Week 11, 16 April 2012


Amber Bailey

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

With the second term of my first year at university coming to an end, it was time to take a trip back to Sussex for the Easter holidays. With a well-equipped workshop down the garden, there was no excuse not to be doing any woodwork whilst at home.

During an annual spring clean, my aunt came across a rather unusual but sadly tatty spirit level that she thought I might be interested in. Having bought it down for me whilst on a visit, I was straight into the garage rummaging through various pots of polishes and removers.

The first job was to remove the existing finish and various stains using fine wire wool and Liberon Wax & Polish Remover. Clear Black Bison polish was then applied to the wood with fine wire wool. To clean up the brass plate, wire wool was once again used and a metal polish applied with a soft cloth. A quick and easy job with satisfying results!


Thanks to the short course at Bucks that I took in woodcarving, I have taken a real interest in the subject, however unfortunately this has also meant I have recently been forking out a small fortune on carving and sharpening equipment! To try and save a few pennies, rather than spend a lot of money on a chisel strop I decided to have a go at making my own. My father conveniently already owned some untreated leather and had a nice mahogany off-cut that I was able to use - all I had to do was put it together.

I simply glued the leather (untreated side up) to both sides of the mahogany using PVA. This then needed to be clamped between two pieces of scrap to stop the leather from curling up during the drying process. When dry, I cut away the excess leather using a Stanley knife and then - voila! All my chisels have now endured it at the end of the sharpening process, and given the accidental deep cut on my hand, I can only assume it is working well!


Before going home for the holidays, I spent the last few days of term finishing off the Tudor Rose that I made during the woodcarving short course. This meant I was able to take it home where it now takes pride of place on the mantelpiece in our sitting room. It is rather aptly positioned near the medieval knight that my father carved – like father like daughter!

I have just started my next woodcarving project; I rather ambitiously decided to try my hand at carving a head. The timber I am using is a hefty block of tiger oak – and it is certainly not the easiest wood to carve. I may be at it for quite a while! Fingers crossed that it all goes well!

This is my very last blog and I shall leave Sam to round off the end of the series next week. It has been an absolute pleasure to share my experiences and I hope it has given an insight into what goes on behind the doors of the workshops at Bucks New University, and more of an idea of the work of the National School of Furniture. Hopefully this isn’t the last that you’ll hear of me!


Images, from top to bottom:

1. The spirit level in the condition that I received it (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

2. The stains and finish on the wood were removed using a polish remover and wire wool (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

3. The brass after a cleaning up and a wax polish re-applied (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

4. The bare essentials needed to create the chisel strop (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

5. An even layer of PVA was used on both surfaces to secure the leather (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

6. The strop after gluing (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

7. Clamped nice and secure! (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

8. The finished strop after the excess leather was removed (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

9/ The Tudor Rose in situ on the mantelpiece beside the knight carving by my father (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

10. The drawings for my next woodcarving project; carbon paper was used to transfer the image onto the wood (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

11. Slowly carving away the excess wood… (PHOTOGRAPH BY AMBER BAILEY)

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