Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Carving and Shaping Floodgates are Now Open....

Today was a good day to use my imagination deciding on a design for one of the two rock salt lamp stands currently in the works. The weather was actually nice enough to allow for working in the shop without a drippy nose and numb fingers. So, I got to work.

Before I get to describing the actual carving, though, there's something that's been on my mind for a very long time, and I decided today was the day to address it. The question? How long does it take to make something, start to finish?

Well, I really don't know how long it takes. Truth is, I never really kept track of time spent on doing this kind of work. If I did, I might shed a tear or two over how much time it really does take. I don't even know if I WANT to time a project. The reason? Well, actually the reasons are in the plural:

Each project is different.

Each project presents unique challenges.

Each project requires different tools and techniques.

So, my answer invariably has always been a tap dance of sorts along the lines of if I charged by the hour, people really couldn't afford this.

That's been bothering me though. How much time does it really take? Well, today, I decided to try and find out. Today, I timed how long it took to carve and grind the first of those rock salt lamp stands ---- just the carving and grinding of the upper half of the first piece. That'd at least give me an idea, right?

The setup wasn't included, nor did I even stop to think of wear and tear on the long neck die grinder or the carving rasp or any of the other normal overhead type things that should go into figuring this sort of stuff out.

The final tally revealed I was right all along ---- even I don't want to know how long it takes! The timing effort is now finished before it really even got started. No more. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Bet you're wondering what the results were, right? Well, that's a secret that's gonna be kept, but time actually spent in this experiment does go to the pricing dilemma I face on these kinds of pieces. The experiment revealed I was right; that if I charged according to time spent, no one could afford them.

That, in turn, made me wonder if maybe I need to develop my skills a bit more in order to be able to crank them out faster. That, in turn, made me chastise myself because I, and I alone, know what goes into making pieces of functional art like these.

See where I'm going with this? See what angst if causes? That....that right there, is why I've been so reluctant to tally time spent. Oh, well.....

Anyway, after all was said and done, more got done than said on the first piece.

Remember that handy dandy shop jig I made yesterday? Well, it works. It works very well, in fact. That blank didn't budge even a little bit all throughout the carving.

Setup included clamping the base to the workbench using "jaws" and then tightening down the pipe clamp shop jig to secure the piece.

The next step was to figure out the "design".

I decided this one was going to be a variation of my first ever attempt at doing this, and the design was drawn free hand using a black magic marker. Markers work best because the lines are easy to see even with all the sawdust generated by the die grinder.

My hope is that, over time, design's will get more intricate. But until I get better at using the die grinder, the simpler the design the better. There's certainly a lot of stock removal ahead.

In the photo below, the long neck die grinder used to scallop out the design is taking a well-deserved break.

None of the scallops are exactly the same, and that's the way I wanted this to look.

By the way, did I say how well that shop jig apparatus works? I'm thinking this was a great idea, especially for the top and the bottom carving and grinding.

A different photo angle.

In order to do the sides, though, the whole apparatus, including the piece, had to be turned on its side in order to get the right angle to be able to work on it.

At the start, I wasn't really too sure how turning it on its side like this might work, but not to worry. The nice thing about this setup is every time one scallop was done, all I had to do was loosen the clamp, turn the blank, and the next one was positioned just right. Turn the crank back down, and the piece was nice and secure.

One down, not sure how many more to go.

After all of the top half was finished rough carving, this is how it looks. Of course, it'll need to be rough sanded to shape and smooth it some more, but it's also beginning to actually look like something.

Just another photo angle of the "flutes".

Depending on weather tomorrow, I hope to get the bottom half done.