I am helping out a friend with an upcoming project. I need a couple of carved versions of the Pope Francis’ Papal seal. I spent several long hours creating a 3D model, in AutoCAD. I am trying to create the effect of a relief carving, while keeping the relief as shallow as possible. I drew each component individually, then thickened them to different elevations, raising each item 1/32″ at a time until I managed to get everything within a 5/16″ depth.
My goal for the first version is to cut the seal completely through a 5/16″ piece of hard maple.
Step one is to resaw a few pieces of scrap down to about 3/8″ thick. I start with the table saw, then move to the band saw to finish the cut.
To remove the narrow rib and the burning, that remains, I ran the boards through the planer. I took them down to their final thickness of 5/16″.
I placed several pieces of double-sided tape to a piece of plywood, then pressed one piece of the maple in place.
I added CA glue to the edges of the rest of the boards and clamped them side to side. It occurs to me that this will be a good way to do thin glue-ups in the future, since the tape keeps the boards all held flat.
I used the CA glue because this is just a test run and I wanted it glued up quickly. After Waiting about 10 minutes, I loaded it in the carver and set it carving.
I am running these carves at the second to the best resolution. After about 3 hours, the carve was complete. I pried the thin maple layer off with a wide chisel. I am not entirely happy with this carve because it cut shallower than I planned and did not break through the maple. I can cut the seal away with a knife if I want to spend some time with it, but it is not worth it at the present.
Moving on to my next attempt, I re-sawed some cherry down to 3/8″ thick.
I planed it down to a little thinner than 5/16″ this time and I jointed the edges on the table saw.
I am glueing this panel up by itself, so I created some clamping cauls to help keep the boards flush with each other. I added a little painter’s tape to the edges to prevent glue from sticking to them.
After glueing up the edges, I clamped it all together.
When dry, I scraped the joints flush with a card scraper.
For the backer board, I cut and joined some 3/4″ maple boards. The whole maple panel is about 1/2″ wider than the cherry one.
This was intentional. I am going to glue the cherry panel to the maple one, while the panel is still drying. After clamping the maple panel up, I spread wood glue over the entire surface.
I held the cherry tight to the front edge, then clamped it down with as many clamps as I could. I also added three sets of cauls. I slipped a strip of leather under the center of each caul in an effort to press the center down as well.
After that dried for about an hour, I cut the maple down to match the with of the cherry, and loaded it into the carver.
Three hours later, I had this carving. It worked out much better than the last one. The maple highlights the cherry nicely.
Since both of these carves have come out fuzzier than I would like, I decided to create another carve. This time I am making it a little smaller, and running it at the optimal resolution. That means that it will take twice as long to carve. I will run it for a couple of hours tonight, then pause it and finish running it tomorrow.
I may need to do another one after that, but it is almost midnight again, so I will worry about it tomorrow.