View Full Version : Truscott launch bow carvings

01-08-2017, 05:04 PM
Evening Everyone!

I have been approached to carve a pair of bow scrolls - acanthus scrolls based on the Dottie carvings - for a Truscott 18' launch. The launch is planked in English oak, the scrolls will be the same timber. My question is, does anyone know how Truscott carvings were originally fastened - epoxy or resin may be the most likely path for mounting these pieces but if I need to design in some mechanical fastenings that would be good to know as the carving is relatively small and delicate so hard points/through fixings will need careful consideration. Thanks in advance, Andrew

01-08-2017, 07:21 PM
Interesting. No advice really, other than to build in / hide your fastenings, and to tell you what you probably already know, that oak is coarse and pretty crap for carving. Oh, and to post pictures of what you come up with please..

01-08-2017, 08:15 PM
You could see what other fasteners that craft used. Bunged SB screws are one way, actual trunnels more authentic, but even if the rest of the boat was iron-fastened I'd still avoid that metal for this purpose. What do the scrolls attach to, the sheerstrake or gunnel?

01-09-2017, 10:00 AM
The scrolls are on the sheerstrake nestling hard against (below) the capping strip butted tight up to the stem post - have tried to insert a picture but no joy, a quick search using Truscott and Dottie gets you to the image though. Sorry lupussonic, but English Oak is a joy to carve, especially when green, it was pretty much all the English ecclesiastical carvers worked with til Gibbons showed them a different way forward. It is a bit open-grained for gilding though, turns your hands a lovely black colour too...

Jay Greer
01-09-2017, 03:09 PM
Sounds like you are going to have one beautiful boat. When I add scroll work to a boat I usually screw and plug them so that they can be removed for future gilding or painting. If you can find a couple of places where a screw can be inserted and then painted the same color as the background it will save digging out plugs later on. Other wise set plugs in shellack which can be softened with alcohol in the future.

Paul Scheuer
01-09-2017, 04:18 PM
Google Key Hole Fasteners. With perhaps a small pin to hold the parts in place.

01-09-2017, 04:37 PM
Sorry lupussonic, but English Oak is a joy to carve, especially when green, it was pretty much all the English ecclesiastical carvers worked with til Gibbons showed them a different way forward.

Exactly, all the English carvers were able to do was basic coarse bass-relief, Gibbons used lime wood, and went super 3d.

English, oak.

Gibbons, lime.

Not that I expect you'll be using lime wood on a bow carving.

Interested to see what you make though, good luck.

01-09-2017, 05:05 PM
My favourite piece by Gibbons (a genius in every sense of the word) is the cravat he carved - most of Gibbons carvings are workshop pieces carved by his journeymen - interesting fact is that he never trained any of his team in every technique he possessed, he forced his workers to specialise so that none of them could set up a shop to compete with him. For the finest work, good quality lime is very hard to beat although the German and Austrian carvers prefer apple and pear with good reason. Bit of a sweeping statement about oak only being suitable for bass relief, not at all true and most unfair. For most carvings, oak is an excellent material, soft (that came as a big surprise), holding good levels of detail and fully resistant to rot and insect attack - it was common practice to take the carved works off tall ships (don't forget oak was the exclusive material for carvings on board ship including the stem-head works in the so-called Golden Age) when the ship became too rotten for service and transfer them onto another vessel.

Jay Greer
01-09-2017, 08:59 PM
A great tragedy was the damage and loss of many of Gibbons carvings in the Windsor Castle fire!
The Bavarian carvers of Obberammergau call their favorite carving wood "Linden" which is perported to be lime wood. They do a lot of very fine carvings there. I was given a tour of one of the work shops when I stayed there on a special job. I was tempted to stay and never come back except that they are too far from the ocean.

I also almost set up shop in Venice working with the carver of oars and forculas, "wooden oar locks". Guesseppi Carley was the master builder there. I was very flattered when he begged me to stay and work with him. According to Senore Carley the young men of Venice, are only interested in getting enough money to buy an outboard and an Avon inflatable so they can roar around the lagoon with some naughty girls!:D

I appolgise for sounding a bit egotistical but carving is very close to my heart.

01-09-2017, 10:45 PM

01-10-2017, 04:59 AM
Thanks Steve!

Jay, I can talk carving all day and all night, so no apology necessary! Painted screws might work really well in this instance, I think the thickest part of the carving might be only 1 1/4 inch so not really enough depth of timber for a plug?

01-10-2017, 10:00 AM

Very very nice looking, I am looking forward to seeing what you carve!

01-10-2017, 11:56 AM
You can glue a trimmed plug / bung into a very shallow hole, so I'd be tempted to try that over painted screw heads. You could also try filling over the screw head with some of the 2-part epoxy fairing compound that is available for marine use -- sands very nicely and can be scraped out when the fastener needs to be removed or tightened.

If you go for exposed painted heads, take the trouble to buy slotted SB screws, as a Phillips or other modern screwhead will really detract from your lovely carving.

Jay Greer
01-10-2017, 12:06 PM
That is really beautiful work! Might you be tempted to place it on a thin tailboard that would be easy to remove? It does look great as it is but, maintaining the leaf could be easier on the bench.
Here are a couple of pieces I once did when I was a commercial wood carver. The mermaid was a pattern to be copied and cast in foam and used as signage plaques for resturants. We sold hundreds of them lettered as: Men, Women, Room Capacity ect. The trail boards were carved for a mold pattern for Cal Yachts. The boat was a Bruce King design that was simular to a Friendship Sloop. It was carved in Jelutong and glued to the plug. It was given enough draft to allow the two piece mold to pull free. The boat did not sell very well but it did sail well.
https://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a4d933b3127ccef6ccbb4b6ba800000030O00QYsmrNy5bsQ e3nwg/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00107990352120140712173306921.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D720/ry%3D480/

01-10-2017, 05:12 PM
They're lovely work Jay, I can see why you are proud of them! The client has approved my working drawings, just hope I can do justice to the boat, those Truscott's are very pretty little launches. Thanks Thorne, that's all good advice, I'll see how much depth the carving yields, I have planned for a plugged fixing in the volute at the bow end and an epoxy covered fixing at 2/3 length but we'll see how things develop in the wood

Jay Greer
01-11-2017, 03:11 PM
This thread brought back one memory that was a job I had chosen to forget. But all the comments on a bow scroll suddenly brought it back. We had a client who came to our sign shop requesting a scroll on the bow of the motor sailer yacht "Sea Diamond". The boat was being gone over by a decorator who wanted a large scroll carved into the bow. I was called on to do the job which, was similar to the vertical Cleff Sign used in sheet music. The work was to be carved into the planking and was very oversized and, in my humble opinion, a very bad choice! In fact I politely refused to do the job but my partner insisted we do it as it was a high cash paying piece of work. I finally relented and we hung a stage over the bow which allowed me to work over the water. The damn carving covered five courses of planking and was done in an incised V and finished in gold leaf. I felt it was a real insult to Phil Rhodes the designer of the boat as well as Abberking and Rassmussin who built it. We were paid an embarassing amount of money for the job which I felt it was like putting Cadillac Fins on a Rolls Royce and did not want my name connected with the work!
I was very much relieved to find some years later that the carving no longer existed. Whether it was filled in or the planks were replaced was never mentioned but, I now will take no shame for refusing work I don't like!

This in no way is pointed towards the beautiful scroll work that is being discussed here now.

01-12-2017, 02:56 PM
Funny thing, memory, the strangest things can trigger it, but a good story all the same. Someone, I can't recall who, said they never turned down work but jobs they didn't want they priced so extravagantly the client would, hopefully, walk away. if they insisted on going ahead then at least the money paid for the unpleasantness

Jay Greer
01-12-2017, 04:53 PM
Yep, I have been guilty of that too! We had five employes back then and had to keep the crew paid on Fridays. We were, Walter's sign shop in Newport Beach CA. It was in the old South Coast Boat Co. complex. I had my own shop on the north side of the big ways. I was building boats and Walter kept coming over and pleading with me to do a carving for him. I ended up as his partner as a defense. We were the ones who invented the sand blasted wooden sign. This was a way to make signs easier to produce. It came from my grammar school when our class applied masking tape to jelly glasses, carved a pattern and then they were sent to the sand blaster. They were Christmas presents for our mothers. And, that was how a new form of producing raised lettering on wooden signs began.
Here a a closer look at the mermaid sign that was carved out of maple and a sign based on an Irish Menu Cartoon that I made for a local pub. On this one, the letters were both carved and sand blasted. We used a thick rubber tape that is used for sand blasting grave stones. This tape comes in wide rolls that are up to two feet wide, if needed. It is known as, "Monument Tape" if you want to use it. It is also called "Butter Cut Tape". I have been kicking myself for the last fifty years for not doing a better perspective cut on the light tan horse's right front hoof. That is what happens when you are being pushed for a deadline.
https://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a5d928b3127ccee9c706ead9ab00000030O00QYsmrNy5bsQ e3nwg/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00107990352120150709193419267.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/https://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a3db34b3127ccef34b1467db4b00000030O00QYsmrNy5bsQ e3nwg/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00107990352120130515202244111.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D720/ry%3D480/

Paul G.
01-12-2017, 11:08 PM

Jay Greer
01-13-2017, 02:00 PM
Nice work Paul! Did you do that? Reminds me of a Fife Dragon :rolleyes: What boat is that?

07-07-2017, 07:07 AM
Hi everyone, first an apology to lupasonic. You were right, the oak was a complete pig to work with; dry, course, hard as iron and very brittle, forced significant design changes on me. Anyway, the owner withdrew from the commission, felt a bow scroll was all a bit too 'twiddly'. I couldn't resist fiddling with the scroll when I got a few minutes here and there, still need to do some finessing, but here is where I'm at. If an admin wants to re-size the image I don't mind but my image host has turned off image resizing. https://stuckinthemudsite.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/win_20170706_18_55_32_pro1-e1499428594563.jpg

07-07-2017, 10:43 AM
Nice work my friend, how many hours did that take you?

07-07-2017, 10:54 AM
Thanks. Didn't keep track of the hours but I hope that in a nice piece of lime, or similar, then, maybe, one hour to lay out and band saw, four or five to carve and another two or three for undercutting, adjusting and detailing/smoothing??

07-07-2017, 11:10 AM
Make friends with a local tree surgeon.. put an order in.

07-07-2017, 01:05 PM
Funny you should say that ! BY:D
The original design is just begging to be copied, it's on my to-do list