Carving on turned work

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Mark Baker

Monday, July 1, 2019

I often hear about what carvers are making and doing. Most say they are not doing as much as they would like, but admit to not focusing on one thing at a time and having many projects on the go at various stages of completion.

Most carvers admit to also pursuing other crafts and hobbies, such as bird-watching, calligraphy, drawing, pottery, photography and so on and some also venture into other woodworking disciplines like cabinetry, marquetry and turning. It is the turning that I am going to pick up on here.

Many carvers know other woodworkers and turners and working together has led to some wonderful and exciting collaborations, be that carving on furniture, mirrors and frames, or cabinetry turning and so on. One aspect that keeps being talked about and asked for in this magazine is the occasional article to be included for turning which is then carved. I have included one article in this issue, but, whenever people ask for something, invariably it is not quite as simple as it sounds.

How simple or complex do you want the articles? I will invariably have to show how the item is turned, sometimes I may be able to show the plan of the turning first and then only show the carving aspects, but it will involve a bit of thought concerning what to feature, so do let me know what type of things you would like to see.

The debate of whether tuning is only a powered form of carving is one that makes me chuckle and vexes many people. Of course it is. OK, that is only me saying that – you can think what you like. But the process of turning by default has limits due to working with rotating wood on the axis of the lathe which, in turn, limits the range of shapes that can be created solely on the lathe. Don't get me wrong. Turning, like carving, is a wonderful aspect of woodworking to explore, giving scope to do even more than hand carving alone. But, like power carving, it can be messy and dusty and also requires space to have a lathe and such like. Oh, I forgot to mention more tools and equipment too. Once the turning is done then comes the enhancement by using another method to alter, add and create a dif ferent aspect on or with the work.

So whether you create the turned aspect yourself or find friend with a lathe and collaborate, don't get caught out by having any old turned piece and thinking what can be done with it. Like carving, you have to have a game plan and work out what it is you want to do and then create the turning of the right size, shape, wall thickness, moisture content and of the right type of timber to be able to create that carved enhancement you wish to achieve. So don't think you can wing it like we do when a plan doesn't work out as intended.

It takes careful consideration and thinking to get the best from melding the two disciplines. For the actual carving on the turnings, the knife, hand or power carving tools you already have are ideal to start exploring carving on turned work. But, be careful. We all know trying new things can be quite addictive and you might just find you need some new tools.

Let me know what you have been making and what you would like to see in the magazine.

Have fun, Mark
To get in touch, please email me: markb@thegmcgroup.com

 

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