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Grain Orientation, if Carving an Oak Tree (out of Alder) in the Round (3D)?

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 06-14-2021 11:23 AM 605 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Underdog

1688 posts in 3194 days


06-14-2021 11:23 AM

If you were going to carve a spreading oak tree in the round, in 3D, in which direction would you orient the grain?
The top canopy will about 10” diameter, root base 6” diameter, and the height approx. 10-12” tall.

I’m thinking horizontal grain so about 6 spreading branches have a chance at not breaking. The leaf canopy will have enough connecting parts to keep it all together, and the trunk will probably be 2” thick, so I’m thinking it would be strong enough.
I’ve got enough thick Alder to glue up in this grain orientation as well.

What do you guys think? Maybe you have some additional ideas?

See a rough sketch below.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA


13 replies so far

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John Smith

2982 posts in 1321 days


#1 posted 06-14-2021 12:05 PM

Jim, you have a lot of projects posted: you definitely know your way around wood and knives.
I’m just wondering why you are using oak for this project.
will it have a natural, stained or painted finish ?
(putting this one on my watch list as it will definitely be an interesting project to follow).

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

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Underdog

1688 posts in 3194 days


#2 posted 06-14-2021 12:36 PM


Jim, you have a lot of projects posted: you definitely know your way around wood and knives.
I m just wondering why you are using oak for this project.
will it have a natural, stained or painted finish ?
(putting this one on my watch list as it will definitely be an interesting project to follow).

- John Smith

I’m carving an Oak tree out of Alder. I have enough 1-1/2” thick Alder to laminate this in a horizontal grain orientation.

I’ve toyed with the idea of making the base and canopy out of horizontal grain, with a vertical grain trunk mortised into the base and canopy.

It’s an evolving project, so I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do for finish. I’ll probably woodburn some leaves and bark texture in. Not sure if I’ll paint or do a wash or leave it natural.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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John Smith

2982 posts in 1321 days


#3 posted 06-14-2021 12:52 PM

those old Georgia Oaks have a beautiful symmetry. (I think the root base should be about 1/3 of the canopy size).
I lived down on the SE Coast in St. Marys for a long time and the Georgia Oak was symbolized in many projects there. I used them in some of my signs I made for the area.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

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Bob Gnann

129 posts in 831 days


#4 posted 06-14-2021 01:21 PM

Are you carving a relief or 3D?

-- Bob Gnann. "Don't cloud the issue with facts.". Groucho Marx

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Underdog

1688 posts in 3194 days


#5 posted 06-14-2021 01:27 PM



Are you carving a relief or 3D?

- Bob Gnann

Not relief.

What I mean by “in the round” is three D.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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Underdog

1688 posts in 3194 days


#6 posted 06-14-2021 02:16 PM



those old Georgia Oaks have a beautiful symmetry. (I think the root base should be about 1/3 of the canopy size).
I lived down on the SE Coast in St. Marys for a long time and the Georgia Oak was symbolized in many projects there. I used them in some of my signs I made for the area.

- John Smith

Nice sign. And yes, I love these old spreading oaks.

I’m thinking that the 6 inches is 2/3rds or 3/5ths of the 10” diameter. Although my canopy won’t be exactly 10” since the glue-up is irregular in shape. It’ll be at least 10” diameter with some irregular overhang in a few directions.
The other thing that constrains my base to around 6” is the fact that I’m inserting it into an assembly and that’s the hole size. Ha ha!

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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Phil32

1496 posts in 1062 days


#7 posted 06-14-2021 04:57 PM

You could prepare the blank in three pieces (1) a base with horizontal or radiating grain orientation, (2) a trunk with vertical grain orientation extending up the major branches, (3) the canopy with upward angling grain. Each blank would have to be designed for how it with join the others after carving. Each blank should be built of unequal segments so it doesn’t appear geometric. The intersecting pieces with differing grain orientation will require very sharp tools (unless you’re using power.)

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

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ClaudeF

1331 posts in 2866 days


#8 posted 06-14-2021 05:50 PM

At two inches thick, I’d say the trunk will be strong enough to support the upper branches and canopy. As a test, cut a 1.5 inch piece off the end of one of your boards. Make sure there are no cracks in it. Then see how much force it takes to break it. If it breaks easily, and there were no cracks, then I think Phil’s suggestion is best.

Claude

-- https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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Phil32

1496 posts in 1062 days


#9 posted 06-15-2021 07:14 PM

The canopy of the oak tree presents that biggest challenge. It should have a lot of depth, even areas pierced thru. This photo is a tree canopy in relief which I used to fill a large dark area of the original woodcut: This was just a preliminary phase of it, representing the tree as viewed from above.

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

View mtnwild's profile

mtnwild

4226 posts in 4686 days


#10 posted 06-15-2021 07:36 PM

You might think of stacking the pieces horizontally …Not sure but think it might be stronger that way, when you get into the small branches and leaves.

I take it you are not going to paint it. Then I think vertically would look best with clear wood…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

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Underdog

1688 posts in 3194 days


#11 posted 06-16-2021 12:36 PM



The canopy of the oak tree presents that biggest challenge. It should have a lot of depth, even areas pierced thru. This photo is a tree canopy in relief which I used to fill a large dark area of the original woodcut: This was just a preliminary phase of it, representing the tree as viewed from above.

- Phil32

Yeah, it will have a lot of depth. The main part of it will be 10” in diameter with a few branches straying out from that to make it look more organic.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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Jim Finn

2889 posts in 4080 days


#12 posted 06-16-2021 03:08 PM

I made and sold a few of these, years ago. 3/8” thick and natural wood colors. No Stain. Walnut and Poplar. A tree but not an oak tree. This measures 24” across. All grain is horz.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2535 posts in 3951 days


#13 posted 06-16-2021 04:15 PM

Vertical grain for the trunk, and the top from wedges of various thickness pieces, like a pie. That would give end grain around the top, and grain heading out to the branch tips. Various thickness wedges to give it shape, or glue together at various levels. I am definitely not a carver, so I may be way off.

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