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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


 
 

Carving a Complex Shell

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After you've mastered the simple shell and the second shell, you're ready to tackle this shell, which falls into the complex shell category.

If you find this tutorial useful, I'd really appreciate if you would send me an e-mail with the subject line of "Complex Shell" so I can get some indication of how many people are reading it.

Note that I use the Swiss system to describe carving tools in all of my carving tutorials.

I'm going to use a piece of 3/4" Honduras mahogany for this project because that's what I happen to have available right now.

 

 

The layout of this shell is fairly complex. There's a lot of things to lay out so the blank can get busy fairly quickly. Because of the complexity, it's not a shell that can be made small - there's too much detail that you wouldn't be able to carve if the shell was small. For that reason, the shell I'm going to do is about 4" across.

We layout the shell before we cut the blank. So our shell will be laid out on the 3/4" mahogany. We begin by drawing a circle with a 2" radius. Then draw a vertical line through the circle. Use a combination square to draw the line.

 Then draw a line perpendicular to the vertical line, and 1/4" below the center of the circle. This will be the bottom end of the lower flutes on both sides.

Next, using a set of dividers, step off three equal divisions, on each side, between the top and the line you just drew. These points will be the ends of the convex flutes. Later, we'll mark the location of the ends of the concave flutes.

Now draw a horizontal line 3 5/8" from the top. This will be the lowest extent of the shell. The shell is not completely round - it's wider than it is tall.

For the next few steps, we're going to focus on the lower extent of the shell - the bottom of the shell proper and the two hinge parts on either side (side note: on real scallops these are called "ears").


 
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