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I've liked to work with wood for a long time. I think my father got me started when he got me some hand tools. When I was at school, I took woodworking class there. I had some good teachers, and looking back I can see how much of their teaching stayed with me.
I find it like some kind of meditation. Some people do knitting, and I like to create something out of wood. I've made lots of things from furniture to small carvings. Wood is from nature. and I like to hold a piece of wood in my hand and imagine what I can make it into. I will take a board of wood and plane it and sand it smooth. From there I might make it into a box.
In the last few years I got involved with a local men's shed and we would meet in the park and do carving. So I would bring a small toolbox with some carving tools and small bits of wood. I could not practically do a larger project. I started carving some spoons.
I never carve the same thing twice, just like no tree grows the same. The grain patterns and the colours are always different. With spoons, I would learn and practice how to get the bowl just right, the edges not too thick or too thin. I made all sorts of handle designs, as that is where most of the variety lies. I used a food safe butcher block oil for finishing the spoons. It would make the grain stand out. After I got bored making spoons, I decided to try making chess pieces.
I know you can make a set with a lathe pretty quickly. I enjoyed taking my time to shape the wood by hand. I stained and varnished them. Plus I drilled holes in the bottom and added lead weights. I finished them up with green felt pads. They are big and chunky, and feel right when you hold them. In the above photo, they are on a board I also made, with 2" squares. I made a bunch of pieces before I got bored with chess pieces. :)
My latest carving project? Wands. Like in harry potter. I have made 4 so far. Each one is different. I had a look online for some inspiration. There are a lot of pictures online if you need ideas. I used some wood a friend from the men's shed gave me. I cut it into about 1.5" square by 15" long. Then I used a hand plane to round the stock and taper it slightly. After that it was all done by hand.
I marked it up with pencil and then set about cutting away that which did not belong. Before long, I had the rough shape I wanted. After that it was a file and some sand paper to get the smooth shape I wanted.
Carving with a knife can easily cut your hands, so I wear cut resistant gloves to protect my hands. They are also good when you are sanding, because the dust can dry my skin and then it peels or cracks. The gloves stop my hands drying.
For finishing the wands, I used some stain on the handles and used shellac. It is a natural finish, and it dries quick because it is in an alcohol medium. I can wash up my hands with rubbing alcohol.
Not sure if this is interesting to you. Please leave a comment or contact me with feedback if you like.