Live Edge Sign Carving

I’ve never carved a sign larger than me, until now! 


The Fraser Valley Antique Farm Machinery Association had a huge slab of fir they wanted to turn into a sign.


I had to flatten the slab, and remove the bark from the live edge. After that it was a matter of transferring the letters to the wood and carve away! 

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Herald Angels or Heraldry?

It has been quiet on this site but not because it has been quiet in my carving studio! It had been crazy busy with carving work such that I have neglected you, my loyal readers! 

The Christmas season always sneaks up on me and I have to be careful not to overcommit. Must leave time to sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and other Christmas carols.

Some projects I am working on include a blanket ladder with dovetail joinery. 


It isn’t really carving work, per se, but I wanted to show old Roubo that his rants about carvers being imprecise are misplaced. I was building furniture and doing complex joinery long before I picked up a carving tool. 

I carved two other pieces that I have done before: a lettercarving piece (the first photo above) and a stylized acanthus leaf in relief. 

And on the heraldry front, I am working on a large family crest that is getting close to being finished. The short video below shows some progress. 


Stay tuned for more updates. I have a very large lettercarving project that I am on the verge of starting. In the new year I am picking up the wood for an ornately carved lintel over a front door in a large foyer. And I have another family crest in the works. It’s nice to have work, but I am feeling the pressure to get things completed! 

Cherry Bread Plate

The demand for my hand-carved cherry bread plates is growing. 

Bread Plate 2016

A word about the finish and care of these plates is in order. They are not intended to be cutting boards – they are intended to be serving trays. They are finished with a food safe oil & wax (natural linseed oil which comes from flax, and beeswax). If you cut with a knife on this plate, it will scratch. If you put the plate in the dishwasher, you will destroy it. Instead, just wipe it off with a cloth or paper towel and put it back on your display rack (you do have a display rack for this, right?!?). I recommend that maybe once a year you grab a soft cotton cloth and give the plate a quick buff to restore the luster. My mom has one of these that I carved in oak at least 10 years ago. The last time I was home, I simply rubbed a cotton rag over it to buff it up and the glow returned to the plate. 

If you would like one of these, please contact me at gvmcmillan@gmail.com

Carved Bread Plate 

  
The past few evenings have been spent finishing this carving. In my last post, I had glued up the cherry boards. Since then, I cut out the circle with my bandsaw circle-cutting jig that my father (the jig-master) made me decades ago.

  
Then I hand planed the surface. 

   
 
Once the circle was flattened I fell in love with the piece of wood. The lines, the tiny pin knots, and the range of rich colours that were showing up made my heart pitter-patter. 

   
   
Next I laid out the letters, which always takes longer than expected when working around a circle. The letters have to be sloped just so, spaced just so, and just a little narrower towards the inside of the circle. Then I got down to business cutting the letters. 

  
After the letters were all incised, I redrew the inside circle. Then I got after the ‘bowl’ carving.

  
Then I flipped the plate to carve the back. 

  I’ve learned from the native carvers from the west coast about the value of a simple file in wood carving. I put my file to use trueing the outside rim of the plate. 

  
Then after a little cleaning and final touch ups under a bright light and magnifying lense, all that was left was to put the finish on. 

  
After posting a picture of it on Instagram, it lasted all of a half-hour before it was snapped up by someone. I delivered it this evening in this package : 

  
Details:

  • The wood is black cherry 
  • The dimensions are 14″ in diameter by just over 1″ thick 
  • The finish is linseed oil and beeswax
  • It is sold.

Carving a Cherry Bread Plate

 

Bread Plate Plans

I came across a lovely bunch of rough cut cherry wood, which I have been on the hunt for since my last bread plate went to a good home in Fernie, BC. I have wanted to carve another similar plate, but as long-time readers of this site know, I need the perfect piece of wood before I can start. 

I went to visit my mom and while I was there I dug through dad’s old piles of lumber and found the perfect piece of cherry. 

Bread Plate Glue-Up
 
I after rough-sizing the wood and jointing the edges by hand, I glued and clamped the wood together on a flat surface. I only need one flat surface for this project as the rest will be carved away. 

Next job is to cut a circle out of this board and plane it perfectly flat. 
 

Letter Carving Course Finished

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a letter carving course at my local carving club, the Central Fraser Valley Woodcarvers club. All old, 14 people took the course. We carved the word Peace into some clear Aspen. I chose that word because we’re close to Christmas, but also because it has a couple of challenging letters (P, e, and a). Learning to carve perfectly straight lines that blend in with curved lines can be hard if you don’t know some helpful techniques.

If you want to join us, we meet on Wednesday nights from 6-9 at Yale Secondary School, in the woodshop. It’s a great group and we’d be glad to have you.

Thanks to the Club President Joany for taking and sharing these photos with me.

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