Feels Like Summertime

Yes, I realize that the temperature is hovering around 5 degrees, there’s still snow on the ground, and the sun doesn’t come out much. But what I mean by summertime is that I can spend my day out in the yard doing my darnedest to cover the ground with sawdust and wood chips. I started around noon by deciding that I’ve been working too hard lately and that I needed a day off to have some fun. I went down to the shop and opened the pair of barn doors leading into the back yard, only to be greeted by a light misting of rain.

Undeterred, I hefted my Triton Superjaws into the dampness and hiked up to the garage to find a nice big chunk of wood to carve. I found it in a block of acacia, measuring approximately 24’x26’x10″ and weighing maybe 60 lbs. It had been drying for about a year, so it still had plenty of moisture in it, making it heavier. I lugged it around the side of the house and clamped it in the Superjaws. Then I went to fetch my 4″ angle grinder equipped with an Arbortech cutter. The three carbide cutters make quick work of stock removal and last for what seems like an eternity.

Without an inspiration, I worked decisively. I started by carving away what I saw as defects. Defects, in this case, include bark and cracks. After I carved away the bark inclusion and checking in the middle next to the pith, I decided that I was looking at the bottom of the carving.

Many of my carvings have three legs so that they never rock, but I decided to do something different. I carved out four feet, one in each corner of the blank. Next, I fetched a scrap of 3/4″ plywood and used it to ensure that the feet would make contact. The board rocked, so I trimmed off a little off of a high foot and tried again. Once the board no longer rocked on the feet, I clamped the plywood in the Superjaws and placed the carving feet down on the plywood. It was not necessary to clamp it in place because in this case the workpiece had adequate mass to stay put.

Working on the upper half of the carving, I once again started by carving away cracks and bark.

Left with only good wood, The carving was still big and blocky. One of the things that I don’t like about some of my previous carvings is that they look like they came from a square block of wood. My goal with this carving was to make it look more organic – to have it come alive. I started by taking off all the corners and reducing material left and right. The legs ended up looking like those of a creature, rather than a piece of furniture. I hollowed out the areas between the legs and rounded over some areas to better showcase the grain.

I found myself carving into the night (or at least the dark). It is not unusual for me to be working for many hours straight or in poor light and I continued on making noise and dust. Until, while holding the grinder away in my “rest” position away from the wood while inspecting my work, I heard it contact something – my leather glove I soon discovered. The cutter had put a hole in the tip of the glove’s finger, but that was all, fortunately. I took that as a sign that I’d finished for the day and shut off the grinder and packed everything inside for the night. It’s best to know when to stop. I looked at the clock. It read 6:08.

I continued shaping the sculpture over the course of two years.  I sanded the sculpture March 2011.

2 thoughts on “Feels Like Summertime

    1. Hi Jim,

      I use a small Makita angle grinder. The size allows me to use it comfortably for extended periods. Since I bought that one, I became aware of the Ridgid Feugo model which has a really small grip and would be especially nice to use. I use the Arbortech Industrial cutter.


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