Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sharpening up the scroll...and sharpening

Once the scroll is roughed out, there's a lot of work to tidy it up. One of the things that really helps bring it into focus is putting a chamfer on all the edges--that little bevel between planes. For some reason, it really makes it easier to see everything that the scroll is doing, and how the spiral sort of "moves." Another thing that sharpens it up is putting the fluting into the scroll--the parallel gouges that run the length of the scroll. Both of these are stylistic elements that different makers do to different extents, and some barely do at all. Additionally, in a really old scroll, they may be nearly worn away. However, in this fresh scroll, they make the pattern really stand out more sharply.
Speaking of sharp, there seems to be a universal phenomenon among wood craftspeople. Luthiers are especially fond of scary sharp tools, so everybody at the workshop spent a lot of time at the sharpening station--a hand cranked grinding wheel, a honing stone, and a strop. And it seems that everybody tested their blades in the same way: shave some hairs off of a convenient forearm. That's my left arm on the bottom, below my right arm--the picture shows how I've now got a bald patch above my left wrist.

One of the workshop participants is a luthier by trade, but was introduced to some wood artisans from another country. They had no common language, but when the foreigner saw my classmate's forearm, he laughed. He rolled back his left shirtsleeve, to reveal an identical bald patch right above his wrist. No common tongue, perhaps, but definitely a common forearm!

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