Woodcarver Online Magazine Gateway
WOM Back Issues
Carvers' Companion Gateway


Carving Down-Home Angels With Tom Wolfe

Reviewed by Bill Russell


I started carving in 1991, when some fellow co-workers were "whittling" during a lunch break. After about ten minutes of watching them, one of the guys gave me a knife and a piece of wood and my carving career started. Shortly thereafter my friend let me borrow his Santa and His Friends: Carving with Tom Wolfe book. That was my first introduction to Tom Wolfe. I came to really enjoy his southern humor and carving styles.

What really got me hooked on Tom's carvings was his book on carving golfers, because I was an avid golfer at the time and what caught my eye was the humor that Tom put into each of golfers in that particular book.

In September of 1991 my wife and I went to West Jefferson, North Carolina, where I took my first carving seminar from Tom. Since then my wife and I have become very good friends with Tom and his wife Nancy.

I have a collection of over eighty carving books, most of them autographed by the featured carvers. Forty-six of those are from Tom Wolfe. The latest is Carving Down-Home Angels.

All of Tom's books begin with a humorous story about the project contained in the book; you can't help but smile when you pick one up. Unlike most of Toms' books, however, this new volume does not rely on many patterns. Because you start with a square block of wood, and carve off of a corner, you use your own imagination in creating your carving.

The carving shown in this new book is from a square block of wood, which can be of any height or width. Tom takes you step by step through the carving process with excellent color photography and instructions in a clear and precise progression. In the gallery at the back of the book there are several finished angels with views from all four sides for reference.

Tom not only uses a band saw to prepare the basswood for carving, he also uses Forstner bits to remove the wood. When carving he uses mostly palm tools and a knife, which produces a wonderful clean cut look with no sanding on the finished piece. Before painting the finished carving Tom puts a coat of boiled linseed oil on the carving and lets it sit over night. His carvings are painted with artists oil paints thinned with turpentine so the grain of the wood still shows through.


Some people might not think that these angels are very pretty, and they certainly don't have long blonde hair and halos. They don't look much like John Travolta from the movie "Michael" either. Who's to say that we won't run into one of these guys when we hit the Pearly Gates?

This book can be used by any carver, but would be an excellent choice for a beginner or an intermediate carver.

Tom Wolfe is an excellent teacher and carver and the author of forty-six instructional books on carving. Tom is a member of the Caricature Carvers of America and continues to carve and teach at his studio in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.