Celtic-Carved Horse Bracelet Stand

Nathan Cannon constructs this bracelet stand with two Celtic-carved horse shapes.


Inspired by his Irish heritage, Nathan Cannon has been "tracing the line between art and science" his whole life.

Materials and Tools:

rock maple wood
carbon paper
paper and pencil
wood carving tools
safety glasses and ear protection
wood stain
double-stick lathe worker's tape
waterproof wood glue
table saw
graph paper
1/4" heavy plastic
drum sander
right angle ruler
orbit sander
180-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit sandpaper
rubber hammer
painter's tape
lint-free cloth
cotton swabs
steel wool


1. Draw a rough form of the horse head and neck on paper.


2. Using the grid on graph paper draw the knot work to be carved on the horse head and finalize the design for carving. The rough dimensions are 6" x 12" for the horse head.

3. Cut out the paper template and tape it to 1/4-inch heavy plastic. Cut the plastic to the shape of the horse to create a plastic template.

4. Clean the plastic template on a drum sander.


5. Drill mortise boundaries in the template for the placement of the straight wood strips (stretchers) that will be used for holding the bracelets.

6. Place the plastic template on 3/4 inch thick rock maple wood and trace around it. Flip the template over and trace it again on the wood.


7. Cut out the two horse heads with a jigsaw. Wear safety glasses.


8. Place double-stick lathe worker's tape between the plastic templates and the maple horse head cutout. Clamp in place. Use a router to complete the final shaping to the basic horse form following the template as a guide. Repeat with the second horse head.

9. Flip the wood horses to the back side, apply the template and mark the mortise boundaries with a pen. Remove the template and finish drawing the lines with a right angle ruler.


10. Using a rubber hammer and chisels, make two 2" x 3/4"x 3/8" mortises (square hole) in the back of the wooden horse shapes to hold the stretchers.

11. Sand the horses with a random orbit sander using 180- and 220-grit.

12. Place a piece of carbon paper between the grid template and the wooden horse and trace the horse design to the wooden horse shapes. Repeat with the second horse.

13. Draw the grid for the stretcher knot work. Cut out the template.


14. Cut two 3/4-inch rock maple pieces 2" x 24" for the stretchers with a table saw.

15. Using a router, cut a 1/2 inch round over on both sides of the back of each stretcher, leaving 3/8 inch on each end intact to fit the mortises.

16. Sand the stretchers.

17. Place a piece of carbon paper between the paper grid template for the stretcher design and the wood stretcher and trace the design onto the wood. Repeat with the second stretcher.


18. Carve all the knot work designs on the two horses with wood-carving tools.

19. Carve the two stretchers.

20. With a straight gouge taper all interior knot work segments to a 45-degree angle. Clean up stray "fuzz" with the U-gouge.


21. Where the knot work lines intersect, use a straight gouge to cut a 60-degree angle to enhance the "over/under" illusion of the knot work. Clean up stray fuzz with the U-gouge.

22. On the horse faces, simply etch the lines with a 5mm V-gouge to trace the eye and mouth. Taper around the ears and any remaining lines such as the border-sphere area on the cheek with a straight gouge.

23. Lightly sand all surfaces on all pieces with 320- and 400-grit sandpaper.


24. Glue the stretchers into the mortises with waterproof wood glue. Protect the unglued surfaces with painter's tape. Clamp to dry for 12 hours.


25. Unclamp and remove the tape, clean up stray glue with a flat chisel and lightly stain the wood with a lint-free cloth.

26. Apply the stain to the carved indentations with a cotton swab. Let dry for 12 hours.


27. Brush on a clear coat finish and apply new coats at least eight hours between applications. Hand-sand very lightly with 400-grit between coats. Apply at least three coats if the piece is to travel often.

28. After the last coat has dried, very lightly clean the piece with 0000-steel wool to desired smoothness.


29. Hang bracelets on the stretcher bars of the Celtic-carved bracelet holder.

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