A Crafts Community For Craft Ideas & DIY Projects - Craftster.org
Help | About | Contact | Press | Advertise | Cookie Policy | Terms | Site Map
Welcome, Guest.
Please login or register.
Random Tip: Please remember to SEARCH before asking a question that may have already been answered. Thanks!
Total Members: 311,868
Currently Running With Scissors:
388 Guests and 3 Users
Home Craftster Community Crafting Articles Craft Tutorials My Craftster Crafting Calendar City Guides Craft Shop

Pages: [1] 2 3  All
Jump to page:
  Show Images Only     Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
Topic: Wooden Chain *Tutorial added! Carve your own!*  (Read 28619 times)
Tags for this thread: wooden_chain , tutorial , featured_project , wood_carving , craftster_best_of_2014  Add new tag
Share the love... Pin it Submit to reddit add to Wists
« on: April 03, 2014 07:54:03 PM »

I've been working on this carving off and on (mostly off, to be honest) since last December.  I had wanted to carve a wooden chain pretty much since I started taking my dad's carving classes, just to see if I could do it - and now I have so I never have to do it ever again.  I was getting thoroughly sick of carving on it by the end!  Tongue  I'm really glad I made it, though.  I like it a LOT more now that it's finally finished.  Smiley

I started with a piece of basswood that was 2" square by 12" long and used a table saw to remove all four corners (giving it a plus-sign shaped cross section).  Then I traced out my links with a cardboard template I had made and started roughing them out.

I decided to put a key on one end and a lock on the other, to give it a bit of visual interest.  Here's how it looked after working on it for one class (about two hours):

My first free link!

Taking out more unnecessary wood...

And then there was a lot more of that.  It stopped being exciting and turned into drudgery so I quit taking pictures until I got all my links free:

Then there was a lot of cleaning up and rounding of corners and other things that take a very long time but are not all that interesting to see.  Here's the end result!

When my dad makes wooden chains, he always sands them down nice and smooth, but I wanted it to be perfectly clear that this chain was painstakingly hand-carved out of wood so I left all the whittle marks and didn't sand it at all.  Grin  I finished my chain with a mix of linseed oil and mineral spirits to bring out the grain.

Oh, and the key fits in the keyhole.  Wink


1. Find some wood you like!  I like basswood.

2. Draw a plus sign on each end and connect them.  (You'll be cutting out the gray bits.)

3. Cut off all the corners so it looks like this:

4. Make templates!  Your links should be as wide as your wood.

5. Cut out what's between the red dotted lines, because you'll be putting the templates up against that plus sign shape.

6. Trace the templates onto all sides of your wood.  Make sure you leave enough room between the links!

7. Roughing out!  Cut up to the lines on the outside of your links.  Also cut off the unnecessary sticky-up bits on your lock and key.

8. Cut out the gray bits.  (V-shaped gouges are useful here.)  Work from both sides.

9. Draw in the missing parts of your links so you don't accidentally cut off the curved edges.

10. Here comes the tricky bit.  Using your smallest gouge and/or a knife with a thin blade, take out little nibbles of wood until you've separated each link from its neighbors.  Work from all sides and pay attention to where the back end of your knife blade is, it's easy to gouge something you're not supposed to while you're concentrating on where the point is going.

11. When your link is free, smooth off the inside and outside of the curve so it looks like your original template.  Try to carve with the grain rather than against it - so on the outside of your link, carve from the side toward the top or bottom, and on the inside of your link, carve from the top or bottom toward the side.

12. Repeat all the necessary steps until every link is free.  Yay!

13. Drill a hole in your lock with a 1/2" bit, and drill a hole in the head of your key with a 3/16" bit.  Use your knives and small gouges to carve out the rest of the key head and the bottom of the keyhole.

14. Round off all your links (keeping in mind the direction of the grain as you carve!), thin down the head of the key, make sure the key can fit in the keyhole, and just generally clean everything up.  Try to carve off any remaining sawed surfaces because they'll take a finish differently than your carved surfaces will.

15. OPTIONAL: Sand everything nice and smooth.  (I skipped this step 'cause I figured if I wanted a nice smooth chain I could just go to the hardware store and buy one.)

16. Finish your chain!  Stain it if you want, or paint it, or just put linseed oil on it like I did.  Marvel at how much it's stretched since you started.

17.  Show it off.  Grin

« Last Edit: April 12, 2014 09:23:21 PM by Magpirate » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Tutorial Contributor

Friend of Craftster Friend of Craftster

Oy Vey!
Offline Offline

Posts: 11018
Joined: 18-Aug-2006
He says I color his world

View Profile
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014 08:21:00 PM »

Wow! Beyond impressive. Always enjoy seeing people make things with wood. Smiley

Proud Army Mom, Hoaah!!!
Help Fight Breast Cancer
Friend of Craftster Friend of Craftster

Offline Offline

Posts: 3798
Joined: 09-May-2008

View Profile WWW available for personal swaps
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014 08:42:46 PM »

WOW!! This is awesome!

I absolutely love love quilts, do you think an afghan is a fair trade for a quilt? I'd love to swap!
Mamas Creations on Facebook
Tutorial Contributor

Friend of Craftster Friend of Craftster

Offline Offline

Posts: 13908
Joined: 10-Jun-2009


View Profile WWW available for personal swaps
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014 08:52:22 PM »

So unique and cool! I really love this and it's neat to see the in-progress pictures. You are a very talented carver.

Offline Offline

Posts: 7761
Joined: 08-Mar-2007

You cannot master what you will not try

View Profile
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014 09:03:29 PM »

Every new carver does a chain and eventually you will probably do the caged balls as well.

You did a fine job on your chain.  Well done.

50 projects-shooting for 100--- 122 done

Just married...after 22 years of unwedded bliss.
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014 09:30:47 PM »

Every new carver does a chain and eventually you will probably do the caged balls as well.

You did a fine job on your chain.  Well done.

Thank you!  I don't think I'm quite up to the ball-in-a-cage point yet, but I'm sure I'll get there.  Smiley

Friend of Craftster Friend of Craftster

Offline Offline

Posts: 6743
Joined: 19-Jan-2006

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2014 10:50:13 PM »

I have the wood and chisel to start my first chain - now I need to actually do it.  Great job!
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2014 12:04:23 AM »

Really cool!
I love the way you left all the tiny marks on the links.
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2014 06:35:11 AM »

This is awesome.  I've done these before so I know how time consuming they are.  The lock and key are so cool. Wonderful job.

Learning to see by the dark of the moon as well as the light of the day.
Carnivore Extrordinaire
Offline Offline

Posts: 1065
Joined: 05-Feb-2010

Drunken Crafter

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014 06:41:25 AM »

very nice, I love it

Respect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them -Confucius


Threads you might like:
Pages: [1] 2 3  All Jump to page:
  Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
Jump to:  

only results with images
include swap threads
advanced search

Latest Blog Articles
@Home This Weekend: DIY Curtain Rods
Tute Tuesday: Fold Out ATC
I'm Meltingggg!

Comparison Shopping

Support Craftster
Become a
Friend of Craftster

Buy Craftster Swag
Buy Craft Supplies
Comparison Shopping

Craftster heartily thanks the following peeps...

Follow Craftster...

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

Copyright ©2003-2017, Craftster.org an Internet Brands company.