I began carving the table at home, using no supports or clamps. I expected the table to be sturdy enough that they would not be necessary, but it became a bit more after some knocking so i braced it against the wall. I used the natural divisions on the table to chart out the area i would carve, used masking tape to cover it, and drew my designs on the tape. This is my preferred method as it makes the design much clearer to look at and the chisels cut through the tape with no difficulty. after going down a good centimetre around the outlines of all elements, i used the bigger carpenter’s flat chisels to remove a lot of the empty space, taking the depression into the piece down to about 7mm. I left the lettering at only about a millimetre depth to avoid breakages on the fine detail. A little damage was acceptable as it contributes to the old appearance of the piece, and many old carvings’ damage adds character. once the elements of the design (sheep, goat, crook and dog) were all isolated i began to undercut. going in under the elements a few millimetres in from the perimeter at an angle of about 65 degrees relative to the flat surface seemed to present the best compromise between stability and depth. after it was undercut i began to round of the edges and put in detail. i had to take the empty space down another few mil to a rough CM in order to achieve enough depth on some parts like limbs in order to get the better 3D effect. after a good sand all over i applied 3 layers of stain oil, in intervals of a few hours each.
note – photos are flipped due to me having to use my rear-facing camera.
This picture shows my original inclusion of the Shears as a symbol to represent the domestication the goat is fighting the dog about. This later proved fragile and so was removed, seeing as the crook is both easier to carve and a better motif.
the 1st stain. This seemed too light.
after the 3rd stain. In hindsight i think two coats was ample, as the carving was now darker than the wood surrounding it. In the end i gave the entire tabletop a coat in order to make it blend in more.
In hindsight i think i would’ve preferred to have left the piece as darker than the tabletop as it looked crisper and made it look like the carving is on a seperate piece of wood that was inserted, a nice illusion. I was considering a varnish, or pouring clear resin into the depression to aid table functionality and protect the carving, but i want the piece to look like a genuine old piece so except for the oil, which was synthetic, i wanted to avoid artificial materials. The oil also adds a natural sheen and a degree of weatherproofing so there was no need for varnish.