I love the classic thumbnail decoration. Consisting of a vertical gouge strike followed by a tapered slicing cut, it’s most likely the easiest of all to carve. The resulting waste resembles, you guessed it, a thumbnail. A line of thumbnail cuts makes for quite a distinctive decoration. An even more dramatic pattern is a series of thumbnail lines from opposing directions. This decoration is known as running cable. The jury may still be out as to the origin of this decoration, but in, A Treasury of Woodcarving Designs from Around the World, by Alan Bridgewater and Gill Bridgewater, a sixteenth to seventeenth-century Spanish origin is suggested.
Running cable covers the stiles of the Misner Book Stand. After establishing 3/8-inch margins, the stiles were further divided to receive four lines of thumbnails, approximately 5/8-inch apart.
Staggered, vertical gouge strikes establish the thumbnail lines.
Tapered slicing cuts from opposite directions create the running cable pattern.
The way the light plays off of this decoration is simply mesmerizing. At least I think so.
With the carving complete, it’s time to cut mortises. Oh yeah, and resaw some mahogany for the shelf. Stay tuned!