The response to my survey last week sparked some interesting comments and questions, and I hope I will continue to hear from more of you. Your comments and questions are what ignite stimulating conversations on various woodcarving topics from which we can all learn. In fact, we have such a terrific response that today’s post is made up entirely of your questions and comments. There were so many good questions and requests that I just had to post them this week. I’m sure everyone will find the information to be compelling and helpful.
I’m really pleased to see so many of you writing in this week, and hope this encourages more of you to write in because this is really what helps make Wood Chip Chatter what it is.
Questions & Comments
Our first comment today comes from Barbara L. from Dayton Ohio in the form of two questions. Barbara asks:
“Hi Bob, I’m Barbara L from Dayton Ohio. I have been carving since 2018 and consider myself a beginner. Although I am never really sure how to define beginner, intermediate and advanced in the carving world. Everyone always asks but what exactly defines those terms? How many carvings you have done or the quality of your work? Maybe that is my first question for Wood Chip Chatter. Thank you for creating this new opportunity for woodcarvers.”
Hi, Barbara! Thank you for taking the time to write in. I know we’ve been friends on Facebook for a long time! Your questions are somewhat subjective so they are hard to answer. To begin with, the definitions of beginner, intermediate and advanced are broad and subject to interpretation. An individual’s class description is mainly left up to that person’s interpretation of the definition. Much of it has to do with how you view your work when compared to others.
One of the best ways to help make your determination is to enter your work in carving competitions. For example, let’s say you enter some pieces into the beginner class. In the end if your carvings don’t win anything perhaps you still have more work to do…keep on practicing. On the other hand, if you keep coming away with winning awards, then it’s time to consider yourself an intermediate carver and move up to the next class. Also, in some competitions the competition rules determine the carvers’ classes.
In my opinion the determination comes down to the quality of your work and not so much the amount of time you’ve been carving or how many carvings you’ve done because a carver can spend 3 years carving 100 caricatures, but if he’s carving the last one the same way he carved the first one, and hasn’t learned anything along the way, he’s most likely still a beginner.
I hope that helps, Barbara!
Our next comment comes from Don P. from Fort Thomas, KY who writes:
“Hi Bob, Don P from Fort Thomas Ky. I just decided to give carving a try, but I’m decently experienced with other forms of woodworking. Thanks for this blog- I can tell it’s going to be helpful. I’ve enjoyed discovering the work of other carvers on Instagram. There are some crazy talented people out there!! I also love Doug Linker’s videos. That’s what led me to you and this site. Keep up the good work!”
Thanks for writing in and for your kind words, Don! One of the best ways to learn is to watch and see what other carvers are carving and how they do it, and Instagram is a good source for that. Doug Linker is a talented carver who also makes excellent carving videos. YouTube is an excellent source for all kind of videos for wood carvers of all levels. For beginners, you might want to watch Doug, Gene Messer and Arlene Zomer. For a little more advanced carvers there’s Kevin Coates, Blake Lunsford, Kevin Applegate and Jim Feather.
We have a question from Dave Valley about carving eyes. Dave writes:
“Thank you for the carving information you are providing.
You ask for suggestions for blog information. I am a beginner that has been carving fo 4 years. The problem is I started carving a year before COVID. So finding classes has been difficult. The club I am in just restarted and they are not going to have classes until 2022. So if you can provide info on how to do eyes and face layout would be great.
I started as chip carver and have moved onto figure carving. I want to really do Santa’s but I am terrible with eyes. I have several classes scheduled for next year. But different technics is always helpful.
Good question, Dave, and one that I’m sure many readers have in mind. First off, there are loads of how-to videos out today on YouTube for carvers of all skill levels. Secondly, you might be interested in looking into subscribing to the Woodcarving Academy. It’s an online source of videos, carving lessons and tutorials from some of the country’s top carvers. The videos cover every type of carving category from caricature to chip carving, and new videos are added on a regular basis. I spoke more about this in one of my blog posts back on July 8, 2021, or go to woodcarvingacademy.com to see what it’s all about.
Books are also good reference sources of information. Harold Enlow has a 32 page book out on how to carve eyes and lips along with his other books on how to carve the nose, ear and hair. These books are available through most woodcarving suppliers.
Beginning November 5th I will be posting some helpful information on carving eyes so stay tuned.
Our next comment comes from John Tuttle from Vancouver, WA with and answer to my question from last time about what his tall Witch was carved from:
“Bob…. It’s a basswood spindle that I picked up quite some time ago…. It approx 22 in. Tall
Thank you for your response, John! Much appreciated!
We have a comment from Wayne Whiting along with two photos of an exceptional Indian bust he carved from a Stu Martin roughout:
“Here ya go Bob. Please give credit to Stu Martin for the roughout. I did follow his tutorial on woodcarvingacademy.com.
That’s an outstanding carving, Wayne! Excellent facial detail and the finish is spot on. Nice work!
Our next comment comes from Deb from Salina, Kansas. Deb says:
“Hi, I’m Deb from Salina, Kansas, and I am a person who carves only once a week at the Senior Center with a group of mostly guys. Many of them have been carving for years and do large, impressive projects. It’s not possible to carve at my home due to a dog. I prefer to do smaller projects of flowers, words, and creatures. Even though I’ve been going for several years I feel very much a beginner compared to the talented people who come to our Friday carving session.”
Thank you for writing in, Deb! You are very fortunate to be able to carve with a group of talented carvers once a week. It’s one of the best ways to learn and improve your carving skills. Take the time to ask questions of your fellow carvers. Don’t be shy. I’m sure they’re more than happy to help you. As I mentioned earlier, if you have the capability check out some videos on YouTube. It’s free information and is another great way to learn and pick up tips. Send in a photo or two of your work to email@example.com. We’d love to see what you’re doing!
Paul E. from Devon in the UK wrote in to say:
“Hi Bob. Paul E here from Devon in the UK. I’m a novice carver, I’ve been carving for a few years mainly following guides from you and other wood carvers illustrated contributors (which I order but it takes a while to reach me) also you tubers like Doug Linker and Kevin Coates, and various books I’ve acquired. My next step will be to try and come up with original projects which takes a lot of trial and error, it makes me appreciate the skills you have when you can present plans for us to follow easily.
I don’t necessarily have comments to make on each blog you put out, but I find them interesting, and the information is building into a nice reference which can be dipped into as the needs arise.
I’ll try and send you a few photos soon.
Thanks for writing in, Paul! I feel honored that you are following my work and appreciate what I do. It looks like you’re going in the right direction with your woodcarving. Once you’ve developed your carving skills to a certain point the next step is to start creating designs of your own. It’s fun and rewarding, but like you mentioned it also requires a lot of time, effort, and trial and error which most people don’t realize or appreciate. I look forward to seeing photos of some of your work!
Phil H. wrote in with two questions as follows:
“Bob, I want to thank you for the time you spend putting together this valuable resource. I am a true beginner. I’ve taken this hobby up this past summer. I have two questions.I’m a huge fan of Doug Linker. His true appeal is the production quality of his videos, and the fact that the majority of his projects are from a block of wood. Can you recommend other resources who primarily start with just a block of wood? This leads to question number two. I do hope to get a bandsaw in the future. I know this will “expand my horizons” in the future. My drawbacks will be cost and space like so many others. Can you touch on budget and space friendly options for newbies? Thank you so much and advance.Phil HNorth Carolina”
You’re right, Phil. Along with his easy to follow instructional videos much of Doug Linker’s appeal to beginning carvers are the projects he makes starting with just a simple block of wood. Two other excellent carvers who make great videos on YouTube are Gene Messer and Arlene Zomer. Most of their project start with just a block of wood as well.
As far as band saws go, you will probably want to get one that’s no more than 10″ for space saving purposes. When it comes to price my best advice is, don’t buy cheap. A decent 10″ band saw will run you around $500. Originally, I thought I would save money and bought a 10″ WEN band saw for $300. Huge mistake! It fell apart in one year! Then I bought my 10″ Rikon band saw for around $500 two years ago and I love it. It’s a real work horse!
There are all kind of brands out there and the prices run the gamut. Shop around. Perhaps some of our readers can recommend the band saws they use.
Of course any band saw you purchase will require a dust collection system attached to it. So that is something else to consider.
Well, this post is getting rather lengthy and you’re all probably getting tired of reading by now. There are a few more compelling comments which I promise to get to but I’ll save them for next week. Also, next week is Halloween so I intend to have something a little “spooky” for you!
If you’re in the area next weekend stop by the show. It’s a great show and well worth it.
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’!