& Other “Excellent Things
by Tom Wolfe
A Book Review
If you like carving eggs you’ll be ‘eggstatic’ over the book, EGG HEADS & Other “Eggcellent” Things written by the renowned author, wood carver and instructor, Tom Wolfe. In this book, published in 2008 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Tom uses basswood and butternut goose eggs to carve ‘eggtraordinary’ caricature heads and birds.
In this 64 page full color book Tom takes the reader from the blank egg, to drawing, carving and finishing through two different projects…a caricature head and a bird.
The caricature head is carved from a butternut goose egg and is just given an oil finish. The bird project is carved from a basswood goose egg and is painted. Start to finish step-by-step painting photos/instructions are also included as part of completing this unique carving design.
The back of the book has a 17 page Gallery of color photos showing some of Tom’s completed projects which give the reader several terrific ideas to try on their own.
If you’re looking for something different to carve then EGG HEADS & Other “Eggcellent” Things is ‘eggcactly’ the book you need! Get yourself a copy and start cracking some eggs! You never know what you’ll discover inside. Basswood eggs also lend themselves well to carving Santa faces, just in time for your Christmas carving projects!
Basswood goose eggs are available from most woodcarving suppliers. The Greg Dorrance Co., Stadtlander Woodcarving, and The Woodcraft Shop are three just to name a few.
The following photos show my rendition of the bird project from Tom Wolfe’s book:
Tom Wolfe, who unfortunately passed away in September, 2020 was one of America’s most recognized and respected carvers. A long-standing member of the Caricature Carvers of America, Tom was also a well known instructor and author who was originally from West Virginia, but was most recently living in North Carolina.
QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
Our first question today comes from Ernie Kelley in response to my post on Strops & Stropping. Ernie asks:
“Since you brought up stropping again, what are your thoughts on stropping on wood coated with compound compared to leather?”
Thank you for writing in, Ernie! That’s a very good question. Many carvers use cardboard strips (like those cut from cereal boxes) coated with compound with excellent results. Although I have never tried it personally, a nice piece of a hardwood (like walnut) should also work well.
My thinking, though is that because the wood has no ‘give’ to it you will likely have to lift up slightly on the back of the knife in order to get a micro bevel on the blade. Because leather ‘gives’ when you press down on it, it helps to form the micro bevel more easily, even when you lay the blade flat on the strop.
As always, a little experimentation will probably be necessary until you get it just right. I will be going into stropping and how to strop your knife in more detail in my next post.
How about some of you other readers out there? Do you ever use cardboard or wood for stropping. Give us your thoughts!
Our next comment comes from Dan Bennett on his favorite method of stropping:
Stropping was so troublesome when I started. Like most, I have progressed through several methods and although I was very satisfied with leather and green compound a while back I decided to give the thin Dinkle strop and Blue powder – WOW! It works very well and I’m pleased – seems to me I read you liked it and I took your direction. Seems to me everyone will be happy with this method.
Thanks so much for your valuable input, Dan! I DO like the John Dunkle strop and his “Blue Velvet” stropping powder, and use them regularly. The John Dunkle strop is made with pig skin which is thinner (about 1/16″) than cow hide and, therefore has less ‘give’ when you press down on it. And his ‘Blue Velvet’ stropping powder is pure aluminum oxide powder (with no fillers or binders). I just rub the blue powder into the strop with my finger and it works like a charm! Both the John Dunkle strop and “Blue Velvet” powder are available through most woodcarving suppliers.
Our next comment comes from Ed Lysak along with a photo of the stunning spoon he carved from African Mahogany. Ed writes:
“Bob, This spoon was carved from African Mahogany. I don’t know what the differences might be from American Mahogany but it carved nicely.
I enjoyed your blog on strops. I have been using old belts that have shrunken over the years!
I am enjoying your blog. Thanks, Ed Lysak”
Thank you so much for writing in and especially for the photo of the magnificent spoon you carved, Ed! It’s absolutely beautiful. From what was able to research there is not much difference between African and American Mahogany. In General, both African and American Mahogany are grown in tropical (rain forest) climates.
Genuine American Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) is an endangered species grown in South America, particularly Brazil. The trees can be hundreds of years old and grow 150 ft. in height. Genuine Mahogany has a long history of abuse and illegal logging so much that it is now protected by most governments. The mahogany seen in today’s market is either an imitation or plantation grown. Plantation grown mahogany tree only grow to about 50 ft. in height.
Genuine American Mahogany lumber is used for the finest musical instruments, counter tops and bars, yacht decking and furniture.
Old belts are great sources of leather for making your own strops. Generally the nap on the back side of belts is smooth and stiff.
Our next comment comes from Rick Rice in the form of a very much appreciated compliment. Rick writes:
“Hey Bob, Rick here I’m new to the chanel. I’ve enjoyed reading what I have missed. Just for the record I am all but cyber illiterate. I was one of the old farts that thought computers would never go anywhere . Please keep the information flowing! Woodcarvers are good people and love to share but a big portion want to be paid for sharing. Thank you for what you do!”
Thank you so very much for your kind words, Rick! It’s comments like that from folks like you that keep me going.
Let the chips fly! Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to click the ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the page 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.