Detail Carving - Useful Techniques

Coming back to the technique of detail, if the part that you are working on calls for fine, sharp work in not too heavy a relief, the outline and the internal planes can best be laid out with a quarter-inch skew chisel. Keep this tool razor sharp for this purpose. Any curved plane can be developed with this tool by either rotating the tool itself about its major axis or by rotating the tool handle about a horizontal axis or a combination of these two motions. This sounds a lot more complicated in words than it is in practice.

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Here again, try trial runs on the practice block. As a matter of fact, I think that, were I to undertake to carve with a new tool, I would familiarize myself with all the possible cuts that I could presumably make with it by making a lot of cuts on the trial blocks. The skew chisel is, perhaps, the most versatile tool in the wood carver's chest. To illustrate this point, a section of rope molding is shown where all the steps that I take to develop this form are shown; the whole, with the exception of the preliminary cuts made with the backsaw, being done with the skew chisel. In this case, I use a half-inch chisel.

An example of contrasting planes, flat and surfaced, are shown in the panel detail of the carved chest. Here all the outline was developed with the skew chisel, the long, bent, half-inch No. 17 gouge being used for the background.

In developing the detail of the wing feathers, shown in Image 58, the parting tool is used to outline each feather; then a straight gouge, one-inch, No. 4 is used to model the surface of each feather so as to make it appear that the adjacent feather overlays the preceding one, as would be the case in actuality. The form is, of course, greatly exaggerated for the purpose of developing the final carving. It is artistic license, if you like. In my work I make no attempt to have my carvings made so as to be an accurate representation of the object I have chosen as my theme. My eagles, for instance, are not ornithologically correct. The carving is only a similitude of the living bird.



Image 56 Detail showing all steps to follow to develop rope molding. They are, left to right, as follows:
1. Lay out guide lines on center of upright edge of stock with dividers and bevel square—¾-inch centers—or same width as stock. 2. Using tenon saw, make cuts across edge, the whole length of piece. 3. Make cuts down face of stock the whole length of stock—each of the successive steps the same. 4. With skew chisel, make diagonal cut to bottom of saw scarf, on edge. 5. Make skew cut opposite #4. 6. Make skew cut on face. 7. Make opposite cut on face. 8. Make skew cut on corners. 9. Make modeling cuts on edge. 10. Make modeling cuts on face. 11. Make very light rolling cuts to finish modeling as desired. It takes about an hour to complete 1 foot.



Two pieces of rope molding. The top section shows the associated molding for a cornice. The lower section shows a variation of the same theme.



An American Eagle. The modeling of the feathers of this carving best illustrates the use of the broad gouge-1 inch, #4-and the parting tool in finish detail carving. This carving measures, across, wing to wing—31 inches; height, 24 inches; length, 36 inches. {Courtesy, U. S. Senator Frederick G. Payne, Waldoboro, Maine)

Should you wish to make a replica of a natural object-for instance, an eagle-it would be necessary to have such a bird as a model. Personally, I can't see keeping a tamed eagle at hand for this purpose; besides, it's against the law here in Maine.


 


 

 

 

 

 

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