Whittling The Old Sea Captain

“Whittling The Old

Sea Captain and Crew”

by Mike Shipley

A Book Review

“Whittling The Old Sea Captain and Crew” is a delightful wood carving book written by Mike Shipley.  Mike, who is a noted wood carver is also, and perhaps more well known as a knife maker.  His top notch OCCT line of knives and gouges are sold by most any woodcarving supplier.  In addition, Mike Shipley has made dozens of rough outs, many of which are available through Van Kellys Carving.  Published by Fox Chapel Publishing Co., Inc. in 1996 this 30 page paperback book covers 3 main projects; The Old Sea Captain, The First Mate and The Second Mate.  All the necessary nautical accessories such as buoys, lobster traps, crates and boat oars are also included. 

In the front of the book there are 6 pages with 12 color photos of the three projects from different views.  Chapter One covers the actual carving of the Old Sea Captain.  A convenient list of the necessary tools is given on the first page.  Then there are 16 pages with step by step black and white photos which take the carver through the process from start to finish.  Chapter Two covers painting and Chapter Three covers staining the finished project.  Chapter Four provides brief descriptions for how to make and paint the nautical accessories.  Full patterns for everything covered in the book are located at the end.

Beginner’s and experienced carvers alike will have fun carving everything in this book.  The projects are easy to carve.  The characters all have their hands in their pockets so there are no hands to carve and the eyes are fairly simple.  I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone looking to carve something besides cowboys and Santas.


I received a few comments and questions this week in reply to my last blog on Scroll Saws.  Our first comment comes from Dean Stewart who comments:

Two follow up comments on the scroll saw. Mine is a low end model that neither has light or dust blower tube to remove the saw dust. I remove the dust by blowing on the work. I don’t recommend this. I inherited the machine, but if I was to buy one, dust removal would be a must. I have found a way to use the tilting table to cut square blocks into triangular pieces for carving “off the corner” projects. I clamp a piece of wood the length of the base near the blade. When I tilt the base 45 degrees the clamped piece become the rest for the stock allowing a clean cut through the stock. I hope that description makes sense, but it works really well. I’d like to hear if others have devised other ways to use the saw.”

Dean, that’s a very ingenious way to cut your blocks into diagonal pieces for carving “off the corner” projects.  Ironically enough the current Fall 2021 issue if WCI has a neat little article (tip) on page 15 on how to make a jig for cutting wood blocks on the diagonal right on your scroll saw or band saw.  The project is easy as pie and is definitely worth a look!

Our second comment comes from Wade Harvey who writes:


Thanks for the discussion on scroll saws. It seems the apparent new gold standard for a bandsaw and a scroll saw is the Pegasus brand. I’ve seen both in action and they amazing…and come with an amazing price. I’ve long thought about getting a scroll saw, but I generally use wood blocks for my cut outs that are larger than 2”-2.5”. I may have to pick up a used one and play around with it for a bit.

Thanks for helping me along with the research.


You’re welcome for the research on the scroll saw.  I learned a lot from doing it as well.  It does seem like the Pegas saw is the best thing to come along in wood carving since the invention of the wheel.  I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about it and saw Dwayne Gosnell demonstrating one at a show 2 years ago but never got the opportunity to go up and look at it.  I know Pegas makes a scroll saw (one shown near the top of this blog) but do they also make a band saw?  The machine I saw being demonstrated looked to be like a band saw but I could be wrong because I didn’t get to see it up close.  I also heard through the grapevine they have a combination scroll saw and band saw machine, although I don’t know how that’s possible, and I’ve never seen such a unit.  Can you or anyone else out there answer these questions for me?

Our last comment comes from Dan Bennett.  Dan comments:

I’ve had best success scroll cutting my blanks up to 2” Basswood with SR12 from Flying Dutchman: .067 x .020
7 tpi/6 Rev.
It’s slow and a bit tedious with 2 inches, faster with less’
Dan Bennett”

Thanks so much for that input, Dan.  That’s good information.  It’s sounding like 2″-2 1/2″ is about the maximum size for the average scroll saw.  Two inches, in my opinion is fairly thick wood and I even notice a difference when I’m cutting 2″ blocks on my band saw compared to cutting 1″ blocks.

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, we need your photos!  I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share and photos of your carvings will help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Perhaps we can start a carvers photo section!  Email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com (let me know if you have any trouble attaching your photos).

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

A man goes to his doctor with a strawberry growing out of his head.  So he gave him some cream to put on it.

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.

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