Monday, May 5, 2014

Harp Badge for Boat School

In April, I formed a woodcarving club - Limerick Woodcarvers. We meet in the classroom of the AK Ilen boat-building school in Roxboro in Limerick. The boat-building school has recently completed 4 traditional river Shannon gandelows (flat-bottomed river rowing-boats) and took them to Venice in Italy for a race. On request, I made harp-shaped badges for the stern of the boats, based on the logo of the AK Ilen organisation. They are each about 4 inches long, made of lime wood, and coated in Danish oil. The badges were finished just in time for the trip to Italy. I used two of the swirl-holes to pierce the badges to take wood-screws, for attaching to the gandelows.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hurling Ball (Sliotar)

This is a wooden model of the ball used in the Irish (Gaelic) game of Hurling. The leather ball, or sliotar (pronounced shlitther) is hit with a wooden stick (a hurley). I carved this wooden copy of the ball from bog oak, i.e. very old wood recovered from a field. It was part of the deal, that my colleague Billy gave me a large chunk of bog oak in return for my carving a sliotar for him. After I used a saw and chisels to make the rough sphere, I carved the final shape with knives and palm tools. I sanded it then finished it with varnish.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Flat-plane Fisherman

I followed Gene Messer's YouTube videos to carve this character from a block of basswood 1.5 x 1.5 x 4.75 inches, using a Mike Shipley knife and a V-tool. (
It was a lot of fun. Thanks Gene.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Creation of Adam - bosting in

Bosting In - carving the hands down to different levels:
So I've started bosting in (as master-carver Chris Pye would call it) - I'm lowering different sections of the wood down towards the levels or planes that they will have towards the end. For example I need to leave the thumbs high, but I need to cut the middle fingers down to a lower level.
The old lime-wood is dry and tends to fray and splinter, even after I sharp the tool I'm using at the time, so before I wrap the hands in plastic for the night, I lightly spray a mist of water over them to add moisture.
The tools in the picture are: Pfeil (Swiss Made) gouges, a Robert Sorby gouge, an Allen Goodman knife and a Helvie knife (coloured handle).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creation of Adam - setting in

Setting In - keeping it square: 
I have been setting in the sides of the hands. That means I've carved the edges of the hands to make a 90 degree angle with the top surface (and with the base). The tool I used to guide me is an adjustable combination square, because my try square is too long to fit without hitting against the base.
Then when I start carving downwards (bosting in), the hands will not lose their outer shape.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creation of Adam - more grounding out

Continuing to ground out, using one of my favourite large gouges - a Robert Sorby 38mm type D straight gouge.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Creation of Adam - grounding out

Plasticine model.
I want to carve hands and I like Michelangelo's Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome, so I plan to carve a high relief version in wood of just the hands and wrists of Adam and God.  I made a plasticine (like play-dough) model of the hands on a laminated reduced-size printout, so that I could study where the high points are going to be.  I cut a 57 x 23 x 9 cm (22.5 x 9 x 3.5 inches) block of lime wood and I used carbon paper to trace print-outs of the hands onto the wood. From the near side of the wood, I started to ground out the background with a Pfeil (Swiss Made) gouge that is both deep (sweep no. 9) and wide (20 mm). On the far side of the hands ("above" them), I tried using Forstner drill bits to drill out much of the waste. I got this drilling idea in a Chris Pye book (Elements of Woodcarving).
Grounding out the background

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Finished Trout

Here he is, suitably mounted on a wooden chopping board, textured to represent flowing water. Both background and fish are varnished in high gloss as though they are permanently wet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Trout earns his Spots

I used a simple woodburner to create the spots on top of the fish. Then I coated everywhere with Danish oil. The top and the eye area were darkened with teak oil mixed with rosewood-coloured wood preservative. The belly was brightened with sunflower oil tainted with white oil-paint. I'll let it dry for a few days before lacquering.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Trout Coming Along

It can be hard to find time time to carve, what with work, chores and family life. I keep chipping away at the trout. Trying to bring this project to completion reminds me of the maths problem about limits, if a flea jumps along a ruler and can only jump half the remaining distance each time, the flea is coming ever closer to the end but just never gets there. (Although my theory is that he can just reach out and pull himself that last couple of micrometers to the finishing line.)
In the meantime, I've used a gouge and a veiner to imprint the impression of scales on the trout's skin. I used veiners and a V-tool to put some bones into the fins. I painted the eyes yellow (too yellow maybe) and used black inside the drilled-out pupils. I placed a piece of waste clear rigid plastic food packaging on a breadboard and point a small gouge onto it, then I rotated the plastic 360 degrees until the gouge had cut out a perfect little plastic disc. I glued the disc to the trout's pupil with clear varnish. Now let's work on that tongue .....