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The Big Maple Stingray

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  • The Big Maple Stingray

    Large maple tree crotch slab to be carved into a Stingray. Crotch is fun - swirling grain directions, knots, the works. Projected an image on to trace, then got out the Sawzall for roughing (too big for the bandsaw). Turboplane is next.
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  • #2
    Your not Afraid of a Challenge . You have the VISION ,TOOLS, and Ambition . I.m also sure you have the SKILLS to pull it off. Looking forward in seeing your progress. Merle

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    • #3
      WOW! Gorgeous slab of maple but look at that beautiful DOG! Super CUTE!

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      • #4
        Hey JW, if this turns out the way you want it , and I'm sure it will , my Question is What are you going to do with it???? Merle

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        • #5
          Merle - I have a wife that gives me the "where does that go" routine ... I say "in the basement" and then gage whether she likes it by the reaction ("Oh, ok" means she does not like, and "no, not down there" means it's more worthy). I think it's a winner (for a wall in the house) but I am stuck on the tail - almost to the point of ripping it off and sticking a re-carved one on. What the heck to folks use for rat-tail like carving - a draw knife?
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          • #6
            For the tail a draw knife would be good for the rough shaping but when you want to get into the smoothing a convex spoke shave would be my choice.
            For final finishing, look at a cabinet scraper, it should leave a finish that will require no sanding.

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            • #7
              Hi JW , It will be kind of Fragile , I would Cut it off at the Body , cut it to Shape then Glue a Piece of Newspaper the size of the Tail to a Nice Flat Board , don't take a lot of Glue , then Glue the Tail to the Newspaper . The Newspaper is to make it easier to remove from the Board after finished Carving . Then when Gluing it back on the Body , make it fit good and then use the Dowel Teck. To remove it from the Board use a Putty Knife , should Pop right off. Again don't use a lot of Glue . Merle

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              • #8
                Shaping thin areas, be careful of breakage.... I always make the area bigger then what I want.....for example the tail thicker..... I will then use a dremel or foredom to shape being careful and try to support area being shaped so it will not break. I will use foam to surround the area, or I may use towels to soft area so the tail will not bang the table or your support area of possible.... or other methods. I will then shape by sanding the area to desire shape. I would not use chisels on something this thin.....and make sure the whole piece does not fall to floor....wings and tail will all possible break so make sure she is secured down. The tail in real photos of string rays is attached with the whole backbone....so it may be easy to attach to severe areas and then shape while in position. No matter cut off or attached you have to be careful of not breaking it while working. On note there are times when the real stingray tail is to thin to carve without breakage....then you have make it bigger then real thing. Note number two the thinnest areas are always done last.....when carving. Less chance of breaking them off.

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                • #9
                  Steev ... You nearly cost me $50 at the Leavalley website but I backed off. I think I have to remain a sander for a while befor I graduate to scraping.But thank you because I also read a lot of forum debates on the topic. Interesting

                  Merle, I don’t think I can cut it off sorry just can’t. Plus that will require me to have some sort of joinery skill which is one of my weak spots. But if I go for realism I like the board and newspaper trick thanks

                  Dileon.... you always spill all the great tips and tricks. Thanks. As I search images I find enough tails that are fat or have that cool fin. Since this will be probably displayed on a wall I’m not sure I need to take it too far and just let the wood do the talking. I will send some images of the tail profile tomorrow to get some critiques and opinions. I don’t like the tail but it’s Probably best left with a hint of a wing and a Barb rather than going for realism.
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                  • #10
                    Yea you right, man that's looking good

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                    • #11
                      That's looking pretty sporty already JWood. Sure has the attention of the shop dog. That'll be a really nice looking piece once you're done and I think your idea should work out well.

                      Tinwood

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Don and Tin!
                        3 Questions of the day:
                        -do I mess with the crack (I don't think it will change much now, or break, so I was going to let it be natural)?
                        -do I mess (a lot more) with the tail? Notice it is flatter near the base, which limits its round-ability....and too fat in the middle by the barb...that is fixable. Looks ok in plan view, not so good in section view.
                        -does anyone keep ramping up the sanding to 1000+ on maple...and skip the oil/lacq/poly?

                        Any critiques, suggestions, warnings, or wisecracks welcome.
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                        • #13
                          The first thing I want to bring to the fore is that I do not compete. So, I am not confined by the rules set by others. Second is that I am producing a woodcarving ~ not an exact replica of the living animal/bird. I pay attention and try to adhere closely to the ratio of anatomy ~ but I am more interested in what makes the carving look better.

                          Generally ~ I carve manes, beaks and talons slightly larger/longer/thicker than the exact ratio calls for ~ eyes may be larger or smaller if I am wanting a vulnerable/fierce look ~ I am often complimented on the fur of animals, which is always carved deeper and rougher than realistic ~ muscles/tendons are often exaggerated slightly to make them stand out.

                          Since you are planning on a wall hanging and the carving will not be handled ~ I believe that the tail can be carved thinner than otherwise. However, I would recommend leaving it thicker than any realistic ratio calls for. I doubt you will have a marine biologist saying, "The tail is too big!" And should that happen ~ I recommend what I tell my wife on these type occasions, "Well, at least I gave them something to criticize!".

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                          • #14
                            Hey - thanks Hermit Paul - great to have experienced folks to draw from. I am going to back off a bit on the realism - like you note, who studies what a ray tail really looks like, or comments?
                            Any thoughts on adding eyes? I did not want to carve the head hump lower to get eyes to pop-up, but I could stick on....eyes seem to make things alive.

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                            • #15
                              I just googled sting ray eyes and clicked on images. Looks like they have dark centers (pupils? can't tell) that vary from totally covering the eye to almost googley eyed.

                              f this were my carving I would use my usual technique for an unpainted carving. I carve the eye area appropriate to the species, then draw in the shape of the eye with a pencil. Once satisfied with the location and balance, I do a light pyrographic burn of the eyeball. I round this figure over so that it forms a ball shape, go over the eye several times with my burner set on low ~ until I get the desired darkness. If a highlight of light color is desired I simply scrape away the burn ~ but I do not think this adds to a carving left natural.

                              If you are planning on using a gloss finish, which I think would add to this carving, the eye is finished. I don't use high gloss finishes so I go with Golden's "Soft Gel (Gloss) to add the watery look to eyes, noses, beaks, talons, and claws.

                              Hope this helps some,

                              Paul

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