Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crossed Skis

Early June 2011

Time to carve: 2.5 hours
Finishing: 1 hour

This past winter I had the opportunity to be in Lake Placid during the Empire States games. The place we were staying had old skis like these mounted on their wall. Doing some research, I found a place that still teaches the traditional methods of making wooden skis.

A few of Whittlin Jim's projects have called for bending wood and the best wood he found for this was bamboo. I think there must have been more bamboo available back then because I sure had a hard time finding it locally (at a price I wanted to pay). But along came a project in our kitchen, which used some relatively cheap boxes from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I found my source for bamboo. The first step was to cut the bamboo to size and then sand down the pieces to the desired width. I sanded both sides to remove any protective coating before placing the wood in water to soak. A few days later the wood was soft enough to bend and I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend up the tips. Even as soft as the wood had become I still had a fair amount of splitting at the ends. To save the project, I applied some super glue to the ends while the bamboo was still wet. (It is my understanding that this kind of glue works better when the object being glued is wet.) I then let every thing dry overnight. Shaping the tips of the skis was easy, thanks to the glue, and there was no further splintering. I painted the skis next because I knew I couldn't after gluing on the small pieces of leather that form the toe and heel straps. The poles are toothpicks and the baskets (small round disks near the points of the poles) were cut from a plastic OJ container. The original article called for using black tape for the handles but I opted for some heat shrink tubing with some heavy black thread for wrist straps. Super glued the pieces together on a leather loop. My only regret with this slide was painting the poles yellow because on retrospect leaving them a natural color might looked better.

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