Carving Figure Caricatures in the Ozark Style


in the Ozark Style

by Harold L. Enlow

A Book Review

Front Cover
Back Cover

CARVING FIGURE CARICATURES in the Ozark Style” is just one of many excellent woodcarving books written by noted wood carver and instructor Harold L. Enlow.  Published by Dover Publications Inc. in 1975 this 39 page paperback book contains 22 drawings and 47 black & white photographs, and covers 10 projects which go from easy to somewhat more difficult to carve.  Each project has large, easy to copy patterns.

There are sections in the book that cover topics such as selecting and preparing the wood, selecting the proper tools, roughing out your carving, and finishing your project.  In addition to the 10 projects, Harold has included a section on How to Carve a Head and Face.

Typical Project
“Rufus” – my favorite character from the book

Most of the projects provide a list of tools needed, which is helpful.  Although comprehensively written all of the projects are delivered in clear, easy to follow text form.  In most cases, there are only photos of the finished project with an occasional photo of a project in stages of completion.  Some of the projects include: A Missouri Mule, A Mountaineer, A Hobo, Rufus and Sadie (who you are all familiar with), and A Banjo Player.

If you are a visual person who needs a lot of instructional pictures to go by this is not the book for you, but if you can take a pattern and one or two go by photos and wing it, there are some fun hillbilly projects inside.


We received several emails this week with some interesting questions and comments.  I hope you will find them engaging.

Our first email comes from Timothy Sisko who writes:

“Bob, in the one month that you have been publishing your blog, I believe I have read every one of your articles. I must say that I have enjoyed them and appreciate your efforts. Please keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your articles.”

I am truly humbled to hear you say that, Tim.  I’m so glad you are enjoying Wood Chip Chatter.  It’s for folks like you who make it all worthwhile.

Our second email comes from garyscarving.  Gary writes:

“Hey Bob, I hope life is treating you well and my prayers go out to your wife!!! I’m new to carving & social media but I enjoy reading your blogs they are always full of great information & you tend to hit on all the questions a beginner has and i thank you very much for doing it especially with all the time you put into it!! When i started carving a couple of months ago I only let myself purchase a knife and a small v-tool to get me started but I think i am ready to purchase a few gouges &/or v-tools & take the next step. I am somewhat of a tool nut & prefer quality tools, a buy once cry once type of guy (yes we all have our weaknesses lol). My question is on the gouges is it best to get the bent gouge or straight gouge or a little of both when doing caricature carvings? Would love any feedback that you have or anyone else that reads these, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the ears & whittle on”.

First of all, thank you for your prayers for my wife.  She is undergoing treatments for her cancer and is doing well.  I’m glad you’re enjoying Wood Chip Chatter, and thank you for your thoughtful comments.  Second, let me say in my opinion you made a wise decision to start out with just a carving knife and a small V-tool.  When it comes to carving small caricatures a small (1/8″ or 1/4″) V-tool is about the only other tool you need besides your carving knife.  Once you get into carving more ‘advanced’ type carvings is when you want to start branching out into different types of gouges, and as far as gouges go the sky is the limit when it comes to shapes and sizes!  Most wood carvers become tool collectors as well.  I, like so many other carvers have boxes full of tools, yet we never have enough.  There’s always that one more tool out there that you just gotta have!

Now to finally answer your question about straight gouges vs. bent gouges.  I have both and I use both.  For years I used both types and never gave them a thought, but lately I am beginning to lean towards bent gouges (at least for the type of carving I do).  To me, a bent gouge can do the same things a straight gouge can do but it can also get into tight spots where a straight gouge cannot.  I just bought two Drake bent gouges but haven’t had the opportunity to use them yet.  I’m anxious to see how they perform.  By the way, when you buy Drake gouges they are offered as either straight or bent.

I’m not saying to only buy bent gouges.  These are just my thoughts from my own experience.  I really encourage feedback from our readers on this subject to get other’s opinions on straight vs. bent gouges.  Perhaps we can open an informative discussion on the matter.

Our next email come from John Pearson who writes:

“Bob, I understand your disappointment with the early stages of your blog. Please know I am an avid reader/follower of your blog plus Instagram. I encourage you to press on.

I’d like your thoughts on pattern usage vs. those instructors that provide measurements in videos and/or step by step instructions via print with pictures.

I do not have a bandsaw and those folks that provide patterns to copy onto the wood (such as from books) usually provide a front and side view. While I am fairly proficient following measurements and print guidance, I have difficulty matching up front and side views of patterns. Most do not have grid lines. Any do’s and don’ts out there to help overcome this? I really enjoy how you present your instructions.


Thank you for your kind words, John.  I want you and everyone else to know that I truly covet you all as readers and followers.  Your loyalty and support mean a great deal to me, and on my ‘down’ days thinking of you is what picks me up and keeps me going.

To address your concern about the use of patterns let me first warn everyone to be careful when using them.  With many patterns you find (in books for example) the front and side views don’t always match.  Sometimes you have to reduce, expand or even redraw one of the pattern views so that the front and side views match which is a pain.

Whenever using paper patterns, like from a book (assuming they are sized correctly) I always transfer them to the wood using graphite paper.  I carefully align the bottoms of both patterns (front & side views) with the bottom of the block.  This insures that both views line up perfectly top to bottom.

When an instructor provides measurements and step by step instructions such as Doug Linker does there are some advantages.  For one, your measurements are always spot on and there is no guess work as to whether you have the pattern correct.  The other advantage is that this method gives the carver much more ‘license’ to change things up and make the carving his or her own.   I hope this answered your question, John, and like always we welcome our readers to follow up with their thoughts and comments on the subject.

srjudge wrote a very nice email to say:

“Love your blog and find the information very useful, especially to this “newbie.”  Keep up the good work.”

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.  I’m glad you are finding Wood Chip Chatter informative.

We have one final email from Phyllis who writes:

“Thank you Bob for your blog.  I for one have learned several things from the knowledge you have been giving us.  I quite understand your wanting to do fewer blogs a week and fully support you no matter how many you do because I enjoy reading them.  You have so much information for carver’s to learn from.”

Phyllis, thank you so much for your understanding and words of encouragement.  It’s for folks like you which is why I write Wood Chip Chatter.  I’m glad you enjoy it and find it helpful.  I greatly enjoy sharing my knowledge and helping other carvers, especially beginners.  It is my hope that Wood Chip Chatter will continue to help serve that purpose.

This was a particularly long blog, mostly due to all the emails we received in the past few days, and THAT’S GREAT!  Your emails are so important to the success of Wood Chip Chatter.  They are what help keep this blog interesting and informative.  I want to especially thank those of you who contributed this week.  “Keep the chips flying!”

Let the chips fly!  Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter Active and keep the conversations going!

And remember to email your photos to                                 

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

“I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps

finding her way back.” 


Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

3 thoughts on “Carving Figure Caricatures in the Ozark Style

  1. Just a word of encouragement, my wife of 50 years recently completed seven weeks of radiation treatment and four months of chemotherapy and is doing exceedingly well. I pray that your bride has the same results. No need to reference this message in your blog.


  2. On the topic of pattern versus measurements. I’ve used both. I don’t have a band saw but I do have a scroll saw. It works looks a band saw up to 2 inches. That’s something to consider if you don’t have room in the house or the budget for a band saw. I prefer measuring especially when I plan to “modify” a design. When I’m trying to more closely match a design then I find patterns handy. One down side to patterns IMHO is they can be tricky to get started. Sometimes it’s just hard to visualize the proper sequence of steps. That’s my $.02. Who else has something to add.


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