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 Wood Carving Patterns


Carving Patterns and Jigs

Page 3 - Basics

 A pattern can be a simple line drawing, transfered to the wood with carbon paper. It can also be a template made from thin materials, such as sheet metal, (roof flashing works well for this), or 1/8" or 1/4" M.D.F., cut to the shape of the rough blank.

18th century bench legs  Completed bench  Carving patterns  Pattern and blank


When possible, make a pattern to work from, as it makes it possible to duplicate later on, or if making several matching pieces, such as the bench legs, working on them in an organised manner, and with a pattern, they will end up looking the same. Trying to make one leg, from start to finish, and then doing the second one start to finish, will lead to suicide, or maybe worse.

Marking legs, using the template  All four legs marked out  Band saw all the pieces  Mortising all pieces

If making legs for the bench shown above, I'll band saw all four pieces. Then I'll mark out the foot on all four pieces. Then form the ball on all four pieces, and so on. In this manner, you'll have the right tools out, to do each step as needed. Plus, trying to remember the process used on each step later on is difficult, at best.

 Making a jig to hold parts  Jig to hold part for carving  Jig to hold part for carving  Carving can be fine tuned after being installed

The jig shown in the first photo permits the leg to be carved from the position shown, flipped over to do the other side, or stood vertically. While it took a couple hours to design and make, the time saved in the carving process, plus the ease of use made it a very worthwhile endeavor. Plus if I ever need to do this again, I'll still have the jig. The second and third photo, show a jig that will allow me to turn the post, and lock it in place with a screw on the bottom of the jig. This jig is designed to permit me to hold the jig horizontally or vertically in the bench vise.

It also served as a base to rout the dovetails into the post, without fear of movement, and helped in indexing the location for the three dovetails. The second photo had a top screwed to it, with a dovetail slot cut in. It was a fool proof way to rout the dovetails, which the legs slide into.

This project is from Ron Clarkson's book on building a " Pie Crust Table". Ron Clarkson is a very talented furniture maker, who has written several books on building 18th century furniture. These books are fantastic, as they are well written, and have a huge number of photo's to work from.

Some holding devices can be rather simple, as seen below. It is simply two pieces of plywood with a small third piece sandwiched between them. This squeezes the clamp in the bench vise, and makes for easy placement of the leg being carved. It allows me to change the height I'm working at, as well as the angle of the work. The first photo has a plywood leg, as the force exerted downward, would cause the jig to move.

 Simple holding device  Simple holding device



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