My Own Road to Damascus #3: Let's try shaping by hand

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Blog entry by Kookaburra posted 08-12-2012 09:43 PM 2075 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: My first hand cut dovetail! Part 3 of My Own Road to Damascus series Part 4: Santa came early and brought me a saw! »

After some excellent advice in my last blog post, I decided rather that trying to work on my dovetail skills, I would take a step back and work on the component skills.

I wanted to make my version of woodpezzer's porcupine. I had the wood (some figured maple in smaller pieces). Why not try that!

I started by gluing up three one inch pieces and drawing on my little porky. He is about 14” long and 6” tall.

Next came my rough shaping. Big chunks, little chunks, some basic shaping. Mostly a coping saw, but a little with my dovetail saw too.

Doesn’t look much like a porcupine at this point. I became a big fan of my Veritas spokeshave during the shaping process. Then hours of sanding to give him more porcupine-ness. I read in another thread that an emery board was good for getting into crevices – and it was! But I am still quite unhappy with the texture in the close angles.

So my question at this point is what can I do to give those areas above and around the feet nice and smooth? I tried taking a strip of sandpaper and folding it in half, then pulling it back and forth with the folded edge in the angle but I cannot get any pressure and it does not seem to be taking anything off. The emery board is nice because it is mounted on something like foam core board, so it shapes itself to the the wood, but it does not have any abrasion on the edge and the abrasion is pretty fine for what I need.

I started with 40 grit sandpaper – is that too coarse? The rest of the body has been sanded with the foam block and that turned out really nice – but again, it won’t fit into the area around the feet.

After I get that foot area smooth, I will take the sanding a couple of steps further. I hope I can get some nice dowels this week, but if not I will use the basic HD ones for display purposes until I track down a nice variety of woods. I plan to drill the holes before I finish him. Not sure how I will finish him yet, but my copy of Jeff Jewitt’s “Finishing” arrived this week, so I have 300 pages to figure that out!

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

6 comments so far

View HerbC's profile (online now)


1820 posts in 3937 days

#1 posted 08-12-2012 11:04 PM

Get a couple of paint stir sticks from the box stores. Use spray adhesive to mount sandpaper to the wider flat surfaces and folded around one edge.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View CueballRosendaul's profile


484 posts in 3218 days

#2 posted 08-12-2012 11:12 PM

Cute little project. For close in detail and removing wood quickly i have several rat-tail files that work nice. For quicker removal of a lot of material I like my Dremel with a carving bit or a little grinder wheel. A lumberjock with a lot of equipment would probably slip a sanding blade into a scroll saw and sand it out. To get it really smooth you’re doing all that you can with what you have. you might try to glue some sandpaper to one of your dowels and make your own mini sanding drum with fine paper. The dowel should be stiff enough to give you some leverage for pressure and longer strokes.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3302 days

#3 posted 08-12-2012 11:17 PM

Great ideas!

This is all about foregoing power tools, so even that little Dremel is out of bounds. But gluing the sandpaper to something else is not. I have both dowels and tongue depressors – I will try both. That should do the trick, I think.


-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3882 days

#4 posted 08-12-2012 11:48 PM

A beautiful piece o Maple. You’re bringin it to life

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26189 posts in 4183 days

#5 posted 08-13-2012 12:39 AM

Hi Kay,
40 grit is pretty rugged!
I would use wood rasps to shape it and then shape sand with 80 girt and then go to 100, 150 and maybe 220 before staining or finishing. Hand shaping take a bit more time than power tools but you will appreciate yoru work very much that way!!

To get in around the feet, make some 10” long slats with a slim angle on the edge but thick on the out side – like about a 20 degree angle. The wide part is to give them stiffness. Then glue strips of sandpaper to one of the tapered edges and you should be able to get it all smooth that way. Make several with different grits!

Good luck…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3302 days

#6 posted 08-14-2012 07:37 PM

The sandpaper glued to slats works like a charm on this little guy. I am pretty much done with the sanding, but I have not drilled the holes yet, so I will likely want to do some touch up after that.

I have not tried my hand drill on anything yet, but will on a piece of scrap tonight before I go at my porcupine.

Thanks for the advice and I hope to have some spines installed by the weekend :)

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

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