I wanted to make a Valentine gift for my wife.
Something that shows exactly how I feel.
Step 1: Starting.
A famous sculptor once said that the way to make a carving is to look at a piece of wood, see the image within it, and cut away all the bits that don't belong.
Since I make most of my projects that way, that seemed a reasonable way to go.
I started with a short length of branch that had been sitting around in the warm since before Christmas.
Using a junior hacksaw, I cut four wedges out to make a long cross.
Step 2: Seeing the Shape Within.
Once I had the cross, I had to start thinking about the two hearts.
I started by turning the cross into two interlocked squares. That was a simple hacksaw job again.
Once I had the squares, I planned the hearts, sketching directly onto the wood.
Step 3: Starting to Carve.
Time to start removing the wood.
Using a combination of the hacksaw, Leatherman and my rotary tool I hacked away the outside of the hearts.
I then turned to the holes.
Using a drill-bit on my rotary tool, plus my Leatherman, I drilled the holes through, following the lines I had sketched.
The more I cut away, the more nervous I got...
Step 4: Parting the Hearts.
Time to cut the two hearts apart.
This is where I found I hadn't planned as well as I thought - I couldn't fit a saw-blade in the gap between the hearts.
I ended up using a needle-fine drill-bit to perforate the narrow section of wood still between the hearts.
After four or five holes drilled from each direction into the joining wood, I was able (eyes closed tight) to snap the two hearts apart, without actually snapping the hearts.
I had a small panic at this point - the hearts looked hideous
Step 5: Tidying Up.
I bought a set of files and rasps (from our local DIY superstore), and set to with a will.
The second photo is the final product, as presented to my wife.
It's not perfect, and it's not varnished or stained, but that is deliberate because my wife likes handing bare wood - as she sits and plays with the hearts, my hope is that will gain the polish and patina distinctive of wood that is handled on a regular basis.
Step 6: What I Learned
- Use the right tools! I should have bought a coping saw to do the bulk cutting - junior hacksaws can't cut curves with a narrow radius.
- Use the full length of a blade to cut smoothly and efficiently.
- Sawdust and contact lenses mix too well.
- Rotary tool cutting discs are not designed for wood.
- Rotary tool grinding discs are good for starting fires.
- Drills are not sculpting tools, but sometimes you've got to manage with what you've got.
- Don't try and catch a running rotary tool when you drop it (fortunately, I missed).
- Be brave, try stuff. You can always start again.
- Plan ahead - if I make another of these, I will leave more of a gap between the two sections so that I can get a cutting tool in there.
- Be brave enough to stop. The hearts are not geometrically-perfect cardioids, but they felt ... right. I left enough texture in the surfaces for them to feel interesting as my wife fiddled with them, worry-bead style.