Blue Tit archive

Monday 15 September 2008

Bill Prickett carves this wonderful project for beginners

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Like a lot of people, we tend to put food out for the birds that visit the garden. Not only does this help the birds out, but also it gives my wife and I a focus of interest while gazing out the window during coffee breaks. After some years of this, one discovers that different birds have considerably different characters: wrens can appear quite furtive and nervous; robins are brash and strident; and one of the only birds that dares to dislodge the thuggish greenfinch once it has taken control of the sunflower seed dispenser, is the tiny blue tit. One has to admire the fact that the blue tit seems blissfully unaware of its physical shortcomings, so, when I decided to produce a project for carvers at any level of experience to follow, I thought immediately of the blue tit.

Timber

The first step in producing the carved blue tit of this project is to select the wood that you will be carving. I decided to use a piece of lime that was an offcut of a previous project. With most of the birds I have carved in the past that are similar to this one, I have opted for a sanded finish. This time, for a change, I decided to leave the sanding altogether and go for a purely tooled finish. With this method, although greater care is required for the tooling, many hours of sanding can be saved. Besides, it is good practice.

Size matters

Seeing as a major feature of the blue tit is its colour, and that I was striving for a natural wood finish (not painted), I decided to take some liberties with the coloured markings and actually carve them in, as shown on the template. Another feature of the blue tit - especially when in a particularly perky mood - is a small crest on top of the head, which I added as well.

Usually when carving birds, I try and produce a carving which approximates the actual size of the subject. Much of the diagnostic identification of birds is based on their size, therefore I shall be keeping the blue tit about life-size at 90mm (3 1/2in) in length and 50mm (2in) in height. Adjust the side view template according to the size that you decide to carve it - re-size the other views to the same percentage - then cut it out carefully with a scalpel. Position this side view on your chosen piece of wood in such a way that the grain of the wood runs along the tail - this will help strengthen this potential weak spot.

Finishing

To seal the wood and bring a sheen to the completed project, I opted for an oil and wax finish. Liberally brush on some Liberon Finishing Oil, dab off the excess with kitchen roll, and then leave overnight to dry. Next, sparingly brush on a suitably coloured wax - I used Liberon Black Bison Fine Paste Wax, neutral colour - depending on the type of wood that you chose at the start. Leave to dry for 20-30 minutes then buff to a soft sheen with a clean rag or rotary brush set in a hand drill.


Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

bill prickett , Birds , Blue Tit

"I decided to use a piece of lime that was an offcut of a previous project"

Top Tips

- When possible, leave enough wood at the base of the sculpture to provide a 'handle' to aid in securing the piece while carving. This is carefully removed towards the end of the process
- When working in fine detail, you need to be able to see what you are doing. Rig up ample lighting and if you require optical assistance - use it
- Make sure that your tools remain razor sharp through frequent stropping on leather with a metal cleaning cream such as Auto Solve rubbed into it, or a powered polishing mop

Diagrams Click an image to enlarge