Canadian Woodworking

Lucky the clown

Author: Garnett Hall
Published: June July 2003

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, allow me to introduce to you “Lucky the Clown”!

lucky the clown

“Lucky” isn’t a difficult project, but fitting him together can present some challenges. The hardest part to fit is the “w” shaped part that runs across his face (above his nose and under his eyes).

Lucky can be a fun project to shape. Creative shaping can really bring a face to life, and Lucky is no exception. For example, add some curve to his hair. Lower the edges of his bow tie knot, curve and slope the bow part down to the knot. Shape the face round. Raise and really round out his nose. All this shaping (and more) will add to the project and bring Lucky to life.

The pattern has suggestions for wood species and shades, but use your imagination and choose woods to your liking. The woods you select will make the project uniquely yours. Start with ¾” material.

Transfer the Pattern

Transfer the pattern to the wood using which ever technique you prefer: make a template of the pattern from some thin wood (⅛” hardboard); trace pattern onto wood with carbon paper; or cut out pattern pieces and spray glue them onto the wood.

Cut out the Pieces

Cut out the pieces very carefully. I have been experimenting with cutting out intarsia projects with thinner (smaller) blades. I have found that #3 hook tooth blades handle ¾” Cedar well, with little or no blade waiver. The thinner blade leaves a thinner kerf and a better fit, as long as you cut on the line. I got some HatEyes for when I’m doing such detailed work. (HatEyes are small magnifying lenses that clip onto your hat visor. I find them easier to deal with than a large magnifying lens.

Assemble and Check for Fit

Project should fit reasonably well. Don’t worry too much about a perfect fit. As long as you are within a saw kerf (1/16″), it won’t be noticeable. However, if you lose your pencil in one of the gaps, you’d better tighten things up. I usually start with one of the larger pieces and then fit the adjoining pieces to it. Holding two pieces together and running a saw blade down the join helps to fit pieces.

Once you have the pieces fitting to your liking, raise and lower any pieces the pattern calls for, or that your imagination suggests.

Raise and Lower

Raise by gluing scrap plywood to the bottom of pieces, lower by resawing or sanding pieces thinner. Assemble all the pieces again and draw reference lines.

These lines will help with the shaping.


Shape with any sanding tools you have. I like using a small pneumatic sander in a flex shaft, but everybody has their favourite tool. Try to achieve a smooth transition from one level to the next. The more shaping you do, the better it will look.

Make sure that you wear dust protection. Always do as much as you can to reduce your exposure to dust. Western red cedar can be one of the worse woods for allergic reactions.

Sand the Pieces

I don’t sand past 220. I don’t feel it’s necessary to create any more dust than is required, and 220 is smooth enough.

Assemble the Project

Assemble the project onto the backing material. Baltic birch is the best backing material. You can also use ordinary oak or birch plywood. Just make sure that it stays flat (¼” would be adequate for this project). Trace around the project. Cut out the back and glue the pieces onto it. Use ordinary carpenter’s glue.

Apply the Finish

Any finish for wood will work. I like MinWax Satin, but use whatever you like the look of, or what ever you like applying. You can brush it or spray it on. Apply three coats on the front and one on the back.

Sand between coats. Some people like to finish the pieces before they glue up – the choice is yours.

So there you go. A few tools, a little material, a lot of patience, and you can make yourself “Lucky”.

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