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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thinking Outside the (X)Box

Its not whittling, maybe not even carving, lucky for me the blog has 'and Other Affairs' in the title

I've accepted my first paying commission to create a sculpture in wood, a gentleman from California approached me to make a wooden (non-working, duh!) version of an XBox controller. Well, that's just far enough outside the box that I could not say no.

And I got to go shopping at the Hardwood Store, too. If you are ever in the neighborhood, stop by Buffalo Hardwoods at the intersection of Main & Kensington in Amherst, NY. Half the space is hardwood storage, half is wood shop, they always have time to listen to whatever project I have in mind, and often are building something interesting themselves. I didn't get any compensation for this blurb, I just like 'em. Candy store for me, you know?

I went in looking for something special, with some wild or strong grain so there'd be no doubt my controller was made of wood. I walked out with a small chunk of redwood cut from the root of an enormous tree-(Yeah, I bought softwood at the hardwood store). They had two slices there cut from the same root, nearly 4'wide and 8'long, each 3" thick- I figure the root must have been 4' around, am guessing the tree was up to 20' diameter at the base. There is no bark on any of the outer edges, the outside couple inches of the tree are decaying and show signs of fire. Years ago when Redwoods were regularly felled, giant trees would commonly be cut leaving an 8' or taller stump in the forest. Lately some loggers have been going into the woods and harvesting these decaying stumps; I suspect that is where my little chunk came from. In addition to the wild grain, it has the advantage of hailing from the buyers home state.

So first things first- bandsaw the rough shape. the original piece is 3" thick, so I cut a slice off to get down to the 2+ inches I'll need. Next thing is to identify the high spots, in this case it's the 3 mounds that surround some of the buttons and joysticks. I left them large and high, plenty of time to refine them later. Sitting high like they do, they are likely to incur a bit of damage while I shape the rest of the piece too. I used a router and then a router bit in my drill press to get to this point- no carving yet.

Next step is to begin to rough in the details- shape the handle area, rough saw the battery box on the bottom. some knife work, some rasp work. You can see the grain starting to show, I have a plan for that, but I'm not talking yet.

Ive done some saw work and some knife work on the back/bottom, and you can see why I picked this piece of wood- its curly, tight strong curl too, a rarity. For those who do not know wood, curl is those alternating lines of light and dark. They're caused by grain that does not grow in straight lines but undulates through the piece. If you rotate the piece, the dark and light bands will switch- it's pretty amazing. The front half is so roughed up you can't see them, they're there and they'll pop when I finish the wood.

I just realized I posted photos for my client, who is a professional photographer. Don't laugh too hard, OK?
Whittling, carving, sculpting- its all an adventure. Stay tuned for updates, and as always, Happy Whittling- BfloBif

1 comment:

  1. It looks absolutely GREAT!! Cannot wait to see how it all comes together :D