A Linking of Hearts

I’ve started up the Lovespoon carving again and I’m surprised how relaxing it is just to sit down during the lunch break and whittle away at a chunk of wood. The design that I stumbled upon was during the Valentine day week when I was thinking about what to get for my wife. I had a piece of mahogany that was six inches by two inches by one and a half inches and thought I would design a Lovespoon with two hearts staged one on top of the other. As the design evolved I thought I would split the hearts and carve the spoon bowl inside the heart shape and have the two halves joined together with a link.

Heart shaped Lovespoon made from mahogany.

I have always liked the look of having a carving with a movable link, it’s the challenge of being able to achieve the carving without snapping the part. One of my previous Lovespoons also sported a link but on that occasion it was a little more difficult to carve as I had left little room to maneuver, this time I made sure to leave enough space between the body and the link for hand sawing.

The first task was to sketch out the two hearts that would be the main focus of the theme and leave one inch of material for the link. I made sure to use the total width and depth of the wooden blank leaving a minimal amount to remove on the bandsaw.

With the design established I first removed the material around the end that would become the link. The link is to be half an inch thick and the connecting ring of the heart would be the same, once chiseled out the end would look like a (+) plus sign. Once this is established, the link can be penciled in place with the connecting ring intersecting the moving link with areas that are to be removed colored in so there will be no mistakes. For me this is always the nerve racking part, don’t cutout the wrong piece, hence the color coding. I would always use the largest drill bit to remove the material, first around the link then around the main body ring. From there on in it’s a case of using a jewelers saw with a scroll saw blade to finely cut between the links and gain separation.

Close-up of the link and the split Lovespoon

The reason for cutting out the link first is so that you can use the stability of the flat planes to keep the wood blank flat whilst drilling and carving in a vise. As soon as the link is free the rest of the shape can be cutout on the bandsaw and carving commences. At any stage when power tools can help to remove material quickly adopt that method but take extra safety precautions, as with any small carving it is easy to lose control especially when in close.

Heart spoon split showing the carved bowls

The fullness of the hearts are carved first with a three quarter inch chisel before moving on to the link. Even though the link is separated I need to keep as much material on it while I shape the main body because of the constant handling. Once the hearts are shaped they can be sanded to remove most of the unevenness then attention can be paid to refining the link. For this job I used smaller Flexcut® carving tools to slowly remove the excess material between the links, I also needed to shape the outside of the link so that it would pivot around the fixed link.

Shaping the link is a time consuming process because of the delicate nature of carving between sections. One slip with the sharp carving tools can easily slice through the retaining ring but patience will ultimately get the job done.

The matching pair of carved spoons

With the link refined I can turn my attention to splitting the hearts, for this I will use the bandsaw but only as far as the link. To separate between the link I used a hacksaw blade because it’s rigid enough to control the cut. The cut is made from each side until there is only the mid section to cut and with the link being deep enough the hacksaw blade can just manage to separate the two halves. The inside faces of the two halves are sanded to give a flat a plane as possible so that the two halves would appear as one when pushed together.

For the inner face design I had decided to carve out the bowl of the spoon on each half and the upper section would have a heart carved into each half. The spoon bowl would be connected to the heart by a single carved channel giving the overall effect of a spoon on each half. With the carving refined with small carving gouges and chisels the overall carved piece is finished off with various grades of sandpaper then coated with a citrus paste wax. This paste wax is then buffed out and again rubbed down with very fine sandpaper or even wire wool to fill in most of the grain before receiving a final coat of paste wax and buffed out smooth. The end result is a silky smooth finish that has a beautiful low gloss sheen. The final touch is to carve in my initials and the date of creation i.e. SA0208. For me a satisfactory and pleasing end result from a small chunk of wood.

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