Facilitate the Process of Bosting Out

One thing you should bear in mind-the work must be held firmly in place on the bench top. I have improvised a means of holding the heads of eagles and such in the vise by a gadget that works out very well. I have tried to show it in figure below. Variations of the same theme can be worked out in your own shop, lacking other hold-down means.

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I have found that, to facilitate the process of bosting out, mounting the "broad" gouges on long handles makes the work a lot easier. You can make your own handles and use short sections of brass or copper pipe for the ferrules. The ferrules prevent the tang of the tool from splitting the handle. I suggest you do not try to drive these long-handled tools; they are too difficult to guide. More care in their use will have to be exercised, for the reason that they enable you to make heavier cuts than shorter-handled tools do.

All carving tools can be made to make different kinds of cuts, each kind depending upon the angle that the cutting edge of the tool is held with reference to the stock. By rotating the handle of the tool as the cut is made—not laterally, but along the axis of the handle—the cut can be made to look as though it were twisted. I call this sort of a cut a "wind." I may be wrong in this term. It is difficult to describe in words. By rotating the end of the handle about laterally, a still entirely different kind of a cut is made. These are tricks that you learn as you go along.

The vise jig in use, supporting partially bosted out eagle head. (Note the rif-fler marks on this portion of the carving.)

Bosting out with broad gouge, in drawing, Figure 7-1. Note the use of the hold-down shown

There is a tool on the market that looks to me as if it would be an extremely useful and valuable adjunct to the carver's bench; it is called a "power arm." Sculpture Associates has it for sale. Let me say here the reason I refer to this company is that it happens that theirs is the only thoroughly illustrated catalogue of carving tools I have seen. I have bought tools from them and like them. I have not used the "power arm" in my work for the reason that I have fallen into a rut, I guess, and use the techniques that worked out well in previous experiments or on carvings. I could say here, I suppose, that I am come upon parlous times.

In bosting out the outside of comparatively large pieces where no internal cuts are to be made and where no fine detail work is to be done, it frequently happens that a great deal of excess stock can be more readily removed with the draw shave than with the chisel. This tool, used properly, is a versatile one and, with some practice, can be used for many purposes in the carver's shop. It may not be orthodox to use it in this way, but if the results justify the means, then do so. I should, perhaps, call attention to one drawback of this tool; it has to be pulled toward you. It should be razor sharp and, if care is taken to draw it through the wood with constant pressure—the blade held at a slight skew to the run of the cut-there should be no danger that the tool edge will leave the wood and suddenly damage either you or the carving.

Image 45 Finishing off the profile with a spoke shave. Set the blade for a fine cut in this process.

The spoke shave is also a useful device (Image 45). This tool can be used to great advantage in making cuts if they are long, sweeping curves or straightaway cuts on the edge of the carving. As a matter of fact, if the pattern of the periphery of the finished piece should be round or oval, it is the only tool I know that you can use to reduce the edge of the piece to the design line advantageously. It, too, is a tricky tool.

The blade should be set so as to take off thin shavings. Do not try to take heavy cuts with the spoke shave-it refuses to work that way. It is primarily a finishing tool, as its name implies. These two tools should be in everyone's shop, in my opinion. If you have them, try out several different pieces of stock under them to see for yourself which tool will work best for the particular cut you want to make. As in all instances, to use edged tools effectively, they must be kept very sharp, clean from gums, and properly set in the tool holder or in your hand.

I have stressed this business of using great care with these various tools. I have done so on purpose. All edged tools are potentially dangerous even in the hands of a highly skilled artisan. I know from my own experience in working with them that nicks and cuts on your fingers, on the back of your hands, and even on your wrists are too easily come by not to call attention to this fact. I do not mean to scarehead the fact. You can learn one of two ways: by precept or by sad experience.

Pierced work. Repair of an ancient Chinese scholar's scroll. The light portion shows the repair insert. An interesting and typical difference change in the symmetry of the design. (Courtesy Mortimer Graves, West Newbury, Massachusetts)

Pierced work. First step boring the holes inside the sections to be removed.

Pierced work. The webs between the borings are cut away. Second step.

Pierced work. The piercings have been pared off to designed lines. Here further bosting out has been done on the carving. Note the irregularity of the profde of the Eagle's mouth.

Pierced work. The completed carving with all details carved and modeled. Ready for gilding and polychroming. (Courtesy Mrs. E. R. Freeman, Damariscotta, Maine)

Have respect for the tools of your endeavor, but don't fear them. In the final analysis, the greater care that is taken in bosting out, in profiling, and in stopcutting a carving, the better the final results will be when you start the detail carving.







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