Figurehead Face Completed

May 30th, 2018
Face carving complete, as good as I can get it.

Face carving complete, as good as I can get it.

I still would like to do some touchup of her headdress.

Figurehead – nose, mouth and front edge of cap

April 25th, 2013

News Flash: I have actually done some carving recently on my hurdy-gurdy peghead! The nose and lips are done, and much of the rest of the face is better shaped, except for the eyes. I have also started smoothing her cap. I am pleased with everything so far. I hope the eyes turn out as well. For a comparison to what it looked like previously, go here.

The face is beginning to be worth looking at

The face is beginning to be worth looking at

My father’s portrait completed

April 25th, 2013

My father's marquetry portrait

At long last, I finished my father’s marquetry portrait! I posted the pattern for this in August, 2010. It was mostly what I have been doing, hobbywise, instead of working on my hurdy-gurdy. This is made from thin wood veneers cut with an X-acto knife. To compare it with my mother’s and to see the original picture, go here.

Harlequin trimmed

February 12th, 2012

I’ve got the two inlays for the sides of the peg head trimmed out. [The lower tip on each is not final-trimmed because it is so delicate. I will get to it later, closer to the time it will be glued in.]


The side with the design showing is actually the bottom that will be glued against the peg head. The top side is taped. So, the one from the other side of the peg head is seen sitting on the near side, showing how it will appear.

I’m not sure how I like it. I will have to get the body and keychest out and see what they all look like together.

Harlequin taped and glued

January 22nd, 2012
I removed all the layers of old tape from the individual barber pole strips. The two inlays kept falling apart, because the original  stripes were just taped together. After several re-attachments, I put fresh tape on the front, crossing the joints, which the former tape did not do, because the original taped strips were cut. Using the template I made in Corel Draw on the computer, I traced the trim lines with a fine-point marker onto each piece on the back. This is done before gluing, because you can’t write very well on the glue.

Two inlays with pattern, after taping the fronts and tracing trim lines

After that, I spread carpenter’s glue over the back of both inlays, put tinfoil over that with heavy books for weight while drying. The glue doesn’t stick to the tinfoil. So now they should be strong enough to work with. They want to curl, requiring weight to be kept on them.


One of the pieces with glue coating on the back side, tinfoil removed

Trimming is next.

Harlequin progress

January 21st, 2012

Okay, I got the error in the pattern fixed, as well as adding all the diamonds that should be needed for both sides.


Both sides assembled, showing a preview with the peg head

You can see that they are opposites: the upper one starts with the dark row at the top, and the lower one starts with the light row at the top.

They will have to be trimmed to shape next, but first tape needs to be applied all across the top side and glue spread all over the back side into the seams, to make sure they will not fall apart when trimming the edges.

Harlequin assembly

January 19th, 2012

After cutting some 5/16″-wide strips of the four veneers, I’ve been trying to lay out the pattern. The first thing was making two sets of parallel stripes with them that will cover the area needed on the sides of the peg head. These are taped together with Post-It tape.


Initial striped pairs before diagonal cutting

Then the first angle is cut on both sets, and 5/16″-wide strips are made from there, creating barberpole-like pieces. These get alternated with the other set’s diagonal strips to get the 4-color pattern. The odd-numbered strips from one set are paired with the even-numbered strips from the other, and vice-versa, creating an inlay for both sides of the peg head.


Stripes on right get cut into strips to add to diamonds on left

Uh-oh!! There’s an error in the repetition of the pattern above, can you spot it?

Since the strips are being cut by hand, they aren’t perfectly the same width, which requires some tweaking of the diagonal strips, so that the edges between adjoining strips more-or-less line up. This is done by narrowing a diamond which is too wide, which throws off the pattern in a strip.

Harlequin layout

January 16th, 2012

Okay, here’s progress, such as it is. I’ve drawn out the pattern full scale for the diamonds of the harlequin inlay on the sides of the peg head.


The strips will be 5/16″ wide and at 60-degree angles to the vertical edge. Now that I know the angle and how much area I need, I can start cutting the veneer.

Harlequin New Year

January 9th, 2012

Time to try to get back in the swing of things! Hope you have bounced back from the holidays better than I have. A little more than is shown in the last post of 2011 has been carved, but not much.

Today I was thinking about the design for the sides of the peg head. There usually is a diamond pattern carved into the sides.


Traditional design for the sides of a peg head

harlequin-patternIn keeping with the rest of my instrument, I want to do this with inlay. I will use the same four wood veneers I used for the “3D” basket weave on the lid of the keychest. I won’t do the exact basket weave, though, just diamonds. But how to repeat the colors? I did the ol’ Google search for harlequin pattern to get some ideas. Some had the colors fairly random. And some repeated various ways but had too few or too many colors.

In Adobe Illustrator, I made two repeating patterns I liked using four colors. One of them vaguely resembled a basket weave more than the other, so I decided to go with it.


Obviously, the outer shape won’t be a diamond, but will match the outline of the peg head. This illustration is just a test of the pattern. I won’t do that traditional shell-thing seen on the right. If I do anything there, I might inlay a French fleur-de-lis. I’ll have to see. The grains and colors of the woods themselves will have to substitute for the stars and flowers inside the diamonds.

Figurehead – initial cap carving

November 22nd, 2011

I gave Abigail the week off for Thanksgiving. That way, I can focus on the cap, a safer thing on which to practice my carving. If I mess it up, no one will notice. But if I mess up the face, everyone will notice! This way I can get used to the tools and different techniques. The cap will be a lot of work, and I don’t have to worry about damaging completed facial details with a lot of handling. It is also hard to work on the head with the cap not being trimmed down to size, especially in the back.


Cap progress, with shavings swept up from the floor and tools used

I was mostly concentrating on the back half of her cap, where it curves around the back of the head to that gathered tail-thing on the back. I stopped there, because I’m not sure yet how to do all those wavy crinkles, and where wood needs to be left to do them.