Method of Construction for Carving Wood
When we do the wood carving to make the ornaments, there are some guidance which we need to know or learn so we can get the shape which we want. In this article we will learn the method on how to carve for a better result.
Ornament carvers, when making delicate carvings such as wall-light brackets, sometimes laminate sections with the grain of each piece running in the opposite direction to that of its neighbor. When glued up, these pieces support and strengthen each other.
A method of making toys in eight sections for the sake of strength, the grain in every case running the length of the thinner parts of the horse, the ears, legs, tail and body are all in separate parts. This type of toy is usually cut out on a fret saw, glued up and then carved by a knife in the hand. I have used a similar method of construction in making a carved horse in mahogany for a restaurant sign. The pattern of the pieces will vary according to the design.
In many woods, such as jarrah, which grow under very dry conditions, the grain is often wavy but straight in direction. This type of grain in no way impedes carving. Woods such as lignum vitae, have an interlocking grain and turn well on a lathe but can be difficult for an inexperienced carver. In carving lime wood, apple, beech, cherry, sycamore, pine, oak, and mahogany, you will not find any serious difficulty as far as grain is concerned, provided you remember the strength and the weakness of wood described in this chapter.
Carving a log In the previous article I have discussed the seasoning of wood and the desirability of using dry timber. There is a great risk of splitting if this latter rule is not observed.
However, I do not overlook the fact that you may have a log of wood in your garden just asking to be carved. If you are willing to take a chance on its opening up then by all means go ahead. Cracks are not necessarily disastrous and can be filled.
I have heard of carvings splitting completely in half but you may not be so unlucky. First bring the log under cover and jack it up on wood blocks in a cool dry place. If you can leave it for some months, do so. Many say that a log should be given a year's seasoning for every inch of its diameter.
I have heard a timber merchant say that the center of a large log is never seasoned. It is not easy to make rules about this as so much depends on the type of wood and the humidity of the atmosphere. In any case you should not hasten the process of drying by exposing the log to direct heat. If you paint the cut ends it will help to prevent splitting. If a log is kept in the dark, in for instance the cellar, and then suddenly exposed to the light, splitting will often take place. I know this from painful experience.
In medieval times wood carvings were often made from the trunks of trees that had been hollowed out from the back. This enabled the wood to contract and expand. If, therefore, you hollow out the center of the log it will help. This is not easy but you can bore a few holes up through the center with the auger. This may prevent the star shakes. In the oak carving by W. Soukop (PLATE XVI, page 56 ff.), the figure is built in sections and the center of the wood removed.
A carving in a large log of wood, such as elm, may develop cracks, but the wood is very tough and the whole mass holds together. When carving just to please your self experiment with any wood available, remembering that most of the fruit woods are excellent for carving. Do not, therefore, turn your apple or cherry tree into logs for the fire.
We need to know how to handle the logs so they still can be use for carving. From this article we learned that never dry the woods under the heat if it was stored in a dark room for quite long time.
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