Celtic Round Hand Mirror Frame

The knotwork design for the trivet is made Lip of two bands, one which weaves its way around the design without any knots, and a second much busier band thai has all the work to do, looping back on itself all the way around. An alternative way to highlight the knotwork bands is to paint them in two different colours with diluted emulsion paint before varnishing.

The feet of the trivet are similar to a lion decoration from The Book of Kells. He seemed such a humble and subservient creature, i thought he deserved a hit of recognition, even though I have put him in a position of , . , ,

Lion decoration in the style oj further subservience. The Book of Kciis he knotwork featured in this project shows how a circular pattern can be incorporated into a design. The circle was important to the Celts, not only because it is a solar symbol, but also because the unending line is a reminder of the continuous circle of life.

Going back much further in time, it was the shape adopted tor ¡he construction of many megalithic sites, Stonehenge being perhaps one of the most famous circles of all. Early huts were round, as were hill forts, because the circle was thought to be protective both physically and spiritually.


Photocopies of templates

Timber measuring approx. 160 x ¡60 x 10mm (67, x 67 x Vsin) (beech)

Timber measuring approx.

Cork coaster, 95mm (3%ln) in diameter

Reposition able spray adhesive

Heatproof polyurethane varnish (clear!

Emulsion paints (optional) Tools

Scrollsavv or fretsaw Router (optional) Chisels and gouges Chip knife or craft knife

Traditionally, the (ion represents strength and majesty, and in Celtic art it is the evangelist symbol for St Mark (although in The Book of Durrow it was used as a symbol for St john). The lion was sometimes given wings to emphasise its divine nature.


1 Use spray adhesive to stick the trivet template. 1 7C, to the larger of the two pieces of timber or you can, if you prefer, trace the design onto the surface using carbon paper between the template and timber.

2 Cut round the outside of the design using a scrollsavv or hand fretsaw. If necessary, cut in at right angles to the points where the knotwork will weave, to be sure of a sharp outline.

3 If not already done at step i. peel off the design and transfer it to the face of the timber as described.

4 Rout out the circle to hold the cork coaster. Make this the depth of the thickness of the coaster, plus 2mm (74n) to allow for the depth of the knotwork carving. You can use chisels and gouges for this, if a router is not available.

5 Reduce the area between the inside of the knotwork and the coaster by 2mm (V.-in) so that the coaster will be level with the background when the carving is complete,

6 Reduce the small triangles between the knotwork to a depth of 2mm (■Vein). 1 found a sharp chip knife most suitable for this.

7 Score along the lines that cross the knotwork then, working at right angles, reduce the timber down towards the cut to give the appearance of weaving under. Repeat the process for all the crossing points.

8 Glue the coaster in place in the centre rebate.

9 Make a card template of the lion motif I7A. and use it to draw three lion shapes.

10 Cut out each lion on a scrollsaw or fretsaw, then cut out the small areas under the chin and behind the tail.

work. Carve the tail inwards to make it appear to come from behind the legs. Slope the end of the back leg so that it tucks in behind the front paw. Round the sides of the back and front legs and paws.

14 Reduce the material around the base of the tail on the lion's left side, and carve a 'V' between the back leg and chest, curving them inwards. Make the tail appear to weave behind the legs by sloping it inwards. Slope the end of the back leg as on the left side, to tuck it behind the front paw. Round over the legs and paws.

II Transfer the designs onto both sides of each lion, either by copying freehand, or tracing from the template.

I 2 Draw the following lines on the front edge of each lion: down the centre of the back legs; 8mm (V«in) in from the edge of each front paw; 5mm (:,/„in) in from each side of the forehead; and 8mm (Viein) in from each side of the snout, as shown.

13 Score along these lines, and along the lines of the design on both sides of each lion. Reduce the material around the end of the tail on the lion's right side to make it stand out, then carve out the waste between the tail and the back leg. curving the edges as you

Progressive singes of curving inch side of the lion

Trivet 69

15 On the front edge cut a 'V between the back legs along the scored line, and round over the edges.

16 Cut out the space between the front paws, cutting ii right back until it meets the area that has previously been cut under the chin, in step 10. Round over the sides of the paws.

I 7 Narrow the head from each side up to the scored lines and round the edges, leaving the mane full width.

18 Shape the back and shoulders but leave the top flat, as this is where the trivet will be fastened. Dip the chest in below the arms and shape the mane and face. If any sanding is necessary, sand before finally adding the eye, nose and mouth.

I 9 Clue the three lions to the underside of the trivet, placing them equal distances apart (120"), so that the edge of the trivet is touching the mane. Place a weight on the trivet until the glue has firmly set.

20 Varnish the trivet and lions with two or three coats of clear polyurethane.


Wooden Claddagh Craft Supply

he Claddagh motto is 'In love, in friendship, let us reign'. A little of the history of the Claddagh design has been referred to in the Claddagh l.ovespoon project (page 20), now I'll explain more about its creator, Richard Joyce.

Richard Joyce had been taken captive in the Mediterranean by Algerian pirates and sold to a Moorish goldsmith, who trained him in metal work and set him to work. When William III became king of England in I 689 he secured the release of all his subjects held captive by the Moors. Richard Joyce's master tried to persuade him to stay by offering his daughter's hand in marriage, but Joyce preferred to return to his native fishing village.

Claddagh. near CaKvay in Ireland. Here he set up his own business making jewellery, and designed the Claddagh ring. The rings became immensely popular and were passed as family heirlooms from mother to daughter.

The design of the Claddagh ring became known across the world as emigrants left Ireland at the time the great famine of 1847-49. Many more rings were left as security back in Ireland, and used to raise the fare to escape the famine; poignantly, many were never reclaimed.

One variation that sometimes appears in the design is the height of the crown: a high-domed crown would have been worn by a queen and a low-domed crown belonged to a king.


Photocopies of templates 18A, iSK and 18C on pages II5-11 7. enlarged by 142%

Carbon paper

Timber measuring 380 x 360 x 30mm (15 x 14'Ax l-Vitin) (sycamore)

Mirror, diameter 305mm (I2in)

Clear varnish Glazier's points or tacks Picture rings and wire


Scrollsaw, jigsaw or fretsaw-

Router (optional)

Rotary multi-tool (optional)

Selection of wooclcarving tools

Chip knife or craft knife

In this project the Claddagh design forms part of the frame, which is reminiscent of the ring shape. An eternal knot weaves around the border.


1 Photocopy the three templates of the design and cut along the dotted lines. Tape them together to form the complete design, making sure that the places where the actual design meets arc firmly joined and taped.

2 Cut the design out, including the small gaps between the hands, heart and crown, and then trace the template shape onto the face of the timber, using carbon paper.

3 The mirror frame can now be cut out. You can do this with a scrollsaw, jigsaw or fretsaw but. if you have access to a router, a far more accurate part-circle can be made. If you wish to use a router, first locate the centre of the circle on your timber. The diagrams below show you how to do this accurately.

4 Apply glue to the centre base of the timber, attach it firmly to a piece of scrap wood, then either clamp the base to the worktop, or use a routing mat to hold it in place.

5 Attach a trammel bar to the router and locate the pin in the centre mark. Cut round the circle as far as the cuffs of the Claddagh design, making several passes, each 3-4mm (Visin) deeper than the last, until the full cut is made.

6 Reset the router to cut ihe inner circle, again cutting as far as the cuffs of the Claddagh design.

At this stage, whilst the router is still set up for face cutting, the two fine lines on each side of the knotwork can be incised, using a 2mm (V^in) straight router bit, to a depth of 2.5m ('/»in.). Routing gives a very eve n line and m a kes the knotwork carving easier, but this step is optional, as the lines can be carved using a chip-carving knife and gouge at step 12.

How to find the centre of a circle

How to find the centre of a circle

Set the compasses at just over half the length of the lines. Place ihe Draw a Une between the two

Draw two lines on the point a I one end and marl; inside sets of crosses. The centre of inside of Ihe circle as and outside Ihe line. Repeat on the the circle is at the point where shown other line these I wo lines cross

Set the compasses at just over half the length of the lines. Place ihe Draw a Une between the two

Draw two lines on the point a I one end and marl; inside sets of crosses. The centre of inside of Ihe circle as and outside Ihe line. Repeat on the the circle is at the point where shown other line these I wo lines cross

11 ci-iii wixincsan

7 Cut out the small gaps between the hands, heart and crown and then turn the work over (so that the back is uppermost), in order to mark the position for the mirror rebate,

8 Lay the mirror on the back of the frame so that the gaps between hands, heart and crown are covered --this will leave it off-centre, towards the bottom.

9 Draw round the mirror and then find the centre of this circle, as described previously.

10 Rout a deep rebate for lhe minor inside the line, to a depth of i 5mm (/¡in), i.e. half the depth of the frame. There is no need to rout the centre of the circle, as this will be removed when the remaining Claddagh design is cut out.

11 Cut out the remaining section of the frame, the Claddagh design, using a scrollsaw, fretsaw or jigsaw.

I 2 On the front of the frame, draw in the line where the cuffs meet the frame. Using a straight chisel, bevel the frame down to about 2-3mm ('/¿in) below the level of the cuff on each side of the frame.

13 Transfer the knotwork design onto the frame using carbon paper and reduce the background around the knotwork by 3mm C/jin). This will be easier if the two guiding bands were routed at stage 6. The outside edges of the knotwork can be removed by cutting down vertically with a small chisel or gouge and then lifting the waste out.

14 The small areas between the tight bends can be removed with the sharp point of a knife.


the same time, round it over top and bottom to get rid of the squared-off look. Shape the hands by reducing ihe depth and angling the fingers downwards.

17 Curve the sides of the heart down to meet the fingers at the sides. Round the thumbs and make a dip at the base of the thumb. Use your own hands, or those of a willing friend, to see the shape they make in this position.

15 When all the background has been removed, score all the crossing lines and lower each side to give the effect of interweaving.

16 When shaping the Claddagh part of the design, it is advisable to do the basic shaping of one half first as a guide, then you can shape the other side to match it. Carve the crown after the hands and heart have been completed.

Begin by angling the cuff down in towards the roll at the wrist, and matching the slope on the other side, from the hand to the roll. Take it down quite deep to give good definition. At

I 8 Curve the edges of the roil at the wrist and round over the bottom edges of the hand. Shape the top of the heart, curving it in below the bottom edges of the crown.

19 Carve the other side of the design to match and, when it is completely even and balanced, sand it smooth.

Next, draw in the lines for the fingers and frills on the cuffs.The dark mark on the fingers in the photo is from a knot that I thought I would just miss - 1 was wrong. That's wood for you. It does, however, serve as a useful reminder that you should take note of knots and cracks when choosing timber for a project.

20 Score along the lines, then cut a deep, steep-sided groove in between the fingers. Round over the sides of the fingers, then shape ihe frills of the cuffs in a similar way, although the grooves are not made as deep.

21 (b shape the crown, first reduce the depth by 2-3mm (/fin) overall, so that it does not appear as high above the heart. Transfer the design onto the crown and score along the straight horizontal line.

22 Round over the edges of the straight section, top and bottom.

23 Score along the two arched lines and then slope the pattern down by about 2mm (%in.) to leave the 'padded cushions' on the crown raised at the bottom.

24 Re-draw the lines and, at the top of the arches, bevel the cushions inwards to give a soft, rounded appearance. Cut some creases at the bottom of the cushions and round over the bottom edge,

25 Slope in the bottom of the teardrop shape at the top of the crown and carve out the little shape in the middle by I mm ('/„in).

26 Decorate the arches of the crown using a punch. 1 actually decorated mine using an old posidrive screwdriver, but a round punch could be used.

27 Cut a backing piece for the mirror from the 4mm (-&in) plywood. Draw round the mirror to get the correct size.

28 Since the frame is made from a single piece of timber, the grain will run in all directions round it. To

minimise any movement of the wood, coat the frame with at least two coats of varnish, to ensure a really good seal - this will also help prevent the mirror being cracked by movement in the wood,

29 Place the mirror in the rebate with the plywood backing behind. Fasten it in place using glazier's poinis or tacks.

30 Screw two small picture rings into the back of the frame, level with each other on either side of the ring, and thread a piece of picture wire through to hang the mirror.

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  • graham
    How to carve a claddagh?
    7 years ago

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