Carving Workshop Planning
The important thing to keep in mind in planning your workshop
is to have ample space around your carving bench. I find that,
for my purposes, a clear space of 30 inches all the way around
is ample. This enables me to manipulate any carving about the
bench top with no fear that I will hit the walls of the shop
or the adjacent benches.
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artificial light I have found that four 150-watt lamps are ample.
These are spaced, roughly, above the four corners of the carving
bench. For daylight, if it is at all possible, have ample windows
on the north side of the shop. This light is diffused and casts
thin shadows as you work on the bench. Direct sunlight should
be avoided. The carving bench should be fastened firmly to the
shop floor. I show a drawing of my bench in Figure below. Note
that the bench is braced both ways on each side. This is for
stiffening purposes. The size has been ample even for extremely
large carvings. The legs are toe-nailed to the floor with eight-penny
most satisfactory bench top I have found is made up of hemlock
plank. These plank are set on the frame with a 3-inch overlap
at the ends and 2-inch overlap on the sides. I fasten them to
the frame with wood screws set in counter-bored and drilled
holes, the counter-bored holes being filled with plugs. In this
case the plugs are not glued in place. I like hemlock tops for
this reason: the stock holds brads and is soft enough so that
if you happen to run a carving tool off the carving and onto
the bench top it will shear part of the wood but not harm the
tool edge. I don't bother to do more than smooth the bench top
off with the jack plane once in a while. I do not glue the top
up either. I have used this carving bench with complete satisfaction
for seven years and it is still in good condition.
cast steel woodworker's screw vise should be fastened to one
side of the carving bench. In my case, I face the steel jaws
with wooden faces, using either yellow birch or maple for this
purpose. My vise jaw faces are 21 inches long, 7/8 inches thick,
and about 6 inches wide. I replace them whenever the inside
faces get abused, usually every two years.
A-Jig Saw G-Carving Bench
B-Band Saw H-Hinged Drafting Board
C-Wood-Turning Lathe I-Book Cases and Shelves
D-Drill Press J-Side Bench
E-Circular Saw K-Work Bench
F-Old "Northern Comfort"(Wood Burning Stove)
Figure 4-1 PLAN OF WORK SHOP-27 feet long, 9½ feet wide,
plus elevation: 9½ feet X 8 feet.
Figure 4-2A PLAN OF SHOP, SHOWING CARVING BENCH, SIDE BENCH,
TOOL RACK, METALWORKING VISE (A), WOODWORKING VISE (B), WINDOWS,
Top: 2x6 Hemlock plank Legs: 2x4 Pine Stretchers: 2x4 Pine Braces:
1x3 Pine All stock planed 4 sides (P4S)
Figure 4-2B ISOMETRIC DRAWING OF CARVING BENCH
Image 18 The woodworker's vise on the carving bench. Note long,
wooden faces on this vise. Yellow birch can be used for faces.
the top of your bench does get abused, plane it off to keep
the splinters under control. If you use brads to hold small
work in place with edgings, when the latter are removed, pull
out the brads with the claw hammer. I find that a side bench
is a most handy adjunct. Mine is 2 feet wide and 8 feet long.
I keep my carving tool chest on it as well as a miscellany of
other things-pencil holders, work gloves, torn sandpaper, paper
handkerchiefs, bottles of water, oil and turpentine, sometimes
reference data, and generally what-have-you. It's a handy place
for visitors to lean against and sometimes sit upon, too.
tool rack can be almost any kind of a drawered chest or just
pieces of 6-inch pine boards. It doesn't matter. The important
thing is to have it handy. For years I had a carving tool rack
made up of two pieces of boards with narrow separators set between
the tools. Then I found an old "thread case"-a chest
with six drawers -and I use that at the present time. Don't
roll tools up in cloth and then try to find them. This may result
in the edges coming in contact and that means more sharpening.
is important to have a space available for finishing. If you
have to use your carving bench top for this purpose, schedule
your work so that you can tie up your shop while the finish
you put on the carving can set without dust landing on it and
so that you don't have to use the carpenter's tools or your
carving tools in the shop until the finish is hard. I use the
shed of the house for my drafting and finishing room, but I'll
probably have to go back to the barn if my better half starts
up her antique shop again. If so, I shall use the loft of the
barn for these purposes, sealing it off before I do.
drawing table can be extemporized from your carving bench, if
necessary, by using a piece of 5/8 inch plywood as a drafting
table top. If you do, have it clipped absolutely square. I use
a piece 30 x 72 inches when I have large sections or carvings
to design. If not, I use my old drafting table. Use cellophane
tape to hold the corners of the drawing paper down if you use
plywood. Be sure the plywood top is smooth. The best way to
assure this is to dampen the plywood with a moist cloth which
raises the grain slightly, then sand it smooth with No. 1/2
paper, then varnish it, then sand it down again.
don't need an elaborate set of drafting tools. A tee square
and a sharp pencil are good starters. Everyone has an idea as
to what a good set of drawing equipment is. Mine are pretty
well abused after thirty years of use; some of them are missing;
my grandsons use them for their "things." I use them
as little as possible. For pencils, I buy a dozen at a time.
My wife uses half a dozen of them for her crossword puzzles.
The rest I keep sharp and handy to the drafting board. I use
three grades: Number Ones for outline drawings, Number Threes
for heavy outlines after the sketch is done, and a layout pencil
for final shading and definition.
is a saying in this business, "If you can draw it, you
can carve it; if you can't, you can't."