Thursday, June 12, 2008

Simple Carved Design

Rather than leave a smooth face on the wedge of the tusk tenon joint on the sawbuck table, I decided to jazz it up a bit with a carved pattern. The design is very small, only 1.125" in diameter.

A bench hook, a piece of scrapwood, and a nail kept the wedge from moving while I carved the design.

Chip carvers would reach for a carving knife to make this pattern, but I fare better with lettercarving techniques. I used a straight chisel and a gouge with a #3 sweep and made exactly the same cuts I use in lettercarving (here & here). The only difference is I angled the tools at a steeper pitch. A 20º angle just seemed too shallow.

The gouge made all of the concave cuts: the outside wall of the circle and the petal shapes. And the chisel made the other cuts: the inside wall of the circle, which is convex, and the triangles.

To make the triangles, just slide the corner of your chisel into the outer edge of each of the 3 walls, keeping your chisel at an angle, around 60º, and push it down to the middle of the triangle—the point at which all three walls meet.

Finally, a chisel and block plane were used to chamfer the sharp edges of the wedge.

You can see in the close-up that the final design is far from perfect, in fact, my gouge slipped outside the circle a few times. Hopefully no one will inspect it that closely, but if they do, I'll just tell them I was trying to be authentic!


Geemoney said...


You are on fire lately! "Mistakes" and all, I can't wait to see the final table.

Thanks for taking the time to share the information about the process.

Shazza said... are your own worst critic m'dear. Looks damn good to me!

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks guys!

Vic Hubbard said...

That is very sweet. I had to look twice to see where your gouge had slipped.

Anonymous said...


Sweet! It looks wonderful!!!

Looking at the enlarged image of the "slip", it sure appears to me that the cuts *are* indeed part of the total design ;-) ! I simply follow the first line, tracing an imaginary line to the top vee, and BINGO!, it IS a part of the overall design.

How did you do the pattern? Did you transfer it using good ol' fashioned carbon paper? Or did you simply draw it by hand? I am guessing the latter... :-)

Woodfired! said...

A very nice detail Kari!

Anonymous said...

VC - A really nice touch. Is the design going to be done on both sides, and do you plan to do anything special to bring out the carving when you go to finish the piece?

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Anteakhuntr. The carving will be on both sides of the wedge. I plan to use a BLO/wax finish, but nothing to enhance the carving. It will look a little darker, though, with the BLO.

Anonymous said...

All of the above applies to my comment. It's the suttle things that make the piece memerable.
Keep up the great posts.

Anonymous said...


I'm just discovering your blog and have read several of your recent entries. I'll have to dig back through your archives, too.

Very interesting design on the Sawbuck table that you are building. I also like the detail of the carving that you're doing on the tenon wedge. Very nice!

Just thought I'd stop by and say hello. Keep up the great work!

The Craftsman's Path

Kari Hultman said...

Thank you for stopping by, Mark! I'll be sure to check out your blog, too.

Anonymous said...


I have to admit that I have been lurking out on your site for some time now and I am just getting around to putting up some comments. Having just recently started my own blog I can see how important it is to know that someone is listening and the discussions after the post are half the fun. Anyway, I absolutely love this post. I have been toying with the idea of tackling some carving lately and this just put it into gear. I am going on vacation in a few weeks and I think I will take along some pieces of basswodd or something and practice a little. Great work!


Kari Hultman said...

Shannon, this is an easy design to start with if you're just getting into carving. Sounds like a great vacation to me---practicing woodcarving techniques!

Tyo said...

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