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Transfer Patterns With Lacquer Thinner

When I first started chip carving, I enjoyed every aspect except one--transferring the detailed pattern to the workpiece. I tried "ironing" a photocopy onto the wood, but I didn't like the results. So I came up with my own method that works great for both detailed and simple patterns.

First, I wipe down the workpiece lightly with a rag dipped in lacquer thinner. Then, I immediately press a photocopy of the pattern face side down on the same surface. The lacquer thinner slightly dissolves the photocopy's toner, leaving a crisp outline of the pattern on the wood.

On patterns with lettering, you need to make an intermediate pattern or the letters will come out backwards. I make this "reverse" pattern first on a sheet of acetate film used with overhead projectors. Then, I put this acetate copy upside down in the copier and make a paper photocopy of it. When I apply this copy to the workpiece, the lettering transfers correctly. If your copier has a manual setting, I've also found that "light" copies transfer better than "dark" ones.
—Paul W. Tidwell, Huntsville, Texas

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