Monday, July 4, 2011

I Know What You're Thinking

Geez, Kari, why go to the trouble of carving scrolls on the arms of your frame saw? It's just a utilitarian saw!

Here's my answer:

1) The Roubo illustration I'm using for reference shows scrolly arms and I think it looks cool.
2) I've always been fascinated with the volutes on violins and have wondered how they are made.
3) I like to carve.
4) I thought you'd find it interesting.

So, here is the method I came up with to carve these scroll shapes.

First, I found some violin images to use for reference.  The scrolls I'm making aren't as pronounced, but they do have a similar shape.  It seems to me that carving them is akin to raising a panel: you have to lower the background in order for the volute to emerge from the wood.

Next, I carved a slight downward curve toward the end of the arm and stopped at the point where the outside curve of the scroll starts.  Then I defined the shape of the curves within the scroll by making vertical stop cuts with various-sweep gouges.

After that, I used gouges to cut toward the stop cuts. As I moved toward the center of the scroll, the cuts were more shallow which created a ramp that slopes upward toward the middle of the design.

Once the basic ramp shape was established, I rounded over the sharp edges with chisels and gouges. The violin images I used showed ramps that were both rising and scooped out from the outside edges toward center. If you're going to make a bunch of these, you might want to invest in some gouges that will scoop out this area in a couple passes.  I don't have many gouges, so I used what I had.

The height and scoopiness of the scrolls I'm making are much less elaborate and defined compared to violins' volutes. And they're way less smooth and refined.  But, I'm leaving them the way they are.

It is just a frame saw, after all.


Anonymous said...

Terrific task Kari, it looks very nice, I think this kind of details at our tools make them unique pieces

Vic Hubbard said...

I'm always amazed at how easy you make it look. Somewhere on your blog you have your list of carving tool, don't you? I'm gonna need that sooner or later. ;o)

Stephen Shepherd said...


Nice work and an excellent touch to add to any tool.

Luthiers use a back saw to waste away the excess wood, but go about the process much as you have done.


Bob Easton said...

What!? Scrolls without acanthus leaves? Ya can't have one without the other.

Ah ... this is a frame saw, not a firearm!

I once carved a couple of those and understand the shape / effort. Beautiful work!!!

Unknown said...

I love it! Projects like this are where all the learning comes from. These little endeavors are making you such a well rounded woodworker. Nice work!

Greg said...

Nice one, Kari. Your skill on the tools is evident as always ... but the pics also show your skills on the camera and your use of light. As always, an enjoyable and inspiring read (and view).

Jeremy Kriewaldt (MuddleheadedWW) said...

It's just as well there is no competition between woodworkers, or I would never show any of my work for shame of it being compared with yours! A beautiful job, Kari.

John Cashman said...

I come here not only to expand my knowledge of woodworking, but to increase my vocabulary as well. Today I learned scrolly, scoopy, and scoopiness.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Julio. :o)

Vic, I use Lamp brand carving tools from Woodworkers' Supply. They are the best, in my opinion. I don't think I've ever listed the ones I have on my blog, though.

Stephen, I love the way old tools often have some sort of embellishment. It shows how much these tools meant to the craftsmen who made and/or decorated them.

Bob, nice volute! Yours is way nicer than mine. :o)

Mark, I think I like the learning process more than the finished project sometimes.

Thanks, Greg. I use a Canon PowerShot S5IS and a regular old incandescent bulb in a desk lamp. That amber light makes wood glow.

Jeremy, I've met a gazillion other woodworkers who put my work to shame, but I'm not ready to hand in my woodworkers' member card yet. haha

John, thanks again for sending me the articles. :o) said...

Kari, your stuff just gets cooler and cooler. Way to go!

Bubba Squirrel said...

Kari--You might want to watch the 2007-2008 episode of The Woodwright's Shop. Roy Underhill gets violin maker Joe Thrift to explain the process and demonstrate a little. The volute part starts at about the 20:30 mark. Link is: Different method altogether.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Mitchell!

Bubba Squirrel, thanks for the link to the episode. I'll enjoy seeing how someone else carves these. I thought it was pretty easy once I figured out how to do it, but I'm sure there are better methods.

Kari Hultman said...

Ah, I just watched the Roy Underhill video. Love the scraper clean up! Hadn't thought of that. Brilliant.

Eric said...

You are the only woodworker I know that can use the word "scoopiness" in perfect context, and I know exactly what you are conveying.
Your hand work really is something. It's a joy to see you work a project.
Thanks Kari.

mmyjak said...

nice job - I like to do the same to the tools (and jigs) I make (which unfortunately hasn't been much of late, I'm sad to say.) Even if no one else but you looks at it, its still a thing of beauty. Why shouldn't it be embellished? Why not take the time to go that extra step?

We tend to rush through life, having been taught to always take short cuts; don't waist time on non-functional things; to get to the destination as quickly and cheaply as possible. But the real purpose in life is to enjoy the journey. I love your work, Kari - thank you for this waypoint on my journey.

Adam Welker said...

I think form is just as important as function in a handtool. Especially a home made one. Absolutely beaytiful.

Unknown said...

Beautiful, Kari!

Another thought, to address the naysayers: You might be able to apply enough tension to strings on this frame saw.

*Then* It would literally SING! :)

Wonderful craftsmanship!


Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Eric. :o)

mmyjak, very well stated. I'm all for making our workspaces and tools attractive and functional. I know that not everyone agrees with that way of thinking, but we all have different preferences.

Adam, indeed. Why not make our tools functional AND attractive? The two don't need to be separated.

Al, I should give it a try. :D

Chris Adkins said...

I have followed your blog for a while now but had not taken the time to go back to some of you older posts, so I have pretty much caught up this morning. I love the site, your writing, and your work.

I say this often but carving is not my strong point but I do enjoy it, and hope to get to half of your level someday.

Take care!