Scrollwork and How to Carve It
June 4, 2012
Boats planked with wood lend themselves so beautifully to carved-in decoration that it’s surprising you don’t see more of it. Details really make a difference, and a well-executed scroll, a carved-in boat name, a star, or a cove stripe will enhance any boat’s appearance. As do cabin windows when they’re framed out and set inward a little from the surrounding surface, carved-in features indicate that the hull planking has thickness—and therefore substance. Painted-on decoration surely helps, but you can’t beat stuff that’s actually carved in.
I‘ve been wanting to decorate the bow of our Handy Billy launch ever since we acquired her, and this year it happened. My friend Reed Hayden, who is a boatbuilder as well as a skilled wood carver, agreed to doctor up the sheerstrakes with a scroll of my design. He makes it look easy and the entire process took only about an hour. As a first-timer, you’ll take longer, but the important point here is that you can learn this skill, and watching how Reed goes about it will help you get started. At first, you’ll go slowly, but with care, your results should be acceptable. Practice will increase your speed.
To get a feel for how Reed holds and manipulates his tools as he carves away at the boat’s forward end, click on the video below. Don’t miss it!
After Reed finished his carving, I primed with BIN and gave the scroll a finishing coat of cream. Gilding was tempting, but paint is more in keeping with this boat’s plain finish. Launching followed, and here is how Constanza now looks. To my eye, much improved!
Reed Hayden’s box contains a variety woodcarving tools, all arranged for easy access and to protect their razor-sharp edges. He describes them in the video that follows.
For occasional carving of scrolls, like the one shown, fewer tools are needed. In the video that follows, Reed describes his choice of four.
All four of Reed’s favored carving tools are manufactured by Pfeil of Switzerland and sold by Woodcraft (www.woodcraft.com). Here are the specifics:
20mm Gouge, #2 Sweep, catalog #05B10 ($45.19)
25mm Gouge, #8 Sweep, catalog #05F09 ($49.99)
14mm V-parting tool, #13 Sweep, catalog #05H09 ($52.49)
10mm Veiner, #11 Sweep, catalog #05I10 ($44.69)
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