Woodcarving Suppliers

A couple of weeks ago I decided to put together a list of suppliers as a reference for anyone looking to purchase woodcarving supplies.  The following list of suppliers is a compilation of my own list plus some contributions from some of you.  These suppliers carry anything from knives and gouges to accessories and wood, and everything in between.

However, this is by no means a complete list.  I’m sure there are many other woodcarving suppliers who are not listed here.  If anyone knows of any others who are not on the list please send them in and I will add them.  They can even be knife makers or wood suppliers.   We would love to hear from you to make our list even longer.


SupplierWebsite or Phone #Products Supplied
Belcher Carving Supplywww.belchercarvingsupply.comTools, accessories,, turntables
Chipping Awaywww.chippingaway.comTools, supplies, roughouts, wood
Chris Hammack Roughoutswww.chrishammackart.com/roughoutsBarflys, Professiomal series, roughouts
Dale Green Woodcarvingwww.dalegreenwoodcarving.comRoughouts, Knives
Drake Kniveswww.drake-knives.myshopify.comKnives and Gouges
Dwayne Gosnell Woodcarvingwww.dgosnellwoodcarving.comRoughouts
Fantasy Carvingwww.fantasycarving.comCutouts, roughouts
G. & B. Sears Woodcarvingwww.gnbsearswoodcarving.comRoughouts – Cowboys, Santas, Snowmen
Greg Dorrance Co.www.gregdorrance.comBases, Supplies, Smoky Mt. roughouts
Heinecke Wood Products(715) 822-3524Northern Wisconsin Basswood
Helvie Kniveswww.helvieknives.comHelvie custom knives
Hillcrest Carving(717) 285-7117Anything you need for wood carving!
Hummul Carving Co.www.hummul.comAnything you need for wood carving!
Jon Nelson Woodcarvingwww.jonnelsonwoodcarving.comRoughouts-Santas,snowmen,gnomes
MDI Woodcarvers Supplywww.mdiwoodcarvers.comSupplies of all kinds, walnut bases
Moore Roughoutswww.roughouts.comRoughouts of all kinds, stopper corks
Mountain Woodcarverswww.mountainwoodcarvers,comTools, supplies, roughouts, books, wood
Stadtlander Carvingswww.stadtlandercarvings.comSupplies, turned wood products, Safety
Steve Brown Woodcarvingwww.sbrownwoodcarving.comRoughouts, pen blanks
Sugar Pine Woodcarving Suppwww.sugarpinewoodcarving.comSafety, Pine knots, Dremel equip.
Treelinewww.treelineusa.comWalking sticks, carving & cane supplies
Van Kellys Carvingwww.vankellycarvings.comRoughouts-hillbillies, Santas, snowman
Wetherbee Collectionwww.wetherbeecollection.comRoughouts – all kinds
Whittling Shackwww.whittlingshsck.comTools, spoon kits, cottonwood bark
Wood Carver’s Supplywww.woodcarverssupply.comTools, Safety, Books, Wood


Christmas is less than 5 short months away.  It’s time to get started on your Christmas carving.  Here are two photos of some Santas and Snowmen carved by John Tuttle Thanks for the photos, John:


We start off today with some fine suggestions & comments from Dean who writes:

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

You make some interesting points, Dean, which I agree with.  When working from a pattern you’re kind of bound by the outlines of that pattern and sometimes it can be hard to visualize where to start first.  Sometimes with some patterns the carver gets ‘locked’ into the design and has a hard time making their own changes.  When measuring you have the freedom to go in any direction you like.  Also, to those of you who can’t afford or don’t have room for a band saw a scroll saw is a good alternative.  Let’s hear some others’ thoughts on this subject.

Next we have some interesting insight from my good friend Wayne Smith in response to our earlier discussion on Choosing the right knife.  Wayne writes:

Hi Bob, ….. just finished reading your most recent post and it got me to thinking or reminiscing of when I got started carving. I like so many others had no clue as to what I needed for tools, all I knew was that ” I needed ’em all “… lol.  Somebody (might of even been you ) on WCI forum suggested that I get the beginners kit from Little Shavers (Rick Ferry). I did , and it consisted of a Murphy knife, 2 flat skews (which I very seldom use), a V tool  ( which I later ruined trying to learn how to sharpen it ) a # 11 gouge,  and 2 # 3 gouges ( one straight  ,and one bent). I use those 2 # 3’s on practically every carving I do these days, but as you probably know I fell under the spell of Lynn Doughty and traded the Murphy knife for a Stanley # 199 which I use almost exclusively.  As for the age old question ” what is the best tool ? ” My answer would be ” A sharp one “.

  Keep up the good work with your blog,  I will continue to look forward to it regardless of the frequency that you publish it.


That’s a great email with some good information, Wayne, but first let me say that it wasn’t me who suggested you buy a beginner’s set of tools because I very rarely recommend purchasing tools in sets.  The reason being, as you found out you usually find that you never use 40% of the tools that came with the set.  My suggestion to any carver looking to buy tools is to buy them individually.  This way every tool you buy is the one you want and will use and won’t have wasted your money buying tools you’re never going to use.

I never could get my head wrapped around the thought of using a box cutter as a carving knife but Lynn Doughty swears by them and he’s a pretty darn good carver.  Also, anyone else who I’ve come across that uses box cutters swears by them too so there must be something to them.

Your last remark may be the most important, and that is the best knife to use is a sharp one!  That statement couldn’t be more true.  Regardless of what kind of knife you use make sure it’s sharp!  A sharp knife cuts easily and makes whole carving experience that much more pleasurable.  A dull knife does not cut through the wood easily causing the carver to struggle and become discouraged.  More importantly, however, is that a dull tool is dangerous to use.  Because a dull tool doesn’t cut well the carver has to use more force to push or pull it through the wood.  A dull tool is more apt to slip and the carver is more likely to get injured…maybe seriously.  Make sure your tools are sharp!

We also have a gracious comment from Bob Nesbit of the Conewago Carvers.  Bob writes:

Thanks for all you do with your blog, and I look forward to reading it every night. Hope you will continue with it. We at Conewago Carvers like to discuss some of the comments and learn from the blog as well. Keep up the good work and I look forward to the blog being continued.                                                                                                                         Bob Nesbit”

Thank you for the encouraging words, Bob! I work hard to put out an informative blog every time. I, too am a member of the Conewago Carvers. Please spread the word and encourage more members to subscribe to Wood Chip Chatter. The more followers I can get the better I can make the blog. Thank you again!

Steve Garrett asks the question:

“How do you carve the curls in Santa’s beard?”

Great question, Steve, and one I’m sure a lot of readers are wondering about.  Without the benefit of a video the best way I can tell you is through a series of diagrams which I have drawn below.  There are several ways to approach this but this method is easy and it works.  Here is a Santa ornament I carved with a curly mustache.  We’ll use it as a reference.


Step 1.  Carve out a small circle using the gouge of your choice.  Usually a #6 works fine.

Step 2.  Starting out a distance away from the circle (this will become the hair) make a long stop cut all away around the circle until it meets the stop cut again.  This can be done with either a V-tool or a knife.  From the outside of the large circle you have made with your stop cut carve back to it from the outside in the direction of the arrows, thus raising the curl.

Step 3.  From the top edge of the inner circle make a small stop cut to the outer stop cut making sure it comes to a point with the top outer stop cut.  Cut back to this point in the direction of the arrows.

Step 4.  Above the outer curl make another stop cut somewhat parallel to the first stop cut you made, thus forming the hair.  Cut back to the curl (in the direction of the arrows) to raise the hair.

Step 5.  Cut back to the curl (in the direction of the arrows) to raise the curl above the hair.  Finally, carve “C” and “S” type cuts around the hair and curl.

NOTE:  A V-tool can be used for a lot of this work if you choose.  It’s up to you.  Some carvers prefer working with V-tools and others are more comfortable using a knife.  Whatever tool works for you is the right tool.

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!


Carving Figure Caricatures in the Ozark Style


in the Ozark Style

by Harold L. Enlow

A Book Review

Front Cover
Back Cover

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

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

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

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

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


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

Our first email comes from Timothy Sisko who writes:

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

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

Our second email comes from garyscarving.  Gary writes:

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

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

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

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

Our next email come from John Pearson who writes:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

srjudge wrote a very nice email to say:

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

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

We have one final email from Phyllis who writes:

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

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

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

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com                                 

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

“I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps

finding her way back.” 



Caricature Pencil Carved by Bob Kozakiewicz



The nature of the wood being carved limits the scope of the carver in that wood is anisotropic and not equally strong in all directions.  The direction in which wood is strongest is called the “Grain” (wood grain may be straight, interlocked, wavy, fiddleback, etc.).  For strength purposes it is always wise to arrange the more delicate parts of the figure along the grain direction instead of across it.  Often, however, a “line of best fit” is instead employed, since a figure’s design may have multiple weak points in different directions, or the orientation of these along the grain would necessitate carving detail on end grain.  Carving on the end grain is considerably more difficult than carving with the grain.  Carving blanks are also sometimes assembled out of many smaller blocks of wood or boards, and in this way, one can orient different areas of a carving in the most advantageous way, both for the carving process and for durability.  Carousel horses are a good example of this practice.  Less commonly, this same principle is used in solid pieces of wood, where the fork of two branches is utilized for its divergent grain, or a branch off of a larger log is carved into a beak (this was the technique employed for traditional Welsh shepherd’s crooks, and some Native American adze handles).  The failure to appreciate these primary rules may constantly be seen in damaged work, when it will be noticed that, whereas tendrils, tips of birds beaks, etc., arranged across the grain have been broken away.

Probably the two most common woods used for carvingin North America are basswood (aka tilia or lime) and tupelo; both are hardwoods that are relatively easy to work with.  Chestnut, butternut, oak, American walnut, mahogany and teak are also very good woods; while for fine work Italian walnut, maple, apple, pear, box  or plum, are usually chosen. Decoration that is to be painted and of not too delicate a nature is often carved in pine, basswood or tupelo which are relatively soft and inexpensive.


A wood carver begins the carving process by selecting a block of wood the approximate size and shape of the figure he or she wishes to create, or if the carving is to be large, several pieces of wood may be glue together to create the required size.  The type of wood is important.  Hardwoods are more difficult to shape but have greater strength and luster. Soft woods are easier to carve but are more prone to damage.  Any wood can be carved but they all have different characteristics.  The choice of wood will often depend on the requirements of the carving being done.

Once the block of wood has been selected the wood carver then cuts out the general shape of the figure he or she wants to carve.  Generally, a pattern is drawn onto the block before cutting.  The pattern can traced on from and paper pattern or cut out cardboard pattern, or it is sometimes just roughly drawn on with a pencil.  Most times a front and side view pattern are drawn onto the block.  Following the shape of the patterns the general figure is cut out using s band saw, scroll saw or coping saw.  This process removes a great deal of the ‘waste’ wood which saves the carver a lot of time.

When the carver has the figure shape cut out he or she begins a general shaping process, known as blocking out.  Carving knives and gouges of various sizes and shapes are used.  A gouge has a curved blade that can remove large amount of wood at one time.  For harder woods, the wood carver may use gouges sharpened with stronger bevels, about 35o, and a mallet similar to that of a stone carver’s.  When carving softer woods the bevel will usually be about 20o.  The terms gouge and chisel are open to confusion.  Correctly, a gouge is a tool with a curved cross-section and a chisel is a tool with a flat cross-section. However, many professional carvers tend to refer to them all as ‘chisels’.  Very large carvings require the use of a mallet and large gouges whereas smaller carvings usually  require the woodcarver to use only a knife and small palm gouges.  No matter what wood is selected or tools used, the wood carver must always remember to carve either across or with the grain of the wood and never against the grain.

Once the general shape is made or blocked out, the carver may use a variety of tools for creating details.  For example, a “veiner” (also called a “fluter”) can be used to make deep cuts into the surface, or a “v-tool” for making fine lines or decorative cuts.  Once the finer details have been added, the wood carver finishes the surface. The method chosen depends on the desired quality of the finish.  The texture left by shallow gouges gives ‘life’ to the carving’s surface and many carvers prefer this ‘tooled’ finish.  If a completely smooth surface is required the carver may use “Rifflers”.  Rifflers are similar to fine rasps, usually double-ended, and of various shapes for working in hard to reach folds or crevasses.  The finer ‘polishing’ is done with abrasive paper usually referred to as sandpaper.  Large grained sandpaper with a rougher surface (higher grit) is used first, with the carver then using finer and finer grit sandpapers that can make the surface of the carving smooth to the touch.

After the carving is completed, the wood carver may seal & color the wood with a variety of paints or natural oils, such as  acrylic or oil paint, or walnut or linseed oil which seals and protects the wood from dirt and moisture.  Often a coat of polyurethane or lacquer is added as a final sealant.  Carvers seldom use gloss finishes as they create too shiny a surface, which reflects so much light that it can confuse the form.  Objects made of wood are frequently finished with a layer of wax, which protects the wood and gives a soft lustrous sheen.  A wax finish (e.g. bees wax or carnuba wax), however, is only suitable for indoor carvings.

Mountaineer Moonshiner Carved by Bob Kozakiewicz


My ‘Wood Chip Chatter’ blog is now one month old.  I have immensely enjoyed writing it and I hope those who read it enjoy its contents whenever it is published.  I work hard and spend a great deal of time putting the blog together, and have tried to publish something worthwhile every day.

After one month, however, I am disappointed in the response I’ve gotten to ‘Wood Chip Chatter’.  I’m seeing that the number of folks actually reading the blog is but a fraction of those who are subscribed to it.  Participation, in terms of questions, comments and photos (photos of your carvings are especially appreciated) has also been minimal.  When I created ‘Wood Chip Chatter’ I envisioned a platform for whittlers and wood carvers to generate discussions through those questions and comments.  The overall success of ‘Wood Chip Chatter’ depends to some degree on those discussions.

With readership and participation being as low as they are I have decided to publish fewer blogs per week, perhaps just two or three.  Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t.  Maybe it will make the blog better and more interesting to read, but it will definitely give me more time to gather information and content for future blogs, though.

Thank you to those of you who read ‘Wood Chip Chatter’.

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com


Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!


Comic donated by Wayne Smith

Carving Caricature Busts

“Carving Caricature Busts”

by W. “Pete” LeClair

A Book Review

Front Cover

Back Cover

Carving Caricature Busts” is the latest of three excellent woodcarving books written by noted wood carver and instructor Pete LeClair.  Published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. this 80 page paperback book containing over 350 color photographs takes the carver from start to finish with carving a fun to carve caricature bust.  On the very first page Pete gives you a photo and list of all the tools he uses to complete the project.

Tools Used
Project Pattern

With 57 pages, each with 5-6 color go by photos just dedicated to carving the project Pete takes you from drawing the pattern on the block step by step all the way through to the finished carving.

Then there are 6 pages dedicated to painting and finishing, each page again filled with lots of color go by photos.

Finally, there is a gallery in the back of the book that shows 25 of Pete’s comical caricatures.  This gallery is  unique, though in that there is a pattern supplied with each of the carvings in the gallery.

Carving caricature busts is a great way to learn how to carve caricature faces and get into some of the detail of carving caricatures themselves.  Carving busts is nice because you don’t have to worry about carving detail into the entire body of a caricature.  Instead, you can focus on carving just the face and the torso.

“Carving Caricature Busts” is a well written and illustrated book which I highly recommend to any carver looking to learn about carving caricature faces with a little extra flare.


We recently got an email from Jakobo Santiago with some photos of a spectacular wood spirit he carved from an oak handle of an old shovel.  He estimates the shovel was about 30 years old.  I’m sure that old oak handle was hard as a rock to carver.  Terrific job Jakobo!           

Patsy wrote in and commented:

“I am enjoying your posts.  Thank you…”

You’re welcome, Patsy!  I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and I hope everyone else is too.

Phyllis Stone sent in an email with a suggestion for our Wood Carving Supplier list.  She mentioned: Hillcrest Carving in Lancaster, PA.

Thank you for your contribution, Phyllis!  I will make sure I get Hillcrest Carving on the list.

Janie Hall wrote in to say:  “Hi Bob.  I love the bottle stopper”

Thank you, Janie for your thoughtful words!  I greatly appreciate them!

Bill wrote in an email a few days ago in response to my tutorial on Carving A Moravian Star ornament and said:

“Nice, short tutorial that looks like a lot of fun!!!  Thanks so much!!”

Thanks for the kind words, Bill.  Good luck with carving your star and don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you have any question or need any help.

And finally, “Someone (unknown)” Sent in an email in response to my tutorial on Carving A Moravian Star ornament.  “Someone” writes:

“Thank you, this helps a lot and can’t wait to start carving this beautiful star.”

I‘m glad you found the tutorial helpful.  Good luck with carving your star and don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you need any help.

A big Thank You to everyone who wrote in today to send a photo or comment! They are much appreciated!

I hope you found today’s book review helpful.  I would love to hear from you to get your feedback as to what you thought and to know if you want to see more in the future.  Thanks!

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

My wife and I always hold hands.  If I let go, she shops!

A Final Word About Wooden Spoons

The intricately carved wooden lovespoon has traditionally been used as a token of affection in Wales. Each spoon could contain different meanings as shown by the use of various symbols, for instance: a chain would mean a wish to be together forever; a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune; a cross would mean faith; a flower would mean affection; or a dragon for protection. Many sailors carved spoons as they had much free time at sea on their long voyages, they would carve such symbols as anchors or ships into the spoon. Although the Welsh lovespoon has its unique qualities, other styles of lovespoons have been made in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, particularly Romania.

In Botswana, a republic in southern Africa the wooden spoon is used as a token to share duties, responsibilities and knowledge, the holder contributes to the work in whatever small way, like a group contributing to a dish by adding ingredients, mixed with the spoon.

In the Philippines, wooden rice spoons with carved sacred images of bulul representing deities or ancestral spirits (anito) are traditional among the Ifugao people. Despite the animistic carvings, they are everyday utensils used for eating rice or soups or serving wine. Today, they are commonly sold as souvenirs to tourists.

In Romania, in the city of Câmpulung Moldovenesc, there is the Wooden Spoons Museum, a museum displaying the collection of wooden spoons from Romania and the world of a now deceased Romanian history professor.


In the Philippines, giant wooden spoons and forks are traditionally hung in the dining room, framed, or placed inside a cabinet. Both are the most common traditional utensil pairing in the Philippines (as opposed to the knife and fork as in western countries). Along with a painting or tapestry of the Last Supper, they are some of the more ubiquitous decorations in Filipino homes. They are regarded as symbols of good health.

Resource unknown


Jim Morasco sent in an email with an excellent question on staining.  Jim writes:

I was wondering if you have any tips on preparing a piece for staining? Most of the time I end up painting something I intended to stain because the wood looks damaged. I try sanding but sometime it gets worse. Thanks!”

That’s a great question, Jim!  Staining wood carvings can be really tricky and if not done properly you can ruin a perfectly good carving in the process.  The problem when staining a wood carving is that all of the end grain of the carving soaks up the stain more the sides leaving the unsightly dark blotches many of us have experienced.  What I have found when staining a wood carving is that you need to seal the wood before staining.  There is a sanding sealer on the market that some carvers use although I have never tried it.  You really just need to apply any kind of wood sealer to the carving first before applying the stain.  This helps to prevent the stain from soaking into the end grain.  Polyurethane or lacquer both work well.  I use Deft spay lacquer with success.  The key is to be sure your carving is well coated with the sealer, especially on the end grain.  As always, it’s a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of wood first.

John Pearson sent in an email with a suggestion in response to my request for recommendations for wood carving suppliers.  John writes:

“Hi Bob,
I exclusively use Heinecke Wood Products for basswood. They supply their Northern Wisconsin basswood to many well known carvers.

Thanks for the suggestion, John!  I too, like so many other (noted) wood carvers Use Heinecke basswood exclusively.  In my opinion they have the best quality basswood you can find anywhere.  I’ve never been disappointed with basswood from Heinecke Wood Products.  I will make sure to put them on the list!

We need your contributions to Wood Chip Chatter!  A few days ago I mentioned that I’m going to put together a list of woodcarving suppliers and asked for anyone who had suggestions to please send them in.  So far I have only gotten two (2) suggestions.  Wood Chip Chatter is the type of blog that thrives on the contributions (questions, comments, suggestions) from its readers.  I’m sure there are more than two woodcarving suppliers out there so let’s hear from you so we can make this list more comprehensive and worthwhile.  Send your suggestions in to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com or just click on the Comments button. Thanks for pitching in!

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Wood Hardness Ratings

The Janka hardwood rating test is a test that determines the hardness of a piece of wood (used mostly to determine the hardness of flooring planks).  Quite often the hardness of a piece of wood relates directly with its density.  Wood carvers, however, can use the Janka hardwood ratings to compare one type of carving wood to another.  For example, one can easily see that Basswood is near the very bottom of the ratings chart indicating that it is one of the softest of the hardwoods.  Black Walnut, on the other hand is much further up on the ratings chart and is considered to be much harder to carve than Basswood.  Below is an explanation of the Janka ratings test and a chart including some of the more popular North American hardwood species.

Janka Wood Hardness Ratings

When in doubt about the type of wood to select for your cabinetry, flooring, furniture or millwork project, refer to the Janka Rating System, which measures the relative hardness of woods. 

The hardest commercially available domestic hardwood is hickory; it is five times harder than aspen, one of the “soft” hardwoods. And while this example lists just some of the most popular hardwood species, there are hundreds of varieties, representing the North American hardwood population. 

Because hardness is an important factor, and hardness varies for each species, the Janka Scale of Hardness is an excellent tool to help identify appropriate choices.

So what does the Janka test consist of? The process of measuring the density of wood begins by embedding a steel ball that has a diameter of 11.28 millimeters (roughly 0.444 inches) halfway into the wood’s surface. The force required to push the ball into the wood (measured in pounds-force, or lbf) indicates how dense and strong the wood is. For example, hickory hardwood has a Janka rating of 1820; this means that it required 1,820 pounds of force to embed the steel ball into hickory’s surface.

The hardness and density of wood is often determined by the direction of its grain. Measuring a wood’s flat or horizontal grain (face) is the most general way to determine its hardness. Although vertical wood grain (edge) is tested, the results are not displayed on the Janka Hardness Scale. The results shown on the Janka Hardness Chart indicate the hardness of a wood’s face, and not its edges (or “side hardness”).

Common Domestic Species Janka Ratings

This should only be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring. Depending on where the wood is harvested the results may vary. Plank construction and finish are also important factors when determining the durability and ease of maintenance of any wood floor.


After seeing the above Janka Hardwoods ratings chart I noticed something that sheds some light on a discussion we had a few days ago regarding Cottonwood.  Rick Boyer wrote in and asked since cottonwood bark is so widely carved does anyone ever carve cottonwood itself?  My response was that while I had never carved cottonwood (only cottonwood bark) I couldn’t say how it carved but did know it is considered to be a hardwood.

Upon looking at the Janka chart I see that cottonwood is very low on the hardness ratings (just above basswood).  It’s only 20 rating pounds higher than basswood so my guess is it probably carves very much like basswood.  Therefore, like basswood, cottonwood is considered to be among the softest of the hardwood species.  So Rick, if you can get a hold of some cottonwood I would definitely give it a try.


I want to put together a comprehensive list of wood carving suppliers who supply anything from tools, accessories, supplies, roughouts, safety equipment, books, etc.  Even wood!  While I have quite a large list of my own I want to hear from my readers on who they like to use.  This way I can add them all together and make up one large list.

So if you have some wood carving suppliers you would recommend send them in!  I’ll need their name, contact information (phone #, website), and basically what they supply.  Thanks!

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

And remember to email your photos

to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed.
I turned to her and said, ‘Do you want to have Sex?’
‘No,’ she answered.
I then said, ‘Is that your final answer?’

… She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying, ‘Yes..’
So I said, “Then I’d like to phone a friend.”

And that’s when the fight started…


A bit of a slow news day today.  Being that it’s Sunday I’m taking a little break.  We do have a couple of excellent emails to report, however, and a tip on buying from a wood carver that you’ll want to know about.  Next week we’re going to go into the Janka wood comparison ratings and hardness chart, and also begin some book reviews which I think you will all appreciate.  Have a happy Sunday!

Eagle Head Belt Buckle Carved by Bob Kozakiewicz

Bill sent in a response to my tutorial on “Carving a Moravian Star”.  Bill writes:

“Nice, short tutorial that looks like a lot of fun!!! Thanks so much!!”

Thanks, Bill!  I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial.

Gene Kucker sent in an email along with photos of some awesome Moravian stars he carved. Gene writes:

“Hey Bob,

Here are a few Moravian stars I did and was playing with some add on and such. Let me know whatcyou think.  I was thinking about doing a ball inside one of the bigger sized stars.  I really love the new blog and I’m a huge fan of your carvings.  Thank you for inspiring me and others and keeping carving alive.


Gene Kucker

Blacklick Ohio transplant from Matawan NJ”

Moravian Stars Carved by Gene Kucker
Detailed Moravian Stars Carved by Gene Kucker

Thank you for your email and your photos, Gene!  Those stars are truly magnificent!  Very clean cuts and the detail is remarkable. I encourage you to keep pushing the envelope on what you can do with them…borders, balls inside, etc.  And just think…we were practically neighbors once! Keep the pictures coming!

Buying From A Wood Carver

This is a matter I touched on about a week ago in response to a reader’s comment but I feel so strongly about it that I thought this particular point was worth publishing:

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Tutorial – How To Carve A Moravian Star Ornament

Moravian Star Ornament (Photo 1)

The following is a tutorial on how I carve a Moravian star ornament.  Some of you may have already seen it when it appeared on my Instagram page @carverbobk during April 9-14.  I am posting it again here on my blog for the first time.  I hope everyone enjoys it and carves along with it!

Although it may seem complicated with a whole lot of carving there are really only 6 basic steps involved in creating this beautiful ornament.

Step 1:  Start with a 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1.5″ block of basswood (Photo 2).  Draw diagonal lines from corner to corner on all 6 sides of the block (Photo 3).  Measure 3/4″ in from every corner to find the center of every edge of the block and make a mark at those points (Photo 4).  Draw lines across the block from these center points on all 6 sides as shown in the photo (Photo 5).  The block is now divided into many small triangles (8 triangles per side).

Photo 2

Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5

 Step 2:  Look at one of the edges of the block and you will see there are two triangles attached to each other (Photos 6 & 7).  Use your carving knife and make a deep cut on the lines that attach the two triangles (Photo 8).  The cut must go deep enough so that your knife blade stops at the points where all of the lines cross at the centers on the sides of the block. You may want to complete this cut as you carve Step 3 but remember to cut exactly on the line and do not cut past the center points!  If you cut off the lines and past the centers your star will not have crisp edges.  Now start at one of the triangles and carve straight in towards the line where you made the deep stop cut (Photo 9).  Begin at the top and work your way down but be sure not to cut below the lines marking the edge of the triangle (Photo 10).  When you get to the bottom be sure you make it perfectly flat.  When you look at it from the side it should look level with no hump.

Photo 6
Photo 7
Photo 8
Photo 9
Photo 10

Step 3:  Turn the block around to work on the opposite triangle.  You will carve this triangle the same way as you did the first one.  Begin carving wood away from the top and work your way down to the lines marking the edge of this triangle (Photo 11).  Again, make the bottom perfectly flat (Photo 12).  Note: The two bottoms should meet perfectly in the middle forming a perfect 90o “V” when seen from the side (Photo 13).

Photo 11
Photo 12
Photo 13

Step 4:  Turn the block to an adjacent edge.  Make a deep cut on the lines that attach the two triangles on this edge (Photo 14).  Follow the instructions from Step 2.  Work on the triangle adjacent to the one you carved before (Photo 15).  Start at the top and work your way down as before but be sure not to cut past the edge of the triangle you carved previously (Photo 16).  Again, the bottom of this triangle should be perfectly flat, and the edges where two triangles meet should be sharp and perfectly straight (Photo 17).  Carve the opposite triangle as you did in Step 3 (Photo 18)

Photo 14
Photo 15
Photo 16
Photo 17
Photo 18

Step 5:  Continue turning the block and carving the triangles as you go until you have carved away all of the triangles on the block (Photos 19 & 20).  Go back over the block and make sure all of your triangle bottoms are flat and the edges where one triangle meets another are sharp (Photo 21).

Photo 19
Photo 20
Photo 21

Step 6:  If your knife was sharp and you made clean cuts your Moravian star should not require any sanding.  Choose one of the star points and cut the tip off with your knife (Photo 22).  Brush a coat of boiled linseed oil onto your star.  Blot off the excess with a clean paper towel.  Then lay the carving on another paper towel and allow to dry overnight.  Note: Dispose of the paper towels appropriately; boiled linseed oil soaked paper towels can spontaneously combust.  Cut a jewelry eye pin on an angle to a length of about 1/2″ (Photo 23) and carefully insert it with a pair of needle-nose pliers into the flattened star point (Photo 24).  Finally, add a hook for hanging (Photo 25).

Photo 22
Photo 23
Photo 24

Completed Moravian Star Ornament – Photo 25

We’d love to see some photos of your Moravian star ornaments when they’re finished!


Neil McGuire, president of the Charlotte Woodcarvers sent me an email and asked me to pass on the following information:

The Charlotte Woodcarvers will be sponsoring the 39th annual Showcase of Woodcarvers on April 1-3, 2022.  All information can be found on their website: http://www.charlottewoodcarvers.com/showcase  Information will be updated on the site as time goes on.

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.
She asked, “What’s on the TV?”
I said, “Dust.”

And that’s when the fight started.

Emails, Question & Comments

I‘ve recently received a few emails I’d like to share with you today:

We have an email from Rick Boyer with a very interesting question that I have no answer for.  Hopefully some of our readers can answer Rick’s question.  Rick wrote:

 “I have a question I know cotton Wood bark is carved. How about the cotton wood itself is that a wood that is carved?”

While Cottonwood bark is very soft to carve, Cottonwood itself is considered a hardwood.  I have never tried carving Cottonwood (only Cottonwood bark) so I can’t say.  Perhaps some of our readers have had some experience with it.

Elevated Brit (Brittany) wrote in response to my blog post on “Coming Shows & Events”:

“This was so helpful, thank you! Surprised there are none in Texas for how big of a state we are, BUT I’m only an hour or two from Broken Bow so I’m absolutely going to go check them out in September! Thanks for the list of events!

You’re welcome for the list, Brittany…I’m glad it was helpful.

Elevated Brit (Brittany) also wrote in response to my blog post on “Choosing The Right Carving Knife”:

“I’m so glad for this article! I bought a blade and just about gave up woodcarving because I couldn’t get it to shave or cut the wood without a lot of work. I felt frustrated and like I was going to cut myself. (Or that my hands weren’t strong enough..)

But it could just be the cheap starter knife. I’ll try to find a place that sells them to see if I can find a good quality one that I can actually use!”

Brittany, a good quality carving knife really does have a big influence on your wood carving success, especially for beginners who already have so much to learn.  Any of the knives I mentioned in my article are high quality tools that you won’t go wrong with.  If you have difficulty finding any of those knives please feel free to send me an email and I can help you.

Timothy Sisko sent in an email asking about push knives.  He wrote:

“Bob, When using a flat blade push knife is the bevel suppose to be up or down? ie .toward your piece or toward the scrap?”

Thank you for writing, Timothy.  That’s a good question.  If I understand what you are saying, what you are referring to as a push knife is actually a type of gouge and just knives which have two bevels (one on each side) gouges can be used with either side up, although they are designed to be used with the bevel down.  I have used gouges both ways depending on what I am trying to do.  Below is a photo of what Helvie calls their Thumbnail Gouge.  It is what I would consider sort of a push knife. 

You can see the bevel is on the bottom and it is flat on the top.  I believe this is what you are referring to as a push knife.  Let me know if this doesn’t answer your question.

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

I’m at the emergency room. Today was not a good day. I decided to go horseback riding, something I haven’t done for a long time. It turned out to be a big mistake! I got on the horse and started out slow, but then we went a little faster before I knew it, we were going as fast as the horse could go. I couldn’t take the bright sun in my eyes and fell off and caught my foot in the stirrup with the horse dragging me. It wouldn’t stop. Thank goodness the manager of the store came out and unplugged the machine.

Wood Species (Softwoods)

Yesterday I listed the over 200 species of Hardwoods (angiosperms) found around the world.  Today I will list the approximately 50 Softwoods (coniferous) species.

Below is the list of Softwood species:

Softwoods (coniferous)

The final species group is the Pseudowood species of which there are only three:


Other wood-like materials:

  • Bamboo
  • Palm tree
    • Coconut Timber (Cocos nucifera)
    • Toddy palm timber (Borassus flabellifer)


Today we have some emails and comments from our readers that I think everyone will find quite interesting:

Steve Hibbard wrote in about my question regarding the use of catalpa wood for carving.  Steve writes:

“Hi: Catalpa isn’t too common in Southwest Ontario where I live, but it is popular for carving due to its beautiful grain. I have a friend who does human busts with it. I have found it too hard to carve with gouges, but I did manage to power carve a Christmas ornament from it.”

John Pearson wrote in an email making a point that all wood carvers should always adhere to.  John wrote:

“Hi Bob,

I thought this might be a nice FYI for beginners on Wood Chip Chatter?   Common courtesy to all who instruct and inspire us. 


“I recently listened to podcast 002 published by the International Association of Woodcarvers.  It featured a Q & A with Doug Linker.   Doug has many YouTube videos/tutorials geared toward beginners.   One of the topics I found interesting was his disdain for folks who carve one of his projects and claim it has their own on social media.  

The purpose of my email today is to encourage all beginners to be sure and give credit where credit is due.  For example, …this carving inspired by @Douglinker or @Carverbobk” 😁 

That’s so true, John.  It really annoys me when that happens to me.  I actually get offended.  I welcome all carvers everywhere to use my designs but I also ask them to just simply mention my name when the piece is completed.  All carvers, whether they are beginners or seasoned should give credit where credit is due.  I understand when a carver completes a carving he or she can be very proud of it but if it is not their own design, if they used the design (for example a roughout) from another carver it is only common courtesy to mention that carver as the originator and give that person credit.  The creator of a design spends many hours in designing the pattern, carving the original, and perhaps going through multiple failures until he gets it right.  The designer is not only putting in hours of work, he is also putting his heart and soul into creating that carving and it’s only right and fair that he or she be acknowledged for all of that when someone else imitates their work.

Thank you so much, John, for bringing up this significant point!

Patrick Weddle sent in a nice email saying:


Thanks for everything you are doing!  You’re not just a pretty face.  Seriously, what you’re doing is special and very much appreciated!



Thank you very much for your kind words.  I’m not so sure about the pretty face part but I greatly appreciate it.  It’s folks like you who make it all worthwhile.


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

And remember to email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!