While cruising the WCI forums the other day I was reminded of a finish I have not used in years that holds excellent promise for use on carvings. This one's gonna take some work, we have to mix it, and some extra materials, but I think it's worth it. We'll start with the recipe:
Polyurethane, spirit based, not the water based kind
Mineral spirits (commonly called paint thinner too)
Mix equal parts of all three items.
We're gonna get a penetrating finish that hardens in the surface of the wood, and leaves a nice oil patina. It offers more protection than the oil alone, imparts a nice low luster shine, enhances the grain, but does not build on the surface like the urethane alone would.
I've been looking back over my work, both in carving and knifemaking, and recognized repeated bits of Japanese influence. Its not constant, but it is more prevalent than any other influence (I think). Oriental art has always faxcinated me, I've spent time at Origami (Japanese paper folding) and Tangrams, a Japanese puzzle game. As a bachelor my pad was decorated with fans and oriental style art.
This little reindeer, a holiday project and blog entry, reminds me of an Origami animal. In Origami, imagination is required; my whittling require it too. The legs, the tail here in particular make me think of folded paper. The roughly triangular profile to the body is similar to many origami figures too.
I've blogged about my knives, you can visit one or both my knife pages on the right side over there. I was heavily influenced by the Kiridashi Kogatana images I saw on the web. Fishknife here is my one and only successful attempt to emulate those knives. There will be other attempts- thick tool quality steel is not so easy to come by, and sculpting a knife like this without heat treating takes considerable time. I've gotten my hands on a piece of leaf spring from a truck, stay tuned...
Wow, almost a year has gone by since my last (successful) post. I can partially blame Blogger.com for technical problems, but the truth is they corrected their issues months ago, I've been busy not whittling.
I'm still (mostly) not whittling.
I did get a request for a dozen beginners knives from a friend who teaches, the parameters were good blades, simple walnut handles, medium size Wharncliffe blade made from a Personna floor scraper blade. Faced with keeping costs down, I finally motorized my honing and stropping processes.
Shoulda done that sooner. Saved me hours on those 12 knives.
Mechanizing also provided a new learning curve. In the interest of getting over the curve as quickly as possible, I posted to the WCI forum offering to send 2 Personna knives to anyone who wanted one- both would have 1.25" square Basswood blanks for handles, the recipient was to carve two knife handles and return one to me. I figured Id end up with another dozen knives to make, and would work the kinks out of my improved process toot sweet. In addition I'd get an awesome collection of unique knives- I seem to have trouble making any for myself, thought this win-win situation would round out my tool bag.
So far 33 people have signed up- that's 66 knives. I'm gonna need a bigger shadow box. Pic shows three steps- blades & blanks separate, blades glued in but not sharpened, knives with rubber corks on the ends are ready to ship. I'll post pics here and on the WCI forum as carved knives come back.