Saturday, April 7, 2007
The False Miter
This is a sequence of photos that I took while carving a false miter joint on a rodback. The wood is cherry. The large block in this image is a remnant of the lathe that I rough trimmed on the bandsaw. Most of the shaping is done with a full sized drawknife. It takes a great deal of focus because there are few reference points to tell me where to stop, just careful observation of the shape as it forms.
Once the major shape is roughed in, I use carving tools and spokeshaves to make the shape flow into the rounds that lead into it. A cut with a V shaped carving to makes the false miter appear.
I had an interesting discussion with Chris Durbin (I'll be posting photos of his excellent work later) about risk in craftsmanship. One of the great advantage of hand tools is the immediacy and intensity of involvement that they offer, but it comes at a price. There is a learning curve and the potential for ruining the workpiece is often just one move away. This can force us to retreat to the safety of taking tiny cuts which is inefficient or even worse, stopping before achieving our goals for fear of ruining a piece. A painting mentor of mine used to encourage me to ruin my work rather than stop short. He said that by going past the line of a "good" painting and into a disaster, at least I'd learn where that line was. Alway stopping short leaves us holding our breath, working in fear. It is a difficult practice, one that may send one running for the certainty of a tablesaw and some sandpaper. I have messed up a lot of work. I'd hate to see the pile of chewed up turnings that I've made. But imagine an infant, unwilling to give up the stability of four limbs on the ground for two. Then think of the boldness of lifting one of the two off of the ground! We all know where this goes. So if, on occasion, the piece of wood in front of you has to be sacrificed, rest assured, it is not in vain, the next piece to take it's place will benefit in the hands of a more learned craftsman.