Warning! Skip this video if you haven’t watched any of my “How to Carve Twists & Spirals” video series featuring Irion Company carver, Brad Ramsay. I say this not to discourage you, because it’s a revelation here to see Brad work his magic. But if you first watch Part 2 or Part 3 (which features real hands-on carving of a “period correct” twist finial) I think you will find this video to be all the more important, interesting and fun.

What impressed me the most while I was filming this segment, was the fact that Brad truly relishes the layout and preparation phase of this project, mostly because it offers him the freedom to re-work and tune things when changes are most easily made. And, it seems to me that there are certain appealing artistic opportunities here too.

In this video, Brad shows us how he breaks it all down — using only a pencil, compass and dividers. There are essentially four steps in the process. First, Brad segments the un-carved pre-turned blank into the equal divisions to match the original (or desired model design). He then draws a smooth 360 twist from the base to the top of the woodturning blank, making sure this line flows gently from top to bottom. Next, he creates additional layout divisions for reference. And then finally, he draws the remaining repeating elements to match the first.

The entire process once seen, is easy to understand. And keep this in mind, this layout method has broader application in any project requiring layout of repeating circular, spiral, or twisting designs in furniture or other wood objects. Not a bad thing to know and stash away in your bag of tricks. — Keith (7 Minute Woodworking Video)

For more in this series watch: Secrets Revealed: How to Rough Carve Twists and Spirals (Part 2 of 3)

The Irion Company specializes in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Brad Ramsay is a cabinetmaker and he specializes in period correct carvings.

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(2) Comments   


Mark MacMullen

So often I’m amazed that the layout techniques of others are very often the same technique I just worked myself into, as need is the mother of invention. Thank you for showing me I can trust myself with coming up with techniques that are not so much different from others. I especially enjoy your videos because they fill the well with ideas from others’ experiences and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. After enough reading, studying, watching and learning we can go out and do with greater confidence and gain some of our own experience.

Keith’s Note: That’s the idea. With knowledge and inspiration, we can forge our own path . Off to adventure!

Stephen Johns

Rather than use the compass method, you could use a little trigonometry and the distance from one spiral to the next is equal to d*sin(180/n) where n is the total number of spirals and d is the diameter. That might be a little faster if you have a calculator on hand.