Transferring the Pattern

Transferring the Pattern

By L.S. Irish

Carbon Paper

carbon_paper_trace_03Once you have selected the design that you will be carving and the wood surface has been prepared with any joinery work that might be needed for the finished project, the pattern is transferring onto the wood surface.

There are several basic ways to trace the design onto the wood. The most common way to transfer a pattern is by using carbon paper. This is a paper that is used with manual typewriters to create a secondary copy of the page being typed. The blue or black surface on the back of carbon paper rubs off onto any surface with which it comes into contact. Tracing paper is available at many drug stores, craft shops and office supply outfits.

Position the design on the wood surface and secure the paper with several strips of tape, either masking tape or clear tape. Slide the carbon paper with the black/blue surface facing the wood. Use an ink pen to trace over the lines of the pattern. As you trace the carbon paper is making an exact copy for you on the board. When you have copied every line of the design lift one or two pieces of the tape, leaving at least one piece still securing the pattern paper. You can now check that you indeed traced the entire pattern,

Carbon paper makes a clear dark line for woodworking pattern that easily carves away as you work without leaving any stain marks. Nor will it rub off the wood surface as you work the carving. However, it does not erase with a pencil eraser so any remaining lines in the carving will need to be shaved away with your knife.

If you are tracing to a dark colored wood you may need to use Dress Maker’s Carbon Paper, this is generally white but also comes in different colors, as the name implies this paper is used in sewing and may be found in sewing and fabric shops.

Soft Pencil Tracing

carbon_paper_trace_02A second way to is to use a soft lead pencil to blacken the back of your pattern paper. Here you are creating your own carbon and do not need to deal with several paper layers.

Turn the pattern paper to the back. With a soft lead pencil, number two or higher, rub the entire area with a layer of pencil lead. Flip the pattern over so that you can see the design and position it into place on the wood. As with carbon paper tape the pattern to secure it in place. Now with an ink pen trace over all of the design lines. Again, just as with carbon paper, the pressure of the ink pen with leave a line from the pencil rubbing on the board.

Soft pencil tracing creates a lighter line than does carbon paper and can rub off as you work on the project. However, you can easily correct or adjust the design once it has been transferred to the wood by erasing the lines and redrawing them. This is an excellent transfer technique if you are wood burning, since any traced lines that show after the project is done can easily erased, unlike carbon paper lines.

Graphite Paper

carbon_paper_trace_04Graphite paper is a light weight paper that has a waxed graphite coating on one side.  The graphite side is placed against the wood and creates a medium gray colored line.  It is available to the crafter in small 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets, rolls up to several yards long, and as large 4′ x 8′ sheets that fit a sheet of plywood.  Keep your scraps of graphite paper for retracing small areas in the pattern, each piece can be used several times.

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