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Thread: In progress: Carved mantel

  1. #1

    In progress: Carved mantel

    Here's a carving project I'm working on for a client right now - a mantel piece. There's still a lot to do on it but it's getting to where I can see the end.

    The "band" under the molding strip they want "rustic" so the tool marks will be left. They also want to "round over" many of the sharp edges to make it look "old" but I'll let them do the distressing. It goes to a finisher when I complete the carving and he's going to make it look old.

    I'll post again when I get more done.

    Mike
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    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #2
    Good looking mantle Mike. How do you lay out your repeating pattern?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Nelson978 View Post
    Good looking mantle Mike. How do you lay out your repeating pattern?
    The client gave me the basic pattern but it was not scaled to the length of the mantel. So first, I laid in the corner blocks (a special carving will go there), then measured what was left. The pattern is about 2.25" wide so I took a set of dividers and set them to 2.25" and stepped off the length - of course it didn't come out even. I adjusted the dividers and stepped off again. By the third try, I had it pretty close. Then I scanned their pattern and scaled its width to the size of my dividers (they don't care about the height that much) and printed off a bunch of them. I marked out the "squares" using the dividers to step off the distances. Then I glued one pattern into each square. When I carved, I just carved through the paper. When I finished carving, I sanded the paper off. That gave me a good repetition of the pattern.

    The horizontal lines are laid in with a router (actually, a trim router and a Dremel). At the top, a 1/16" groove is cut (maybe a 16th deep - or a little more), then the pattern is carved down at the top so the top line stands out.

    At the bottom, balls will be carved along the lower line, where you see the pencil marks now.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
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    Careful Mike...lets not show up the laser guys.

    Sure they can do it 50 times faster but cut the power and hand them a chisel
    Dewey

    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"


  5. #5
    I did the four corner blocks and I've started on the row of balls. Carving the balls is really tedious - there's about 125 of them to carve. I have about 100 to go.

    Mike
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    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
    Great job. Can't wait to see the final matel. Always enjoy your demos.

  7. #7
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    Mike,
    I assume this is going to be the next addition to your outstanding website???
    Dewey

    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"


  8. #8
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    Very nice. Can't do that with my lathe. ---

  9. #9
    Very Nice work Mike... just a query.. why not u make the egg shaped on lathe... cut it in half and fix it on mantle???....

  10. #10
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    Nice job Mike, are any parts of the carving chip carved. I see a few lines which merge at a very sharp angle.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Khalid Khattak View Post
    Very Nice work Mike... just a query.. why not u make the egg shaped on lathe... cut it in half and fix it on mantle???....
    I thought about that. I could have cut the bottom at a 45* angle and made the round buttons on the lathe and glue them on as you suggest. But I don't know what would be more work. Making that many buttons on the lathe is a lot of work. What would be really nice would be if the buttons could be purchased from some commercial place for a reasonable price. But also, the client wants "hand done". The buttons would be too perfect (at least completely round) and it would be obvious that it's not really carved. When you carve something, you can't make them exactly the same and that's what they want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zahid Naqvi View Post
    Nice job Mike, are any parts of the carving chip carved. I see a few lines which merge at a very sharp angle.
    No, everything is done with standard carving gouges. I do have a couple of really small (smallest about 1mm) front bent gouges which I use to clean out the really small places. Getting the ground flat and clean is really tough, though - and it's only somewhat clean and somewhat flat on the carving.

    The real enemy is the tedium of doing the same thing over and over. There's 43 of the molding elements and they all need to look (pretty much) the same and there's about 125 balls on the bottom edge. So the challenge is to do the same thing many times and make it look the same. In many ways , it's much easier to do individual things because if you make a mistake, you can fix it and move on, and no one ever knows. But you can't make a big mistake on one element because there's others close by that the viewer can compare to - in fact, the eye does that naturally.

    When I do a repeated pattern, like this one, I do them all at the same time - that is, if I'm making an outlining cut (a stab cut) I make it on each one down the line. Then the next cut all down the line, etc. So they all get completed at the same time. On the balls, I do about 25-30 at a time just because that's as far as I can reach from one sitting position (and I sit to do those).

    Also, it's easy to break part of the carving and it then has to be repaired. White glue is the best for that - it's not dark like Titebond III and it stays "soft" so you can carve it when dry and it doesn't dull your tool.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 12-18-2008 at 5:49 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    Very nice- did you mention what kind of wood it is?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Schultz View Post
    Very nice- did you mention what kind of wood it is?
    It's basswood. The builder talked to me before building it and I told him to make it of good quality basswood - with very straight grain and no knots.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  14. #14
    Very nice work Mike. Does it get boring or hard to maintain your focus while you do that many? Do you do work from one end to the other, or do you mix them up to avoid creating a pattern where you get better at them as you go along?
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John Schreiber View Post
    Very nice work Mike. Does it get boring or hard to maintain your focus while you do that many? Do you do work from one end to the other, or do you mix them up to avoid creating a pattern where you get better at them as you go along?
    I work from one end to the other, but I carve all of them at the same time. I make a cut on the first one, then move to the second one and make the same cut, etc. The balls are a bit different - I do about 30 at a time because that's how many I can reach without moving my stool.

    I enjoy carving very much so it's not boring. In fact, I sort of get into a groove and hate to break my concentration, even when I need to sharpen my gouge. It seems to take me five minutes or so to get back into the same focus when I re-start. It's kind of hard to describe what it feels like but everything else just disappears and I'm completely focused on the carving.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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