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Archive for May 1st, 2012

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From the current issue of TravelIN.

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I finally began to move forward with my full sized tundra swan in flight. When completed it should measure fifty-four inches longpith a wingspan of seventy-two inches. My largest strongly, not surprisingly, is to find the space to do this in my tiny crowded shop.

I work, mainly, using two inch thick white pine planks. The cheeks on this swan are three inches thick so the head and neck (the only carved portions of this bird) blank had to be glued up from two pieces of wood.

The trick to a strong and successful glue joint is perfectly mated wood pieces. Before glueing the pieces I flattened them with a bench plane. I then glued them using a waterproof wood glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so I used lots of clamps (six) and thick cauls.

After the glue had set (twenty mins.) I removed the clamps and sawed the head and neck in two profiles. I saw the profile first and tack the scraps back into place before sawing the outline from the top. I then cut a “handle” at the end of the neck to provide a clamping surface.

Like any carving the next step is to knock the corners off–carve off the corners at forty-five degrees to make the piece octagonal–and begin the rounding process. These corners roll in at the beak to form the top and bottom surfaces. The tip of the beak is left square and will be shaped much later. It’s always a good idea to leave extra wood in areas that may be particularly delicate.

Waterfowl heads are thickest at the base of the cheeks. The sides of their heads slant inward. Unlike ducks, with a pronounced cheek line, swans heads are simply tapered. Using a small hand plane I define the flat sides of the head.

More about this later.

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