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Help please, is this how to do it?

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  • Help please, is this how to do it?

    I am working on this thunderbird, and my fingers are slowly falling off from sanding. The inspiration is the art of the Haida Gwai, I attached a pic. Their art is super smooth and angles and everything is perfect. Now I already gave up on the perfect angles and curves, I have no idea how to do this. My main question is how to they get it so smooth? Do they make such tiny cuts, or is it just sanded down? The left side in the pic I started sanding with a 100. But it takes forever. Or is that just what you all do? Are my cuts on the left too big to already jump into sanding?

    I would like to know though how they do get these perfect circles and cuts, is that experience? I attached a pic.

    Thanks for any tip!!!


  • #2
    Have you got any crooked knives to carve with? They do the best job of smoothing to the point where sanding is effective.
    It takes a very long time to carve a smooth surface. Can you make your tools a lot sharper? They should make really glassy cuts.

    Mainly get the surfaces smooth then do the sanding with flat wood blocks. At the very end cut the long sweeping curves
    with a crooked knife point or buy a left & right pair of skew chisels.

    The best book with drawing lessons for all 4 PacNW carving styles is

    Learning by Designing by Jim Gilbert & Karin Clark, Vol 1, 2001 ISBN 0-9692979-3-9 Raven Press.

    If you read this far, I like what you're doing and the design. Don't stop now.
    Maybe start another one so you stay fresh.
    Brian T


    • #3
      You could spend more time with your edge tools and get those curves much smoother, after that, I would be using scrapers rather than sanding to get the final smoothing


      • #4
        Micro Sander
        Quick View
        Micro Sander
        # 81266
        List Price $117.50
        Online Price $89.95
        From Micro Mark
        This is a little pricey, but once you use it, it will never get far Also try different width of #3 gouges,
        . . .JoeB


        • #5
          The above is great advice and I'd also suggest the tools should be very, very, sharp. Looks like a nice piece.
          Living among knives and fire.


          • #6
            Practice Grasshopper, practice! Good work comes with practice and a lot of effort. Sharp tools help. You have a good start, just needs some fine detailing.

            Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.


            • #7
              Oh, thank you so much for all these tips! Helps a lot! Will try each one. Actually what Robson mentioned I experienced, I went into those circles and sanded them out on the inside and then I went back on top and sanded the piece flatter and suddenly the nice sharper curves turned up. Still, very, very tedious. I attached where I at right now. Good to know that it seems you think I am doing nothing wrong in regards to cuts. I sometimes do lots of 'scratching', I have to get that out of my system. Only creates lots of fuzzies. I only took one class, and this is my first piece after some Santas I did, so I am excited to learn more. Thanks also for the book tip. Uh and thanks for the sander tip. Thanks everyone, I will keep at it!! This is so much fun, even if exhausting!


              • #8
                Double post! I see it coming along very well. Good.

                What wood is that? Basswood? That and the conifers do not smooth well with cabinet scrapers, no matter who made them.
                I use a 2/30 Pfeil gouge for a lot of smoothing along with crooked knives.The Haida eagle could be done in yellow cedar.

                Always do the final edge cuts last to make them really sharp after sanding.

                Depending on whose words you use, that is a fine example of restricted design or distributed design =
                the artwork fills all the available space.
                Brian T


                • #9
                  Hi Robson, yes it is Basswood. So I just checked, the 2/30 is a very large gouge, that makes total sense to go over it with this for smoothing! Thank you! I guess the Haida eagle is done in cedar, I think this is what the artists work with in the Pacific Northwest. Just stunning their precision. Hihi, thanks on the 'fine example' I will post final results when my fingers come back to life


                  • #10
                    FYI, I do not know your knowledge of knife gouge thermology, but there are two. "London-Patterson/Sheffield" & "Pfeil". Robinson's #2 is the same sweep that I mention, #2, in my post. They both have a very similar sweep, just manufactured to different standards. I bring this up because your relatively new to carving
                    Last edited by joepaulbutler; 12-06-2018, 07:36 PM.
                    . . .JoeB


                    • #11
                      Not knowing the size of the piece of art, the circle to the top right of the eye could be done with a drill bit just touching the surface. If you are afraid of it digging into the wood run it in revers. This will give you a symmetrical circle that is smooth. I will point out one thing, when I started carving I purchased a knife from Flexcut. I thought it was the be all to end all, then I went to a carving show and purchased a knife, blade was about an inch long and very fine. I then discovered that the smaller blade worked a lot better. The smaller blade was thinner therefore it cut smoother and easier through the wood. Now I only use the flexcut for hogging off wood.
                      Great job so far, looking forward to the end results.
                      ~ Dwight
                      "Hello, I am the Friggin' Happiness Fairy and I just sprinkled happy dust on you, so smile damit' this crap is expensive."


                      • #12
                        Once you apply some finish, oil or water based, the grain will raise and create some fine hairs/fibers, so your sanding isn't over yet. You may like to wet sand to get a really great smooth finish. The finer the grade of paper, the smoother the finish will be. Great job though, it is looking much better.

                        Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.


                        • #13
                          i am quite impressed with the way it is turning out for you.

                          photos at........


                          • #14
                            There is no basswood or other serious hardwood here.
                            The most common carving wood here in the Pacific Northwest is Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).
                            The other is Yellow Cedar (Chamycyparis nootkatensis).
                            In either case, you're looking for ring counts of at least 15/inch.
                            By the color and texture, that Haida carving is a panel of YC.

                            Skilled carvers use Alder (Alnus viridis) for masks. Very little birch carving wood.

                            You have to pick the correct tools for the job. Plumbers don't do electrical.
                            Use a real Pacific Northwest native style crooked knife shape to see how those sweeping cuts are made properly.

                            Brian T


                            • #15
                              Hi Elke, Got to tell you that you are doing Great and the help you are getting will help you more. The more you do will Teach your Eyes to see what needs to be done on the Piece your working on. Sounds like your very interested in Carving , that alone will be a Big Help. Stay with it and looking forward in seeing your finished Piece. Merle