Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stylus or Nail File? Yes.

I'm giving a chip- and letter carving demonstration tomorrow so I've been preparing a number of boards with designs and letters.

To transfer the designs from paper to wood, I rub graphite pencil on the back of the paper and use a pen to trace the graphic.

This works okay, but often the pen's tip is too fat which results in a too thick pencil line on the workpiece.  That alters the look of the design and makes it more difficult to follow with a knife.

And sometimes the pen blots, which makes a mess.

Because I wanted to preserve the integrity of the graphics and letters in case I needed them in the future, I decided to use a stylus. I tried my plastic one, but the tip, like the pen, was too fat.

We woodworkers are pretty savvy at repurposing household items.  So I snapped the file off some nail clippers (does anyone actually use those files?) and with minimal effort turned it into a stylus that works splendidly.

I used soft wood for the handle and bore three tiny holes in the end grain. Then I excavated the mortise for the file with the file itself. Super easy. I tapped it in with a hammer, shaped the point with files, and got to work.

When carving, I frequently chip one of my fingernails with the sharp edge of a tool and, rather than stop what I'm doing to come into the house for an emory board, I grab a piece of sandpaper for an instant manicure.

With this stylus, I have a nail file at the ready. And the next time I chip a fingernail, it will finally be used for its original intended purpose.