carved on one of the steam engines I made a few weeks back. I got it to where I can call it finished. I later painted it also.
I mounted the bowl I had started on the lathe a couple weeks ago. I turned the base better, making a tenon the chuck could hold. I then flipped it around and started hollowing it out. I was using the bowl gouge I was working on. It still needs some work. Grinding the inside with a round file would solve most of the problems. I swapped to a new bowl gouge and was hollowing the inside. There was a snap and the bowl came out of the chuck. When I looked, the tenon I had made on it broke.
Wood has strength in different directions. If you grab a piece of wood from the end, it is like holding a bunch of straws glued together. They will hold strong. If you grab that glued bundle of straws by the side, you can force a separation between them. I was holding onto side grain, where the grain of the wood was going across the face of the chuck. Something I did caused too much pressure on the wood and the tenon separated.
While I did not accomplish too much this weekend, I got the bowl gouge close to where it needs to be, and I have three ornaments partially done for the turning club.
I will finish the ornaments during the week, and show them off at the meeting. I will have to see what happens next weekend.
My first four carvings in order left to right.
my very first carving
this was a cedar board
I knelt down to model for this, other than getting the arms wrong, it was really good. I also learned I don't like sanding from this one.
The original flute of the bowl gouge.
notice how short it is.
partially done extended flute of the bowl gouge. needs lots of work
a carving at the church the memorial was held at.
the men are part of the base wood. the arc of the covenant is made up a of a lot of different pieces.
The flute is a little better.
this was the relocatable vice I was using.
It has a thumb screw on the bottom side to clamp on the table.
the bowl gouge, gingerbread house and tea pot from last Christmas, the steam engine and balloons for next Christmas. there is also the metal cutting disk and grind stone I used.