Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lobster, Butterfly and Dovetail Soup

~ Upbeat, with feel ~

"It's a Big Feed of Lobster..."

A quick note now to demonstrate the evolution of the Lobster tail into the so-called Butterfly or Dovetail....follow me?
Start of after you've cut out your butterflies by squaring up the ends. I like to run my Smoother over each face and clearly mark on the back side of each key, the orientation of the piece. Up, down, left side or right. As close as I'd like to think these are the same size; they're not. That's the beauty of hand crafted furniture. Even if I wanted to make these identical, there would inevitably be small discrepancies in the two. I guess that's part of their charm.

I start of with beveling or maybe breaking the edge would be a better term. I use a pretty coarse Rasp for this job, it makes quick work and is relatively easy to do. I should correct myself here first; I said start out by...I actually take the butterfly key and start off by sketching the rough shape I'm trying to get to with a pencil. Then, I go to the rasp and start shaping.

From here I move on to my Gouge. This takes a little nerve to do; taking your nice smooth piece of walnut, with it's freshly shaped edges, then start gouging out pieces of the wood in an attempt to create a pleasing shape? Take a deep breathe and go for it! What's the worse that can happen? You'd have a bit of filing or sanding to do later or worst case scenario, you have to make a new key. Really, it's only 8" square of 1/2" walnut from the scrap wood pile...get over it.

The Lobster Emerges....
So I realise this is a butter fly key; a throw back to a time when civilization was different, craftsmen were different. A time before the face paced life style we live and breath today. The butterfly key was used as a decorative way to structurally and mechanically connect two pieces of wood in a shared form of joinery. So what did I do? I made a lobster! :)
Great. Hey, this is Cape Breton Island, isn't it?
Seriously, the lobster will be slowly smoothed over and washed away to the point where a passing hand will only detect the subtle reminder of it's curves and shapes. Will it ever know I started out with a lobster shape? Well, I suppose it will now!

From here I have no choice but to start with a bit of 220 sand paper, slowly rubbing and shaping; manipulating and easing the harsher, more determined shapes left behind by the Gouge. I blend in the tiny hills and valleys until a pleasing form comes forth. When I close my eyes and feel the piece in my grip I know it's complete. A nice coat of Oil and it's ready to fly.