crossbow project photos

I’ve found an image I took early on in the project, not a great photo (they never are) but it shows the prod as it currently is, ready to splice the nocks into and then sinew – I’ve shredded the sinew – and the apple branch the stock is to be carved from.  The other photo shows the stock as it currently stands, about 2/3 roughed out and I’m starting to plan the inlays.  Its not as curvy as I would like but its going to be rather nice.




In case you were wondering about the shakes in the tiller, as the moisture content stabilizes they will close up on their own and be firmly glued together with super-glue.  It can be a mistake to execute a repair with wedges and fillers as this will prevent the wood from naturally pulling back together. It is sometimes necessary, though, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens once the wood finishes shrinking


crossbow project

I’ve been making a crossbow over the last few weeks as a kind of intermediate step towards building the ‘big one’ – no pictures yet but I’ll post some before long.  The prod is roughed out of a piece of yew and is going to receive some horn nocks before I sinew it, the tiller is roughed out of a not very promising piece of apple but I think it will end up as something really lovely. Work has been delayed as my local joiner promised to re-saw my buffalo horn for about 6 weeks but then kinda let me down, When I collected the horn they pointed me to a nearby unit where lurks a green oak worker but, and God is very good, the guy there -Rhys – is so much more than that – he’s also a tool maker and blacksmith and I needed to find a blacksmith to forge the metal-work for the crossbow.  He also does a rather fabulous bearded carving axe, best balanced axe I’ve ever seen, so, Christmas is coming and its time to start saving up…


Travel tip, do not go up the funicular from the river to the palace in Budapest, its a tourist trap, and a very expensive one.  Go one stop down the tram railway and ride the escalator in the palace gardens behind the ladies gate.  The gardens are beautiful; the entrance buildings are stunning.  Right by the escalator is a little water spout, a bear in the Bavarian (I think) style.  The more you look the better he gets, the modelling is stunning.  These photos should be enough for any half decent carver to develop a pattern from.



Dragon spoon

This was a gift for my daughter’s art teacher as he is moving on at the end of this term. I call it keeper of the pearl; if you look really close you might spot the ‘pearl’. There’s a tiny ball that is completely free moving carved inside the dragon’s mouth. I was really pleased with this one; only about 12″ long, it was quite a challenging carve, especially the head, where the eyes are only 3mm long and 2mm high, but it came together very nicely.


dl spoon (2)



This is a little acanthus scroll trailboard for a Victorian launch restoration, currently at the tweak and finish stage. The turn at the bow end is a little too oval, but otherwise it’s coming together nicely. The thing that really makes a deep relief like this ‘pop’ is to undercut it.  Undercutting is done to take the sides of the design out of sight. It is important that this is not overdone or the edges will be weakened. It is also important the back of the carving keeps in contact with the hull; if it is raised it will be susceptible to  breaking off when the carving gets knocked. The thing to bear in mind is to avoid pockets for water to collect in.


The first picture shows a vertical view but even here some of the sides of the carving are visible.


Whereas this image is only slightly off-vertical and the sides are clear to see.



This little distraction occupied much of my spare time from the end of November to late January, and now it has been delivered I can post about it.  The lovespoon was completely hand-carved, using a coping-saw to rough it out, then whittled with a knife and a very small shallow gouge; a tiny spoon-bent gouge was used to cut through the links(the heart is completely free to move around but the intertwining knot-work stops it from falling out). The only other tool used was a medium spoon-bent gouge for the bowl.  I hate sanding and put it off until there is no alternative  – the tool marks were smoothed down by scraping with the knife-edge held vertically – any remaining marks were smoothed off with a 400-grit abrasive mesh. Ironically, the wood was almost too smooth and the paraffin-wax finish needed warming up gently to make it more sticky as it just slipped off the wood in some places.




tiller to Brest – update

Things are progressing, slowly, but I am still more-or-less on schedule, having managed to cobble together somewhere near 20 hours carving on the tiller in between and around other work.  I know I felt I would leave the rope-work until the whole thing was roughed out but in the end I have concentrated on getting it done and now the ropework is nearing completion; I think about 5 more hours should see it done.

Hopefully you can see that the work is much deeper and more fully rounded.  You might also see where I have started some fancy ‘whipping’ on the one end: more of that in a later post.  Incidentally the only tool I am using at the moment is a 10mm skew-chisel – the pointed end is essential for getting into the tiny spaces