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Wood Carving Tips and Techniques

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Old 02-16-2012, 08:02 PM
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Default Carving Handles and Scabbards

Hello, I have in mind to carve 2 sword scabbards and handles and will have to practice my relief carving. my question is,
while setting in how do you guys get a nice, even, level surface throught the entire peice? my main concern is those small spots with not much space between them that are real small.

Also what kind of vises/clamp set-up do you guys use to hold your peices down?
And could anyone point me to good celtic patterns?

Example Of What Im Talking About I want to copy the first one with the dark stain, the second one for a example of what im talking about with the nice, level surface.

Jake Powning's swords.

Jake Powning's swords.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:08 PM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

I like the link you posted. His work is incredible.
Practice, practice and more of the same is how you get smooth lines, as well as very sharp tools.
The books available with excellent Celtic knotwork can be as easy as Dover Publishing black and white images of Celtic, Norse, Nordic or Viking designs, or can flourish in complexity as Lora S. Irish's Celtic patterns book, or George Bain's book on Celtic knot construction..excellent resource.
Amazon.com: Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction (Dover Art Instruction) (9780486229232): George Bain, Art Instruction: Books

Good luck with it. That sounds like an awesome project.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

I am not really sure what you want to know but I will take a stab at it. The scabbard will need to be carved in two halves to allow the sword. I assume you want to know how to make the two halves symmetrical. I would do that this way select the planks you wish to make into scabbards. Layout the profile of the blade and use a router to let half of the thickness of the sword in each plank. Now using minimal glue and fasteners join the two halves. Now cut the profile you want and carve your whatever on the scabbards. You don’t have to use the router you could hand carve or gain or let the blade pocket. I have made more than a few over the years.
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:24 PM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

To make the scabbard i have no issue. The issue is in carving the detail work (the carvings themselves) as the detail work would have to be a low relief.

In this low relief my difficulty would be in achieving a level surface (the backdrop)while setting in the design. the main problem is how to reach a depth of lets say 3/16 throughout the entire backdrop without any mounds of rough areas, especially in the corners.
The step i am talking about can be seen in this picture. Where all of the wood is removed. the guy did it with a router it looks like but i will be using hand tools.

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Also i very nicely carved handel, you can see were he beings to take the background out, this is the process i am describing

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Old 02-16-2012, 11:54 PM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

You may want to Google "how to carve a saya"(Japanese sword scabbard) and pick through some of the info that comes up.Getting the mating surfaces flat is one of the most important thing.A flat surface to plane on is important(i have a cheap woodworking bench that is not flat,no matter how carefull i was i couldnt get the saya halves flat)finally planed an oak 4x4 and checked it on the suface plate at work,dovetailed a stop block in one end,hang enough of it over the end of my bench,put the scabbard half against the stop.At the other end i take a piece of wood,thinner than the scabbard,push it up against the other end of the scabbard and clamp--tap the end of the piece of wood against the scabbard,this leaves the entire surface of the scabbard half open to be planed and the pocket cut.
....Oh,and the tools,http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_0122-1.jpg
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Old 02-17-2012, 09:10 AM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

let me re-phrase myself.
Making a basic scabbard is no problem, 2 boards each with half the depth of the sword glued up together.
the problem comes afterwords, carving the designs, the artwork of the scabbard. On the first post look at the second link of Jake Powing, this is an example of what in talking about. also with the link of the second post. it shows the guy carving a guard. The design is drawn and he begins setting in the background.
My Question is how does one make sure the entire background of the relief carving is level and how do you get all of those really tight spots where many of the images are very close to each other?

Look at the Instructables Link on my second post on this topic.
This is exactly what i am talking about.
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:38 AM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

Those appear to be all just carefully carved and sanded.... I doubt a router was used on the outside part. Probably owns a few dog leg and bent chisels and skews for those small areas. For larger areas and some other places, different sanding attachments for a flex tool can make those areas nice and smooth, letting you focus the handwork and sanding on the detailed areas, such ast he corners and such. Here are some of the attachments I'm talking about Say Hello to my leetle friends.....my favorite sanding accessories for carving! - by mpounders @ LumberJocks.com ~ woodworking community .

That is the method I used on some of these carvings that are shallow relief. And you can't beat Susan Irish's patterns http://classiccarvingpatterns.com/
Hope this helps some!
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Old 02-17-2012, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: Carving Handles and Scabbards

I'll guess that you need a depth gauge, set at, say, 3/16". My throw-away ones are a scrap of dimension wood for a cross-piece with a hole drilled to accept a bit of bamboo BBQ skewer. Glue it up, Make certain the length of the bamboo is accurate = done. If the relief is too shallow the wooden cross bar will rock back and forth, it won't "sit down."
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carving, corners, handle, relief, scabbard

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