After making a bunch of joint stools last year while shooting stuff for the book, http://www.lostartpress.com/Make_a_Joint_Stool_from_a_Tree_p/bk-majsfat.htm I now have a bunch of carving to do, partly to prepare for my April workshop at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School. There we will be making a box, but a big chunk of that session will be carving patterns. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/bible-box-not-w-peter-follansb/
Here’s one I worked on the other day; a long rail for a joined chest. Its layout is a series of overlapping circles. I use a V-tool to outline the whole thing before cutting any details in it.
It’s best to make all cuts in one direction, then shift your body, tool grip, etc and make a series of cuts that way, and so on & on. This gets two things – speed & consistency. The cuts go from the outside of one circle to the inside of the adjacent circle; like the S-scrolls that I carve all over the place.
After all the outlining is done, then I use a very shallow gouge to bevel these circles. I use the tool with its bevel up to cut down the outside of one circle, from 12:00 o’clock to 9:00. Then on the adjacent circle this line becomes the inside from 3:00 o’clock to 6:00. So go all down the line, making these two cuts. On the inside version, the tool is flipped over onto its bevel. Then shift around and cut the other direction(s).
I also make a little cut right where one band flows underneath the other; this beveling adds to the illusion that these bands are woven one under the other…or at least it mimics this effect.
Now, it’s time to make various patterns within the circles. I took a small, deeply curved gouge & struck it straight down into the midst, to incise a central circle. You have to be careful not to blow this out altogether – I find it helps to tilt the gouge inward a bit, to lessen the wedging effect of the tool’s bevel into the wood. Just eyeball the placement, and a few strikes jogging around will get you a full circle. Then take the shallow gouge up again, and pare down towards the incised cuts to relieve some background. This is preparatory to making a dished shape, from out near the circle’s perimeter to the “button” left at the center. By cutting right at the incised circle, you reduce the chance of wrecking the whole thing when dishing the shape. This is one of the most timid carving moves I make – it’s so easy to blow out that central button.
Now keep working backwards, out towards the perimeter, and paring towards the center. This makes the dishing deeper and fuller.
Then it’s just a matter of cutting details in it. Here, I used a large medium sweep gouge to strike straight down into the dish – to incise curved shapes all around the center. Think of it as a pinwheel on its way to being a flower.
Then tilt the gouge’s handle down, and come from behind the incised mark, and remove a chip. Proceed all around the circle.
Now some details are then struck with similar methods, but smaller tools. Snip off the ends of the resulting pinwheel/flower shapes with a very small gouge.
Then use a shallow gouge with its bevel up, to round over the remaining flat button at the center.
I then used the large medium gouge to strike a single incised line within the remaining petals.
Here’s a variation; I made the same sort of dished shape, then chopping into around vertical and horizontal centerlines, instead of a series of radiating arcs…otherwise, many of the same cuts to form the shape.
Here’s a box with a similar design; we’ll tackle stuff like this at the Woodwright’s School, so if you’re inclined, follow the link above & get down to Pittsboro, NC. It won’t be 100-degrees yet! I hope…