Tag Archives: workbench

Fresh Supply, Part 2

23 May
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The various stages of carving a Whale

With so much Meranti wood, every evening I am kept busy! When the sun is up, I would be playing golf (especially this week) but when the sun goes down, I would be carving.

The process is simple, find two Meranti blocks that are about the same size to Elmer-glue together. Then clamp it down with the work bench for a day or so before carving. And although there’s a fixed set of measurements and angles to ensure every piece is standardised, there are still some variations. After all, it’s wood that I am dealing with and the carvings are all hand-made.

The chipping, carving and initial shaping does not take long. This is the fun but dusty and messy part. If I stay focused, I usually get one piece done a night depending on what time I start. It is after the carving that the process takes longer and sometimes tedious too because every step of the way requires time or even have to be repeated.

Details on the eyes and tail take time. The eyes are usually marked, carved out first before drilling to ensure it’s perfectly round and even. For the tail, it’s the curves and corners that I have to work on. Then the sanding and filing to shape the overall curves.

Putty work is next to patch ugly holes and the piece is then left to dry, taking time because this curing process cannot be hurried. When the piece is ready—usually a couple of hours or more depending on how much is applied—more sanding and filing, creating more dust and mess. Sometimes this step needs to be repeated if the patch work is insufficient to even out the holes properly.

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Putty work: before and after comparison

But when all patch work are completed, a coat of white gesso is applied and the piece is left to dry again for another day. The next step – more sanding to smoothen the surface before a second coat of gesso. By now it’s the fourth or fifth day from the first cut.

Once I am satisfied with the surface, on goes the acrylic paint, two coats over two days. Of all the colors I have, the new Glitter Blue color is most problematic because it requires more than two coats, several coats in fact to be even.

The last process is the gloss varnish, also two coats, before the final touches are added – the felt cloth on the base, the date and my signature and voila! The piece is finally complete.

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Before and after of the final touches with felt base, date and my signature!

With the fresh supply, I find myself repeating this routine every other night with several pieces overlapping each other in various stages of the process. Tedious, repetitive but enjoyable.

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Working on four pieces in various stages simultaneously

Killer Whales

12 Feb

Actually, carving on Meranti wood is not good for me. While it may be satisfying to channel my energy into it and then feel the joy whenever a lovely piece is completed, the choice of the wood is the culprit that adds to my Wrist Tendonitis woes.

I was carving a lot of Meranti whales in December and they are much bigger pieces than the Gnomes and Citizens, which unfortunately have not increase in their population count. And being bigger pieces, it magnified the Wrist Tendonitis on the left hand because I have been gripping the wood block too tightly, looking back at the situation now. Sigh.

Although I have a vise clamp albeit a mini one, it cannot clamp the block for me to work on. And I have not been using my workbench enough to ease the situation. It is not the repetitive motion that’s causing the flare up because the repetition is on the right hand, the carving hand, and not the left hand – the non-working but gripping hand.

If I am not carving daily, the situation can be contained because with ample rest, nothing gets aggravated and it’s fine. The therapy sessions, which concluded, helped but I must not overdo things that can cause a recurrence. That something obviously being carving, of course. And I guess I overdid it in December. Oops.

Then in January as we were busy preparing for M2 to leave, carving took a backseat. But after M2 left, I was back to carving whales full swing AND playing golf before Chinese New Year, double whammy you could say. I felt a teeny weeny set back. Uh oh.

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The whales, cute as they may be, are really killer whales. And I’d better take care especially if I want to play more golf this year. Perhaps I should go back to balsa instead of Meranti or get a bigger vise clamp if setting up the workbench is too much? Something to seriously consider.

My Silly Dog

25 Sep

Official pet number one, Rooney, is one silly dog. Every time when I am set up at the garden terrace to do my carving, he would be my little vacuum cleaner. I know it’s bad for him but sometimes he gets to the wood shavings much faster than me!

Two weeks ago, over the three-day weekend when I was working on two pieces of Meranti simultaneously, the mess was everywhere on the floor and he just took the liberty to crawl under my workbench and helped himself. One silly dog indeed.

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Hmm…. tit bits! I like….

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Gosh… they taste soooooo good! Ohm nom nom…

 

Box of Happiness, Part 2

2 Mar

I didn’t expect my workbench to arrive so soon! It was ordered only on Sunday and arrived two days later. The other two items (for Rooney and M2) which were ordered earlier are still being processed. Nonetheless, this is another box of happiness. Work space has shifted from the living room to the terrace that Tuesday night itself. So exciting!

Box of Happiness

27 Feb

It is awesome when my Aunty gave me a box full of Meranti (Shorea, Parashorea) wood pieces, excess or rather off-cut pieces from her factory. It’s more like a box of happiness. Imagine the carvings that I can do with all of them!

All the more reason to get that workbench. I went to the store, Ace Hardware to check out the Black & Decker WM225 model that I have identified but decided to order it online instead because the online price is a better deal. So over the weekend, the order was made. Yay.

My box of happiness awaits the new workbench. This is the beginning of something new. The Citizens of Gigglesville are now seeing a new growth, in size besides the numbers.

Online Shopping, Part 3

26 Feb

I have said several times in the past that online shopping is fun. I recently ordered a toy for official pet number one, Rooney, and ear sticks accessory for M2. While browsing, I stumbled upon something which I don’t really need but would want to have nevertheless.

It’s a workbench.

Why?

Well, my carving has taken up a lot of space in the living room. And at the same time, it’s leaving a lot of fine dust especially when I file down the carvings. I know I shouldn’t do this indoors but sometimes when one is in the thick of things, it’s hard to move.

And each time after I am done, I have to put things away so the living room don’t look so messy. Now if I had my little workspace at a proper location, the living room would look much neater and I don’t have to go through the tedious tidying up. Hubby argued that the round table at the garden terrace is good enough but I don’t think it’s sufficient.

His tools and plants are hogging that space and I wouldn’t want to make it any more crowded. So I need my own table or work station, hence this urge to get a workbench which I think is practical and not crazy.