Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Now that every gouge in my shop is razor sharp (I wish), it's time to do some knuckle carving. Carved knuckles are a bit of aesthetic flourish, no real point to them but to excite the senses. I recall looking at photos of Sam Maloof working on a chair and envying the fun he seemed to have using hand tools to shape the wood. His work may seem more "form and function" without curlicued volutes and balusters, but to my eye he spends most of his time indulging in shaping wood. It's easy to forget, but making shapes in wood is all a woodworker does, and carving knuckles is a great reminder.

I am going to be doing a photo essay on carving knuckles. Here is where I begin, by gluing on a block of wood with the grain direction the same as the arm to form the bottom of the carvings.

I use handplanes for the flattening of the glue joint and am very picky about it being dead on. A flat plane iron (which can only be honed on flat stones!) is key as well as a willingness to be honest. Does the joint fit without movement? When you press on one side does the other lift? Try again.

Here is where the essay is heading, I'll show the inbetween photos next.


Anonymous said...

I always leave the knuckle one piece. Is there any other disadavantage other than more waste to do it that way. It seems I always see the glue line on mine and it takes longer to mess with the glue up. Your thoughts.
Greg P.

Peter Galbert said...

I don't glue on the side of hands, where the joint would be structural, only on the ornamental portion below the hand. I prefer not to do it as one piece because, as you said, the waste is greater. Generally, I believe that it is best to avoid a joint, both for time and trouble, but in this case I sharpen up and get to work. I haven't had any difficulty with glue lines. Thanks for the comment

Anonymous said...

great, detailed information! You'll have me coming back!

Unknown said...

Peter there is something great about that carved knuckle photo. I am digging deep and studying hard. :) Now I am up to late and better put your blog away for the night.