Do forgiving eyes help cheer us on when attempting new techniques? I worked on the front of the oak desk box project today. Personally, I will trust that human eyes will be forgiving on this first carved desk box. Thank you Jennie Alexander for reminding us though that our eyes tend to be forgiving of mistakes. Because it matters that we might not recognize artistic value which comes from things planned or unplanned in our furniture work.
Above are a couple pictures of the chisel carving work which is nearly finished on the front. I learned a lot about carving on riven oak that I’ve had for awhile. Even though it was previously kept in a freezer, it proven to be drier and harder than I had hoped. Greener oak would be more fun to work. I’ve got to believe that mallet work in recently split oak would be more forgiving in terms of tool pressure and cause less chipping.
As I said before, I have benefitted greatly from Follansbee’s DVD on oak desk boxes, but something’s you just have to learn by doing. Like spacing a chisel for vertical cuts, it is easy to get them too close when doing 2 or more cuts side by side. I wasn’t sure what chisel widths to use for some of the gouge cut details and I suspect a couple millimeters less in the cuts would enhance the next carved desk box. On the free hand carving of the tulips/leaves, I opted to use chalk and I did pretty well in keeping symmetry and keeping the diagonal line as a guide. Only on one tulip/leaf did I really stray and drift further away from the diagonal line. I also wasn’t sure what chisel width to use for the bird cuts to make on the leaves. I used my #7 sweep Swiss made gouges with 10, 12, and 14 mm widths as I got to the wider part of the features. Personally, I think Follansbee can make his chisels work in narrower and wider cuts by his sheer skill in the holding of the chisels. That seems to be the case especially when he removes background with sometimes 2 cuts of a fairly wide chisel without nicking corners.
Bottomline, I like this style of carving that Peter Follansbee has mastered with 17th century boxes, wainscot chairs, jointed stools, and paneled chests. It would interesting to hear from those of you who got hooked on this style of carving.