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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


This week, some tips on harvesting carving wood, another species of wood to consider for carving, and color stains to let the wood shine through.

Found Wood... by the Tree...

Where basswood is plentiful this "delema" usually happens at least once a year.  Basswood makes lousy firewood and is seldom used for furniture, so usually you can get a hold of a lot of carving stock just by getting it out of the way.  "I have a whole basswood tree.  What do I do now?"  A couple of times several of us have pooled our resources and split the take for basswood that's under $1/board foot.  Read carefully below because it's sometimes kinder to all concerned to say "Thanks, but no Thanks".  Speaking from experience, harvesting your own basswood (or butternut) is fun and rewarding, but not for the faint of heart.

I'm going to collect a basswood tree (first week of Nov.).  I was wondering how to deal with it?

1.  What size lengths should I cut it into?

2.  Do I get the lengths sawn into boards?How big do I make those?

The base is about 32 inches round ,and the tree itself is about 55ft high.  Any help would be great.Thank You.

Doug Neely

Jan Oegema had a quick reply...

Cut the tree into 6-8' length, some 2"(thick) with the bark on, some 6"x6" and 4"x4".  1 1/4 "boards are great too with bark
Happy Carv'n
Woodbutcher Jan

You are invited to check out my website..

Then Dick Allen had a very detailed response...

1. Probably cut the logs into 104 to 108 inch lengths for milling.  This will allow the finished wood to be cut to 8' lengths and could be hauled in most utility type trailers. The logs will weigh about 2000-3000 lbs each. The logs should also be sealed with something on the cut ends to minimize end checking. One of the commericial products used is Anchor Seal which is a wax base liquid that is painted on with a brush.  If this is not available, paint can be used though several coats may be needed. Any fresh end cuts should be treated also so after milling and the board had been trimmed, the end should be sealed. Fresh cut basswood will weigh about 5 lbs per board foot and after drying will be about 2.3 lbs per board foot. To handle the logs will require at least a heavy duty trailer and some strong backs as well as other equipment.  Most preferably would be someone with logging equipment. If you intend
on making any bark boards, the handler needs to be aware of this intent and extra care needs to be used when handleing the logs because chains and hooks can damage the bark during handling. If the logs are in a northern location they can be left in the log
form until early spring before milling. If they are milled during the winter they need to be piled and stickered to allow drying but thicker wood (4-6 inches) could get surface cracks if the wood is allowed to freeze and thaw during the initial drying. We have had this occur in northern Minnesota and usually wait until early spring for winter cut basswood to mill. This wood is left in an open evironment for several months to allow for air drying. We usually allow the wood to dry over the summer and then relocate the wood to a hayloft in a barn for continued air drying. Some of the 4-5 inch wood can be completed in about 2-3 years. The use of a kiln can improve the turn around time and is often used on 2 inch or less boards.

2. Basswood will spoil very easily if allowed to lay in hot weather. The log will decay internally and will appear as light colored streaks in the wood. As indicated in (1) the logs can be stored during cold weather but should be milled soon after the weather starts changing after winter. For carving you should try to get as much of the wood flat sawn and not quarter sawn. To make a saw pattern, draw a circle and mark a square in the center that will be the heart which is a part as unuseable. Then square of the circle as if you removed a slab from each side. At this point you would determine the size of your thickest pieces and cut accordingly. If you do not intend on making any 4-6 inch wood, be sure to have the mill cut any board at least 1/4-1/2" over sized. This would mean for 1" (4/4) would be sawn as 5/4. This will allow for shrinkage during drying and a finished board would be a full inch. For a 1.5 inch board you would have the board sawn as 7/4 which is equivalent to 1.75 inches thick. Many times defects in the log will help dictate what can be made.

I have been helping John Krantz with carving wood for several years and I can tell you that good finished carving wood is very labor intensive. This week we have been getting orders and wood ready for a coming show this weekend and start again next week for another show.

Dick Allen


When You Carve, Sometimes Life is a Beech

A question on Steamed Beech.

Hi Bill,

Just wanted to say that your latest carving of Jesus' face is magnificent! You have taken your work to another level with this one and I am impressed!  One question, I know what European Beech is, but why is it steamed? Does that reduce the toughness of it or help with the gnarly grain, or ????  For those who don't know Beech, it is often used for workbench tops due to it's very tough, durable surface and interlocking grain patterns.

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to all our American carvers today!

Vic H - Thankful and grateful in Massachusetts

Bill replied with...


I "Googled" "European steamed beech" and found the following info:

Uniform in color and texture, European Steamed Beech is close-grained and wear resistant, takes a wide range of finishes, and sands to a high polish. Customarily white, this wood accomplishes its popular pink and pale brown tones through steaming. European Steamed Beech is frequently used in cabinetry, architectural work, and furniture.  Though heavy and strong, this species is also great for wood bending, carving, whittling, and turnery since it is easy on blades and machinery. Prior to finishing, it is highly recommended that you apply a sealant to the wood to ensure even staining. Failure to do so may lead to a darkened appearance.

Interesting, isn't it!

Blessings and Peace

List Owner

Vic corrected himself, unnecessarily I think...

Hi Bill,

Thanks, I had forgotten that some woods change color when steamed. And, I had not realised that it was so popular for woodworking in general! I suspect it is NOT the same beech as used in benchtops, I jumped to conclusions on the name. (I should know that were likely multiple species of the same general variety!) Sounds like a fun wood to work with, I will have to keep my eyes open for it, although the specialty dealers in New England that I have visited don't seem to carry a lot of
these interesting woods. Thanks again!


Bill came back with pun-ishment...


There is another variety of Beech that I enjoy carving in, though it is VERY hard and dense. It come from the northern tip of Vancouver Island, the Sonova region to be precise. The light brown color is exceptional and the grain consistent and tight.

Invariably, when I carve in this wood, people ask what it is, and I always tell them "this wood is Sonova Beech".



My books are for sale at: http://wwwoodcarver.com/Books/index.html
W.F. Judt,
Email: bjudt at sasktel.net
Website: http://www.wwwoodcarver.com


Colorful Stains

A request from Mike for colored stains and three seperate replies..

I know this has been talked about a lot but...

I do very little staining in different colors but am interested in doing

What I am wanting is the to stain but not cover up the wood (still see the
wood but color also.

Any one know of a good sampler set that they are sellling?

I know you talk about the powder that you mix as you need them?
Thanks for your helps & God bless

Jan is first up..

JEL'D Stain my friend Jel'd stain by WOODCOTE.  By far THE best I've found Comes in umpteen different colours and is easy to
apply and (most important )it does NOT streak.  Made in Portland Oregon Look it up in your browser.
( http://www.woodkote.com/  -  look for the premium colors - Mike B. )

Woodbutcher Jan

Then Joe...

Hi Mike,

http://www.fidder-usa.com are good suppliers of different woodfinishing supplies including powder stains. Soon, I feel, the EPA will have so many restrictions on shipping liquids that powder may be the only type of stain we'll be able to order and have shipped.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop

http://www.thecarvingshop.com [business web site]
http://www.carvingmagazine.com ['Ask Joe' column]

And finally Vic...

I have just seen, for the first time this weekend, a wide variety of stains in semi-transparent oilbase from Cabot in 4 oz sample cans. You can see their website here:  http://www.cabotstain.com/

Click down to interior or exterior stains, and select colors to see the available palette. The 4 oz cans were 4.95 each, so it is not an
inexpensive way to stain a project, but if you only need a small amount of a color, you don't have a lot left over, either.

These are not the powder stains that you were interested in, but offer yet another way to add color to your work.

hope this helps.


OK, Gang, until next issue, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and here's hopin' Santa leaves lots of carving toys under your Christmas tree.  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