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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chokecherry deadwood sculpting part 1

Hello, today's subject matter is a Prunus Virginiana commonly called Choke Cherry. The wood on these trees is very hard and lends itself to deadwood features, much like an old classic Japanese ume bonsai. This tree is 35+ years old. It was field grown for several years along with a number of other choke cherries I bought at the time, then dug up and planted in a 15 gallon can. It sat for another 12 years or so and was rooted in the ground, then 10 years ago I dug it up again and planted it in a smaller pot. These trees have made several very nice workshops - I'm  going to give you an idea how those workshops turned out.
Here is the tree prior to any work.
Here is a closer shot of the deadwood areas I'll be working on today.
As you can see the trunk on the right is completely dead and was cut at some point in the past.
Here's a closer look.
There is a large section on the main trunk that is damaged but still covered with bark.
Using a small carving knife I start scraping and picking away at the bark. To my surprise it started to pop off easily and I found some live borers inside. After quickly dispatching those nasty critters I continued scraping away at the dead bark and soft borer damaged wood. After this I used a wire brush to clean everything up and remove any last bits of soft wood.

Now comes the fun part. Using several different power tools I'm going to start carving and sculpting to hollow out the right trunk and to disguise some previous cuts. As you can see I've cut the dead trunk top flat. This is so I can use a electric drill to drill down unto the body of the right trunk, and start to create a hollow.
Using various sized drill bits and some carbide carving bits on a die grinder I continue hollowing and shaping, trying to create something that looks natural - not created by man's hand.

After doing all the rough carving I trimmed some branches  and hosed down the tree to clean off all the dust. Here is the result from part one of the carving work to be done on this tree.

Now I'll let the tree rest for awhile and in a few weeks or so I'll come back to it and start the final carving and sculpting.
I hope you enjoyed today's project. Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions for future posts.

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