Thursday, 25 May 2017

How to Carve Wooden Sculptures Safely with Kids: Lesson VII

Caution: During wood carving process, whether by hand or any power tools, you should at least wear some kind of protective gear. Some of the recommended safety gadgets include gloves, safety glasses, high boots, dust coats, face mask, etc. When you exert force to any carving tool against wood, these tools often slip and might prick your skin.

 It is advisable to safely hold any carving tool at its holder or away from the sharp ends. While carving, try to avoid holding the wooden work-piece being carved on your lab. If you have a vice to hold the work piece, then fix it there so that both of your hands are free. This enables you to have good control over the carving tools. You will realize that injuries often take place when you attempt to hold the wooden piece with one hand while chopping off pieces from it.

 First Aid Kit: 

In spite of taking the necessary precautions, you are strongly advised to maintain a first aid kit in school and must be within the working area or workshop. To sum up on the issue of safety, you must at all time employ common sense while working on or carving a wooden work piece.

Pupils who are being trained to carve wood sculptures must be guided closely and supervised until they are able to work on their own. Wood is comprised of parallel cells that run longitudinally to the wood. Most types of wood grains are fairly straight. These grains emanate from the roots and run all the way up to the leaves. In order to attain efficient carving, your tools must be very sharp.
Razor-sharp tools often leave a very shiny rut or cuts right across the wood. Blunt blades or those with nicks will always leave some unpleasant streaks on the carved area. Prior to starting the carving process, you should examine the direction in which grain or cell fibers run. Once you establish that, you should then begin carving downwards along the grains.

If you find that the wooden piece work is tearing badly, it is an indication that you are carving against the grains. Try carving in the opposite direction. It is also possible to carve parallel or across the grains depending on the type of wood.

Hard wood such as Ebony for instance, can be carved almost in any direction provided you tools are razor-sharp. When carving a small piece work, it is advisable to hold it with your left hand (if you are right-handed) and use the right hand to hold the knife. The vice versa is true if you are left-handed. Press your left hand against the blunt end of the knife and use its thumb to exert the necessary force on the lever just as a lever would. This gives you complete control over the knife’s movement. The knife would not go flying even if it slips.

Imagine the way you would peel off an apple-but beware not to nick your precious thumb. First time learners, especially young pupils are afraid of removing enough meat from the wooden piece work. But once they get the hang of it, they will be able to remove much of the scrap wood pieces to the nearest desirable shape of the sculpture.

Once you are finished and your sculpture is ready in shape, it is time to spruce it with additional fine details. At this juncture, the small U and V –gouges should come in handy. These tools help a lot in creating the finer details. However, they must be razor-sharp in order to achieve the desired results. Small nicks on your tools will create visible white streaks on the blade-chopped area. If you are coaching pupils to do this, make sure they are supervised by their teacher. Happy carving!

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