Basic Relief Carving

Basic Relief Carving

This article describes relief carving in the medium of wood, although relief carving is also done in stone and other materials. Relief carving, when done in stone, is usually referred to as relief sculpture.

Relief carving is a type of wood carving in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than standing freely. Depending on the degree of projection, reliefs may also be classified as high or medium relief.

Relief carving can be described as “carving pictures in wood”. The process of relief carving involves removing wood from a flat wood panel in such a way that an object appears to rise out of the wood. Relief carving begins with a design idea, usually put to paper in the form of a master pattern which is then transferred to the wood surface. Most relief carving is done with hand tools chisels and gouges which often require a mallet to drive them through the wood.

As wood is removed from the panel around the objects traced onto it from the pattern, the objects themselves stand up from the background wood. Modeling of the objects can take place as soon as enough background has been removed and the object edges are trimmed to the pattern lines.

In order to secure the work, a workbench with fixtures like bench-dogs, carver’s screws or clamps, is necessary. Carving tools come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, some aimed strictly at the hobbyist, but others directed at professional carvers. Some carving tools are held with one hand while the carving is held in the other. But most relief carving requires that the wood panel be secured so that both hands may be on the carving tool.

Much of the skill required for relief carving lies in learning to grip and manipulate tools to get the desired effect. Tool sharpening is also a necessary skill to learn, and dull tools are a severe obstacle and safety hazard to effective carving.

Relief Carving Tools

Stages of relief carving

  1. Create a pattern, drawn on paper.
  2. Prepare a wood panel for carving. This may be a single piece of wood or a laminated panel.
  3. Transfer the pattern to the panel, using carbon paper as the transfer medium.
  4. Remove wood around the objects that comprise the pattern.
  5. Model the objects
  6. Detail the objects
  7. Tidy the background behind the objects
  8. Apply a suitable finish to the panel

Styles of relief carving

  1. High relief, usually between 1/2″ and 2″ in depth.
  2. Bas relief, or Low relief usually under 1/2″ in depth.
  3. Deep relief, usually over 2″ in depth.
  4. Pierced relief, where holes are carved clear through the wood

Some carvers prefer to finish their carving with a clear finish. But others incorporate color and pyrography into their relief carvings.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reader’s Comments

A few weeks ago, when I posted my story of how I got into woodcarving I invited all of you to send in your stories as well.  Well Dick Bonewitz from Carmel, Indiana took me up on my offer and sent in his story this week, and it goes like this:

“Bob, I thought I would share a little bit of my story.    I took up carving about 35 years ago, but didn’t do anything serious until about 12 years ago.   I joined our local carving club, Circle City Carvers in Indianapolis.    During a visit to Branson Mo. I heard about the Ozark Woodcarving Seminar held each year in Springfield Mo.    That seminar has changed my entire carving experience and introduced me to so many instructors and types of carving.  I encourage all to check it out.

After carving numerous Santa’s, animals, western men and Indian busts, I wanted to try something different.  I love watching birds and seeing the variety and vibrant colors God put on them.    Thus my new venture into bird carving.  I have purchased a Ram micro  power carving unit and a table top dust collector.   With a ceramic model of a Cardinal, and a Tupelo roughout both purchased from Josh Guge, I am embarking on a new adventure and challenge.   I am getting a couple of days of instruction from Josh, prior to taking his 5 day class in Springfield next March.

I have also found some great books on power and bird carving as well as good resources on Google and Utube. 

My first bird may not be blue ribbon winner (yet to be seen), but my first two Santa’s were really bad and I kept trying.  We all start somewhere, so I’m enjoying this new challenge.

Dick Bonewitz

Carmel, In”

A very interesting story, Dick!  Thank you for sending it in.  As you found out, joining a woodcarving club and taking carving seminars are two of the best ways to improve your wood carving skills because they take you down so many new avenues and open so many opportunities.

Bird carving is a whole different way of carving in unto itself but I think you will enjoy your new venture, and it seems you are on the right track there by getting some lessons, taking a class and watching videos.  I’m sure you will do well and hope you will send us some photos.

My good friend Tracy Czajkoski also sent in the story of her journey into woodcarving and writes:

“It really started when I first admired a wood carved Indian head woggle (neckerchief slide) that my Dad carved in boy scouts. He was 13 years old at the time. He gave it to his grandson (my nephew) when he became an eagle scout. He wore it in his court of honor ceremony I attended. It’s really cool and really good!

Not long after the eagle scout ceremony, I was kicking around in my parents’ attic and came across a box that had another wood carved woggle of a lumberjack head (I think he’s Paul Bunyan). Part of his hat or something was broken off, but again, I thought it was so cool that Dad carved that as a kid. I wished I would have asked him for it and taken it home then. It’s still up there and I can’t wait to climb back up there again and find it. (My Dad is now 87 years old). This lumberjack carving is what made me come back home to western North Carolina and buy a whittling book.

Not sure how I thought to research local woodcarving clubs, but I did and found a club just outside Charlotte, NC roughly 1 hour 45 minutes from my remote location in Lake Lure, NC. However, I read that they held meetings right around the corner from a facility that I’ve had to visit frequently for work! Serendipity!

The Charlotte woodcarvers couldn’t have been more welcoming, giving of their knowledge and helpful with tips & techniques. Right away, I bought the beginners kit (knife, gloves, block of basswood and pattern to carve a comfort bird). I signed up for membership to the club and bought a cool wood carver patch and started receiving newsletters.

I subscribed to Woodcarving Illustrated and started watching YouTube videos about woodcarving. I wanted to absorb everything I could about wood carving. I love it and the friendly fellowship of woodcarvers.

I’ve entered a few of the Charlotte Annual Showcase of Woodcarvings shows. I first entered the novice division in a few different categories but the “miscellaneous, painted” category was my focus. There were about 10 competitors. I entered a carving of a cupcake with sprinkles and a birthday candle. The night before during registration, I spotted two snowmen in my division that I thought would defeat everyone. They were beautifully painted, triple the size of my little cupcake. I was floored the next day when I was awarded a 1st place blue ribbon and the snowmen were 2nd and 3rd. It dawned on me that the judges were looking at how it was carved. It was a “wood carving” competition after all. They looked past the beautiful painting technique on the snowmen as they were very simply carved. While my carving was a lot smaller, my carving was clearly more detailed. I’ll never forget how that felt. This reward for my first entry propelled me to keep carving.

  • Tracy Czajkoski”

What a delightful story, Tracy!  It’s clear to see that woodcarving talent runs in the family and you made all the right decisions to improve your skills along your journey. I apologize, the photo you sent of your nephew along with your story would not transfer to the blog post.

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

My friend Tami Wass sent in a few photos of an outstanding fisherman scene she recently carved and would like to have it critiqued here in the “Carver’s Corner”.  Tami writes:

“Hi Bob ~ I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy receiving your emails. I always find them very informative. I also enjoy seeing the pictures sent in by your subscribers. I know it’s a very time consuming task putting this all together, and I appreciate you doing it. Hope for continue for a long time.

I am including a few pictures of a little fisherman that I carved. I am hoping you will critique it for me. Thank you in advance.

Tami Wass” 

Hi Tami…Thank you for writing and thank you especially for your kind and thoughtful words.  They are very encouraging and much appreciated.

I love your fisherman!  It’s a magnificent carving and I will be happy to critique it in my “Carver’s Corner”.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about it.  It’s excellent in every way.  Although the fisherman itself is a rather average caricature, however well done, you’ve paid exceptional attention to all of the details of the carving scene.  I’m particularly blown away by the dock and all the detail you put into the carving and painting of the planking and pilings.  I would love to know how you did them.  The seagull, bucket and fish are nice additions, and the seagull is well painted.

Perhaps on your next one you might want to try carving more detail into the seagull…like carve in the wings and some of the feathers, particularly on the tail.  Eyes are always hard to do and although your fisherman’s eyes look good the eye lids don’t match.  They should both be the same size and cover more of the eyes, from side to side.

Overall you’ve done a spectacular job and one you should be very proud of.   And always feel free to send in more photos anytime you like.  I can always use them.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com. 

My friend, Jim Shay sent in a few photos of the carvings he’s recently done and a little humor to go along with them.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Hi Bob, Thanks for your amazing job with your Blog. I read every issue with pleasure. This weeks is particularly great because I have been able to find a couple carving clubs that are not too far from me and will be attending their upcoming shows.  Due to the recent passing of my wife of 57 years I have not been able to concentrate enough on carving. I have just these last couple weeks been able to dust off the carving bench and do a few easy pieces which I’m including a couple photos of them and also sending a humorous photo I recently found on FB.  Have a great week and know I am a fan and follower of your blog.”

First, let me say that I’m sorry to hear of the passing of your beloved wife.  Second, I want to thank you for your nice words about Wood Chip Chatter.  I so happy you’re a big fan and loyal follower, and that you’re enjoying reading it.

Those are some really cool carving you’ve done and I particularly like the books you carved.  I’ve been meaning to carve a stack of those but like everything else, I haven’t been able to find the time to do it.  And I love the joke!  It’s hilarious!  Thank you so much for the photos.  They are always appreciated.

Free Pattern

Here is a rooster pattern for a relief carving:

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

9/24 – Carvin’ The Rockies (Live broadcast)

10/1 – Chris Gardea

10/15 – Nikki Reece

10/22 – Bob Hershey

10/29 – Rod Gatlin

11/19 – Ryan Olsen

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

Stay sharp, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

“2022 Woodcarving Shows & Events”

Remaining Woodcarving Shows & Events for 2022

The following is a list of the remaining woodcarving shows & events for 2022.  Look for one near you!

September 3 Williamsville, Illinois. Sangamon Valley Woodcarvers’ 31st show at Williamsville Village Hall, 141 W. Main St.; 10am to 4pm. Admission free. Bill Rice (217) 414-4790, williamwrice@sbcglobal.net;www.svwoodcarvers.org.

September 3-4Wheeling, West Virginia. 43rd annual Oglebay Woodcarvers Show in Pine Room at Oglebay Park. Free admission. Email clark@unimaxsystems.com; website www.oglebaywoodcarvers.com.

   September 10 – Janesville, Wisconsin. 16th show sponsored by Rock River Valley Carvers at Rock County Fairgrounds, 1301 Craig Ave.; 9 to 4. Free admission. Email bwkicrandall@gmail.com. Website: rockrivervalleycarvers.com.

September 10 – Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Carve In on the Chippewa at VFW Post 305, 1300 Starr Ave.; 10am to 4pm. Free admission. Rich Thelen1 West Wisconsin Wood Carving Guild, (715) 456-8253.

September 16-18 -Wellington, Ohio. Lorain County Woodcarvers Show at Lorain County Fairgrounds. Fri. and Sat., 9-5; Sun. 10-3. Ann (440) 864-0496; amowery22@gmail.com.

September 17 Muncie, Indiana. Raintree Woodcarvers Show at Delaware County Fairgrounds, 1210 Wheeling Ave.; 10am to 5pm. Randy Sollars (765) 730-0286.

September 17-18 – Denver, Colo. 47th Colorado Carvers Club of Denver Metro Area show at Highlands Masonic Center, 3550 Federal Blvd. Sat. 10-5; Sun. 10-4. $5 per family. www. ColoradoCarvers.org; CCCAnnualShow@centurylink.net.

September 23-24 – Spanish Fork, Utah. Utah Valley Woodcarvers Show at Veterans Memorial Building, 400 N. Main St. Fri. 12-6; Sat. 10-5. Admission $3 (10 and under free). Gary (385) 329-5442; drgaryheaton@yahoo.com. Web: uvwc.org.

September 23-25Honesdale , Pa. 18th Fall Carve In at Cherry Ridge Campsite. No admission fee; cost for materials. Robert Muller (570) 470-2736; rmuller@nep.net. Website: www.cherryridgecarvers.org.

September 24-25 – Colorado Springs, CO.  CCA Carvin’ The Rockies.  Classes with six top-flight CCA member instructors, and vendors on site.  The National Caricature Carvers Competition (open to the public for viewing).  Saturday night social.  CCA carving display.  For applications, entry forms and additional information go to http://www.cca-carvers.org

September 24-25 Wilmot, Ohio. 38th annual Wilderness Center Woodcarvers Show at Wilderness Center, 9877 Alabama Ave SW. Saturday 10am to 4pm; Sunday 11am to 4pm. Website: wcwoodcarvers.com.

September 24-25 – Spokane, Washington. Spokane Carvers present 31st annual show at The Hive, 2904 E Sprague Ave. Free admission. Tim (509) 244-3467; spokanecarversinfo@gmail.com. Website: www.spokanecarvers.com.

September 30-October 2 – Astoria, Oregon. 33rd Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show at Clatsop County Fairgrounds & Expo Center, 92937 Walluski Loop. Jerry (503) 884-7905, or Randy (503) 668-8348. www.columbiaflywaywildlifeshow.com

October 1 – Union, Kentucky. River Valley Woodcarvers Carving Expo at Scheben Library; 10am to 4pm. Email John Schneider at msjdschneides@gmail.com.

October 12 Coon Rapids, Minn. Metro Chapter of Minnesota Wood Carvers hosts 17th Woodcarving Weekend Seminar at VFW Post 9625, 1919 Coon Rapids Blvd. NW. Email Roger: dahjrlia@gmail.com, or Tom: Tbshel@comcast.net.

October 1-2 Sevierville, Tenn. Smoky Mountain Woodcarving Club’s 10th annual show at Sevierville Senior Center, 1220 W. Main St. (classes September 28-30). Contact JR Hemmerlein (309) 620-1197; corngrinder50@yahoo.com.

October 7-9 – Poultney, Vermont. First annual Hannah Woodcarving Competition in Scandinavian Flat-plane Style. Cash awards. Peter Ruby (802) 265-8163.

October 8 Saline, Michigan. Saline Carvers annual show and sale at Liberty School, 7265 N. Ann Arbor-Saline Rd.; 10am to 4pm; $3 donation, children 12 and under, free. Contact Tom Jacobson (734) 476-3441; tomjacobson@comcast.net.

October 8-9 – Denmark, Wisconsin. NE Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild hosts 39th Artistry in Wood at Denmark High School. $5 ages 13 and up; free parking. Sat. 9:30 to 4:00; Sun. 9:30 to 3:00. Call (920) 883-6089. newwg.org/annual-show

October 8-9 – Tacoma, Washington. Northwest Carvers Assoc. presents 41st annual show and sale at Waller Road Grange. Website: www.woodcarvers.org. Email jkjohnson.home@gmail.com, or dthompson956@live.com.

October 89 Candor, New York. Catatonk Valley Wood­ carvers Show. Contact Dave Baldwin (607) 687-4164; email davebaldwin108@gmail.com.

October 15 – Omaha, Nebraska. Mid-America Woodcarvers Association’s 47th annual Fall Show & Sale at German American Society, 3717 S. 120th St.; 9am to 5pm. Free admission. Tom Paskach (402) 321-4784. midamericawoodcarvers.com

October 20-30 Pensacola, Florida. Flora-Barna Cutups Woodcarving Club hosts a competition and display at the Pensacola Interstate Fair. Bert Black (850) 476-4105.

October 2223Wayne, New Jersey. North Jersey Wood Carvers present 36th annual Woodcarving, Arts & Crafts Show at Wayne P.A.L. Call Jerry Cetrulo (973) 835-8555.

October 2829 – Archbold, Ohio. Sauder Village Woodcarver’s Show and Sale in Founder’s Hall, 22611 State Route 2. Deb Ridgway (800) 590-9755, deb.ridgway@saudervillage.org. www.saudervillage.org

October 29-30 – East Berlin, PA. Conewago Carvers Woodcarving and Art Show and Sale at East Berlin Community Center. 9 am-4 pm Sat. & Sun. Contact: Doug Gabel, email: douglasjgabel@gmail.com or Kyle Gabel, email: kylemgagel@gmail.com.

October 2930 Asheville, N. Car. Western North Carolina Carvers exhibit at Folk Art Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, Mile post 382. Saturday 10-5; Sunday 10-4. Free admission. Email: johnnieburg@msn.com.

November 5-6 Bellville, Illinois. 51st Midwest Artistry in Wood Show at Belle-Clair Exposition Hall, 200 S. Belt East; Saturday 9-5, Sunday 10-4. Admission $4 (under 12 free). Website: www.midwestwoodca rvers.com.

November 12-13 – Simpsonville, South Carolina. Piedmont Carvers’ 33rd Sculptures and Designs in Wood Show at Simpsonville Senior & Recreation Center, 310 West Curtis Street.

Reader’s Comments

I received some very nice comments from many of my readers on the story of “My Woodcarving Journey” which I posted last week.  I’d like to post some of them here:

“Hi Bob. I enjoyed your life story of your woodcarving. Sorry to hear about your eye problems now. I met you at the Lancaster woodcarving show this year and signed up for your blog. I enjoy your blog and look forward to it. I especially like your woodcarving patterns. Keep up the good work!

Mark Arbogast”

“Great story Bob. I really enjoyed hearing how carvers started. Keep send us your great e mails.  John”

“Thanks for sharing your story.   Dick Bonewitz”

“Hey Bob, I did not know about your daughter’s athletic successes.  Very cool!  I enjoyed reading your article, I went through a period where I used a surgical scalpel.  Sharp for sure, but the blades were like a 100 of them for $10.  Jim Arnold”

“I loved your “How I Became A Wood Carver” story Bob. Thanks. I enjoyed it. I loved the whole shop class part and got a kick out of you using an exacto knife. Love that adorable little camel!  Tracy Czajkoski”

“Interesting to read your woodcarving story! And thanks for the weekly tips and encouragement.  Mike Dize”

“Hey Bob! I truly enjoy wood chip chatter and appreciate all that you put into it! I enjoyed reading your story of how you got into carving.  Ernie Kelley”

“Hi Bob, Thanks for the very interesting article on your journey through your wood carving career. It was a wonderful read … as are all your newsletters. I hope to be able to send you a pic of my work one day. Stay well,

Richard (Carvinlad)”

Thank you very much everyone!  I’m so glad you enjoyed my story.  I had really hoped you would like it, and your words of encouragement are always greatly appreciated.

We have all gotten into wood carving through different paths and for different reasons.  Perhaps some of you would like to share your story about how you became a wood carver.  Send it in and I will be happy to share it with everyone here on Wood Chip Chatter.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

My good friend Vern Freer from Ontario, Canada sent in a few photos of some cute carvings his carved from scrap wood.  Vern writes:

“Hi Bob,

Thanks again for critiquing “Gerry”.   It’s good to have input and I appreciate all of your suggestions.  The caricature heads will probably just remain as a group of heads on dowels instead of bottle stoppers – they give me an audience while carving.   

I just wanted to share a recent couple of carvings.  I had some scrap wood left over from another project – one scrap reminded me of a bird in boots so I decided to see if I could find it in the wood.  His name is Earl E. Byrd and he meets up most mornings with Winthrop the worm for breakfast.

Vern Freer

Ontario, Canada”

I’m glad my suggestions were helpful, Vern, and thanks so much for sending in the photos of Earl E. Byrd and Winthrop!  They are two great little carvings.  Very cute, especially put together, and an excellent use of your scrap wood.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you create next!

Free Pattern

Here’s something for our spoon carvers:

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

9/3 – Daniel Clay

9/10 – Jack Loring

9/24 – Carvin’ The Rockies (Live broadcast)

10/1 – Chris Gardea

10/15 – Nikki Reece

10/22 – Bob Hershey

10/29 – Rod Gatlin

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Sept. 15th, 29th

Oct. 6th, 20th

Nov. 3rd, 17th

Dec, 1st, 15th

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  alsantucci4@gmail.com  President

Bill Brunner  billbrunnerdesign@gmail.com  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:

Website:  https://www.jerseyhillswoodcarver.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/736479646821641/

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!

We are in serious need of your contributions to Wood Chip Chatter.  Your questions and comments help to keep this blog active and going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.

We also need more photo contributions to the “Carver’s Corner” and “Photo Shop”.  My “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones, and I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting. 

Please send your questions, comments and photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  They will be greatly appreciated.

Funny Bone

How I Became A Wood Carver

How I Became A Wood Carver

(My Woodcarving Journey)

By Bob Kozakiewicz

As kids we were always told never to play with knives, and if you’re like me you didn’t own your first pocket knife until you were old enough to buy one yourself. I couldn’t wait to own one!  Then the day finally came.  Ahh, my first pocket knife!  It was a beauty…a three blade Old Timer that I kept in my pocket everywhere I went, and after more than 55 years I still have that Old Timer pocket knife today.  As a young boy I must have shaved a forest’s worth of sticks with it!  There was just a special pleasure I got from the feel of that knife blade cutting through a piece of wood.

That desire to cut wood with a knife never left me, but as I grew older I needed to do more than just shave sticks.  Like most beginners, though I didn’t have any idea where to start.  Fifty five years ago there was no YouTube or videos you could learn from.  I didn’t know anything about the existence of local carving clubs, if there even were any at all back then.  The Caricature Carvers of America (CCA) hadn’t even been formed yet!

Then I caught my big break!  At 15 years old I was taking a school shop class (God, how I wish they still taught things like shop in the schools today) making the standard shop projects like gun racks and book shelves along with the other boys,  The shop had a small bookcase with some books one woodworking from which some students would get project ideas.  One day I had been looking through the books on the shelves and suddenly, like it was sent from heaven out popped a book on whittling animal caricatures!

The book was titled “Carving Animal Caricatures” by Elma Waltner.  It was filled from cover to cover with cool projects on carving cute caricature animals like goats, giraffes, pigs and hippos.  I was in love!  So with hope in my heart I asked my shop teacher, Mr. Schulman, if I could carve some of the projects from the book rather than make the standard shop projects all the other guys were making.  To my amazement he said “yes.”  I almost passed out!  It was one of the happiest days of my life!

X-acto knife with #11 blade

I picked out my first animal project from the book, a camel, cut it out on the shop bandsaw and got started whittling right away.  The next part is a little fuzzy because I wasn’t using my trusty pocket knife, but for some reason chose to use a thin X-acto knife with a tiny #11 blade.  Many of you probably know the knife I’m talking about.  The handle is not much thicker than the diameter of a pencil.  Why I chose that knife I’ll never know but I whittled just about every single animal in that book (and still have them all in my collection today) with that little X-acto knife.  It took me days, probably a week or more to carve each animal but boy I loved every minute of it.  I couldn’t put it down…the wood carving bug had bitten me!

Camel – My first wood carving

Shop class was a four year course so I whittled on right through high school, and meanwhile found a few other books by Ben Hunt and E.J. Tangerman which had more challenging projects.  And so my carving skills began to progress.

A few years later, maybe in an adult school class (I don’t remember) I came across a carving instructor, Henry Imp, who was interested in forming a whittling club.  We gathered up about a dozen interested people and formed the “Whittle Ones”, of which after a few short years I became the President.

It was during this time that I finally was introduced to “real” wood carving knives.  My first one was a Murphy knife which I used for a number of years.  I owned several of them.  The “Whittle Ones” remained as a small club and never did much more than conduct monthly meetings.  During that time, however, I found the North Jersey Wood Carvers (NJWC), a larger, much more active club that met once a month and also (to this day) holds an annual Woodcarving Show.  With the “NJWC” I was also eventually made Vice-president and President.  The “Whittle Ones” were short lived and eventually dissolved.

During the late 1970’s I used X-acto, Murphy, Warren, and one or two other knife brands as I continued to improve my wood carving skills.  I collected wood carving books and also learned from watching and talking to other wood carvers.  Joining a good woodcarving club is one of the best ways to hone your carving skills and so my carving abilities improved rapidly.  Soon I began to enter carving competitions in the “NJWC” shows as well as other club’s shows such as the “Delaware Valley Wood Carvers” shows.  I was fortunate enough to win blue ribbons in every competition I entered.

Then in 1987 my daughter, Christina was born and I put my wood carving aside to raise her, I spent many of the next several years training her to become a lacrosse goalie.  She became an all-county and all-state goalie and set several high school records!  Then between 2006 and 2009 when she was in college my hard work really paid off.  She became a two time NCAA National Champion playing women’s lacrosse for Adelphi University!  So for about 20 years I didn’t even pick up a carving knife.  It was around 2007 when training my daughter was finished that my passion for slicing wood with a sharp steel blade returned and I began carving again.  When I got back to it, it was just like riding a bike…something you never forget.  I picked up right where I left off.  That was when my interest in caricature carving began.

It was also around that time that I discovered the Mike Shipley knife, which is what it was originally called back when Mike Shipley was making knives under his own name.  I own several of them and they are excellent carving knives.  Today, Mike makes carving knives under his new company name, “OCCT”.  I think they are still among the best wood carving knives on the market and are widely available from almost any woodcarving supplier.

It was around 2014 when I discovered Helvie knives (back then you could still get them) and today I have a box full of them.  Helvies have become so popular that they are close to impossible to get nowadays.  In my opinion, though they’re the best wood carving knives on the market, and today I use them exclusively.

My interest in carving caricatures flourished and I spent most of my time carving small caricatures, Santas, Elves, ornaments, bottle stoppers and fridge magnets…anything that was of caricature nature.  I began entering woodcarving shows and competitions again, and continued to win awards for much of my work.

I still enter the “North Jersey” and “Delaware Valley” shows and competitions as well as others such as the “Conewago Carvers” and the “Lancaster County Wood Carvers” shows and competitions, and am fortunate to still win top awards.  I have even placed First in the prestigious Caricature Carvers of America (CCA) Annual Caricature Carving Competition.

I’m 70 years old now and my eyesight is failing, so my carving is slowing down.  I find that I can’t seem to carve detail as well as I used to, and I can only carve for about half an hour before fatigue causes everything to become a blur, and my left eye goes completely blind.  Although I still enjoy exhibiting in woodcarving shows I have recently stopped competing.  Whether you’re an exhibitor or an attendee, woodcarving shows are a great way to get out and meet your friends and make new ones.

I now enjoy instructing other wood carvers, especially beginners, and much of that instruction is done through the articles I write for Woodcarving Illustrated and through my blog, Wood Chip Chatter which I publish by email every other Friday.

I used to sell my work but gave that up about a few years ago because I found that all the money I was making still wasn’t worth the time and effort I was putting into it.  Now I just give my carvings away.  There’s just a certain warm feeling you get when you give a carving you put your heart and soul into to someone who really appreciates it.  It truly is better to give than to receive!

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our first entry to the “Carver’s Corner” this week comes from my friend, Vern Freer of Ontario, Canada who sent in some photos of “Gerry”, his hipster caricature he carved.  Vern wrote:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the great articles and helpful tips that you have taken the time to write for the benefit of carvers (regardless of where they’re at in their journey).  I have switched from boiled linseed oil to walnut oil and have been pleased with the results.  It really seemed to me to be an all round win to switch.

I just thought I would try to send in a few photos before I forget.  His name is Gerry, kind of an old hipster (he still knows all the moves – even if he can’t execute them the way he used to). I would be happy to have you critique Gerry.

I have been using Pete LeClair’s books for the last six or seven months to try and get a handle on caricature carvings.  I have both Carving Heads and Faces as well as his book  Carving Caricature Figures from Scratch and have found them to be great resources.

I have also included a photo of some of the heads which came out of using Pete’s book which could just be for show.  They are some of the earlier carvings  I’ve done this year.

Thanks again for all you do for the carving community.

Vern Freer

Ontario

Canada

Thank you so much for your kind words, Vern!  Comments like that are greatly appreciated and let me know I’m on the right track with Wood Chip Chatter.

You did a terrific job on Gerry and I can see you are really benefiting from your two Pete LeClair books, which I highly recommend to any wood carver interested in caricature carving.  I like everything about your carving from top to bottom.  The face, including the eyes, nose and mouth is very well carved, and you’ve given it a good expression.  The ears and hair are also done well.  I especially like the way you carved the hands, which many wood carvers struggle with.  Both hands show good proportion and detail.

There is always room for improvement, though, and what I mostly see is to concentrate more on adding detail.  Things like shirt collars, buttons and pockets will dress up your carvings nicely.  Also, concentrate more on the clothing wrinkles.  Wrinkles are large and small, and go in different directions depending on where the are located.  Lastly, I noticed, and this may just be an oversight, that you carved a belt in the back of the carving but did not continue it around to the front.

I enjoy seeing the carvings you do, especially your series of carved vegetable caricatures which you post on Instagram.  Keep up the great work you’re doing.

This week’s second entry to the “Carver’s Corner” comes from Wade Buie who would like a critique  on the fabulous Santa he carved.  Wade writes:

“Bob,

I would like you to let me know what I can do to improve my carving and what I might have done well

Thanks

Wade Buie”

Wade’s Santa

That’s an overall excellent job you did on that Santa, Wade!  I like your choice of colors and especially like that you mounted it on a base.  All the trim looks good as does the beard.  You used nice “S” curve cuts on the beard which make a big difference, and I like how you have the boots showing from beneath the robe.

I would have placed the belt a little higher up on the waist, and although the overall face looks fine more practice on carving eyes and noses will help on future carvings.  Also, study some of the videos that are available out there on carving faces.

Just let me know and I’ll be happy to go into more specifics next time.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our frequent contributor, Heath Paull made some good use of his time while on a recent camping trip.  Heath said:

“Camping and carving, doesn’t get much better. Thanks to James Miller for sharing his skills in his recent publication.”

Heath’s squirrel and rabbit

There certainly is nothing much better than camping and carving and those are two really nice carvings you did there, Heath!  Thanks so much for sending them in!

Our second photo comes from, Jack Proseilo from British Columbia, Canada who carved his version of a patriotic Canadian Santa from my Simple Santa pattern.  Jack writes:

“Greetings Bob, 

        Just finished your latest blog and thought why not? I’ve been sharing your blog with our carving group here ,hopefully when we get going again I will find  some of your Santas kicking around? Of course I had to do one but tried to give it a Canadian slant, too bad we only have two colors as a third would have helped?? 

       Thanks for your effort trying to keep us carvers interested. 

       Jack Proseilo        West Kelowna , B.C. Canada”

Jack’s Canadian Santa

I love it, Jack!  Thanks for sharing my blog with your carving group.  Maybe you can talk them into subscribing!

I think just the two colors look good.  Sometimes less is more but if you want to add a little more color try painting the gloves black or green.  You might also try painting some holly leaves on the hat for more color. 

Have a great summer and thanks so much for sending in your Santa.  I really appreciate it. 

Our final entries to the “Photo Shop” this week come from Vern Freer of Ontario, Canada.  Vern carved three caricature heads with the aid of Pete LeClair’s two books,  “Carving Caricature Heads and Faces” and “Carving Caricature Figures from Scratch.”

“The Guys” – Vern’s caricature heads

Terrific job on your three guys, Vern!  Are you going to make them into bottle stoppers?

News & Announcements

NOTICE:

This message goes out particularly to Jim Shay who asked the following question back on February 18, 2022:

” I stumbled onto a YouTube video named “ Caricature Heads Day 1 and has a follow up named Caricature Heads Day 2. The instructors name is Bryan Middleton and was from Canada. He has passed away since these videos were made. My question is, do you happen to know of these videos and where a copy of the instructional hand out he used when he did the classes he taught ? His methods are so simple and informative. Even my old tired brain understands what he is teaching. I’d love to get my hands on one of his handouts.   Thanks for reading my request,  Jim Shay.”

I just got a message from, Derek Grieve about locating the manual you are looking for so you may be in luck!  Derek Said:

“In reading this blog, a reader was asking where he could find an instruction manual from a deceased carver, Bryan Middleton. I may be able to get my hands on this but time is of the essence. If the enquirer wants to email me at grieved@yahoo.com, its an outside shot but I may be able to locate the manual.”

Jim, please contact Derek Grieve as soon as possible and he may be able to help you out.

New Wood Chip Chatter Search Feature

I‘m pleased to announce that I have just added a new Search feature to my Wood Chip Chatter Home Page, located at the lower right hand corner of the page.  A Search box.  Now if you want to refer back to an old blog post for something you just have to type what you are looking for into the Search box and it will bring up the blog post you want. The feature works best if you know the title of the post you want to find, but it will also work with key words that are buried within the post.  For example, if you are looking for the post titled “Cleaning Paint Brushes”, you would type that into the Search box and it will bring up that post.  On the other hand, if you wanted to find that post but didn’t know the exact title, you could just type “paint brushes” into the Search box and it will bring up the post plus a couple others containing the words “paint brushes” in them.

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

9/3 – Daniel Clay

9/10 – Jack Loring

9/24 – Carvin’ in the Rockies (Live broadcast)

10/15 – Nikki Reece

10/22 – Bob Hershey

10/29 – Rod Gatlin

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Understanding Micro-bevels

Understanding Micro-bevels

By: Del Stubbs, Pinewood Forge

A micro-bevel is just that, a very tiny bevel at the very edge of a knife, sometimes so tiny they are invisible to the naked eye, or up to a max of 1/32 ” wide, which can be seen. The principle reason is to provide toughness right at the edge, without sacrificing the geometry of the blade. They are used on chisels, power and hand planes, saw blades, and even certain carving knives.

They are essential in the Harley knife in particular (named after the woodcarver Harley Refsal) because it has an unusually thin included bevel angle (13 degrees). The reason for such a thin bevel is ease of cutting – this is allowed in this knife only because it is designed for just one task – straight flat cuts in soft basswood. For any other tasks (cutting hollows, hard basswood, knots etc.) one would need a more normal heavier beveled knife (16-25 degrees). By adding an ever-so-tiny micro-bevel to each side of a Harley knifes’ edge it loses very little efficiency, but toughens up the edge just enough to make such a thin knife very serviceable. ( There is an illusion about knives being thin – the Harley knife has a very thin included bevel angle – because this continues all the way to the back of the knife it looks thick at the back – this make it wonderfully strong without sacrificing cutting ease. There are knives made of much thinner stock – but which have much thicker actual bevels near the edge – so even though they look like they would cut easily they may not.

Honing

Stropping is for keeping the edge on your knife. If you have inadvertently rounded the cutting edge of the knife too much while stropping or improper honing, no amount of further stropping will fix the roundedness. You must then hone it flat again (600-1200 diamond stone works well for this purpose, 1200 if only a very small amount of honing is required).

Have the hone situated so it can’t slide (most diamond stones come with rubber feet for this purpose.) Lay the knife flat on the hone, put one or two fingers on the blade to gently press it down – to keep the entire blade flat on the hone. With a sawing motion pull and push the knife back and forth, slowly working your way down the hone, away from the edge. (Diamond stones can be used dry – or with a lubricant, soapy water works well if you feel you need a lubricant.)

The shiny surface of the knife should be very quickly dulled, enabling you to be able to see that right near the edge it is still shiny – this is the rounded part of the knife you are honing going to get down to. All carving knives have some flexibility out near the tip – keep this in mind as you hone – keep pressing evenly all the way to the tip by having a finger there if need be. By examining where the knife surface is dulled – or not – you can see if you are maintaining even pressure. Keep honing until there is no shiny line at all near the edge – then flip over and repeat on the other side. If you have a 1200 grit ( extra fine) diamond hone, repeat the same process with it to remove scratches from the coarser hone, but you can end honing with a 600 grit (fine) hone.

How to add a micro-bevel

Use a wood-backed leather strop with stropping compound. (note: most kinds of stropping compound work ok, but not jewelers rouge {red compound} – it is for soft metals).

To create the micro-bevel, lay it flat on the strop, then raise the knife the thickness of the back of the blade. Give a half dozen firm strokes the length of the strop to each side of the blade, keeping it at this angle.

Under a strong light source, turn the blade until you can see the new micro-bevel. It should be about 100th of an inch, which is equivalent to the thickness of about 2-3 sheets of regular paper. Importantget magnification, I use 3 to 4 power reading glasses I get at the dollar store. When you can easily see a micro-bevel it will make sense, then you can start to learn about them.

The edge is now toughened microscopically, but still allows for very efficient woodcarving. If you carve with it and it still breaks down it means that you need a heavier micro–bevel for your particular wood and style of carving techniques.

Maintaining the edge

From now on, the best way to maintain the edge is to strop with the blade flat on the strop. This should maintain the micro-bevel as well (this is because of the natural cushion on the leather).

Eventually, after many many hours of carving, you may find that the bevel is getting too rounded again, you may then go back to the hone, following the above instructions.

Perspective

Harley Refsal carves hundreds of hours a year, yet some knives he has never honed, at most he hones once a year. It could be that Harley doesn’t even know what a micro-bevel is – he is too busy carving! My point being – don’t get obsessive about micro-bevels or sharpening.  Just enjoy carving!

Reader’s Comments

I received one comment this week and it comes from Bill Glisson who remarks about Pete LeClair’s book, “Carving Caricature Heads and Faces” which I reviewed last week.  Bill writes:

“Bob, I own a copy of Pete LeClair’s book and I agree with you that it is an excellent book! I am an avid follower of Lynn Doughty and have always had a difficult time carving ears the way he does. Pete’s method resolved that weakness for me!! There are a few photos in his book that are a little hard to decipher as to what he is describing but overall I am very happy with my purchase. I recommend it highly!”

Thanks for your input, Bill. I agree. Some photos in books are not always clear. Fortunately, most of what Pete’s content is generally clear and understandable. Pete also has two other books that are both excellent which I plan to review down the road.

Lynn Doughty is an outstanding wood carver and another good one to follow.  He has a unique style of carving western style caricatures and uses some interesting techniques.  Although he doesn’t instruct  on the traditional wood carving circuit nor has he written any woodcarving books he demonstrates his skills and techniques through the many videos he makes.  You can find Lynn’s video’s at outwestgallery.com.

Oil Bleeding Problem

My good friend, Kevin Johnson from York, Pennsylvania called me last week and mentioned that he had a few small carvings which he had soaked in walnut oil prior to painting, and has now noticed that the carvings are leaving oil marks on the surfaces of where he displays them.  Right away I knew what his problem was.  He soaked the entire carving in the walnut oil prior to painting.

The first thing I told Kevin was that first of all, ALL oils take a long time to dry.  It doesn’t matter whether you are using boiled linseed oil, walnut oil or any other kind of oil (that has not been manufactured with drying chemicals).  To solve the problem, I told him to never soak an entire carving in oil.  Instead, apply the oil with a brush and do not apply the oil to the bottom of the carving.  Also, as soon as the oil is applied, blot off the excess oil with a paper towel which will keep the oil from running all over the place and getting onto the bottom of the carving.

The difference between soaking and brushing is that when a carving is soaked in oil the oil not only coats the surface but also absorbs further into the wood (especially if the bottom is also soaked in the oil).  Brushing the oil on only coats the surface of the wood, which is where you really want it anyway if you are planning to paint afterwards.  The oil on the surface dries much faster than the oil which has soaked into the inside of the wood, so your carving dries faster.  The oil which has soaked into the wood (i.e. from soaking the bottom) will naturally take longer to dry, and because it is still wet, it will “leak” out through the bottom of your carving for an extended period of time.

The reason for applying oil to a carving is to keep the colors from bleeding into one another.  So it makes sense that you want to apply oil to the areas that you intend to paint.  Applying oil to the bottom of the carving which is not going to be painted serves no purpose.

I have never experienced any problem with oil bleeding through the bottom of a carving when following the method I described above.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our only entry to the “Photo Shop” this week comes from Dean Stewart.  Dean came up with a brilliant idea to make those popular ddalo chickens into something functional.  Dean writes:

“My latest @ddalo_carver inspired chicken.  I enjoy making carvings that have a practical side.  And well every carver needs a sharp pencil!”

A really “sharp” idea (I had to say it!), Dean!  Once carvers see your chickens I think we’ll be seeing more of them showing up in the future.  I like the idea of using a round sharpener which easily fits into a hole drilled with a forstner bit.  I make a few owl pencil sharpeners using rectangular sharpeners but they were very difficult to fit into the bottom of the carving.  Great job!

Since we have only one entry to the “Photo Shop” this week I thought I would add one of my older carvings.  A few years ago I had a customer who wanted a bottle stopper mounted on a golf tee.  Here is the result:

Free Pattern

Greenman

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

8/20 – Malcom Sharp of Currahee Twisted Sticks

9/3 – Daniel Clay

9/10 – Jack Loring

9/17 – TBA

9/24 – Carvin’ in the Rockies (Live broadcast)

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!

I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

We are in serious need of your contributions to Wood Chip Chatter.  Your questions and comments help to keep this blog active and going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.

We also need more photo contributions to the “Carver’s Corner” and “Photo Shop”.  My “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones, and I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting. 

Please send your questions, comments and photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  They will all be greatly appreciated.

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Who says nothing is impossible?  I’ve been doing nothing for years.

Carving Caricature Heads & Faces

Carving Caricature Heads & Faces

by W. “Pete” LeClair

A Book Review

“Carving Caricature Heads & Faces” is another one of three excellent woodcarving books written by noted wood carver and instructor Pete LeClair.  Published in 1995 by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., this 64 page full-color book Shows you everything you need to know about how to carve caricature heads and faces.  With accurately captioned color photographs Pete takes you step-by-step from start to finish through the process  of carving a caricature head, including the painting steps to create your own comical bottle stopper.

“Carving Caricature Heads & Faces” gets right into the meat of the carving right from the first page, although I see that as a plus and a minus at the same time.  While the entire book is dedicated to carving, painting and finishing a bottle stopper project, no time is spent on topics such as wood, tools and safety the way most carving books do.  I found the cover of the book is a little misleading when it states there are “33 Caricatures with Step-by-step Carving Instructions.”  There are around 33 examples of caricature head bottle stoppers, most with 4 views, however, there are step-by-step instructions for carving only one of them.

In all, I found “Carving Caricature Heads & Faces” to be an excellent instructional book.  With Pete’s simple carving style and easy to follow instructions anyone can be carving caricature heads and faces in no time at all!  The book is available through most woodcarving suppliers.

Pete LeClair lives in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  He is a nationally recognized wood carver who teaches carving around the country and is a member of several carving clubs throughout New England, including the prestigious Caricature Carvers of America.  Pete is one of my favorite carvers.  I like his carving style and have adapted much of it into my own way of carving.

Questions & Comments

This week we heard from Rick with a question about using spray finishes over walnut oil.  Rick writes:

“Hi Bob,

After you coat a carving in walnut oil and paint, do you ever spray a finish over that?  I have tried spraying a Krylon matt finish the n several and it looks perfect at first but after a few weeks the carvings I have done with oil start developing some areas that are shiny.  I attached a picture where you can see some streaks of this on the brown leg.  Is there a better way to finish over the oil?  I like the spray type finishes since they are something you don’t have to redo again later and should seal it off well. I know people spray finishes like this over BLO so I assumed it might work ok, but maybe this is showing me there is some reaction going on or the oil is trying to come through the finish.  I greatly appreciate any insight you might have.  Hope you are having a great summer !

Rick Carver”

Walnut oil takes a long time to dry…much longer than boiled linseed oil.  From what I can see in your photo it appears that the oil is bleeding through the finish because it is not dry yet.

This is how I finish my carvings: 1) Apply a coat of walnut oil and allow to dry overnight, 2) Paint your carving and allow the paint to dry completely, 3) Apply a coat of Krylon clear matte acrylic spray and allow to dry for 2 hours, 4) Apply a coat of Howard FEED N WAX.  Let dry for 20 minutes.  Then buff with a soft cloth and a horsehair shoe brush.  I’ve never noticed any problems with this technique.  

I suggest giving your carving a coat of Howard FEED N WAX as in my Step 4.  That may solve your problem.  I hope this helps, but let me know how it works.  Now a question for you: Are you seeing this problem on other carvings or just this one?

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com. 

We received entries from John Robinson this week of three excellent carvings he did of a caricature horse, and two hummingbirds.  John wrote in and said:

“Put these in Carver’s Corner I would hate to see a great thing end. Thank you Bob  K.”

Thank you so much for contributing to the “Carver’s Corner”, John.  I greatly appreciate any photos I can get from my readers.  John’s first entry is a very well carved and comical caricature horse.

John’s Horse

That’s a magnificent job you did on the horse, John!  Extremely well carved and very well painted.  You actually got the paint job to look like real horse hair and the anatomy is quite accurate.  I also like the added scenery which makes a huge difference to the overall look of the carving.

A little while back I did a segment on “How to make dirt.”  I like the way yours turned out.  Perhaps you can tell us how you made yours.

The hillbilly scene in the background came out good too.  I like all of the accessories you added to make the scene look real there.  I would go lighter on the paint next time, like you did on the horse, and work on adding a little more detail to your caricatures in the future.

John’s Hummingbird #2

Your hummingbirds are both very well done too.  You did a great job on the carving and painting, and the way you put the habitat together makes everything look very realistic.  My concern is with the wings and tails here.  Go with a lower setting on your wood burner so your lines are not so dark.  Also, some of the areas appear to have no wood burning detail where there should be some, which makes the carving look incomplete.  The tail feathers on the second hummingbird are too thick at the ends.  Next time, thin the very edges down so that they look more like real feathers.  And lastly, the tails and wing tips are not painted.  I’m sure you did that intentionally, but next time I would paint them which will cover up the darkness of your burn marks and make the carving look more realistic.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com. 

Our first entry to the “Photo Shop” this week comes from John Brian who carved a series of soldier busts depicting the various uniforms worn during different periods over the ages.  John writes:

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  It represents the different periods of Army uniforms – Revolutionary War, Civil War, Cavalry, WW1, WW2 and today.

John Brian”

John Brian’s Soldiers’ Uniforms

Those are excellent carvings, John, and that’s a terrific idea you had.  You really challenged yourself by taking on a project like that.  I’m sure everyone will appreciate seeing these different period uniforms you carved.  Thanks again for the photos!

Our next entries come from my good friend, Tony Harris from Tennessee.  Tony kept busy doing a little carving on the beach (one of my favorite places to carve) while on vacation.  Tony writes:

“Here is a couple carvings worked on while on vacation at Panama City Beach. Gunslinger was a Phil Bishop roughout,  golfer is a Mark Akers roughout.  I wasn’t sure of which one to send, so I sent both.  Lol”  

Thanks for the photos, Tony!  What a beautiful place to carve.  You look nice and relaxed.  The carvings are incredible.  I’ve been wanting to carve one of those golfers with the golf ball inside for a while.  Carving the golf ball was such a cool idea.

“Here’s one my wife liked of me carving on the balcony of our condo. I was working on an ornament.  =] “

Tony carving on the balcony

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  During the months of July and August meetings will be held only once per month…

Schedule

7/23 – Guy Nelson

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Sept. 15th, 29th

Oct. 6th, 20th

Nov. 3rd, 17th

Dec, 1st, 15th

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  alsantucci4@gmail.com  President

Bill Brunner  billbrunnerdesign@gmail.com  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:

Website:  https://www.jerseyhillswoodcarver.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/736479646821641/

Funny Bone

Painting The Americana Santa – Part 3

This week I would like to open by just saying I hope everyone had a Safe, Healthy and Happy 4th of July weekend, and that each of you also stopped for a moment to think about why we have our independence in this country and are able to celebrate such a festive holiday.  Unfortunately, my 4th of July weekend was not that great.  My family returned home the Thursday before from a trip to Disney World and my wife and I both brought back covid-19 with us (as a “souvenir”).  So we spent the weekend shut indoors fighting the dreaded virus.  I’m happy to report, though, that although we are still fight some mild symptoms we are both on the road to recovery and are feeling much better.

Painting The Americana Santa

Part 3

By: Bob Kozakiewicz

This week we will paint the Americana Santa and complete our project.

Step 8. Paint the nose with Americana medium flesh and tomato spice.  Then paint the mustache and beard with Liquitex parchment.  Finally, paint the hat trim with Liquitex titanium white.

Step 9. Paint the gloves with Liquitex mars black and the under robe with Liquitex phthalocyanine blue (any navy blue color will work here).  Then paint the hat and outer robe with Liquitex naphthol crimson (or any bright red), and finally paint the robe stripes with Liquitex titanium white.

Step 10. To paint the stars dip the end of a toothpick (I prefer a round toothpick because it has a sharper point) into diluted titanium white.  Touch the toothpick tip to the carving and carefully drag it slightly in one direction.  Dip the toothpick into the paint again, place it at the point where the center of the star will be and carefully drag it out in another direction.  Repeat this process three more times (total of five lines).  Make several white stars randomly around the blue under robe to complete the carving. 

Finally, spray your carving with a light coat of Krylon matte acrylic sealer.

Completed Americana Santa

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful.

Summertime Carving

Here we are in the middle of summer already.  The days are sunny and warm, if not hot, and many of us are thinking about vacations.  Summertime and vacation time are both great opportunities to get out and get some carving done.

My favorite place to carve is outdoors.  Whether it’s at the lake or on the beach, I find it so much more relaxing than carving indoors.  Maybe it’s the fresh air or cool breeze but sitting in the shade of a big old tree or beach umbrella just seems to calm my mind, and make me more productive.  I can carve all day long and never give a thought to the time of day or the world around me.

So tell us about your favorite place to carve during the summer…is it while camping in the woods, sitting by the lake or sea shore, or perhaps even while sitting in the air conditioning at home or in your hotel room while away on vacation?  Tell us about some of your experiences and maybe even send in some photos of something you carved this summer.

We’d love to hear from you!

PS. Have you ever actually tried to carve a watermelon? They’re fun to carve and make great centerpieces for your summer party tables. They carve very much like carving pumpkins but you get the added cool effect of the red, white and green colors from the melon. They easily garnished with other types of fruits to dress the up and create cool effects. Give one a try this summer and send in some photos of your creations. We’d love to see them!

Here is a photo of one of the very first watermelons I ever carved. It was done five years ago for my grandson’s 4th birthday party…the party theme was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a last minute request so this was just something I whipped up.

After carving out the eyes and mask I used acrylic paints to give me the colors I needed but because the watermelon was wet and the paints are water-based I found it difficult to get a good, even coat of paint where I wanted it. Fortunately, I’m a much better wood carver than I am a watermelon carver. Any suggestions here are more than welcome!

Questions & Comments

We have an interesting question this week from Terry Grimm who wants to know more about that alcohol/water mix everyone uses.  Terry writes:

” I have read to soften wood for carving to apply 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol from a spray bottle. I have tried this solution upon occasions and am quite happy with the results. I can understand the reasoning how water will make wood more pliable. However I do not understand the purpose of rubbing alcohol and how it may affect the wood fibers. Can you enlighten me?”

That’s an excellent question, Terry, and one I’m sure most woodcarvers haven’t even thought about.

A 50/50 mix of alcohol and water does two things.  It’s the water that softens the wood, and the alcohol that helps to keep your blade clean.  Alcohol can make an excellent stainless steel cleaner by removing water spots and disinfecting the surface.

True, there have been occasions when I would be carving and not have access to my bottle of alcohol/water mix, so I would just walk over to the sink and run my carving under the tap water to wet it good,  Not surprisingly, the wood, then cuts like butter, so you don’t really need the alcohol to soften the wood.

But the alcohol plays an important role.  Isopropyl Alcohol cannot remove rust, but it can remove grease and grime that accumulates on the blade, particularly at the base or joints of a pocket knives.  If not removed, the acid content in that grease and grime can possibly form corrosion on blades.

An important note on alcohol: The type of alcohol matters!  Make sure you are using Rubbing Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol…and not Ethanol.  99% Isopropyl Alcohol is non-corrosive to metals and plastics.  Ethanol, however, is known for triggering stress corrosion cracking of steel.

Also. If you are going to cut your alcohol with water make sure you use at least 70% or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.  50% Isopropyl Alcohol is too weak.  If you you are going to use 50% alcohol just use it uncut straight from the bottle.

“Hi Bob,

Thank you for your response.  Your explanation is very helpful, I now understand, Thank you.”

Our next question this week comes from Jessi Mangold who want to know which finish to apply to her carving…shellac or polyurethane.  Jessi writes:

"Hi Bob,
 
I’m finishing up a project, and the instructions in Woodcarvers Illustrated says I need to use shellac to finish it. But what is the difference between shellac and polyurethane does it matter which one I use?
 
Many Thanks,
Jessi"
 
Thank you for your question, Jessi!  It basically comes down to a matter of preference.  If you are looking for a hard finish, then you want to go with polyurethane.  For a woodcarving it won't matter much, though and either one will work well.  However, if it's for an outdoor application you want to use polyurethane because shellac is soluble in water and will eventually wash off in the weather.
Allow me to go into a little more depth and explain the differences between the two finishes.  The following definitions should help:
 

Polyurethane –  varnish made with synthetic drying oils that is typically a hard, abrasion-resistant, and durable coating.  Popular for hardwood floors but are considered by some wood finishers to be difficult or unsuitable for finishing furniture or other detailed pieces. Polyurethane is comparable in hardness to certain alkyds but generally forms a tougher film. Compared to simple oil or shellac varnishes, polyurethane varnish forms a harder, decidedly tougher and more waterproof film.

Shellac (varnish) – a varnish made by dissolving shellac in (usually) alcohol or a similar solvent.

Shellac – lac* that has been purified and formed into thin sheets, used for making varnish.

*Lac – a resinous substance deposited on the twigs of various trees in southern Asia by the female of the lac insect (Kerria lacca): used in the manufacture of varnishes, sealing wax, etc.

Varnish – a preparation consisting of resinous matter, as copal, rosin or lac, dissolved in an oil (oil varnish) or in alcohol (spirit varnish) or other volatile liquid.  When applied to wood, metal, etc., it dries and leaves a hard, more or less glossy, usually transparent coating.

As you can see, shellac and polyurethane are both varnishes but are made in different ways from different chemicals.  Polyurethane is made from various oils which give it a hard finish and render it water resistant, whereas shellac is generally made with alcohol.  Its finish is not as hard as polyurethane and it is not very resistant to water.  For indoor applications such as woodcarvings, however, shellac works sufficiently as a finish.  For example, I have several carvings I finished with shellac many years ago and the finish still looks good and has not yellowed.

For more information on various wood finishes and solvents refer back to my blog of April 8, 2022, “Wood Finishes & Their Solvents.”

 

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our only entry to the “Photo Shop” this week (and it’s a good one) comes from John Robinson who carved a mate for his Barney Bear.  John writes:

“Well Barney Bear found a new girlfriend Bernadette. Enjoy !” 😁 

Great job on Barney’s girlfriend, John!  Barney and Bernadette both look terrific together, especially mounted on the nice base you put them on.  Mounting your carvings on a base really makes the difference between a good looking carving and an excellent looking carving.  Thanks for sharing!

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  During the months of June, July and August meetings will be held only once per month…

Schedule

7/23 – Guy Nelson

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

“CARVER’S CORNER” IS IN TROUBLE.

“Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.  However, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in this segment of the blog so I’m considering dropping it.  Tell me what you think.

“PHOTO SHOP” NEEDS YOUR PHOTOS

 I’m sure you all have some terrific carving photos to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting. 

NOTE: Whenever sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  Thank you.

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Carve an Americana Santa – Part 2

Carve an Americana Santa                                              

Part 2

By: Bob Kozakiewicz

Step 5. Draw two lines where the sleeves meet the hands and make stop cuts along these lines.  Cut back to these stop cuts from the hands toward the sleeves.  Carve small notches in each elbow to represent creases, and round off the inside and outside of both arms.  Carve two short sweeping V-cuts along both sides of the upper back area to define the backs of the upper arms.

Step 6. Draw two sets of parallel lines (about 1/4″ apart) down the outer front area of the robe from the arms to the bottom.  Make stop cuts along these lines and cut back toward them. This creates the robe trim.

Step 7. Draw the mouth and mustache.  Make a stop cut along this line and cut up to it.  Use a micro V-tool of your choice to carve the mustache and beard.  This can also be done with a knife if no V-tool is available.

This completes the carving portion of the Americana Santa. Next week we will paint and finish the project. Stay tuned!

Questions & Comments

Our first comment this week comes from my good friend, Dean Stewart, who struck it rich at a recent antique store.  Dean writes:

“Bob

Tool storage is often a topic when carvers gather.  I wanted to share this if you want to start a thread.  I found this 24 pipe stand at an antique store for $5.  It holds all the important carving tools on my table.  I can see the tips of all the gouges easily.  Notice the Dock yard fourth from the right.  It is too small for the hole, so a wine cork became a convenient spacer. 

Also, I’m looking to carve a wolf’s head ring.  I’m finding that a challenge and wondering if anyone reading your newsletter might have a suggestion on a pattern or instructions for carving a wolf head.”

Pipe rack tool holder

Thanks for the photo, Dean.  That’s a great idea, and for $5 you can’t go wrong! 

I don’t think many of us would have thought of that…I know I didn’t.  I could use something like that on my workbench.

As far as the wolf’s head goes, try googling wolf’s head images and wolf’s head clipart, if you haven’t already thought of that.

How about some of our carvers out there?  I’m sure someone has a pattern to share with Dean.  Send it in to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Our second message comes from Keith Goetz with a question about using oil finishes before or after painting with acrylics.  Keith writes:

“I think your blog is great! I have a question about oil finishes and acrylic paint. Is it better to apply oil before painting acrylic or can you paint your carving and then apply an oil finish? Thank you!”

That’s a very good question, Keith.  Actually, finishing oils can be used both ways although generally, in woodcarving applications the oils are applied before painting with acrylics.  The reason for this is that the oil helps to control the paint application in that it slows the rate at which the paint soaks into the wood, and more importantly prevents the colors from bleeding.

On the other hand, finishing oils are widely used, mostly in furniture making to give a hard protective finish to the wood.  Such finishes are applied to bare (unpainted) wood.  I personally don’t recommend using an oil finish on painted wood.  The paint does not allow the oil to dry properly because it just sits on top of the paint rather than soak into the wood.

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Since we didn’t get any contributions to the “Carver’s Corner” this week I thought I would show one of my carvings. 

Meet Duffy…..Duffy is Santa’s head accountant.  He’s been with Santa since the first day Santa opened his workshop.  He cooks the books and watches over all of Santa’s expenses; like paint, toy parts, work aprons, and snacks for the elves while they’re working.  Duffy is like a magician with a pencil!  No matter what the expenses are he always seems to come up with a balanced check book!  All the elves in the workshop wonder where Duffy gets the money to buy those expensive Cuban cigars he smokes, and just figure it must be the result of his “creative bookkeeping!”  From the sly look on Duffy’s face right now, Santa is probably in the red again…after all red is Santa’s favorite color!

“Duffy” carved by Bob Kozakiewicz

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

This week we have two entries to the “Photo Shop” from my good friend, Phyllis Stone from Pennsylvania. Phyllis has been working hard and doing a lot of carving lately. She writes”

“Hello Bob,

I’m sending you pictures that you can put in your blog.

The cat is carved in sassafras and the whiskers are paint brush bristles that I glued into tiny holes in the cats face. I took a picture of the cat off of Google images and carved it out of a 2” piece of wood.

The owl I started with the initial design of Doug Linkers simple owl but knew right away I wanted to modify it quite a bit to get the look I wanted. I carved the eyes in fairly deep then painted them and then took glass beads from the dollar store, glued them into the edge of the holes and it makes the eyes magnified. It was a bit tricky getting the correct piece of glass to fit the hole perfectly with the glass falling into the hole but I finally managed it. Before doing the eyes I wood burned the entire owl to get it to look realistic. After I had both projects done I put walnut oil on them and a couple of hours later I rubbed it all over.

I am extremely happy with how these both turned out. The owl is for my niece and the cat is for her daughter who are both going thru a very bad time in their life right now so I wanted something to cheer them up, and I think these will do the trick.

Take care!

Phyllis”

Phyllis’s cat

Both carvings look terrific, Phyllis.  I’m sure your niece and her daughter will both love and appreciate them.

Free Pattern

Here’s a nice pattern for all the bird carvers out there:

Eastern Bluebird

News & Announcements

NOTICE: I will be away on vacation during the week including June 24th, so there will be no Wood Chip Chatter posted that day.  The next Wood Chip Chatter post will be on July 8th, so since it will be after the July 4th holiday I want to wish everyone a Safe, Healthy and Happy Fourth of July!

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  During the months of June, July and August meetings will be held only once per month…

Schedule

6/18 – Chris Wilson – Wilson Wildlife Sculpture

7/23 – TBA

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

WOOD CHIP CHATTER NEEDS YOUR PHOTOS!!!

I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Also, my “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.  When sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

KEEP THE CHIPS FLYING!!!

Send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.  Send your questions and comments to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Carve an Americana Santa – Part 1

Carve an Americana Santa                                                    

 Part 1

By: Bob Kozakiewicz

Today I am beginning a three-part tutorial series on how to carve and paint my Americana Santa.  I hope you will enjoy it and find it useful. 

Step 1. Start with a 1″ x 1″ x 6″ block of basswood then follow the pattern shown and mark out your block according to photos 1 & 2 below.

Step 2. Make stop cuts all the way around the top and bottom of the hat trim as well as around the nose.  Cut back to these stop cuts and begin to thin the hat.  Then trim off each of the four corners of the hat trim.

Step 3. First round off the top and bottom edges of the hat trim.  Then carve the hat and nose.  Finally, make stop cuts down along the outside edges of the beard from the hat to the elbows.  Also, make stop cuts along the top and bottom of the forearms from the tips of the hands back to the elbows.

Step 4. Starting one third of the way down from the hat on each side of the beard cut back to the stop cut on the outside of the beard on both sides cutting up toward the hat.  Then from the one third point continue to cut back to the stop cut along the inside of the upper arms down to the elbows.  Cut back to the stop cuts along the bottom of both forearms.  Finally, round off all four corners of the robe.

Questions & Comments

Dean Bettencourt sent in a comment in respond to last week’s blog post on Walnut Oil vs. Boiled Linseed Oil.  Dean commented:

“I just bought Danish oil . Worked really well for my roosters”

Danish oil works okay but I don’t like it for a couple of reasons.  First, some Danish oils are made with boiled linseed oil and could darken your carvings over time.  Look for a Danish oil that is made with tung oil.  It’s much better.  The other reason why I don’t like Danish oil is because it polymerizes too fast and get hard.  I’ve had it harden around the can top so bad that I couldn’t unscrew the cap (not even with a pair of pliers) so I had to dispose of the whole can.  This same process takes place when you apply Danish oil to your carvings.  The oil polymerizes and hardens like plastic.  I have not seen this happen with Walnut oil.

Someone (anonymous) sent in another comment on last week’s blog post:

“Great read on oils.  Have wanted to shift from BLO and walnut is on the list to try.  Do you usually source from hardware stores?”

Thank you for your comment!  I get my Walnut oil on Amazon but you can probably also get it in grocery stores…perhaps in the salad dressing or baking aisles.  Some hardware stores might also carry it.

Cindy Stephens from Lakeview, AR also commented:

“Thank you for the great tips!

Cindy Stephens”

Happy to be of help, Cindy!

I received another great comment from my good friend Phyllis Stone from Pennsylvania regarding Walnut oil and Sassafras.  Phyllis writes:

“Good Morning my friend. I just read your blog, awesome as usual. I’m sending these pictures of a cat I’ve been carving from sassafras. I was given this wood from a lumberyard to try. I’ve had it for several years and just recently decided to try it. I did have to spray it several times with water/rubbing alcohol mix since it was a bit on the dry side. I also at times had problems with it splintering, but all in all I love the awesomeness of the grain and am glad I decided to carve the cat using the sassafras. I had considered painting it but have decided to use walnut oil instead after reading your blog about the oil. Is this bought at the grocery store in the baking aisle?”

Your cat is looking fantastic, Phyllis, and Sassafras was a good choice for it.  Once you finish it with a coat or two of Walnut oil it will look awesome.  Whatever you do, don’t paint it!

Because the sassafras sat around for several years it dried out and got hard.  Once dried out sassafras can tend to splinter, especially if your tools are not really sharp.

Walnut oil should be available in grocery stores.  As I mentioned above, check the salad dressing and baking aisles, or you may have to ask.

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

I‘m happy to see that we have a couple of entries to the “Carver’s Corner” this week!  Douglas Rowe sent in photos of two of his carving he would like me to critique.  Douglas writes:

"Here are 2 carvings I did a while ago.  Any criticism would be well received.
Keep smiling 
Doug"
 
Thanks so much for your photos, Doug!  As always, I'm happy to critique them and give you some pointers wherever I can.  First, let's take a look at your "Fisherman" carving.
Doug’s Fisherman
There's a lot to like about the carving, which has a humorous tone to it.  I like how you bent the fishing rod and added actual metal line guides to the rod.  You did a good job on the ear which seems to be well located on the head, in relation to the face, and the overall proportions of the carving are good.
Perhaps the biggest things that stand out for me are the hands.  The right hand doesn't look like it's actually holding the rod.  Hold a rod in your own hand and study how it looks.  See how the fingers wrap around the rod and how the thumb wraps around the other side.  Hands are hard to carve correctly.  You might want to practice carving some hands to get the hang of it.  Also, try adding more detail to your carvings, like carved hair and eyebrows, which can be done with a small V-tool or even your knife.  Try adding shirt collars and buttons, belts, etc.  It's the little details that really make a good carving a great carving.
On your next carving make the pupils of the eyes larger.  You will get a much more relaxed look to the face.
When it comes to painting, like many carvers, try to go lighter with your paints.  Dilute your paints and add them in layers rather than in one heavy coat.
 

Now let’s take a look at your “Golfer” carving.

Doug’s Golfer

I don’t know which carving you did first but it seems like you corrected almost everything I told you about on your fisherman.  The hands are better and carved somewhat more accurately on this one.  The left hand seems to be holding the scorecard properly, however the right hand is still incorrect.  Again, study your own hand as it holds a pencil and see how it is held between the thumb and the first two fingers while the last two fingers curl under towards the palm.

You’ve added a shirt collar and buttons this time, and I especially like the vest and pin striping on the shirt.  The hat is very well carved and is pulled down to the ears where it should be, and the eye pupils look much better.

Use a gouge to carve wrinkles into the clothing.  This kind of detail adds greatly to the appearance of a carving.  Look at examples of other carvers’ carvings.  And as before, hair and eyebrow detail, and thinner paint will make a difference. I hope these comments and tips will be helpful on your future carvings, Doug.  Thanks again for submitting them to the “Carver’s Corner”.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

I’m happy to say we have a great number of entries to the “Photo Shop” this week!

Our first two entries were submitted by John Robinson who sent in photos of his mouse and moose carving, and his Barney the Bear carving,  John writes:

“Good day Bob, I’m a newbie carver and I just thought I would send out this carving as I have been carving for 1 year.  I was very reluctant to show my carvings but I thought it would inspire new carvers to keep going. Happy Carving JR.”

John’s Mouse & Moose
John’s Barney Bear

Those are both fantastic carvings, John, and your mouse and moose carving is delightful and so original.  I also like that you mounted Barney on a base.  It really dresses up the carving.  Never be afraid to show your carvings.  Always be proud of what you do.  Remember, you may not be as good as a lot of others but you’re also a lot better than many others too.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of your great work.

Our next entry is a photo of a Love Bug carved by Heath Paull.  Heath writes:

“Love Bug inspired by Betty Padden design.”

Heath’s “Love Bug”

That’s really excellent, Heath!  I can see you put a lot of work into it.

Our next photo comes from Nicky Foley who carved a baby Robin.

Nicky’s baby Robin

Our next entry to the “Photo Shop” comes from my good friend Dean Stewart who carved two ddalo style chickens.  Dean writes:

“Bob Here are a couple of pictures.  There are some chickens I adapted from ddalo_carvings.”

Your chickens look great, Dean!  Thanks for sending them in!  I’ve been wanting to carve one of those but just haven’t gotten a chance.

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  Beginning in June, through August meetings will be held only once per month…

Schedule

6/18 – Chris Wilson – Wilson Wildlife Sculpture

7/23 – TBA

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Jun. 2nd, 16th, 30th

NOTE: The club will not meet during the months of July and August while the high school is not in session.

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  alsantucci4@gmail.com  President

Bill Brunner  billbrunnerdesign@gmail.com  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:

Website:  https://www.jerseyhillswoodcarver.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/736479646821641/

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Walnut Oil vs. Boiled Linseed Oil

Walnut Oil vs. Boiled Linseed Oil

Because of flammability concerns, many product containers list safety precautions for storage and disposal for varnishes and drying oils as they are flammable, and materials used to apply the varnishes may spontaneously combust. Many varnishes contain plant-derived oils (e.g. linseed oil), synthetic oils (e.g. polyurethanes) or resins as their binder in combination with organic solvents. These are flammable in their liquid state. All drying oils, certain alkyds (including paints), and many polyurethanes produce heat (an exothermic reaction) during the curing process. Thus, oil-soaked rags and paper can smolder and ignite into flames, even several hours after use if proper precautions are not taken. Therefore, many manufacturers list proper disposal practices for rags and other items used to apply the finish, such as disposal in a water filled container.

Boiled linseed oil (aka BLO) is a highly combustible/flammable drying oil which generates heat as it dries.  It has all of the same safety concerns as mentioned above (just read the label on the container).  Additionally, boiled linseed oil has a strong odor and has been known to darken (wood carvings) over time.  I learned this through personal experience.

Fact:

A fire occurred on Feb. 23, 1991, at the One Meridian Plaza Building fire in Philadelphia that resulted in the deaths of three firefighters. The fire was started by spontaneous combustion in linseed oil-soaked rags that were improperly disposed of after use. The fire occurred on the 22nd floor of the 30-story building.

Don’t let this happen to you!  Think about it before you use boiled linseed oil again.

SPACER

Walnut oil, on the other hand is extracted from walnuts, (Juglana regia).  The oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, monosaturated fatty acids, and saturated fats.  It is not a drying oil.  Walnut oil is completely safe, odorless and is not combustible/flammable in any way as it has a short drying time and does not produce any heat as it dries.  There are no special safety precautions listed on its label for disposal of rags and other items used to apply it.  Also, through my several years of use, walnut oil has not darkened any of my wood carvings.  Walnut oil was one of the most important oils used by Renaissance painters.  Its short drying time and lack of yellow tint make it a good oil paint base thinner and brush cleaner.  It is also an edible oil widely used in cooking.

Below are two photos that illustrate the damage done to a wood carving due to the darkening effect from the use of boiled linseed oil.  Photo #1 shows the carvings after it was originally finished.  Photo #2 shows the same carving six years later, which had darkened from the boiled linseed oil used on it.

Questions & Comments

Bill sent in a good question this week in relation to one of my very first blog posts back in July, 2021, titled “How Do I Know If My Knife Is Sharp?”  Bill writes:

“Great guide. Thanks for sharing this! Do you also have some tips on how to sharpen the knives properly using items that we can find at our house?”

That’s a good question, Bill.  In the many years I have been wood carving I have never really seen any non-commercial knife sharpening items that are suitable for sharpening woodcarving knives.  The only thing that comes to mind is a sharpening steel used for sharpening kitchen knives.  These, however, are not actually designed for the low angles (generally 12o-15o) edges on woodcarving knives and I actually don’t recommend using them.

Using sandpaper is an excellent way to sharpen a knife blade (Search for Scary Sharp Method on YouTube).  Anything that’s 600 grit or finer will work.  600 grit sandpaper is coarse enough to take the small nicks out of your blade.  If you don’t have nicks in your blade you may not want to start there.  Start with 1200 or 1600 grit.  Automotive sandpaper because of the extremely fine grits available is ideal for sharpening knives.  When sharpening with sandpaper start with a high grit and go increasingly lower.  The lower you go, the finer the edge you will get on your blade.

When it comes to honing (stropping) your knives, and I assume that’s what you meant when you said “sharpening”, there are lots of options.  The back sides of old belts make ideal strops.  Glue them to a board or paint stick.  Even the board or paint stick itself will make a good strop as long as the wood is smooth.  Many carvers use just a piece of wood with some compound on it.

Cardboard also makes a great strop, particularly the insides of cereal boxes.  It can be used with or without compound.  You can even try a piece of brown paper bag in a pinch.

Even a piece of rubber, like a tire inner tube (without compound) can be used.

That was a rather long answer, Bill.  I hope I addressed your question.

In response to Rick’s question from last time about making glasses for caricatures, here is a little piece on how I do it.  I originally demonstrated this in my article titled “Norbert The Elf” in the Woodcarving Illustrated winter 2019 issue #89.

How to Make a Pair of Wire Glasses

Starting 2 1/2″ from one end tightly wrap a 10″ piece of 20 gauge brass wire completely around a pencil (or dowel) one time forming one circular loop.  Remove the pencil from the loop.  Leave about 3/8″ of wire after the loop and tightly wrap it around the pencil again forming the second circular loop.  Remove the pencil from the loop.  You should now have two loops with wire sticking out at each end.  Bend the end wires back 90o right at the loops to form the ear pieces of the glasses.  Trim both ear pieces with wire cutters or pliers.  Shape the glasses by hand, as necessary and fit them onto the carving.*  You may need to trim the ear pieces a few times until you get the glasses to fit just right.  Caution: Be careful not to trim the ear pieces too short.  A drop of Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue will hold them permanently in place.

*Note 1: In some cases, holes can be drilled in the temples of your caricature to accommodate the ear pieces.   Fit them onto the carving by inserting the ear pieces into the holes that were drilled in the temples.

Note 2: Adjust the sizes of your wire and dowel to fit the size of your caricature.

Greg Meece from Landenberg, PA wrote in with a great tip on how he make wire glasses for his caricatures.  Greg says:

“Hi Bob.

It’s Greg Meece, again from Landenberg Pennsylvania. I read on your blog about Rick’s question concerning using glasses on caricature wood carvings. I like using thin brass or silver wire and rolling it around the tapered end of a paintbrush handle to create the right sized lenses.”

These two photos show how Greg used glasses on a caricature he carved:

That’s a terrific tip, Greg!  I really appreciate your sharing it with everyone.

Connie Teeters from Deland, Florida wrote in with another comment about the use of glasses on caricatures, and also with a good question about how sassafras carves.  Connie writes:

“I would like to add that Carving Magazine issued #2, on the cover and inside is the photo gallery and artist profile by Mar v K a i s e r s a t t , it is a character carving of a man doing old fashioned photography but he does have glasses on which is kind of interesting. I do love reading Wood Chip Chatter. I do have a question about the sassafras wood. How does it look when it’s finished and can you carve it.

Connie Teeters, Deland Fl.”

Thank you for writing, Connie!  On occasion you do see caricatures wearing glasses, it’s just not that common.  I’m happy to hear you enjoy reading Wood Chip Chatter and hope you will continue to do so.

I once carved sassafras in the past and enjoyed carving it.  I had sassafras trees growing in my backyard and one night one blew down in a storm.  After the tree was all cut up and cleared I cut a piece off to carve a wood spirit as a gift for the neighbor who cut the tree for me.  Obviously the wood was still green and contained a fair amount of moisture.  It had an ash grey to light brown color, carved well if you took your time, and seemed to hold detail pretty nicely.  Sassafras is classified as a hardwood and carves similar to black walnut.  Sassafras has a beautiful grain with distinct growth rings that finishes beautifully when treated with oil.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our first entry to the Photo Shop this week is a beautiful pineapple carved on a rolling pin submitted by Mr. T.

“Bob…. Wife wanted an addition to her decor so requested the attached. Mr. T”

Mr. T’s Pineapple on a rolling pin

Nice work, Mr. T!  I’m sure the Mrs. loved it!

Our next two entries to the Photo Shop come from Kathy Savage.  Kathy carves magnificent looking animal carvings that look very realistic.  This time she carved a Beagle and a bear for two of her nephews.

Terrific work as always, Kathy!  I’m sure your nephews loved their carvings.

News & Announcements

WOOD CHIP CHATTER NEEDS YOUR PHOTOS!!!

We have not had any entries to the “Carver’s Corner” for several weeks.  Don’t be shy, send in photos of your carvings and get them critiqued!

I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Also, my “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.  When sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  Thanks!

KEEP THE CHIPS FLYING!!!

Send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.  Send your questions and comments to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  Thanks!

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

5/14 – Dana Kababik – Carving Junkies

5/21 – Dillon Goodson

NOTE:  Beginning in June, through August meetings will be held only once per month…

6/18 – Chris Wilson – Wilson Wildlife Sculpture

7/23 – TBA

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

How does a pig keeps its feet clean? With ham sanitizer

Wood Properties of Sassafras

Wood Properties of Sassafras

SASSAFRAS, also called Ague Tree, (species Sassafras albidum), North American tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae), the aromatic leaf, bark, and root of which are used as a flavoring, as a traditional home medicine, and as a tea.  The roots yield about 2 percent oil of sassafras, once the characteristic ingredient of root beer.

The tree is native to sandy soils from Maine to Ontario and Iowa and south to Florida and Texas.  It is usually small but may attain a height of 65 feet (20 m)  or more.  It has furrowed bark, bright green twigs, and small clusters of yellow flowers followed by dark blue berries.  Sassafras has three distinctive forms of leaves, often on the same twig: three-lobed, two-lobed (or mitten-shaped), and entire.

Sassafras, one of the few economically important genera of the family, has two species in eastern Asia and one in eastern North America; oil of sassafras was once used medicinally, and Native Americans made a tea from the bark and twigs.  The family is of great importance in the tropics for its valuable lumber, derived from many different species.  Some of the wood remains fragrant for decades after it is cut.

Reader’s Comments

I received two very kind comments from my friends, Danial Sloane and Bill MacDougall last week that I want to share:

1.  “Another great chatter Bob I will be putting the report on oils and such in my storage folder for reference. Enjoy your break all the best to you and your family….Danial”

2.  “Bob, great job on these articles, thanks for all the extra work you do for us carvers out here in the real world, love all your work too!

Bill MacDougall Amherst, New York”

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Danial and Bill.  They mean so much, and I’m always happy to hear that my readers are enjoying Wood Chip Chatter and finding it helpful.

I received a question from Rick about how to make glasses for caricatures.  Rick writes:

“Hi Bob,

I don’t see eye glasses included very often on characters but I have some I would like to try that all need eye glasses and not sure how to approach this.  I would greatly appreciate any ideas.

Attached are a couple of Peter Rabbit pics following Doug Linkers recent video.  A fun carve. 

Thanks

Rick Carver”

Rick’s Peter Rabbit

That was a good video Doug did on carving the Easter rabbit and you did a terrific of carving yours, Rick!  A pair of glasses would look great on him but you’re right, you don’t often find carvers adding glasses to their caricatures.  I did an article for WCI a while back that showed how to make glasses.  I’ll pull some information from my notes and put it in the next blog.  I’m sure a lot of folks would like to know how it’s done. 

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our first two entries to the Photo Shop this week come from Kathy Savage, an excellent carver who sent in photos of the fireman she carved for her nephew.  She saw it in a book and thought he would like it.  I’m sure he did!

Kathy’s second carving is a terrific mama fox with her pup, which was a graduation gift for another nephew.  I think I would like to be one of Kathy’s nephews!

Kathy’s Fox and Pup

Our next two entries come from Terry Grimm.  Terry just finished this Easter decoration and has sent in some Work-In-Progress (WIP) photos along with his finished carving:

Peter Rabbit came out very dapper looking. Nice job, and thanks for the WIP photos.

Terry’s next entry is a comical fisherman caricature he calls “Gone Fishing.”

Terry’s “Gone Fishing”

Thank you very much to Kathy Savage and Terry Grimm for your entries to the Photo Shop this week.  Photo Shop photos are always greatly appreciated.

News & Announcements

Lancaster County Woodcarvers Zoom Meeting

(Informal meeting – Open to all)

Tuesday, May 3th, 2022 at 7PM

Zoom meeting: 417 966 8402

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Schedule:

4/30 – Open Forum Meeting

5/7 – Ken Kuhar

5/14 – Dana Kababik – Carving Junkies

5/21 – Dillon Goodson

NOTE:  Beginning in June, through August meetings will be held only once per month.  These will still be live presentations or demonstrations.  The dates for these meetings are yet to be announced.

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOODCARVERS

COME JOIN US!!!

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Whatever you do, always give 100%. 

Unless you’re giving blood.