Today was my first go carving some patterns I am a big fan of. At first glance they look complicated, then on inspection you realise they are quite easy to lay out and cut, only to mess them up a lot when trying to do them for real. I have four really nice wide oak boards that are going to make another box and I intend to cover them in this strapwork. I knew I would struggle to cut these right first time though so planed off some old carvings from a board to do a practice run on today. I am determined to get the hang of these, from what I can gather once you get the basic pattern and layout you can play with the design a lot and it becomes very versatile.

I don’t want to post pictures belonging to anyone else so please have a look at Peter Follnsbee’s article about this design to see the real deal:

For me spacing the pattern out has been the main difficulty. Because the whole pattern is laid out based on the curves of the chisels struck into the wood, rather than the free cuts of a v-tool, you are somewhat limited by the chisels themselves. I did try to pick Peter Follansbee’s brain about these when I went on his course last year, and his main bit of advice was “start in the centre and work your way out, it’s real simple”. After a false start and re-planing the board down, I eventually got to this point (in the photo below). I started at the centreline of the board, and then worked my way out creating sections based on the diameter of the arches at the top and bottom of each section. This seems to be the key dimension in determining the layout, although it is never actually measured, just laid out on the wood one chisel strike after the next. Once the width of the first arch was defined, I marked out a series of vertical lines to section off all the rest of the pattern out to the board ends.


Once I had got the hang of striking out the pattern in the wood I practiced some bits that were not working so well, and removed some of the background. So this looks like a real mess in the end but hopefully I will be able to avoid the same mistakes on the finished piece now that it is clearer in my head.


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