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Alphabet Part I

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Chris Knight

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Still working on the carving practice, I was pleased to get some things sorted out, like the serifs on letters. This set of letters is the easiest in the alphabet to carve because there are no round shapes nor any cuts angled across the grain which introduces "short grain chipping" problems and the like.

However, I am pleased with the way they came out - now all I have to do is change my name to Henry Theodore Leonard Frederick Edwards and I shall be on a roll!

 

Alf

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Chris, er, Henry, very classy :D You wouldn't care to let us in on the secrets of the carving cognoscenti and reveal what chisels/gouges/magic spells you used to produce those lovely letters? And yes, it is just 'cos I is nosey... :D

Cheers, Alf
 

Chris Knight

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Alf

Thanks for asking Here is the low-down. In addition to the steel tools, I had to make the carving table (that sits on my bench and prevents my back cracking up). Also the mallet which weighs about 2 lbs. It is made from laminated Goncalo Alves and ash, turned on my Myford.
 

Alf

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Damn. I knew there was something I forgot to add. Viz: pictures not necessary... :roll: :cry: :wink:

Cool, thanks. Any particular reason for fishtails over straight chisels? Or just what you have? And not an infinitely adjustable carving table? Tsk, I'm shocked. :shock:

Cheers, Alf

P.S. You do realise you've now prodded the dormant mallet maker in me don't you? That could be hard to forgive...

P.P.S. Don't you just love a task that requires making at least two other tools to accomplish it? :lol:
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

Sorry about the picture :lol:

Fishtail gouges are more delicate, you can see better what you are doing with the all-important corners of the gouge. I did think about an adjustable table but wanted to get on with the carving so put the clever stuff on hold for a while. I guess that is the penalty for impatience!

The syndrome of needing to make something to make something is what I call "Hole in my Bucket" as in:-

There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.
There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

Go fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry.
Go fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.

With what shall I fix it, dear Liza ... with what?
With a straw, dear Henry ... with a straw

But the straw is too long, ...
Well cut it, ...

With what shall I cut it, ...
With an axe, ...

But the axe is too dull, ...
Well sharpen it, ...

On what shall I sharpen it, ...
With a stone, ...

The stone is too dry, ...
Well wet it, ...

With what shall I wet it, ...
Try water, ...

In what shall I fetch it, ...
With a bucket, ...

But there's a hole in my bucket.
 

tx2man

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Hi Chris,
I'm itrigued to know if you mark everything up
with ( engravers?) marking gauges before 'diggin them potatoes'
as it were :D ie: all the verticals?
Then, do you make all the thin cuts,vertical and hori., before
flanging out to full width?

TX
 
A

Anonymous

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Nice job WH do you have to draw out letters free hand or do you have a template ?
 

Chris Knight

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TX and AP,

Thanks. I drew the outline of the letters in pencil, setting them out with ruler and square, basically copying the shapes from Chris Pye's book on letter carving, modified slightly to match the chisel widths I have. I did not bother with drawing the serifs as these are easily shaped by eye as you cut them.

For the sake of efficiency all like cuts are made first, thus I started with vertical "stop" cuts in the centre of each upright, followed by all angled (60 degree) cuts to make all the right hand and then then all the left hand sides of the trenches.

Stop cuts are then made to prevent horizontal cuts propagating along the grain beyond the letter boundaries then all the horizontal trenches are made (half the depth and half the width of the vertical trenches in this Roman script). Finally the serifs are put in with curving cuts using the small fishtail gouge.

Alf,
making the mallet proved to be very satisfying - it is the first one I have made and I shall definitely make a couple more to get different weights and to try and improve the balance through modified handle design. I think I shall also experiment with laminating heads from scrap. I used three rather nice pieces of wood cut from a single board to make this head and it was a shame to see how much wood went to waste before the head was the proper size. Actually it is a smaller diameter than I would have liked but on my metal working lathe I could not swing a larger diameter.
 

Ian Dalziel

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Nice Job CHRIS

I'm sure it wont be long until you master the curves, i found and still find curves difficult in letters, i managed to do some ball and claw feet with a fair bit of success a few years back i think i'll have to get the dust blown off the chisels and have a go again. Its been a while but you have inspired me to do something that i havent done for a long time.
proffesional carving has been a dying trade and there are probobly only handfulls of them left in the UK and its great to see new people having a go.
keep up the great work and keep us posted on your progress

regards
Ian
 
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Anonymous

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Very nice work Chris.

I have been thinking of learning to carve lettering for some of the boxes I've been turning out lately; sort of personalise them. I got hold of a FWW video from a carving mate but haven't found time to watch it yet :oops:

I had to add it to the list :cry:

The mallet looks gorgeous and I wish I had made my own instead of using Axminster yet again!

Looking forward to the curved letters.
 

Alf

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Chris,

A hole in my bucket... Yep, definitely agree with that one. :roll:

You may remember I went through a mallet-making phase a while ago. Fortunately I managed to get the worst out of my system by making miniature ones, otherwise I wouldn't be able to move for them. :lol: I was looking into laminated styles too, simply to maximise the amount of endgrain available to take the brunt. 'Course I can't remember what conclusion I came to in the end as to the best way to go about it, and I never got round to it myself. :oops: On the other hand there's a stump of an old apple tree round the back of the workshop (out of the ground, you understand) which I was musing on whether it'd make a decent one-piece mallet. Oh deary me, here I go again...

Cheers, Alf
 

Chris Knight

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Ian, Tony,

Thanks for your nice words. I am finding carving very enjoyable and because it is all handwork, apart from preparing a lump of wood at the beginning, I can listen to the radio, or have the window open and hear the birds singing which makes a nice change from screaming machines. I reckon you should both get into it (back into it in Ian's case). Ball and claw feet were something I wanted to do (and still want to do) and indeed was one of the reasons I went on the course, I fancy making one of those fancy Federal style highboys or secretaries and there is a lot of carving in those.
 
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