Two separate phases of construction are now going on simultaneously – body shaping and mortise-boring. These two posts will overlap somewhat, but for clarity I will handle each as if it were happening in a vacuum.
Body work has proceeded faster than I anticipated. Drawknife, scrub plane, and belt sander have rapidly brought the log to a reasonably smooth final form. Now, I have to turn my attention to the defects.
The log has a fair number of worm cavities and uneven spots. Additionally, there are some slightly punky areas. As I mentioned in a previous post, the log has a fair amount of spalting, but is basically sound. Additionally, a good number of the defects are in non-contact areas of the log, and won’t require the same degree of attention.
I decided to begin by filling in the voids in the contact areas with a mixture of epoxy and sawdust collected during the sanding operation. Once hardened, this smoothed out rather nicely, but didn’t really match the surrounding area. However, the mottled appearance caused by the spalting made this less of a factor than it would be otherwise. Worm craters got a similar treatment.
There was one large punky area in the lower frontal area that simply wouldn’t sand flat, but rather kept poking up bits of fuzz and fiber no matter what I did. I first tried stabilizing it with some 2lb cut shellac, but this was less than satisfactory. I finally settled on slathering it in epoxy, and working this back to a level surface once it cured. This solved the problem (killing a rabbit with an A-bomb, I suppose), but again left a less-than-ideal match. Soaking with super glue would probably have done the job, but mine had polymerized in the bottle, and all the box store had was little tubes. Sheesh. Oh well, it IS a working martial arts tool, not a piece of furniture for the house.
After the epoxy cured it was back to scrape-and-sand. Scrub plane and cabinet scraper brought everything back to level, at least in the striking areas. I could see no reason to wear myself out and go bankrupt on epoxy and super glue on areas that I won’t contact in use. After that, I returned to belt sander and then orbital sander and sanded to 120 grit. This gave me a smooth surface that was completely satisfactory to beat senseless with my bare hands, and so was a perfect stopping point.
The last step was to apply a sealer coat of boiled linseed oil diluted with mineral spirits, which I swabbed on generously and allowed to penetrate. Some people apply a topcoat, but there’s really no need. Your hands and feet will wear it off in no time, and they’ll impart a patina to uncoated wood quickly enough.
And here we have the completed body. Granted, it’s not the prettiest spalting I’ve seen, but it certainly gives the dummy character.
Next time we’ll back up a bit and look at how I made the through mortises for the arms and support slats.