LumberJocks

Horned Owl Carving #1: Working the blank, getting a feel for the tools

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 01-11-2010 07:05 AM 3500 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Interesting story on how I ended up at lumberjocks. I told it once but I will give it a brief retelling at it is somewhat relevant to the current project I am working on.

I won a dremel a couple months ago through facebook. One of the fellow “fans” of the Dremel facebook community is a talented carver named Jordan Straker. Jordan and I exchanged a few messages and he encouraged me to join this community (God bless you Jordan for doing so!). I am a big fan of Jordan and I let him know this on a pretty regular basis. But the one thing that he will always come back around to is my own work. I get busy with things and I don’t really showcase much of what I work on here and that probably could be taken as a slight to all you wonderful people who regularly put yourself out there, sharing your successes, fears, struggles, and growth. For this, I do apologize and will try to be more conscientious in the future.

Current project – power carving a horned owl. A couple years ago, I helped my uncle out by cutting down a dead birch tree in his yard. Being a wood hoarder and one that hates to see wood put to waste, I salvaged some of tree and made some wood blocks out of them. It was a small tree so I didn’t parse the heartwood, it wouldn’t do much to try to make any kind of boards out of them. I just cut out a couple blocks and kept a pile of logs for whatever might come out of it. One piece in particular looked like it could make an interesting carving and so I let it speak to me, the way wood sometimes will, and it seems to be telling me it wants to be a small horned owl.

Carving has always interested me but I always felt a little awkward when I held on to chisels and dremels. Now that I have worked some machines for a couple years, I came back to the tools of the trade and was kind of surprised at how comfortable everything felt in my hand. And since Dremel was so kind as to give me a tool, would be kind of a shame to waste it. I recently purchased a Stylus, which I will use for the detail work, but right now I am working on the blank which requires my free dremel and a hogging bit.

I really don’t have any layout lines or a full idea of how the thing will even come out. I cut out an owl shape on the bandsaw and right now I am just getting a feel for the bit on wood. I have a couple owl pictures I am looking at. I am not going for full lifelike, just something that is detailed enough for people to say “Oh, its an owl!” rather than “Ummmm, lovely penguin!.” I want it to convey something about the owl, give a feeling of owlishness but, at the same time, have the rustic charm of some intermediate woodworker getting his chops on his new Dremel :)

So after rounding, hogging and gouging at high speeds, and then some time spent shaping and smoothing with the same bit (kind of cool how a bit that can grind the crap out of a piece of wood can also give the same surface a smooth and pleasant feel), this is the front view of the bird and the sideview.

So now the work is started and I will give you folks the whole process, good, bad, or hideous :)

Thanks all for reading,

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.



5 comments so far

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MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3628 days


#1 posted 01-11-2010 12:38 PM

that first pix (the front view) – looks like an owl!!
excellent!!!
And you did this all with a Dremel?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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David Craig

2136 posts in 2576 days


#2 posted 01-11-2010 03:30 PM

Thanks for the comment Debbie. I made a blank with the bandsaw, that at least eliminates an excessive amount of grinding. Now it is rounding it over and shaping it and giving it the 3d feel. Biggest hurdle for me in the beginning was trying to understand the use of all these bits. I tried online resources but couldn’t really find good details on what bits did what. I did pick up a book on bird carving by Lori Corbett which offered much insight into bit use. Right now I am using the high speed cutter which can make mince meat out of your stock if not careful, but am getting a feel for roughing and shaping and how the bit will respond to various speeds and how the dremel is held. I keep moving around the carving, never staying too long at any one spot and working the piece as a whole.

I read comments by a sculptor once who described carving and sculpting as merely removing the material that is not needed because everything in the carving is already there. I couldn’t visualize the statement at first and I truthfully thought it was one of those profoundities that sounded cool but had no real practical bearing. Now I am beginning to understand the comments. Carving is a process of removal and if you visualize the piece and work on removing the wood that is in the way, it seems to work better than thinking of it in terms of making a piece and trying to make the wood do what you want.

Thanks for reading. I will update the blog of my progress.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3628 days


#3 posted 01-11-2010 03:33 PM

I have a Dremel and don’t use it much (love it when I do use it) ... my biggest problem was exactly what you said—which bit to use for what.

to get started (with anything) I like a good “step 1 .. do this”.. once I get the hang of it then creativity takes over and off I go.
I haven’t found the good “step 1 do this” tutorial and so my Dremel use is waiting.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2136 posts in 2576 days


#4 posted 01-11-2010 03:47 PM

Well I can’t help you much with the tutorial, it would be the blind leading the blind :) But if you feel it might be beneficial, I can update the blogs with bits used and the process involved. This is all discovery for me and all a little scary as well as exhilarating but it might help someone to at least see what tools were used in the experiment. I didn’t think about that. I just assume everyone out here already knows what they are doing and I am just providing comic relief :) Just half joking on the last part. Everyone here is very supportive, but it can be intimidating when you look out here and see some of the projects. And all those talented newbies don’t help with their “This is my first project and I built a living room set….” ;)

Thanks Debbie for the feedback. You provided me with a direction for the posts.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3628 days


#5 posted 01-11-2010 05:35 PM

it would definitely be beneficial.

also—not that you fall into this category but I/we learn just as much from “don’t copy this mistake” or “these are my trial and error efforts” as we do from expert walk-throughs.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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