Rope Carvings

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Blog entry by Luke Addington posted 03-24-2015 06:09 PM 2015 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I prepared some rope samples a few weeks ago for a client meeting. Here’s the process I used:

Layout Part I. Video for Part I of the layout process.

I mark the centers of the square portions at either end of the turning. I line my ruler up with the two points and bend it down slightly so it touches the column. Then I mark a short center line on the column itself. I do that on all four sides. Then I take some painters tape and line up the centers the same way I did with the ruler, except I lay the piece of tape down along the entire length of the column. Then I mark the center line down the entire column. Repeat that on all four sides. Now I use my calipers to measure the diameter of the column. I set a pair of dividers to the radius of the column (half the diameter). Then I set the dividers on the corner of one of my center lines and step them down the length. Now I place the tip of a pencil in the divot from the divider and turn the lathe on and off, marking around the circumference.

Layout Part II. Video for Part II of the layout process.

I take a short piece of painters tape and connect the edges of the grid I laid out in Part I. I use a pencil to mark in a line, connecting the edges, wrapping all the way around the column until I get to the end. Then I rotate the column halfway from the first point I started at and do the same thing. So now I’ve laid out two lines wrapping around the column. That’s it for the layout! You’ll notice that I’m switching blanks throughout this photo set. The layout process is identical for any thickness or length of rope.

Hopefully you can see the lines (my camera would not cooperate) flowing nicely down the column.

At this point you use a crosscut saw to saw down these twisting lines. Here is a video of that process.

Initially I used a #9 gouge to follow the lines I sawed in the blank. I quickly changed to a V tool to carve out the deep channels in the rope carving. In the video I’m using a #9 gouge, it is the same process as the V tool except that after the first two passes (the passes shown in the video) I use a mallet to carve deeply into the blank. Video of that process. In this photo I had rounded the edges over with a #7 gouge. I didn’t like the look so I switched to a #6 gouge.

This is after shaping with the #6 – much better. At this point you would use a riffler to clean up the deep channel you carved, then sand out your gouge marks.

This is a much thicker sample I prepared. I used the #6 on this as well. There are a lot of different carving techniques to produce different types of rope and different looks, these are just a couple ways to go about it.

Thanks for looking!

-- Luke,

2 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8452 posts in 3399 days

#1 posted 03-24-2015 11:56 PM

Thanks Luke.
Rope carving is useful in lots of places I can think of ….. boats come to mind.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View stefang's profile


17034 posts in 3935 days

#2 posted 03-25-2015 09:11 AM

Very nice work Luke. I have done a bit of this myself, some candle sticks and lamp bases a few years ago. There aren’t so many twist products around so people like to get them as gifts. I bought a nice how to book on the subject and I was surprised at all the variations that could be done with these.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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