Saturday, August 8, 2009

Perfect Light for Carving

Natural light from my south-facing windows clearly shows every facet of a carving and I raced out to my shop today to take advantage of it.

It reminds me of something Harrelson Stanley said in his presentation on Japanese saws at last year's WIA Conference.

He knew a woodworker in Japan who would park his white car in front of his shop window (which did not face the ideal direction for sunlight).

In late afternoon, the sun would reflect off the car and into his shop. He would stop whatever he was doing and move to the bench nearest the window to take advantage of the natural, angled light, and would work on the carving details of his project.

So, if your shop does not have south-facing windows (or north-facing, if you live below the equator), don't despair! Just paint your car white.


Bill Stankus said...

Curious, did you learn carving at the Michael Jackson School of Woodcarving?

The Village Carpenter said...

Why, yes I did, Bill. And that's my PYM (Pretty Young Mitten) I'm using in the photos. hee hee

A.J. Hamler said...

Hmmm.. My shop is in my windowless garage, where my car to date has never set foot, er, tire. Does this mean I have to start bringing the car in now?


Mitchell said...

Great topic, Kari. As a photographer, I spent a lifetime making a living from light and it never ceased to amaze me how little the average person understands it.

Having the unpretentious personality that you do, you probably forgot that people from all over the world are drawn to your blog. As a result, I'd like point out a little clarification that may help a good number of your viewers.

That south light you speak of here is only good if you live above the equator. If you live below, it becomes your north facing windows that give you this slightly defused light.



Torch02 said...

I wish I had a window in my shop. I do find natural light to be the best when working, which is why my garage door is always open when I'm making sawdust.

rgdaniel said...

Just to correct or clarify, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, a north-facing window will provide the diffuse even lighting preferred by artists, whereas a south-facing window will admit direct sunlight and the harsh shadows that come with it, not to mention the UV.

South of the equator, the other way around, of course.

Now usually you won't get direct sunlight right on your workbench all day, so Kari's south-facing windows (like mine) are just dandy for even lighting much of the time.

The Village Carpenter said...

Mitchell, if by "unpretentious", you mean "dopey", then I accept that statement! Oops, yes, only if you're in my part of the globe will south-facing windows work in your favor. Thanks for the clarification. ; )

A.J., perhaps a garage remodeling project is in order??

Torch02, I worked in a grimy, dark basement shop for 12 years, so I feel your pain.

rgdaniel, thanks for clarifying! I count on you guys to correct my boo-boos.

Meg Shoeman said...

It's great that you have good light, Kari. Just wondering: have you ever thought of building a boat? Of course I'm entirely clueless about woodworking but I've always wanted to build a boat. Could you build one using only hand tools? Is that Roy Underhill dude still on TV? I used to watch him all the time but then there was school and I had just three TV channels back then and now I work every Saturday of my cotton picking life. Just curious.

The Village Carpenter said...

Meg, there are lots of schools that teach boat building if you do a google search. Handtools are used in building them, but I don't know if there are schools that teach how to build boats using only handtools. You would need to look around at the sites. I have never built a boat and do not plan to build one, but it would certainly be a challenging and rewarding experience.

Roy is still producing his shows and has also opened a woodworking school in North Carolina. You can watch episodes of his shows online:

Let me know if you have trouble finding a suitable school and I'll help you. :o)