Sunday, May 21, 2017

Carving Wood Mobiles

Our middle daughter asked me to make a mobile for her son, our first grandchild, who will arrive early this summer. At the same time, the Northeastern Woodworkers Association announced a "2x4 Challenge", a competition to make something using primarily a common lumber stud. I had just joined the woodcarving special interest group who primarily worked on birds. Why not, for practice, make a flock of flying geese? 

Nine Completed Geese Ready for Painting

Painting Complete

 Suspending Geese So They Face the Same Direction and Stay Level Required Fancy Thread Work
The stand that mounts on a table and holds the "Vee" required more time to make than carving the birds. During a two hour video I could finish two of them. The curved stand required ripping half a stud into strips and then sanding them thinner and thinner until they bent over an aluminum form without breaking. The upper part has nine layers, increasing to double as many at the base.

A Different Perspective
 One advantage of working with accomplished woodcarvers is their knowledge of tools and where to get them. Or how to make your own tools. Very good carving blades are available from Warren Cutlery Corporation ( I used a variety of 6 shapes (6SBL for $7.25) and three copies of straight blade (22B for $3.79) that I curved for making grooves. These blades come very sharp and are very hard so they hold their edge very well. To bend them they must be red hot and then quenched in oil while hot to make them hard again. 
A Set of Carving Knives With Ebony and Rosewood Handles That Took a Morning to Make

The Beginning of "Isa", the Dog Before Her Hind Legs and Tail Were Added
 Our daughter and family often visit seashores so most of the characters I chose relate to life in the sea. We had to add a beagle so that we can tease this new little one by mistakenly calling an eagle or a seagull a beagle (or vice versa). And the owl is a nod to the book: "Owl Moon", one of our favorites.
Mobile Characters Before Being Sent to Another Daughter for Painting
 Carving legs with talons are too difficult in wood, so I twisted some copper wire together and pulled out digits. These figures are pretty substantial so that they can be unhooked from the mobile and handled or played with. The type of wood and direction of grain insure that appendages don't break easily. The starfish, turtle and seahorse are plywood.
Eagle and Owl with Wire Talons

The Owl Being Held by a Four-year-old, for Scale

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