Workbench Day 28: Leg vise final touches

I am forcing myself to finish this dadgum leg vise.  I’m tired of seeing the parts sitting around and now that I’ve pretty much caught up with all the random tasks associated with the bench to get back to the next to last big project (last will be the sliding deadSven).

I spent a little time touching up the beveled edges and getting things where I think I’m at as far as I can push my skills and this pine.  I also rounded to top a little…

Then it was on to doing the carving I had planned before actually mounting this thing (because obviously it’ll be hard to carve when it’s mounted…).

First step was to decide on a design.  That was easy.  I’ll use my maker’s mark I’ve used on all my artwork for years and years, a simple pattern based on my initials S. M. V.   Take a look at the top right of this page and you’ll see the symbol.

I resized the image in Photoshop, then printed it out.

Next, I flipped it over and covered the back of the design in graphite from a pencil…

Next I placed it on the chop and then traced the image (right side up) as hard as I could without breaking through the paper or the point of the pencil.

When you peel the paper off, if you’ve done it right, your design is now outlined on the wood.  Because of the pencil I used and the wood’s soft surface, the deign came out real faint, so I had to go over it again to darken it up.

I then started to carve.  First I took my smallest flat chisel (1/4″) and made stop cuts all the way around the design.  Then I went back and made a stop cut in along the middle of each letter.  Next, it was just a matter of cutting from either edge towards the middle, angled down.  It created a nice V cut.   Here it is as I started:In this shot you can see I added the date as well.  Anyway, all there is to it is to keep at it and move you’re way along the design, cutting and chiseling.  The curves were very tricky, but I found if you use the corner of the chisel and go real slow, it’s possible to get decent curves.

The number, about 1″ tall were much harder than the letters, but I muddled through it.  If nothing else, this is fine practice.  I also used the real cheap set of carving chisels (supposedly professional grade…ha!) I picked up for $16 from Amazon about 2 years ago.  I couldn’t figure out if the crappy gouges were hurting or helping my effort so I scrapped ‘em and went back to the straight chisel.

In the end, I didn’t like how things were so rough looking so I got out the Dremel, put in a tiny diamond tip teardrop shaped tip and smoothed everything out.

For my first attempt at carving, I’m pretty happy.

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