Cascade Table Part 3: Shaping Basics

Shaping ToolsI love incorporating clean curves and organic surfaces into the pieces I design, but that kind of shaping is far more time consuming than you might believe. Without the right tools to remove all the waste, shaping can be an arduous process. Over the years I have accumulated a series of tools that take me from rough stock removal to a smooth finished surface in a reasonable amount of time. I have included a picture of some of those tools here.

My basic premise when shaping is that I want to remove 90% of the waste material as quickly as possible so that I can spend the majority of my time using fine tools like spoke shaves and cards scrapers to refine those surfaces. Nothing wears you and your tools down faster than trying to remove an inch of waste material with a spoke shave.

When I need to remove lots of material quickly I start off with a Lancelot carving tool. It is essentially a chain saw blade sandwiched between two steel discs and attached to an angle grinder. I was introduced to this tool by fellow Furniture Master Jon Brooks. Despite its aggressive appearance the Lancelot is actually easy to control and can be used to do surprisingly delicate stock removal. When appropriate, band saws and belt sanders are other ways of removing stock quickly.

After I’m finished with the rough stock removal I use a rasp and coarse cabinetmaker’s file to smooth and refine the surface left by the Lancelot. These tools will take me very close to my finished shape. Once I am finished with that I pull out the spoke shaves and card scrapers to further refine the surface. Sandpaper is the last tool I use. It helps to even things out and ensure that the surface accepts finish in a uniform manner.

Using a progression of tools from aggressive to fine helps me remove waste quickly and focus my time and efforts on that finished surface.