Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WIP: Nothing Like An "Ax In The Stump" (Part 2 of 2)

WIP="Work in Progress"

Continuing with the ax-in-the-stump carving project started here, you can see from the picture to the left how I first sawed out a series of "fins" on both sides of the ax head. I always like this part because it's fun to then flick them away with the blade of my jack knife.

Also notice that I purposely left as much wood intact on the underside of the blade for as long as I could during the carving of the ax. This would provide a much stronger foundation while carving and the disappointment of breaking it off the stump. When carving such fragile projects like this always think about ways to strengthen the wood while carving, whether it's leaving wood in weak areas like this until the last minute or even how you grip the wood while carving. The ax will be vulnerable for breaking from this point forward so keep that in mind as you carve and all will work out well.

In the picture to the right I continue roughing out the handle and head of the ax. Although you can't see it in the pictures, I also kept the "stump" part of the limb at least 6" long so that I could maintain a firm grip on the wood as I carved. The picture to the right appears to show my hand gripping only the tip of the stump but actually I've got a great grip on the long limb which I haven't yet trimmed. I'll do that when I've finished carving the ax. So many times I've had to correct my students who will start carving their project after cutting it out to the actual size. Always think about how you're going to grip the wood while carving, either with a table vise, your hands, or both during the planning phase. Carving should be a pleasure... not a struggle.

And here she is all carved, finished, and ready for a nice paint job. After carving I did so very lightly sand the ax with 220 grit sandpaper, but just a little because I wanted the carving to show.

Since I already have two red ax-in-the-stumps in my collection; one big and one small, I decided to paint this medium sized ax with blue acrylic paint. I painted a thin strip of metallic silver paint for the tip of the ax blade, then gave all the carved areas a couple coats of clear polyurethane. This is one of my funnest projects to carve and in addition to being a wonderful conversation piece it will also help you move to a new level in carving. Give it a try and have some fun!

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