Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Chamfered Mirror

John Ruskin wrote, "to those who love Architecture, the life and accent of the hand are everything."

One age-old kind of handwork is chamfering, and its application to frames is one of the greatest joys in my work.

This is a quartersawn white oak mirror I just made for a customer to give as a wedding gift. It measures 34" x 22", and features a carved initial "S" at the top and the year at the bottom.

Here's the story, with pictures, of its making.

The customer really liked an earlier design shown here, so we adapted it.
The main difference is the top, where I added the carved initial medallion and adapted the chamfer at the sight edge to accommodate it.
Below are some shots of it being made.
Starting with a simple, flat mitered frame, I marked out the chamfer and carving pattern in pencil (above).
Next, the frame is clamped to the bench hanging over the edge to leave clearance for the spokeshave, shown below.

The sole of the spokeshave is convex.
 Chamfering the sight edge.

 I do as much as I can of the outside chamfer with the spokeshave, then finish the tighter radius of the ends with a skew chisel. You can also use a gouge and carve across the grain.

Above—here's one side all chamfered.
The inside of the top is a little different. Here are shots of it being carved, mostly with a straight chisel:

Above is frame with all the chamfering done. Below, with the initial and the year carved.
Then it's off to the finishing room for stain and varnish, before a lifetime of service in somebody's home!

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