Discussions on this forum are membership-run. I (Mary May) will monitor conversations and will try and contribute as needed. However, I can't guarantee that I will always have time to keep up with the discussions. Please feel free to contribute, as the only way this forum will be successful is if members get involved! I will also be the "judge and juror" with inappropriate, rude, or offensive behavior, so play nice!
The discussions on this forum can be read by anyone, but if you would like to join in and participate, please login or register as a Free Member.

Backgrounding in deep, narrow channels

Any tips on getting a smooth finish in narrow, deep bits of background?  I'm working on a pair of small corbels in oak,  with a small acanthus leaf on the sides (you'll recognize the pattern from Mary's recent yellow pine nightmare project).  Here are the ideas I (partially) know about so far.

(1) Don't go so deep.  Oops, too late for this one...   did I need that depth to make my details visible?  It seemed like I did.

(2) I could get some fancy spoon bent gouges.  I suppose there is still a limit on how deep you can go with these?  Any recommendations on sizes which might be helpful?

(3) Should I not be doing this in oak?

Watching Mary's Celtic Knot video helped a bit,  but if there are other relevant videos I should watch, please share!



Uploaded files:
  • corbel.jpg

ps-  this project is a first for me in many respects:  a first attempt at an acanthus leaf,  a first in oak,  a first sort of "in the round",  a first working so much in the end grain (wowzers, the oak didn't feel hard until cutting across end grain...!).    I'd sincerely appreciate criticism or suggestions!

Hi Scott. Wow. you dove in at the deep end, didn't you? Backgrounding plus oak? Now try basswood, and it will feel like carving soft butter 🙂

You've done a fine job with that, and I'm impressed you were able to do what you have in oak. It appears that you were able to get that background down cleanly, but the best trick I can suggest is small very deeply angled spoon bent gouges (probably a #3 curvature and 2 to 6mm). I wouldn't use a flat spoon bent, as it will most likely dig in at the corners.

Hint - the "stippling" method of making a textured surface with a punch really helps make a background smooth (a little trick of the trade to make something that is difficult to flatten more uniform).

Another Hint - If you carve the same design in butternut, you can make it look just like oak and will make your life much easier. As long as this is not structural, you should be fine. Butternut is not a very strong wood, but for decorative purposes it works great.