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Re: Wood Block Prep

On Tue, 11 Feb 1997, Lee Cooper wrote:
> I have been struggling with the cutting of several wood blocks and have
> tried some end grain as well.  I finally broke down and bought some boxwood
> to use instead of pieces from me scrap wood box containing cherry, mahogany
> and several others. I have taken my boxwood and sawn it nearly type high
> slices across the grain.  I have tried sanding with a belt sander.  While
> they look good and feel smooth by furniture makers standards I find there
> are still low or high spots when I try to print them, of course after I
> have carved them.
> The boxwood is wonderful, smooth and firm and even.  How do I go about
> preparing the blocks for end grain carving??
> Thanks for any and all insight.

If your boxwood is still green (fresh cut) slice overthick disks like
salami.  Boxwood only comes 6-8 inches in dia.  Make one saw cut from
outside edge through the annual rings to the center of the slice.  Let
dry at least a year.  The saw cut will release the wood's inner stress
and instead of a spider's web of cracking the wood will shrink evenly,
enlarging the thin sawcut into a wedge shape.  In other words all the
shrinking takes place in one spot, like a pie with one slice missing.

Some woodturners use PEG solution (polyethelene Glycol?) to soak the wood
blanks first which reduces the shrinking considerably.  Oil the dried
blanks with danish oil or tung oil.

Sanding is best done by adhering the various grits of sandpaper to a
perfectly flat surface (I use a leveled litho stone but a piece of plate
glass will do) Rub the block into the sandpaper until flat.  You will find
that you will produce a flatter block rubbing the block instead of the paper.

Flatten one side to final grit.  The back of the block can be made
paralell (sp?) several ways.  For large blocks (8x10+) the best is to find
someone with a power drum sander or drum sanding attachment for a radial arm
saw.  I would use a millimg machine or a power router.  Any router or router
jig book should have plans to make a simple surface planning jig.  If your
blocks are small glue the finished side to a larger flat plywood sheet with
a layer or 2 of newspaper white glued between the block and the plywood.
Once planed the block can be popped off the plywood with a shape chisel.
Sand of the newspaper, oil and your ready to engrave.


     M I C H A E L   M O R I N                M.F.A., M.L.S.

Director Celtic Press               Instructional Media Librarian
  Buffalo  New York                  D'Youville College Library
         Co-Moderator Buffalo Free-Net Preservation SIG
    Member Buffalo Free-Net Information Development Committee

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