A Commissioned Lovespoon Part 09
The last couple of days were spent in zen-like contemplation, practice and refinement. I finished the cat and began working on the chip carving for the stem. I discovered a couple of interesting things. I haven't done much chip carving in the past, because it seemed like such a struggle to get it to look right. I discovered that I just didn't have a knife properly tuned for the work. As I began working on the practice piece I got increasingly frustrated at the way my knife was behaving. I was either having to use much more force than I wanted to, or I was having to make multiple thin cuts to do what most people do in one cut. The sharpness wasn't an issue; the issue was the blade profile. Most chip carving cuts are done with the first 1/8" to 3/16" of the blade. This blade was simply too thick, so I spent about 3 to 4 hours regrinding, sharpening and polishing the blade. I changed the inluded angle of the edge to about 15 degrees or less. I also ground a small swedge on the back of the blade near the tip to decrease the friction of the blade against the wood. I also rounded the back of the blade to make it more comfortable to push against. What a difference! Chip carving changed from a chore to a pleasure in one fell swoop. I still need to make the swedge a little wider and do more polishing on the blade.
Now that things were working the way they should be, I did two styles of chip carving for the stem. The one on the right is an older, more primitive style. It looks rather like laces. The one on the left is what is more commonly seen today. The client chose the one on the left.