Year 16, Week 01, Day One (week 835)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
66 degrees early morning 81 in the afternoon. Morning fog heavier than I remember driving in. Blue sky as soon as the fog lifted. Clouds started building up and a shock wave of showers in late afternoon (around three) that lasted about fifteen minutes, with light showers for about an hour after. Light breeze during the day but strong gusts as the storm raced through. This past week it got below 60 degrees but not much more. Starting tonight, we are supposed to get lows below our 56 degree frost temperature. The area should be kind of nice with a thick coat of frost on everything.... This is the wettest year in my memory. Fall is usually the start of our dry season and normally at this time, the news is filled with panicked messages from officials about how we are running low on water. This has been a year where there was no dry period to speak of. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
This is the sixteenth anniversary of the start of my wood working.
My dad had retired when he was 58 years of age and quickly got involved in lots of different kinds of projects. He quickly started complaining that he needed to retire.... A next door neighbor was an art teacher for the school system and challenged him to learn how to carve.
A couple years before Jan 2000, my dad was doing wood carving and kept asking me to start doing it with him. I did not have any interest at the time. I was coming up each Saturday and writing stories, or creating buildings from scratch for my model railroad. He kept asking me to start wood carving. Finally, Saturday, January 17, 2000, I borrowed one of his knives, and a stick of wood and carved a figure straight out of my head without any instruction. I still have that piece and am not ashamed of it. My dad had an early reputation of not digging deep enough into the wood with his carvings as you could still see the square block in the wood. He got out of that quickly as he gained confidence. Even with my first carving, I decided to remove wood and get deep and get complex.
I joke that the way my dad taught me to carve was to pat me on the head and say “good job, do another.” My dad taught me how to sharpen knives, make my own knives. I had his work to copy and lots of opportunity.
He was in his 80s at the time I started carving and I had decided I did not want that “I wish I had said, I wish I had done” kind of feeling and used wood carving to get close to him and spend the time that needed to be spent.
In October 2003, I ended up with a lathe and started learning wood turning and added that to the projects I worked on. During different times of the years, I would concentrate on wood turning, or I would concentrate on wood carving.
Dad had the advantage of being able to get up at dawn and work until dusk on his projects. He made two of each of his major carvings. He would keep the good one and try to sell the lousy one. I tried that once and then realized that I was not working all week long, all day long. I was only working two days a week and just a few hours each day. I had to work on what interested me at the moment, Two of everything was out of the question.
After Dad passed, I kept up the wood working. It was satisfying to come up with results, and it gave me a reason to be with Mom every week. I continued to improve in my work.
Over the years, I have made thousands of Christmas ornaments, trying to make four sets of twelve every year, plus extras when needed. I have made a lot of fairies that would stand about ten to twelve inches tall, but these were never standing. It was a reaction to dad making standing cowboys all the time. I wanted more of a challenge so they were kneeling, sitting, reclining. I wood turned a lot of small vases (a few big ones), bowls, platters, cups goblets. I got into making vases and carving faces or other designs into them. I made platters (plates) with carvings and lettering in them.
I learned that when you make your own tools, you are not afraid to make changes to them, as you know that if you do serious damage, you can repair it, or make a new one. Also you can make your tools exactly the way you like it rather than what some manufacturer thinks it should be made.
Over the years I have had successes, setbacks, and challenges. It has been an excellent hobby when looking back.
When getting ready for this anniversary note, I found a number of mistakes in the title I am using. Somehow, in October I ended up using Year 13 rather than Year 15. Also, I found that my week count, for the year, was off. Out of curiosity, I went to a site that will tell you how many days, weeks, months, there are between two dates and found that my total week count I used was way off. There are 835 weeks between 2000 and 2016. I’ve been using 694 weeks for this date. That is 141 weeks difference!!!! I know some errors came in due to health reasons and miscalculations over the years, but some of that amount of error cannot be accounted for from just that. Thinking back, to the best of my analysis, when I started this diary, I must not have counted weeks where I did nothing in wood working. For clarity, I've decided I am going to go by the actual weeks to the date from now on.
A new Walmart store opened near work this week. I went there Friday evening and was shocked at the size of the store. It quite possibly as big as the Festival Flea market. Pushing a shopping cart, I walked around the perimeter, then up and down the grocery isles on the far side to the front, then went to the back again and then over to the center and to the front there before going back out to my parking space a distance from the building. I felt good when I did that. I also stopped at the dollar store and walked that too.
Friday Night, I suffered leg cramps like I have not had before. I guess I over did it and then some.
The morning drive was in fog. It was so thick that I could not see six to eight street lights ahead of me. They were spaced very close together too. I was shocked when I saw them in daylight as to how close they actually were. I have never driven in that thick a fog. It was already burning off when we headed to a prayer breakfast we were invited to at eight.
I was kind of wary over being on my feet too much because of the leg cramps I had last night. I went out back and, because the weather was so nice, I got the lathe out. I had a Christmas Ornament idea to try out. Mom gave me an angel decoration that was a cone with crochet wings and beads for the head and halo. I’ve wanted to make this since she gave it to me several months ago. I knew the proportions would be different. I am using two by two wood sticks of whitewood and for the same proportions, the angels would be two inches tall.
My band saw has a 12 inch long throat so what I did was to cut a stick of wood I had into five sections. I chose one and mounted it on the lathe. My first job was to knock off the corners of the stick with a bowl gouge. Once it was about round, I decided on the length of the first angle and started shaping it with a bullnosed scraper. Usually, I make the small end at the tail stock. There was a spot where a bug ate into the surface of the stick so to remove that, I made the big end at the tail stock and the small end toward the motor / head stock.
I marked where the ornament would end, and then worked the diameter down in steps. Shaving a little bit at the end, then moving back a little farther and shaved to the narrow end, working my way back farther each time. With each pass, the narrower end had more wood removed to create the slope of the cone.
I sharpened my tool before I started and once near the end of the project. It makes a big difference on how it worked. When it comes to “sharpening” there are different levels the tool is worked. With the grinder, one shapes the tool and the edge. This is often referred to sharpening and many times that is all that is needed. What I did was use a diamond stone to clean up the edge and create a new burr, which was what did the finest cutting with the tool I worked with. That is also sharpening. Now what I did not do was use a steel or a leather to hone the edge, which would straighten out the burr, which is also called sharpening.
I have to re-teach my body how to use the tools properly. When you start out, you use what gives you success rather than what the old masters have discovered through long studies. Those habits are hard to remove. Over the years, I have seen and been told how to use the tools properly and sort of ignored it because I had my methods to do things. Since I lost all my muscle memory for wood turning over the past year or so, so I am re-learning how to do my work and am attempting to apply my long gained knowledge rather than what “worked” before.
With the sharpening of my tools, and my using the tool properly, I almost did not have to sand the angels at all. I just had a tiny bit of tool marks showing that a few moments of 100 grit sanding removed. That was nice.
When I had the first angel done and sanded, I then made a second angel. Then the third and forth. When I started the forth angel, the wood moved in the chuck. I then realized I never cinched the chuck tight. I tightened it and finished the last angel. It is always good to get each one completely finished before you do any others just for this reason. It is hard to make corrections when the work is bouncing around because the wood is now flexible and no longer in the exact same position (experience talking here again). I bandsawed the angels apart, then used the disk sander to flatten the bases and the haloes.
Next time I will use the dremmel to cup in the top of the halo before adding an eye hooks. Usually, I would hollow out angels like this, but since this wood is light, I decided not to. Also, hollowing creates problems when working with flexible pieces that are barely connected together as it is. It would be something I might do if I was making these one at a time, but not grouped in one stick.
I have to decide what kind of wings I should use. I have some white felt as a possible wing material. I will have to give it a thought.
I packed up and headed in. It was long enough on my feet and I was satisfied with some excellent results.
I will have to see what I do tomorrow.
Year 16, Week 01, Day Two (week 835)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
66 degrees early morning, 78 degrees late afternoon. A squall line went by early morning (tornado reports in central and north Florida) and after the following drizzle stopped, the clouds were solid with only slight shade changes of gray. The sky became blue, then large puffs started building again. The wind was strong, knocking things over, blowing hair out of their stays. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
Last night, an idea on how to do the wings for my angles came to me. It was simple and “easy” and would be strong, not subject to breaking.
I went out back and had to clear some equipment from in front of the bandsaw. Quick single cuts can be done from behind the bandsaw by pulling the work through the blade rather than pushing, and did not require a lot of stuff being moved, but I needed to do some complex cuts. Working from behind was not an option.
My idea for the wings was to cut the wing shape in the block of wood, and then cut the wings as slices. I would have the grain of the wood run side to side in the wings. I would then use the sander to create an angle in the thickness and make it a lot thinner and lighter.
My first attempt did not look right, way too narrow. My second attempt at the wings corrected the errors of my first attempt and ended up more like a bow tie. Neither were satisfying looking wings. I decided to try a third time. I went wider than before and the indents shallower.
The bandsaw blade is not absolutely true and square. It might need to be replaced also as it appears to be getting dull. This is an old machine and is showing its age it works so one does not want to replace it, at least just yet. On each, I used the disk sander to clean the surfaces and remove pen marks. The disk sander being round, instead of square, it has some problems in getting the things nice and square where the edge is at.
Satisfied with the results on the third attempt, I marked it and made four slices from the block. The results were far thicker than the wings were supposed to be. I went to the disk sander and sanded an angle in the wings, I created an angle on the outside, then matched that angle on the inside. When I finished them, I decided I had a good day and called it done.
What I have next to do is to clean up the wings with the dremmel and a sanding disk. I won’t put in feathers. The results of that won’t come out good and is unnecessary. I will also use the dremmel to cut in the center of the halos so it will look like a ring rather than a hat. I will cut a notch on the “back” of the angel to give a flat surface for the wings to set in and glue them in place.
I have not decided whether to paint them white, or leave them the wood colored. I have not been satisfied with how the white paint looks, nor how the wood color looks. I will have to give it some thought for a while. Maybe some silver paint will make a difference. Will see when the time comes.
I might make three more sets to have my dozen ornaments. It has been easy so far. Now that I have done it, it should be a lot easier to come up with the pieces as I am not designing it as I am going. That should speed the process.
I do have other ornaments I would like to make. Will see how the upcoming weeks go. I also notice I have blanks for other ornaments I have done in the past years and never finished.
I have loads of projects to work on and even more wood available for future projects. The wood turning club meeting is this week. I am not totally sure I will be able to make it.
I will see what happens next weekend.
starting with the stick and beginning the first cone
First angel done
the four angels. top are two wings stood on end (before the wind could blow them over) to show how I created the angle in them. the ones to the side show wings face down.
On the bottom are my first two attempts at creating wings, not cut into individual wings. They got tossed.