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Captcha
06-15-2010, 04:14 AM
I want to have a character who works with wood. I'd like him to be a craftsman, but also an artist.

In terms of craftsmanship, I'd like him to make most of his money from custom furniture making. He's working in an area where a lot of rich people have summer homes, so I'd like his work to be a little folksy, but still really good quality, the sort of thing that could become family heirlooms. What are some things that would show that he does good work, doesn't just churn out crap? I'm thinking of 'perfectly matched dovetail joints,' or things like that.

In terms of art, I'd like him to have a sideline in producing things like those found here (http://www.artscolony.on.ca/Galleries/ArtwoodBowls/ArtwoodGalleryFramePage.htm). Can anyone tell me what tools would be used to make these items? (I'm thinking lathe? maybe?) And roughly what would the process be, for, say, one of the bowls? How does the artist get that incredibly high sheen on the wood? (This isn't a main point of the story, I'd just like the character to be working on things as we go).

Thanks very much for any help!

Paul
06-15-2010, 04:16 AM
Bowl = wood turning (a lathe)
Wood carving = a wooden mallet (circular) and special chisels
The wood-carving thing is much more interesting, has a history (look up Grinley Gibbons), has antique aspects, can involve french polishing etc

Captcha
06-15-2010, 04:23 AM
Bowl = wood turning (a lathe)
Wood carving = a wooden mallet (circular) and special chisels
The wood-carving thing is much more interesting, has a history (look up Grinley Gibbons), has antique aspects, can involve french polishing etc

Were you able to have a look at that website? Can you tell by looking whether the items were carved or turned?

ETA: I've seen things that were like the bowls on that website, but instead of being perfectly round, they followed the shape of the exterior of the wood - so there was an interesting contrast, between the incredible smoothness of the inside of the shape, and the rough bark on the exterior. Does that sound like something that would require the carving tools, or would that still likely have been done with a lathe?

Hallen
06-15-2010, 06:16 AM
My suggestion would be to go out to a site like this http://www.woodcraft.com/Category/1002266/Carving-Tool-Sets-and-Kits.aspx
and browse around. Gouges, v parting tools, chisels, vice, etc are all shown on there for carving. They have a wide selection of basic hand wood working tools.

blackrose602
06-15-2010, 06:50 AM
Have a look at some online episodes of The New Yankee Workshop (http://www.newyankee.com/online.php). The show ran for 21 seasons on PBS, until it was killed by the economic crisis last year. Norm Abram is a master woodworker who uses mostly traditional tools, augmented by modern tools, to create reproductions of all kinds of antique furniture. Really fascinating guy, and super easy to follow.

Captcha
06-15-2010, 02:20 PM
excellent suggestions, guys. Thanks!

Maryn
06-15-2010, 05:03 PM
Depending on where you live, you may be able to talk to the makers of such art bowls. We have one with multiple lines of turquoise replacing some of the grain, purchased at a local arts street festival five years ago or so. The guy working the booth was the artist, and he was open to conversation so long as it didn't preclude potential sales. Many artists whose work is done by hand sit at the back of the booth and carve (or stitch, or sketch, etc.) so you might even see it in progress.

Alas, I'm not finding his business card, so I can't direct you to a website or anything. I remember he had a broad drawknife (http://www.woodcraft.com/Category/1002270/Drawknives.aspx) a good seven or eight inches across, with two wooden handles, and he'd remove a layer of wood so thin it curled.

Secondary thought: my city (which isn't huge or anything) has a WoodCraft (http://www.woodcraft.com/stores/) store. Maybe yours does, too. Our son used to do small wood carvings, and whenever we went it to buy him a hand tool, we got into conversations with customers or employees eager to talk about wood crafting tools and methods. Many of the customers were retired guys eager to talk to somebody about something they loved and were good at.

Maryn, whose son picked up some good pointers

Kathie Freeman
06-15-2010, 07:00 PM
'perfectly matched dovetail joints,'
He'll need a utility knife to mark the cut, a narrow bladed saw, preferably one that cuts on the pull stroke Japanese style, and then a very sharp chisel to finish.


How does the artist get that incredibly high sheen on the wood?
Grab a handful of sawdust and rub it against the wood as it turns on the lathe.

cscarlet
06-15-2010, 08:01 PM
We had a world champion wood carver come and carve a tiki in our backyard last year. It was so cool to see him work. It took him three full days (he did it out of a tree/stump), and he used:

First cuts: Chain saw (general shape) - Day 1 and Day 2
Second cuts: Chisel and mallet (details) - Day 2 and Day 3
Third stage: He used a blowtorch to burn in "depth" and shadows to the carving - Day 3

Obviously more intricate designs would take longer, and the tools might be different (since my tree was stationary it was obvious he didn't need a vice or anything to keep it in place)... but that should give you some ideas from a real-world experience. :)

sunandshadow
06-15-2010, 08:20 PM
A lathe is used for anything with radial symmetry (i.e. round). The most common lathe products are chair and table legs and rungs, posts for handrails, walking sticks and canes, and bowls/plates.

A dremmel tool is used for power carving, not usually final work but roughing-out a sculpture. This would not be used by a 'traditional craftsman', only by a modern woodworker. The traditional craftsman would use a mallet and chisel, a carving knife, and possibly a drill to do the same work.

Details and smoothing are done with a detail knife, small files, and sandpaper/emerypaper. A traditional craftsman might use a handful of loose sand rather than sandpaper.

If you really want to get high tech there are computer-controlled carving machines that can turn a block of wood into a shape described in a CAD program.

A band saw is used for cutting boards or plywood, possibly into sculptural shapes

Lamination is gluing two or more flat pieces of wood together to make a thicker piece. Decorative lamination alternates colors of wood to make stripes.

Joints are used mainly in carpentry, joining two pieces of wood at a 90 or 45 degree angle to create a structure (furniture or architecture). There are several different types of joints.

A kiln is used for drying raw wood collected from trees. It has to be dried slowly so it doesn't crack. Basswood is a preferred wood for sculptural carving. Soapstone is a stone but because it is so soft it can be carved much like wood, so you may see a carver working in both. You may also see someone carving wax, then using a lost-wax casting progress to convert their carving to metal, which might then be combined with wood or stone.

Varnish is used for adding color to wood, this also serves to hide joints and laminations.

Lacquer can be used to cover wood with an opaque plastic-like colored surface (no wood grain will be visible). Lacquerware may also involve gilding or muralwork for color contrast.

Wax is commonly used to polish wood, but alternatively Resin or polyurethane is a clear coat of plastic-like material which can be added to wood to protect it. Problems with yellowing are common.

WriteKnight
06-15-2010, 09:39 PM
For a look at some amazing custom wood products on sale in a local shop

http://www.madeinpescadero.com/

Look at the 'furniture' section, and you'll see some amazingly beautiful work by local craftsmen. Simple and elegant 'crafstman' style furniture and astonishing sculptural details like the sofa table with the wooden 'scarf' draped over it. I love looking at this stuff.

Kathie Freeman
06-16-2010, 07:38 PM
he didn't need a vice or anything to keep it in place
I tremble to think what kind of vice (as opposed to vise) one would use to keep wood in place for carving.

Ambri
06-21-2010, 11:11 PM
My dad has been a woodworker for as long as I've been alive (and probably longer, lol). He's always had a band saw, for smaller cutting jobs, a big table saw for bigger jobs, with a big exposed blade, the kind that almost cut James Bond in two in some movie, a lathe for turning wood into bowls, vases, and other smooth/ curved shapes, lots of handsaws, chisels, hammers, as well as old tools from his grand-dad, like a hand plane, to shave little bits of wood off a surface, and a hand-powered drill, which I think I inherited, along with a set of old chisels, when I expressed an interest in wood carving.

I would suggest you might find new or old issues of a magazine called Fine Woodworking, which will show lovely, glossy pictures of finished projects, and explain all the steps involved in making these items--mostly fine furniture and stuff like that. If you have specific woodworking questions, I could pass them along to him, and see if he's interested in providing answers.

kjarva
06-21-2010, 11:30 PM
You could have him do little hand carvings out of balsa wood, which he whittles with a pen knife in his spare time. Perhaps to give to close friends or family as gifts?

sunandshadow
06-21-2010, 11:49 PM
You could have him do little hand carvings out of balsa wood, which he whittles with a pen knife in his spare time. Perhaps to give to close friends or family as gifts?
Balsa wood is actually not good for carving. It's really light, so it's used for model planes and boats, but it has a coarse grain and is fragile, which means when you try to carve it you mostly just end up breaking it. For hand carving you want a soft, fine-grained wood which doesn't have a lot of knots. Basswood is considered an ideal carving wood.

kjarva
06-21-2010, 11:59 PM
You learn something new every day! ;) I had no idea, I just thought balsa wood because of the model planes

StephanieFox
06-22-2010, 08:08 PM
Take a look at this. It might help.

http://www.woodturner.org/