Episode #45: Dressing Table Part 2 – Carving the Ball

It’s been a little while since I’ve worked on this, but I got a little time to do some carving, so here’s the next installment of the series. Carving the feet for me follows a step-wise process that starts with the square foot, transitions to a cylinder, then a ball, and finally, the toes are shaped to finish it off. I find working this way to be more consistent for me than just winging it. In this installment, I’ll work on carving the ball of the ball and claw foot.



9 thoughts on “Episode #45: Dressing Table Part 2 – Carving the Ball

  1. Great video Bob, excellent tutorial. I very much appreciate your sharing of your knowledge, and I’m looking forward to the next installment.
    Tom Baker

  2. A great tutorial Bob! Now that I’ve seen part 1 & part 2 of the ball & claw demonstration, I’m becoming less intimidated. The 50+ minutes went fast. Looking forward to part 3. Thanks very much Bob.

  3. As someone who has pushed the skill envelope on many projects, I would caution beginners to get one foot right before starting a production line process. You don’t want to repeat a mistake over and over before you even know you made it.

    However, since I forged ahead without the advantage of the careful instruction you provide in these videos, I deserved those 4 hilarious cabriole legs (in mahogany) I keep as a reminder. Your viewers are much better prepared for success.

    Thanks again for your generosity. Dan

    • Yeah, I definitely recommend doing a practice piece or two in basswood or poplar first before jumping in with feet for a piece of furniture. But when one does do a set for real, its helpful to take them all to the same stage before moving on to the next.

  4. Excellent as usual. This is something that I will probably never attempt but I really enjoyed your explanation of the process. Off topic a bit, but what would be your reccomendaton for a basic kit of gouges for general furniture work. I often am doing something and wish I had a gouge but then I look at the variety of sweeps, sizes ect. and I get confused.


    • Honestly, for most furniture work that doesn’t involve carving where a gouge is a nice tool to use, I lean toward incannel firmer gouges, not carving gouges. Carving gouges have much thinner blades than bench/firmer gouges, and are much more suited to non-carving tasks than the thinner carving gouges are. Bench/firmer gouges also don’t come in a lot of sweeps, so there’s not much to choose from. The most commonly found sweep in old bench/firmer gouges, as well as the most useful sweep for these tools, are the medium sweep. In fact, the makers of new bench gouges (Henry Taylor and Two Cherries are the only quality ones I’m aware of) only make them in medium sweep. Old bench gouges also came in deep sweep and shallow sweep, but I don’t find a need for those tools very often, so I don’t even own them.

      I have a set of 4 medium sweep outcannel firmers and a set of 4 medium sweep incannel firmers and I use the incannels far more frequently than the out cannels. The incannel gouges are fantastic for paring concave areas smoother than any file or rasp could ever make them, and way, way, way faster than using a file or rasp. I also use them for scribing or coping molding profiles at inside corners, such as might be used on the inside edge of a door panel.

      I will use my outcannel firmer gouges on occasion, but they’re used more for roughing out contours than anything else; like roughing in a large concave molding profile before finishing with molding planes. I use the incannel gouges far more frequently for non-carving tasks than the out cannels.

      So if you don’t plan to do much carving but would like to pick up a few gouges for bench work, I highly recommend you pick up a few incannel firmer gouges. My set is 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″. While the in between sizes would be nice to have on rare occasion (I’ve wished for a 3/8″ and a 5/8″ a few times), these 4 are about all you need in these gouges for 95% of the work you will need them for. I should really do a post on bench gouges.

  5. I was curious if you have or plan to do a part 3 for the ball/ claw series. I learned alot from the first two. I noted it was last summer 2012 for the ball part and you mentioned a part 3 for the toes/ web section to finish the discussion. Thanks. Brad Bernhard

    • Hi Brad,

      Thanks for asking. All I can say is it’s coming. I haven’t finished carving the feet yet. This is one of those projects that I have no immediate need for nor any real driver to get it done, so it always gets pushed to the back burner when something else comes up. I seem to work on it in short spurts and then it gets shelved again. I hope to get back to it in the coming weeks as I tire of looking at all the parts sitting in the corner of my shop. But I make no promises at this point as I know something else will probably come up if I do. So no, you haven’t missed it. I just dropped the ball on it and never finished it. Hopefully I’ll get time to get back to it soon.

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