|"Notes from the Net" is a column compiled from a few of the email messages
posted to the Woodcarver Mailing List. There are many good messages to choose from. So many, that is hard to choose which messages to include in this column. Some editorial changes were necessary, but, for the most part, each message appears as originally posted and attributed to sender. If you have a favorite post or subject that you would like to appear in this column, please email me directly.
Miscellaneous Quotes on a variety of subjects
Marcel Larmarch asked: If you had one thing to pass along to your fellow woodcarvers that you felt was the most important piece of advice you could give, what would it be?
Phil Wylie replied:
Bill Judt replied:
Dana Roberts wrote in response to "Carving in the House":
Murray Lincoln wrote in response to "Thumb Guards":
Duane MacEwen asked:
I would like to try my hand at chip carving, but before I do, I would like to know what BASIC knives I need to get started. Plus, any good basic instruction books that anybody can suggest? What I have seen so far show you some nice chip carvings but not the technique necessary to create them!
Ainslie L. Pyne replied:
Marty Epping also replied:
James E. McLeod also replied:
Mike Wells wrote in response to a question about carving eyes:
I use my own version of the John Burke method for carving eyes. First, you have to use a u gouge to make the socket, and then shape in the round eyeball, then cut the top lid, carve up to it from the bottom. Then cut the lower lid, and cut in and down to form the eyeball inside the lids.
Also, something that adds a lot of "movement" to the carving is to never cut perfectly arched lines for the lids, but rather put a bit of a curve to them. Also, try to avoid making the eyes look like football shapes. Real eyes aren't really like that. The lids have a long side and short side. Sort of hard to explain without a pen in my hand to demonstrate, but if you study your own and others' eyes enough I think you will see what I mean.
BONNIE GRASER wrote:
Mike Dunk wrote in response to "Painting Birds":
I usually seal the carving with one-to-three coats of Deft spray sealer (depending on whether or not it will be floated) then paint it with at least two coats of a 50/50 mix of gesso and water. I carefully "scrub" the gesso, always in the direction of the texturing, into the carving using a stiff brush. Be sure to let the gesso dry on its own. Some people use a hair dryer to speed up drying time when painting but gesso should never be super heated this way. It causes air bubbles to form in the paint and they will be visible no matter what you do after that.
If you have handled the carving a lot there will be several deposits of oil from your hands. Acrylic paint will not adhere to this oil and it will "bead up" in places. I use a foam-type window cleaner that contains ammonia for this purpose. The brand name is Bon Ami but I am sure that there are many others.
I spray it on lightly and after it stops foaming (about 5 sec.) I carefully wipe it off with a paper towel. After letting dry for about five minutes I begin to paint with no beading problems. I have used the foam on gesso and on partially painted decoys with no adverse affects.
Preparing Small Figures for Painting
Robert White asked:
Are there any good references out there on how to prep and paint small basswood figures (santas)?
Rick Jensen replied:
Just wet the carving. Squirt some soap on it and scrub with toothbrush and rinse under cold running water and set aside to dry for 24 hours. I have never had one split or crack on me yet.
Now for the painting. I paint with acrylics. I use a medium flesh tone for the face and hands with a darker flesh tone for some blush and highlighted areas. Following that, I use an off white for the beard, eyes, and fur trim on my Santas. Then for the coat or cape, I use watered down acrylics. When I say watered down, it looks like kool-aid. I like the wood grain to show through. Then I go back and paint the eyes with blue or brown and a spot of white to highlight.
After the paint is thoroughly dry, I apply three coats of Deft semi-gloss lacquer. Then I take a brown paper bag and buff out the carving. When that's done, I apply liquid Watco dark wax. I use the wax straight, I don't cut it with anything. Upon applying the wax, I immediately wipe off the excess. Then I let it dry overnight and buff it with a shoe brush. It makes for a beautiful finish.
Pierce Pratt also replied:
Some acrylic colors, like black, take much longer to dry than others. Now, don't be surprised when the paint dries that the figure is rather garish (bright). The shoe wax will correct that. On occasion, I will use a wet sponge to go over a figure after the paint dries to just bring out the wood along edges. If done right, this can later give the appearance that the figure has been handled a lot - OLD! It is also easy to ruin the figure (you can repaint but not after applying the wax), so I don't recommend you try this until you have some experience with the method.
Now for the wax...you will need both a light brown and neutral shoe polish wax. My light brown is a 50/50 combination Bark Brown and Neutral. Also, don't use too dark a wax. That's why I go with a blend.
When you are ready to apply the wax be sure you're in a place that can stand to get dirty (like not over your white carpet). I apply the brown wax with an old tooth brush. Get the wax all over the figure and into all those little crannies. After applying the brown wax, I immediately follow with the neutral wax (same toothbrush OK) to those areas that I want to lighten - face, hands, fur, hair. I then buff the figure lightly with a shoe brush. I may apply more brown or neutral wax to those areas that I want to darken or lighten, respectively. A final buff with the shoe brush and there you have it. The wax dulls the paint and the brown pigment fills in all those crooks, crannies, and mistakes (adds character).
Dennis Didio also replied:
Best Sharpening Methods
Steve J. Clark wrote on "The best way to sharpen in my opinion":
I am not an expert on carving but some how I have mastered the art of sharpening. It was a passion of mine from childhood. If you pick up a knife or meat cleaver in my house you must sign a waver before I let you use it. I used to use only Arkansas stones. But, when I started taking a class on chip carving everyone used water stones. The instructor insisted that you use water stones.
So, being a tool collector I spent the money to make the change from oil to water. It was the best thing I ever did, and, in my opinion, is easier, faster and cheaper. If you break or gouge an Arkansas stone, all you can do is cry. If you break a water stone, you have a lot more stones to shape into prefect shapes for all of your carving tools. We call these smaller stones slip stones. I keep all my stones in Tupperware submerged in water.
First, I lay a 12" x 12" sheet of wet sandpaper on a flat piece of granite. I take the stones from the water and flatten them on the sandpaper. I have a nagura stone that I rub on top of each stone to make it slippery. I start with the 180 grit, and then 400, 800, 1200, 4000, 6000, and last the 8000. After using the 8000 grit you do not need a leather strap. I often hone my knife with an 8000 grit when I am using it instead of a leather strap. I feel you must first learn to sharpen carving tools before you use them.
Joseph Aimetti also wrote:
Last, this un-attributable post on sharpening: