Apr 30, 2009

David Western's Lovespoon Blog: "Staying Inside the Vines"

Reprinted with permission from http://davidwestern.blogspot.com, © 2009 David Western, all rights reserved.

This week I'll climb down off the soapbox for a while and will get some carving done on the vine section of the Eisteddfod spoon.

I'm going to carve the back of this spoon quite extensively so that it is pretty much the equal of the front. I think that especially with vine and Celtic knot patterns, the look of the spoon is vastly improved when both sides are done. Now because there is an over and under pattern to the vine, I am going over it carefully with a pencil to mark out the pattern before I commit to the knife. It's REALLY easy to get things out of order on the back, especially since you have to think about what is happening on the front and then do the exact opposite. It's always a lot easier to erase a pencil line than to have to repair a errant cut, so the couple of minutes I spend with the graphite is time well spent!

With the lines marked and double-checked, I go at it with the straight knife and with the small chisel. My cuts are shallow at first but get progressively deeper once I know the pattern is all cut correctly.

With the over under pattern cut away and the sharp edges of the vines eased with some chamfer cuts, it is time to round the edges more vigourously. I use cloth backed abrasive paper for this job, BUT I never touch sandpaper to the project until I am fully confident that I won't need to do any more knife carving. All abrasive papers leave behind microscopic bits of abrasive grit which gets lodged in the wood being sanded. When the knife blade passes through this buried grit, its razor sharp edge is quickly dulled and ruined.

With the rounding completed, I use progressively finer grades of abrasive paper to take out any scratches and leave the surface almost finished. Because the cloth backed abrasive has been largely used across the wood's grain, often times lots of scratches will remain which have to be taken out for the piece to look attractive. Never use a coarser grade than 150 cloth backed abrasive on your project or you will be left with deep scratches that are murder to remove. With paper abrasives, follow the direction of the grain and work up to 220 grade for a nice silky, smooth finish.

The vines and back of the bowls are now nearly completed. I will do a final shaping and sanding immediately prior to finishing, but for now this will be good.

Speaking of being good...please be good by donating a couple of dollars to the Left Coast Eisteddfod and helping the idea of a fabulous Welsh cultural event become a reality. All donations, big or small are gratefully received and all enter you in the running to win this lovespoon when it is finished and presented on August 22 in Portland Oregon.

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