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Notes From the 'Net

By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving


It's been a little quiet on the Net lately.  Hmmmmm, maybe everyone's carvin'.  Can't fault anyone for that.  Still, there were a couple of tid-bits out there, and maybe something from the archives.  First we're going to talk about the tough cuts when it comes to wood... cuts made directly across the end grain.

The Unkindest Cut of All...

I know my V tool isn't the best quality, but it is sharp. I'm having difficulty detailing hair in the end grain of a small caricature. The cuts tear out real easy. Should I "harden" the wood first(basswood) or are there other secrets you could share?

Merryl Bustin
Novice carver

Doug Evans started us off.


If your V tool is truly sharp you should not have this trouble. First be sure the tool is a s sharp as can be . Quality doesn't matter but sharp sure does !!! Try also to take smaller "bites" into the wood make a few passes versus one big one. If you still have trouble, yes use some super glue let it dry and go back after that end grain.

Good luck !!!
Doug Evans

Then Joe Dillet added...

Hi Merryl,

Check the angle of your V-tool. Lower the handle so the tool isn't cutting. Raise the handle slowly while moving the V-tool forward. Stop as soon as the tool begins to cut. Measure the angle your V-tool is to the wood when it begins to cut. That angle should be about 20-degrees. In soft basswood if it is over 22-degrees it is likely to smash the end-grain regardless of how sharp the tool is. Also take very light cuts. If you dig deep, even at a low angle, it has more a chance of smashing the grain.

Wetting the wood will help but wipe your tools so they don't rust.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552

Ralph had a suggestion along different lines.
Merryl -
My suggestion would be to soak your basswood in water for about 15 minutes. I find when my wood has dried out (we live in the desert) I need to add moisture to the wood. Another problem you must watch though, be sure to oil down your blades after carving to avoid rust build-up.

Ralph Scheffler
Palm Desert, CA 

...and Loren wrapped out a good set set of tips with yet another.

If you haven t, you might try spraying the area you are having trouble carving with a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water. It should help you out.

Loren Woodard

Next, a question about diamond stones.

Diamonds, a Woodcarver's Best Friend

Hello Everyone,

When purchasing and using diamond sharpening stones, is it better to get the flat stones, or the ones with the "honeycombed-type mesh" over the top of the stone? I hope I didn't confuse anyone with all of the technical jargon I used!!! :>)

Thank you for any and all responses!!!

Al Pilsl



Joe took first cut at this one.

Hi Al,

I have the honeycombed type of diamond stone. It was given to me or I would have chosen the solid stone without the holes. The holes are just wasted space and wasted time by rubbing over not abrasive areas. Small tools drop in the holes so you get bump, bump, bump as you sharpen on one with holes.

If I was choosing between diamond and ceramic I think I would go toward the ceramic. The ceramic is less agressive in the beginning but I've found that the diamond does wear and loose it agressiveness. After about 7 years of use my diamond stone is less that half the diamond left and not agressive at all. My ceramic stone is just as agressive (about 75% of a new diamond stone) and just as flat as when I purchased it 17 years ago. Neither stone requires a lubricant of water or oil. When they load up just wash them with soap and water to open the grit.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552
(815) 498-9290 phone
(815) 498-9249 fax


Then Old joe with some personal experience.

Both seem to work well. Mine is solid surface because it was on sale at
Mountain Heritage.

Old Joe

Old Joe Woodcarving,Plattsmouth, NE
WEB SITE: http://www.oldjoe.org/

Then Loyd Smith offered some price comparisons.

DMT diamond stones are tops but are expensive; they are monocrystalline.  There are sets of Chinese imports available here in Canada for about $25.  I bought a set for $18 on sale, three stones, 180,260 340 grit. I have a DMT one which cost around $60 guaranteed flat to a few thousands of an inch. I use the cheapies for rough sharpening or shaping or garden tools. The problem with the smooth ones is that they are polycrystalline diamond and wear more quickly. They all do a good job of truing your water stones and other stones.

...And Loren wrapped up this one too.


I have both and the solid stone is much better in my opinion.

Loren Woodard

Then a hair raising question.

"Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it, my hair . . ."

Hi Everyone,

I'm having a hard time carving hair.  I think I'm just getting more fussy.  Anyway, is there a book or site that I can get some help from?Or maybe just an explanation?

Doug Neely

Doug has some good instructional help.

Hi Doug,

I guess I'll try to help. Hair on heads or beards is nothing more than sweeping SSSSSSS . I usually use a (#11) gouge or two to be sure the surface is not flat. There should be tuffs of hair at different levels.  After the basic shape takes place go back with a couple of v-tools and cut in the SSSSSSSSSS . One v-tool can be used if you vary the depths.  Be sure when you are done there are no flats surfaces shown between the SSSSSSSSSS you have created with the V-tool.  Rather than using a v-tool a woodburner can used. It's just personal preference. Hair is a fun thing and no right or wrong unless you are doing a very realistic figure.

Hope this helps !!

Doug Evans

(Gotta disagree with you there Doug.  There are some "wrong ways... and I've done most of them. - Mike B.)

...And Gordon wraps this one up.

Hi Doug;
Take a look at an article in one of the older Woodcarving Ezines on carving hair the Harold Enlow way, here's the url:
Other sources would be books by Ivan Whillock, Chris Pye, Ian Norbury or Jeff Phares are just a few that first come to mind, there are a number of others authors in print as well.  Maybe it's time for a refresher session back with the Woodbutcher eh!

Gordon Paterson
Dowling, Ont.Can.

And finally Doug Evans sends this along from the Knotholes list...


Hey folks. Been lurking on this list for awhile (as well as over on the woodcarving disc list - charlestrella over there), and I've been wondering how copyright works in the carving world.  First a quick intro - I am a mid foties professional who has taken an interest in carving and is a complete neophyte, newbie, whatever name you care to call it. I am mostly interested in carving things like  greenmen, woodspirits, and mythical creatures (dragons, hippogryphs,  etc.). For now I am starting off learning to carve woodspirits in  hiking sticks and bark. Eventually I want to try in the round carvings.

I have really been inspired by carvings and the books of Shaw Cipa and the greenman carvings of Chris Pye. My question is this. If I do a carving following one of these gentlemen's step by step  instructions and using their design - am I correct in assuming that I  am not permitted to sell that carving?  The reason I ask, is that  I've seen various vendors seliing hiking sticks with woodspirit faces  that look remarkably like the patterns in Harold Enelow's book on  carving found wood. (sp? I thinks that's the one)  Are they  infringing on his copyright when they do this? 
Some faces seem more generic looking than others, but Shawn Cipa's are very unique & recognizable, with the squinty or closed eyes.  There is a definite "look" that is consistent across his carvings. I  am not looking to steal anyone elses work or designs so I just want  to be sure that I understand how this works. I am nowhere near ready  to sell any of my carvings and have a couple years to get under my  belt before I try, but I do have that as a goal in the back of my  mind. I am not a good sketch artist so I may have to rely on my wife  to help create new patterns and faces to carve, but how unique can  you be with these things and how do you avoid ethical and legal  copyright trouble if you want to sell your carvings?
Is there any resource out there that thoroughly explains this for the carving craftsman? I don't want to have to wade through the legalese and attempt to figure out how the law applies if there is something  or someone who has done so and can explain it.

Maura replied...

Hi Chuck, Maura here.  
Copyrights and carving
The purpose of a copyright is not to own an original design (not ideas - ideas can never be copyrighted) but to prevent others from profiting from  the use of your idea or design without paying for that right or asking permission.  As a novice carver, feel free to copy anything you want to produce for your private collection or to give away to family and  friends.  It is only when you move into the selling arena that the copyright issue rears its head.
Example 1  - You duplicate an American Indian bust that you have seen another carver do (who has a copyright) and then you use it as part of your display at your local clubs annual show and it unexpectantly sells.
Example 2  - You carve an original carving of a small dog and copyright the pattern. At one of your shows, the carving sells. A few years later while walking through a discount store, you see your very carving reproduced in resin  and when you inquire about it you find that 10,000 of these copies were distributed and sold throughout the US.
Example 3  - You search for patterns on the web for your own personal  use and store them in your PC.  Some of the patterns are copyrighted. One day realizing you are running out of drive space, you copy all of the patterns on disk.  You think it is a great collection of patterns and make a dozen copies and start selling it on ebay.
Example 4  - You post pictures to your bragging picture site.  One  is a carving you made using a copyrighted pattern.  You give the original artist no credit.
Example 5  - You make a carving using a copyrighted pattern.  You change minor elements in that pattern.  You then claim it as your own and  sell carvings using this design.
Example 6  - You buy a pattern pack on the internet and then allow your neighbor to copy them.
Which of these are illegal? All of them.  Anytime someone profits  in any way from a design that they have no right to freely use, it is  copyright infringement.  In order to take you to court the copyright holder  will need to get legal representation and lose time going to court.  It is only in their best interest to go after someone who has reaped a substantial  profit. But that doesn't mean that its not wrong just because you didn't make a  big enough profit for someone to go after you in court.  Certain cases against people who make hand-crafted items have not been successful because there are no real substantial losses as hand crafters do not churn out a large  number of copies of any one item.  It is not unusual for courts to award  treble (triple) damages in larger copyright infringement cases.
As to copying a pattern and making changes to it and then calling it your own arena - I have heard it said that if you make 15% of the pattern original, that it is now a new pattern but that is not true.  Any copyright lawyer will tell you that.  If it is obvious that one pattern was created based on another, then it is infringement.  but also remember that an idea can not be copyrighted.  If you take a pattern of a barn with horse in front, split rail fence and a big shade tree and make minor changes, it is wrong but if you  go get your own barn, your own horse, fence and tree and put them together to make your own pattern, that is not copyright infringement.  You can make things that are similar to another carvers but do them in your own style.  Okay so you want to carve woodspirits and might one day sell them.   You can and no one will bother you but ethically why not just get in touch with Shawn or other artists you admire and simply ask first.  Lots of carvers do woodspirits and basically it is just a face. a carvers own syle and the nuances of how he uses his tools are what makes the faces unique.  I bet if  you tried to copy one of the faces, it would come out  different  anyway.  I have asked lots of biggies if I could copy their designs and  have never received a denial.  Also feel free to use anyones pattern in  anyway as part of your learning process.  There is an implied permission as  far as using patterns for educational purposes.  Its only profiting from them that can cause you problems.
Maura carvin'  in  nyc


...And Robert added two useful websites.

Here is a page of information on copyrights and carving...
Applying for Patents, Copyrights , and Trademarks
Adapted From Law For Dummies, 2nd Edition
This one is also really good as it is advice taken from
Woodcarver Online Magazine on this very topic...
Be sure to look this one over.
I think this may also be of some help on this topic.
Robert the Mod

OK, Gang, until next issue, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and take a carvin' break once in a while to keep in touch.  See ya next issue.

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike Bloomquist->

Please take some time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.

For information regarding the various email lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion Resource Files, or click the links below.


Woodcarver's List - Woodcarvers' Porch - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarving List2


Editor's Note: Disclaimers and Cautions