Wooden 21st Key

How I carved a 21st Key


This is a slab of Camphor Laurel wood I decided to use for the 21 Key. I positioned the outline so that the grain in the wood runs parallel with the key.

The key was then cut out on the bandsaw. It is 45cm long, large enough for the client to pass on down through the generations, and fill with many names. It is quite thick and chuncky at the moment.

Here I have started shaping the key, leaving the round end and the foot end the original thickness so the key can be free standing. I drew a butterfly design which was meaningful to the clients family, this will be relief carved and the 21 will be a very deep relief carving.

On the back of the key I decided to carve 21 with a V Chisel and fill it with a darker wood.

Here I have started carving out the 21 on the front.

Carving out the background of the butterfly, before shaping.

Before carving I drilled many holes into the background to the same depth to help get an even finish. The bottom swirl of the butterfly sits higher than the rest of the butterfly and runs parallel with the 21 at the foot of the key, to help with stability.

Shaping of the key is completed, time for sanding.

Meaningful words were burnt into the top edge of the key.


The back has plenty of room for more names when the front is full up. Three coates of Penetrol were applied with a brush to give this finish.

Stippling was added to the background of the butterfly carving to give contrast and help the butterfly to stand out even more.

The finished 21st Key! What an enjoyable project this was from start to finish, I know it will be loved for many generations.


Written on Thursday, 07 April 2011 18:40 by Sandra Skodnik

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