Bill Sharp's
Nuts and Bolts of Wood Carving

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Sometime around 26 Jan 1997, Bill Sharp volunteered to provide a short course in carving basics to the participants of the Woodcarver mail list.

This file is the accumulation of the 12 installments that Bill S. sent out. It is compiled and placed into HTML format by Dale Lombardo, ( and Bill Judt, (

Day 1 - Selecting Wood For Carving

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Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 07:47:02 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 1- Nuts and Bolts

I am translating a course given eyeball to eyeball to one that is written, so you will have to bear with me; just a little bit.

The purpose of this course is to answer basic questions to avoid mistakes that could lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction with the art form. By taking this course, it is hoped that the art of woodcarving will be an enjoyable and satisfying experience that will last a lifetime and lead to your own creations that will bring joy to you and to those of whom you wish to share.

Wood is a living material and, because of that simple fact, it inspires us and propels us into an almost religious reverence. It has been that way since the dawn of man. When we select wood for carving, we must look beyond the piece itself and look inside to visualize the final product. I was told once by Harold Enlow (my carving god) that carving is a very simple thing; "all you do is cut away everything that is not the finished piece".

For a beginning carver, the selection of carving wood is simple: basswood, black walnut, white pine, and tupelo. Basswood and white pine for chip carvers; basswood and white pine for bird carvers; basswood, black walnut, and white pine for relief and carvers in the round. Tupalo for decoy carvers (power). The reason for this short list is simple: All of these woods will hold detail, carve relatively easy, and are inexpensive. Tupalo is selected for beginning power carvers because it does not fuzz like some of the other woods. White pine and sugar pine are also good woods for decoy carvers.

Once we progress and become "master" carvers, we begin to do "originals". No more purchased rough-outs or borrowed drawings. We create our own!

Now the selection of wood becomes much more complex. We must consider what we see in our minds eye.

Do not select a high grain wood if you are doing fine detail: The grain will distract from your details. Do not select basswood, white pine or Tupalo if you intend to use a natural or oil finish. These woods are white and not very appealing to the eye. If you intend to paint or stain your carving, then these woods are just fine. The point is: We have to think a little bit more about our finished product before we start with the knife. All woods seem to have a character; look for it!

When selecting carving woods, you have to also consider where the piece will be exhibited: Indoors, outdoors or protected under glass. Oak and redwood seem to stand up well out of doors and basswood and pine work well inside. If the piece is to be handled a lot, we have an additional problem.

For the wood carver, there are many, many, woods to choose from: Fruit woods of all kinds. Citrus woods, and the so-called "nut" woods. Apple, cherry, plum, and pear make excellent carving woods as does lemon, lime and orange. For the real serious carver (architect, religious, or symbolic carvers) the "nut" woods are excellent (black walnut, butternut, and oak are included here). For those of us that do realistic or character carving, bass wood and walnut are the standards.

For carving in the round: Aspen, basswood, black cherry, cottonwood, poplar, white pine, Honduras mahogany, apple, pear, cherry, lemon, lime or orange. For chip carving: Aspen, basswood, butternut, poplar, and white pine. For relief carving and lettering: Aspen, basswood, beech, birch, butternut, cherry, chestnut, cottonwood, elm, mahogany, maple, oak, pine, poplar, and black walnut. For wildlife carving: Basswood, white pine, and Tupalo. For architectural carving: Cedar, cherry, pine, redwood, butternut, oak, and black walnut.

The list of carving woods can be very long and can create a woodbox beyond belief. You can keep it simple if you want to: You can use what's available to you. The choices can almost be limitless. The greats of our craft have been doing this forever. The key is to carve, carve, carve and carve some more. You will be surprised with what you can create from a scrap of "found" wood.

If you are going to dry your own wood: Dry it evenly. Remove the bark, cover the ends (wax, paint, clay or whatever) and store in a dark and controlled temperature area (closets are good). Cracking is caused by uneven drying! Separate the pieces so they don't touch. If you are going to get your wood from the shores of storm swept lakes, streams, or rivers; make sure you dry it well, clean it well (silicon from the shores are tough on blades) and do not use wood gathered from the ocean beaches (the salt in these woods will ruin your blades). Drift woods can provide some of the most interesting carvings you have ever seen and the wood is free!

Tip of the Day: Hardwoods usually drop their leaves in the winter, soft woods do not.

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 2 - Types of Carving

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Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 09:01:06 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 2 - Nuts and Bolts

There are, basically, three types of carving: Chip, Relief, and "In The Round".

Chip carving is, as the name implies, a method of carving that literally removes chips from the wood to form a design or geometric pattern. There are several reasons for the great enjoyment of chip carving. One being that it is the fastest, easiest, and the simplest way to carve and the tools required are simple and few. This way of carving is not only decoreative and attractive, but it is a relatively easy method that anyone can learn and use with beautiful (and very sellable) results. The simple methods and the satisfaction of producing a piece of art appreciated by all has kept chip carving popular for many centuries. Chip carving has been used in Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Russia for centuries. The patterns and designs have passed down through the centuries from country to country and still exist to this very day.

Chip carving is used to decorate household items such as chests, music boxes, spoons, buckets, barrels, furniture and any number of architectural pieces including beams, ceilings, borders and whatever else you can think of that would look pleasing with a border or a design.

The tools required are simple: Two knives, a straight edge, a compass, and a bench hook. I will discuss the knives on a later day. The bench hook is as follows: Select a smooth piece of wood roughly 12 inches by 12 inches by 3/4 inch. Acquire two pieces of wood (sticks) 1 inch by 1 inch by 12 inches. Place the square board in front of you and attach one stick (screw and glue) to the top end to form a wall or edge. Turn the board over and attach the other stick to the bottom edge in the same way. The lower lip (wall or edge) will fit over the edge of your table to hold the board from movng around and the upper rear lip (wall or edge) is used to keep your work piece from moving around as you "Chip". You now have a "Bench Hook". Try it, you will see what I mean.

Relief carving is a method used to raise a design. character, or scene from the background. This two dimensional method has been used for centuries to embellish furniture, walls in churches, mansions, and important places of business. Today we use it for mostly furniture, signs, and wall hangings. The method is simple, but the piece can be very complex. The whole idea is to remove the background enough to raise the foreground. The foreground can be letters, numbers, faces, flowers, or whole scenes.

When considering a relief carving, take into consideration the shadows and light that will play on the piece. The presentation to lights and darks are keys to a good piece. The tools used are mostly gauges and maybe a knife.

Carving in the "round" is the one method that opens the door to every tool you can imagine and almost any wood. As the word implies, in the "round" means that it has three dimensions and, if we desire, we can actually walk around the piece, and enjoy it from all possible perspectives. Those of us that prefer this method of carving have the added benefit of keeping cross grain cutting to a minimum by properly planning the piece. In working two dimension, you do not have that luxury. You will have cross grain!

We carve fish, birds, animals and, of course humans. The end product is limited only by ones imagination.

There are, in my opinion, four types of carvings under this umbrella we choose to call in the "round": Primitive, restrictive, caricature and realistic.

Primitive, and this does not mean uncivilized or dimwitted, means folk art or pieces that represent a real person or thing, but may only be suggestive shapes. Walnut is a great "primitive" wood.

The restrictive carving is one that starts with a "rough-out" or someone else's carving. You are limited to the outlines you are given. You can take off, but you are allowed very little deviation from the piece as supplied (unless your goal is not to reporduce a facsimile of the original). The originator has the edge because he (or she) had to good fortune to be the original decision maker.

The caricature type carving, of course, allows all latitudes. You may start out planning a man and end up a boy. You may start a bear and end up with a dog. The possibilities are limitless. You can have all kinds of abnormalities and still produce a successful piece. Big eyes, no nose, a lopsided ear or a body that is too short are not shortcomings.

If you are doing realistic, you have only one big restriction: It must look real. You would never start with a piece of wood cut to the exact ddimensions of the finished piece, but rather a cut that would allow for your own interpretation as you progress. You are restricted from the standpoint of real, but not from the standpoint of latitude, i.e., it may start out as an eagle, but end up a hawk. You have the latitude.

In my opinion, carving in the round is the most portable and the one method you can do almost anywhere at anytime. The demands from the other methods do not lend themselves to this easy portability. I actually have tried all three.

Each method has something to offer for many different reasons. The appeal of carving seems to be never ending and one that is continually satisfying.

Tip of the Day - A board foot is a piece of wood 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch and contains 144 cubic inches. A linear board foot is twelve inches long with any width and thickness. Carvers buy wood by the "board" foot. Carpenters buy wood by the linear foot, i.e., 6 linear feet of two by four at x amount per linear foot or 12 linear feet of 2 by 12 at y amount linear foot. Carpenters pay by size. Carvers pay by the volume.

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 3 - Choose Your Poison

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Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 07:37:25 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 3 - Nuts and Bolts

I should probably have changed the title of today's chat to something more fitting such as: Choose Your Happiness, or Choose Your Joy, or, perhaps, Choose Your Vocation. Next time around I will change it.

I have no real reasons I can give you for selecting one method or style of carving over another. Carving is a very personal thing and there are very high emotions linked with each. However, I can offer a few tidbits of information that might be helpful.

Whether you choose Chip carving, Relief carving, or in the Round; the very first thing you have to do is WASH YOUR HANDS! Dirty hands can ruin an otherwise excellent carving. The oil from your hands is ten times more destructive when you have dirt mixed with it and it will show in your finished carving. Dirt and oil will also effect your success when using a finishing product. No one and I mean no one, likes a dirty carving (try entering a dirty carving in a contest and you will find out what I mean). I know it's almost impossible to keep your carvings squeaky clean, but by frequently washing your hands you can minimize the problem. You can, when your carving is finished, clean it up a little by judicious use of your blade eraser (your knife) and then finish it off with a light toothbrush scrub with laundry detergent (I find laundry detergent works better than dish).

Chip carving is probably the simplest and least expensive of the three carving methods. The total cost for tools (minimum) would probably run around 50 dollars and you could be well on your way. Books on the subject are as near as your library and are free! When I say simple, I don't mean to imply that Chip carving is any less gratifying, satisfying, or less lucrative than any of the others. Projects can be complex and difficult. I only mean that with the knowledge of three basic cuts, a carver can turn out a good carving that is pleasing to the carver as well as pleasing to others. I know Chip carvers that were able to sell their very first carving (I'm sorry to say, I wasn't able to sell my first carving).

Geometric patterns and designs are easily transferred to your stock for cutting and away you go. The first cuts you make will be clumsy and crude, but in a very short time you will be on your way to an exciting method of carving and decorating. The three cuts you need are Dreischnitts, Sechsschnitts and Stab (what a smart guy I am!). I threw these in just to keep you awake. I will talk about the tools for Chip carving on a later day.

There are many books available for this type of carving and I personally recommend two: "How To Carve Wood" "A book of projects and techniques" by Richard Butz and "Chip Carving Patterns" by Wayne Barton. Both of these books are available from Schiffer Books or Woodcraft.

It's a toss up as to which one comes next: Relief or Round. Each has its own merits and difficulties. Relief can be large, but so can Round. Relief can be small, but so can Round. Relief can be difficult and challenging, but so can Round. The key, I believe, is personal preference and self satisfaction. There are, however, a couple of minor differences that could effect the choice: Most Relief carvings, in progress, are not easily carved "on the run", and Round carving can be done with only a knife, but Relief carving cannot. (However, I might mention here, in Germany and many of the other European countries knives are never used for carving anything). Try both styles, they're fun.

I can't recommend too many books for Relief carving other than Richard Butz's book that I mentioned prior and a new book by Georg Keilhofer. I believe Keilhofer's book is titled "Basic Relief Carving".

After you choose a style of carving, I suggest you start small (and not too complex), use only basic tools , and, if at all possible, join a carving club (the next best thing of course, is to stay in contact with carvers on the Web). When you chip, try some wall decorations, jewelry boxes, letter openers or some of the other basic pieces. When you carve in Relief, try some of the same things, but try to keep whatever you do about picture frame size.

If you happen to choose "In The Round", keep it small to start, but not too small. I suggest something about 6 to 9 inches. This keeps it to a good size to hold on to or, if you choose to bench carve, a piece that will be easier to hold to the bench with small holding apparatus.

For those of you "Gray Hairs" out there (like me) that may be having problems with your hands because of arthritis or other such maladies, you may want to try the Relief type carving. Wielding a knife requires an extreme use of one's hand and finger muscles. Relief carving, on the other hand, is generally done by pushing with the palm or the whole arm or using a mallet. Knife use is minimal.

Whichever style you choose, take it easy as you carve and learn. Relax every 20 to 30 minutes. With fatigue comes mistakes and with mistakes comes exasperation and exasperation can lead to failure. Keep at it. You'll enjoy it forever. I guarantee it!

To finish the day, I'll make one small comment: It makes no difference what style carving you are into or what tools you use. Knives, gouges, burners, and power carvers, are all just tools we use to gain a final result that is first pleasing to us and, hopefully pleasing to others. We are all carvers and occupy a distinct and honorable place in the community of artists and creative professionals.

Tip of the Day - If you feel yourself working hard and pushing to your physical limitations, get out the Band-Aids, you may be cruising for an accident. Take a break! It's time to SHARPEN YOUR TOOLS.!

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 4 - Selecting Your Carving Tools

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Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 08:06:18 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 4 - Nuts and Bolts

Today's chat will be just a little more difficult because I don't have you in front of me, I don't have a way to show you what I have in my hand, and I don't (yet) have a way of transmitting pictures to you. Therefore, we will have to make do. I'll ask you to get a piece of paper, a straight edge of some kind and a pencil. Here we go!

There are, at last count, better than 200 different gouges available (blade shape and shank shape) from the various woodworking stores. When carvers start talking about tools, you will hear some of the strangest nomenclature you have ever heard. I'll try to make it simpler for you.

For those of us that use palm tools (short gauges about 5" long and driven only by the hand) the choice is simpler: There are only a couple dozen sweeps* available. And can only be obtained in a straight* shank or a bent* shank. Spoon* and other shank bends are not very common. Be that as it may, when I talk about gouges, the comments and descriptions will generally fit palm tools also.

A woodcarver's tool (chisel or gouge) is generally lighter in weight and a little more compact than a carpenters'. The length ranges from 8" to about 12" with a norm of about 9 inches. The shank of the tool can be straight, bent at the handle, bent about an inch back from the tip (spoon gouge), or bent in the middle. I have also seen them bent left or right. They can have a gentle bend or a sharp bend. The sweep of a gouge is nothing more than a wordmeaning depth of cut i.e., a #1 sweep is essentially flat, whereas a # 11 sweep is a deep gouge. The number #1 will take less wood out per cut than a #11. The numbering system is still with us, but most of the suppliers have dropped the term "sweep" in favor of the more understandable terms such as flat, shallow or deep. The important thing to remember is that the lower the number, the smaller amount of wood that can be removed at one "sweep" or cut.

Straight gouges have straight shanks with parallel sides. A gouge that cuts a "v" is called a "V" tool or "Parter". A gouge that tapers down from the tip to the handle is called a "fishtail" or "spade" (good for inside corners). A gouge that sweeps down and then up from the tip (like a spoon) is, strange as it may seem, called a spoon gouge. A deep "u" shaped gouge of about 2mm is called a "veiner" and a deep "u" shaped gouge of about 3mm is called a "fluter". A "firmer" is a flat gouge (this differs from a carpenters chisel in that it is sharpened on both top and bottom to avoid digging in).

Now we get to use our pencil and paper. Draw two parallel lines about Omega" apart. The left one about 2" long and the right one about 21/4" long with the tops even. Connect the bottom of the lines. This is a "skew".

Now draw a rectangle with the long edges horizontal. Remove the top line. This is a "Macaroni". Look at it as a kind of box end. If we draw the same thing, but round off the inside corners a little, we have what is called a "fluteroni". Thank God, these two are not very common as carving tools today, although they are still sold by many stores. THEY ARE REALLY TOUGH TO SHARPEN.

There are excellent tools made in the United States, Germany, England, and Switzerland, but, in my most humble opinion, the very best are Swiss made. However, when it comes to palm tools I like the US tools.

All good gouges are made of a high carbon steel. I am not aware of any gouges made in stainless steel.

The numbering system for gouges used to mean something, but now days there are more numbers than I can even mention. I think you can be relatively safe in referring to the numbering system from about #1 through about #17 as accurate and referring to the original meaning of "sweep" (the amount of wood that can be removed at one pass). However, you are probably safer by supplying the size and style when ordering.

Sizes can be determined by measuring across the edges i.e., for a "V" tool, measure across the "canyon" or tips. For a deep or shallow gouge, from tip to tip across the cutting edge. When you order give this measurement in either mm or inches. Most prefer mm. Don't forget to tell them whether you want palm or regular gouges.

Now we come to knives: I prefer a pocket knife to a bench knife, but I recommend a bench knife if you are a beginner. Once you get your feet wet, you can make a more intellectual choice. Most carvers (the best) use bench knives.

Buy only High-Carbon-Steel blades (stainless will not hold an edge, but they sure look good) for carving. High-carbon-steel blades are relatively easy to sharpen and will hold a good cutting edge for a long time. The problem with HCS is that it will tarnish and rust if you don't take care of them. There are many, many blade shapes available, but if you are a beginner, I recommend a knife blade of about an 11/2" to 2" long that is flat on the cutting edge with the back of the blade sloping gently towards the tip (Wharncliffe). If you want to add a knife, then get a "detailer". This knife has a blade about 1" long with a flat cutting edge and a back that is a straight line from the handle to the tip forming a very sharp point (Carver). If you are adding the final knife; add a "finisher" blade. This blade is about 11/2" long with the cutting edge sloping up to the tip and the back sloping slightly towards the tip (Spey). This knife is used to get into those little places where the whiskers hide. These three blade shapes will handle almost all situations in which you may find yourself. Knifes can vary in price from 10 dollars to over 100 dollars. The more expensive ones are usually just prettier.

I use a pocket knife for many reasons, some personal, and some practical. I get three knives in one package and I can carry my knife in my pocket when I travel by air.

The most personal and private tool in your tool box is going to be your knife. Whatever you do, get the one that fits you, not your friend or your next teacher. Of course, as you progress in the carving world, you will find that you will have to have every knife known to man. Every carver I know has many, many more knives than he will ever use in a life time, me included.

What your tool box will look like depends on your own style and personality. To quote one of my favorite teachers: "The advantage of a variety of tools is that some cuts can be made smoothly and of consistent shape with a single pass of the tool; the disadvantage is that you have that many more tools to maintain and must spend that much more time selecting the right one for each cut."

Tip of the Day - Cut the fingers out of those old leather gloves around the house and use them use them as a thumb protectors.

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 4 - Comments...

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Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 14:46:33 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Comments-Day 4 - Nuts and Bolts

For those of you that are keeping a jaundiced eye on my Nuts and Bolts chats, my most humble apologies. I forgot give you a description of a "bench" knife.

A bench knife is a knife that has a fixed blade, a wood or composite handle, and has an overall length of approximately 6 inches. These knives can be very elaborate or plain. Price follows beauty.

To Jeff Ertel: I actually use two knives everyday and I usually carrry at least one with me. My primary knife is a "Kutmaster" made many years ago in Utica, New York. It's handle is 3 5/8" long. It has 3 blades that I have reshaped a little to be representative of the 3 bench knives I recommend in Nuts and Bolts #4. I'm not sure if these people still make pocket knives, I don't think they do. My second knife (one I use when I'm doing little people) is an "Old Timer" #34OT that is still in there product line. The blades are modified the same as the Kutmaster. The handle on the Old Timer is 3 1/4" long. These tools are in my primary tool box. In my BIG tool box I have 13 pocket knives and 10 bench knives. The list continues to grow!

I too have a set of Miller Falls gouges. I use the bent V and the 5mm everyday. I prefer the Harmen palm tools.

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 5 - The Basic Tool Kit

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Date: Sat, 1 Feb 1997 09:02:18 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 5 - Nuts and Bolts

    The following is a basic tool kit:

  1. Two knives
  2. # 9 10 mm gouge
  3. # 9 5 mm gouge
  4. #12 3 mm "V" gouge
  5. #11 3 mm gouge
  6. # 8 2 mm gouge
  7. Coping saw
  8. 6" steel ruler
  9. Pencil
  10. Honing stone
  11. Leather strop
  12. Two leather slips
  13. Buffing compound
  14. Yellow carpenter's glue
  15. Carving glove
  16. Thumb protectors
  17. Tool box

    This is a basic tool box, but one that will allow you to carve 2 to 10 inch figures, animals, birds, and fish, in the "round".

  18. Knives - One knife for roughing out and doing most of the shaping (Wharncliffe type blade) and one knife as a detailer (Carver type blade).
  19. #9 10mm gouge - Used almost exclusively for roughing out the carving. You can take off an extreme amount of wood in a very short time and it's easy to use.
  20. #9 5 mm gouge - Used for eye sockets, ears, along the nose, and other areas where a knife will not work.
  21. #12 3 mm "V" gouge - Used for outlining, making creases, separating areas, and hair.
  22. #11 3 mm gouge (called "deep" or veiner) - used around facial features; animals, fish, and birds included.
  23. #8 2 mm gouge - detail gouge for those small, sensitive cuts (ears, nose, nostrils,eyes).
  24. Coping saw - Roughing out.
  25. 6" steel ruler - 1/16" along one edge and 1mm along the other.
  26. Pencil - soft #2 or softer.
  27. Honing stone - Choose the one you like best to hone your tools (we'll talk about this tomorrow).
  28. Leather strop - Tomorrow.
  29. Two leather slips - Tomorrow.
  30. Buffing compound - Tomorrow.
  31. Yellow carpenter's glue - If you break it, don't throw it away, fix it!
  32. Carving glove - Use steel net and/or Kevlar. This is the cheapest insurance you can buy.
  33. Thumb protectors - Thumb protection when you are using the "pull cut"(Day 11).
  34. Tool box - Or very large pockets.

If you are a Chip carver, you can do away with the gouges, slips, and thumb protectors, but add a "bench hook" and away you go. The knives are as follows: The number one knife is a cutting knife about 6'' long with blade about an 1" long and Omega" wide. The cutting edge is flat with the back gradually sloping down to the tip. The number two knife is stab knife that removes no wood at all. The blade on the number two knife is roughly the same size as the number one knife, but you push it into the wood (no wood is removed) rather than slice into the wood. The cutting edge is very much like a "skew".

If you are a Relief carver, you can do away with the knives, glove, and thumb protectors. Double the sizes of gouges and add some bent ones. Also add two spoon gouges; one "v" type and one #9. Add a mallet (I prefer the resilient one) and also a bench hook.

Tip of the Day - Use plastic tubing to protect your gouges. Omega" ID x 5/8" OD works well for palm tools.

Keep those chips flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 6 - Caring For Your Tools

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Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 08:38:00 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 6 - Nuts and Bolts

First of all, I must state, I am not an expert on sharpening tools. There are books that cover sharpening only and I encourage you all to read at least one. The reason for sharp tools cannot be emphasized enough. THE MOST IMPORTANT ingredient for success in carving is having sharp tools. Carving with dull tools can be a frustrating experience, to say the least. Ajudge will spot a carving done with dull tools in a minute. I can recall one of my first classes with a professional carver: He asked us all if we were satisfied with our tools and sure of their sharpness before we were to commence the class. I thought my tools were the sharpest tools known to man and was ready to prove it. Boy! Did I get a rude awakening. When my instructor showed me how to sharpen and sharpened a few of my "good" ones, the difference in cutting wood was phenomenal. I could hear the blade sing as it cut! There's the key! Listen to you tools. They will, I guarantee, tell when they are sharp as well as when they are dull. So, with all that said, we will proceed with MY method of keeping sharp tools. You will develop your own as you grow in the art form.

There are, basically, three steps to sharp tools: 1. Whetting , 2. Honing, and 3. Stropping. The ONLY time we "grind" is when we have broken a tool or need to reshape one we have. Be careful when you grind not to ruin the blade with too much generated heat. Water never hurt a tool, but too much heat (from grinding) will do it quick.

Whetting is generally done with a "Washita" type stone (a yellow or gray natural stone). Honing is usually done on a "Arkansas" stone (usually the white one). Stropping is done on a "strop stick" or a powered stop of some kind. For gouges, you will also need a set of "slip" stones (usually Arkansas or ceramic) to get to the inside.

For my own sharpening, I have the following: Grinder, powered strop, strop stick, buffing wheel, leather slips, and diamond honing stone. My grinder is a standard bench grinder with "medium" on one end and "fine" on the other. I don't use it very much, because I am not very good at holding a blade level when I am thinning or shaping. I use a home-made unit that consists of a 5" piece of circular _" plywood with "stick-on" sanding discs (fine) and a º" mandrel. I have discs cemented on both sides so I can do both sides of the blade with the sanding surface turning away from the blade edge. If you have a reversing drill motor or drill press, you need a sanding surface only on one side (reverse the motor to do the other side). This system allows me to hold the whole blade at a shallow angle and shape the entire blade at one time. Be careful! You still have to be aware of the heat generated so as not to burn your blade. Once I have shaped the blade the way I want (or gouge), I can then hone. I use a diamond hone mounted on a piece of wood (about _" thick) with a handle on one end. I use a "fine" hone. The size of the diamond hone is 2" x 6". With this diamond hone you can take off a lot of metal, and you will have a hard time wearing it out (Harold Enlow told me he has worn one out, but I haven't, in fact, it cuts better the older it gets). As an aside: The hone will remain essentially flat and you use no lubricant. To clean it, you just wash it off.

When the blade is honed, I will then go to my power strop if I home, if not then to the leather stick strop. My power hone is, again, a home-made unit. It's a piece of _" (circular), 6" in diameter, plywood with leather glued on both sides (leather is inside out) mounted on a mandrel run from an old washing machine motor. I use a belt and pulley system to drive it. The motor turns at about 1700 RPM and the small-to-large pulley arrangement drops this to about 600 RPM. I use the power strop to remove the "wire-edge" and polish the blade. I use "ZAM" (3" stick) as a buffing compound. If I'm sharpening a gouge or V tool, I use one of my leather slips (2" x 4" with edges formed to fit inside a V tool or gouge) that I have "charged" with ZAM. Works for me! If I'm at my bench carving, every so often I will stop and strop on my "strop stick". My strop stick is a piece of leather 21/4" wide and 7" long glued to a piece of wood with hand holds on each end. The leather is glued with wrong side out. I tried it with the smooth side out, but I found it would not hold the ZAM without a binder of some kind (oil, water, detergent, etc.,). With the rough side out, it holds the compound very well.

When you are done sharpening your tool, give it a test. There are a couple of ways you can do this: 1. Drag the blade along your thumb nail (as though you were going to cut a very thin slice off it). If it catches, it is sharp. If it glides across the nail, it is not. 2. Cut across the end grain of a piece of wood. If your cut is smooth and shiny, it's ready. If the cut is dull and white looking, its back to the drawing board.

My technique for honing a blade, gouge, and/or V tool, is pretty much the same for all. I try to cut a very thin slice off the surface of my diamond hone as I push my tool along its length. For a gouge, I am slowly rotating as I push. For the V tool, I do one side and then the next as I watch the bottom of the V so as not to form a "hook" or "cut" in the bottom of the V. Try to keep the edges in line with each other as you hone. As you hone the tool, bounce the cutting edge into a piece of wood to break off the burrs. This allows you to better see the cutting edges as you hone. The "V" tool is the hardest tool to sharpen next to the Marconi. My first V tool was 5" long when I started and 3" long when I finished. I do not do any honing with power. I do it all by hand. It takes a little longer to hone this way, but the diamond hone makes the job easy. By the way, if you buy a diamond hone; make sure it's the one without holes in it. The one with holes in it does not lend itself well to sharpening small tools. When you use the leather slips, you charge them with the buffing compound the same as you do on the leather strop. Pull the tool towards you to smooth the inside as desired.

When all of your tools are sharp, all you need do is to touch them up on your leather strop. You'll only have to go to the power strop or diamond hone when the cutting edge starts to round over.

Finally, find a good place to store your tools and protect them. I have two tool boxes, one for everyday and one if I want to show off. All of my blades on my gouges are covered with plastic tubing. All my bench knives have leather covers. My pocket knives are in a separate box with a small, slightly oiled cloth. My everyday tool box is a fishing tackle box, my once in awhile box is a large carpenters box (plastic, Sears). I also have a travel tool box that is an old wooden pencil box with a leather handle on it that I bought at a flea market.

Tip of the Day - If you cut relatively soft woods (bass, pine), make the angle of the cutting edge about 15 degrees and long. If you are cutting predominantly hard woods then make the angle 20 to 25 degrees. Your tools will cut better.

Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 7 - Patterns

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Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 09:08:08 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 7 - Nuts and Bolts

Before we launch into today's chat, let's talk a little about purchased rough-outs. Some are good, with excellent instructions while others are not-so-good with little or no instructions. Pick and choose the best you can, but before you buy make sure you know if instructions are included. If possible, ask the grade of the wood being used. If you buy raw stock by mail, find out the grade of wood before you buy. Acceptable grades are usually listed in the catalogs, if not, ask!

In our little chat for the day we will discuss pattern sources, patterns, transferring patterns, and pattern layout.

Sources for patterns are literally everywhere. Every magazine, newspaper, and book may have something you can use. If you can't find a profile and front on, don't worry about it. The profile is the most important. When you find a picture you like, cover it with tracing paper and trace around it. Keep the original picture if you feel you may need it as a reference later. Almost any photograph can be used to make a pattern if you can see detail enough to trace around it. Golf magazines are great for profiles and Ranger Rick magazine is great for animals and birds.

You can enlarge or shrink a pattern drawing by using the square to square or grid method: Draw squares (or apply a grid) over the original drawing and then transfer up or down with larger or smaller squares on another drawing i.e., if you want to double the size then go from º" to Omega" or Omega" to 1" etc., etc.. You can then sketch the lines from the original drawing where they pass through the squares of the original drawing onto the corresponding squares on the second drawing. An easier method (the one I use) is to use a copy machine to increase or decrease the size. We have a print shop close to us that charges 5 cents a copy with a minimum of 25 cents. All this system takes is a little time.

Once you have your drawing you can make your pattern. Some use tracing paper to transfer the pattern to the wood through carbon paper. Others will glue the pattern to the wood and cut around it. Still others will make a cardboard cutout and trace around it. I prefer the latter.

Once you have a finished pattern you come to one of the most important steps: The pattern layout. You MUST consider the "way of the grain" for your strongest direction. All of those appendages that are somewhat delicate must be oriented along the line of greatest strength. If you have several heading in many directions, you may want to use multiple pieces glued together to form a lattice work of strength directions.

May I suggest that you cut your blank slightly larger than your pattern to allow a little flexibility in your final product. There may be some changes suggested as you carve and you may well need the room to incorporate these changes. Cutting a little wide of the mark will also keep you from being so inflexible, by your close tolerances, that your carvings come out somewhat square.

In my own carvings, I insist on the face being placed so the grain runs directly down through the head and neck. If need be, I carve the head from a separate piece and glue it on later (this also allows me the latitude to change the direction of interest i.e., face left, right, up or down). If you doubt what I am telling you, try to carve a face with the grain running from the nose to the back of the head-----GOOD LUCK!

Tip of the Day - Try to buy wood that has not been sanded. Sanding leaves little particles of sanding material that is hard on those tools you have just sharpened.

Willis (Bill) Sharp

P.S. OOPS! - I had originally planned on having two days for patterns and rought-outs, but in written form the data is somewhat condensed. Therefore, there will be only 12 days of Nuts and Bolts. Day 7 covers both 7 and the original 8.

Day 8 - Short Course In Anatomy For Carvers

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Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 07:41:00 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 8 - Nuts and Bolts

The following is a very short course in anatomy for carvers covering both the human form and animals. It is in a general format and all of the rules are meant to be broken. This chat is meant as a guide only. In some small way, perhaps, we can avoid all of those flat-faced, square, carvings of both humans and animals.


I will start with a short animal course. It has to be short and it has to be general simply because there are approximately 12,000 animals (mammals) in this world and to do more than generalize is next to impossible.

No animal has a straight backbone. The spine will curve down from the head to the tail. Almost without exception, the bodies of animals will be about twice as long as it is wide i.e., it will fit into a horizontally drawn rectangle (without the head, neck, and legs).

The ribcage of most animals is the largest part of the animal and takes up a half or more of the animal bulk and, usually, the forelegs are shorter than the rear legs.

Most all animals will walk on their "fingers" and "toes" rather than on their "hands and feet". Most animals cannot retract their claws (exception is the cat family, except the Cheetah).

To visualize the animal nose, take your own nose and turn it up until the nostrils point forward.

Generally speaking, all animals (humans excluded) have ears that move continually. When you carve, express this movement. It will make your carvings more interesting. To visualize the look of the animal ear, take a toilet paper tube and cut one end off at a sharp diagonal and the other end a short diagonal. The short side is the head side.

Most animal eyes have the appearance of slanting up from the inside out i.e., from the nose to the ear, the eye slants up.

When you carve animals, try to avoid static positions. Allow the ears to bea little different in position. Don't treat animal legs as table legs. Allow the legs to be placed a little different from one another. These slight adjustments will allow your carvings to come alive.


We will begin with the general proportions of the classic male and female figure.

Both male and females are 8 heads high: From the top of the head to the chin is one head. From the chin to the breastbone (direct line from the armpits) is the second head. The third head is from the breastbone to the navel. The fourth head is from the navel to the crotch, and the fifth head is from the crotch to the middle of the upper leg. The sixth head is from the middle of the upper leg to the knee. The seventh head is from the knee to the calf and the final head is from the calf to the toes. From the armpit to the elbow is one head and from the elbow to the wrist is one head. From the wrist to the tip of the fingers is approximately 3/4 of a head.

The basic difference between the male and female figure (besides the obvious) is that the female's head is usually smaller (and therefore the figure is shorter), the shoulders are narrower and the hips are wider

The change in body proportions for children is four heads for a 1 year old, six heads for a 7 year old and seven and one half heads for a teenager.

The "old" method of checking the body proportions is that a body will fit perfectly into a circle if you lie on your back and with your navel as center spread your arms out and up and your legs wide apart. The circle will touch the finger tips of each hand and the sole of each foot. A second method was theorized that if you are standing with your feet together and your arms outspread at shoulder height to form a cross, you will fit perfectly into a square.

Now we will be a little more specific and talk about the head for both male and female. The eyes are halfway between the top of the head and the chin. If we divide the distance between the hairline and the chin: The eyebrows and the top of the ears is 1/3 the distance from the hairline. The bottom of the nose and ears are 1/3 again from the eyebrows. From the bottom of the nose to the chin is the final 3rd. If we divide the distance from the tip of the nose to the chin again by thirds: The first third covers the distance from the bottom of the nose to the center of the mouth. The second third covers from the center of the mouth to the center of the chin and the final third covers the from the center of the chin to the bottom of the chin.

If we divide the head into 5ths from side to side (from ear to ear): it is 1/5 from the side of the head to the side of the eye. The eye itself is the second 5th. >From the inside corner of one eye to the inside corner of the other is another 5th. A 5th for the second eye and a 5th from the outside corner of the eye to the other side of the head is the final 5th. The corners of the mouth fall directly beneath the center of the eyes. The base of the nose (nostril flare) is one eye width.

The basic difference between the male and female is that the female head is more rounded and not as squared off as a male. The upper lip of the male is narrower than a female and hairs in the eyebrows are more evident in the male than the female. The changes in the hairline as we grow older is much more noticeable in the male than in the female. The size of the head, between the ears, is usually smaller for the female.

For children, the facial area is smaller and the cranium extends out further in the back. Most children's noses will turn up on the end and the differences between male and female features is less defined.

Now that we have the "boiler-plate" out of the way, I will talk a little about carving the human figure and more specifically, the proper head.

Stand on a chair and look down on a friend, neighbor, your wife or one of your kids. Draw an imaginary line from the tip of one ear to the tip of the nose. Then another line from the other ear to the tip of the nose. You will see a 90 degree angle. What I am telling you is that the face is rounded completely from the tip of the nose all the way around to the ears. There is not a flat spot anywhere. Look at your own model (your face) and you will not see one flat plain. Round your head!

If you stand alongside your model and look at the profile you will see that the upper lip (where it joins the nose) starts in the middle of that nose. In other words, a full one half of the nostril flare is behind this upper lip line. You will also notice that the dental mound (that portion of the skull that holds your teeth) is rounded all the way around the mouth and the dental mound itself will protrude a little further out on a female head than on a male head. The upper lip is usually sticking further out than the lower lip to allow for a normal "overbite".

Now look at the position of the ear. The front of the ear is an extension of the back of the jaw. In other words the front of the ear starts at the very end of the jaw line. The front of the ear and the jaw are exactly in the center of the head. The ear will slant a little back from front to rear.

If you look at the profile of your finished head, you should be able to see the eyemound, eye and the nostril of the nose, but not the far eye. If you don't see the nostril, the bottom of the nose is too flat and needs work. If you see the opposite eye, the eye sockets are not deep enough or the face is too flat. Round those corners, round the face. You should be able to draw a smooth curve from the tip of one ear over the cheekbone and over the tip of the nose and on around to the other ear. If you are doing a caricature, you may not be able to do this, but your head should still not have any square corners, unless, and this is a big unless, the carving is designed that way.

Let me say a couple of words on carving hands. Hands and fingers are not square. The tips of the fingers, the joints of the fingers and the palm of the hand form smooth curves from finger to the next. If we start at the tips and draw a line from tip to tip we will inscribe an arc. From the first knuckle to first knuckle we form and arc and so on. The top of the thumb (as it lies along side the hand) cuts the arc formed by the first joint of the fingers from the palm. The fingers of the hand ARE NOT the same length. The "pinkie" is the shortest, the "pointer" is next, the ring finger is next, and the middle finger is longest. Please, no squared off fingers.

Now, all that I have told you so far, is nothing more than guidelines. All rules are meant to be broken and, in the case of the human figure, it happens everyday and in every way. As far as I know there is no ideal human figure in existence. Of course, we violate the guidelines on purpose whenever we do caricatures.

When we do caricatures we represent the human form, but we distort it to get a story told or to make a point. In other words, to have fun with it. When we do caricature, we will usually set the body height to 5 to 6 heads rather than the 8 in the classic form. We will distort features and forms, but we will still stay within the confines of a "good" form.

When you do caricatures, keep the general rules in mind to avoid distortions that distract from the figure and upset sensibilities. If the subject does not convey the general characteristics of the classic form, the eye of the observer (or potential buyer) will reject it out of hand. He or she may not even know why they do not like it. It's a little like doing an arrangement of fruit or painting a picture and using an even number of pieces in the art piece. Observers will reject without knowing exactly why. The reason is quite simple: In nature, very rarely does anything grow or exist in even groups. We like the regimen of nature even though it may be subconscious.

I cannot tell you how many heads I have done that are flat faced and how many bodies I have done that are square. Round, round, round and then round it again. Take off those corners!

I have not, in this little chat, talked about those little things like the hanging of clothing and those mean little creases we don't know where to place, but maybe after I finish the Dailies, I will.

Tip of the Day - If your a realistic or caricature carver: Find yourself a mirror and use it. Your model works cheap and is extremely good looking.

Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 9 - Finish Your Carving

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Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 08:56:34 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: (Fwd) Day 9 - Nuts and Bolts

Today we will talk about finishing your masterpiece.

Step one, without question, should be to clean up your carving. Look for all those fuzzies, unwanted tool marks and whatever else detracts from a "professional" looking carving. Take out your finishing tools and clean it up. When all the wood working is done, make sure it is clean. If it isn't, get out the toothbrush and detergent. Once your carving is clean and dry you are now ready to finish.

All of the following is what I do and what I use when finishing my own carvings. I suppose there are as many ways to finish a carving as there are carvers and no one way is best for everyone. Most of the products I use are those that I am comfortable with, and those that give ME good results. I guess what I am trying to say is, what I use has worked well for me and, perhaps, will work well for you.

On a carving I intend to paint, I will use either acrylic paint in the tube (artist.) or in a small bottle (craftsman) or oil paint in the tube (artist). The choice of acrylic or oil is a personal one. If I can stand the wait, I will always use oil. If I'm in a rush, I use acrylic. I use oil because I like the smooth application and the rich colors. I get a much smoother finished product with oil.

I use three sable brushes, one small (0), a medium (1), and a large (3). I use a Omega" flat sable brush for mixing anything and everything. I use artist's tube oil (Grumbacher or Winsor & Newton), tube acrylic (same), or bottled acrylic (Creamcoat by Delta).

The first step in finishing (after cleanup) is to seal the wood. I don't use a deep seal. I only use a strong enough sealer to control the bleeding of colors and the absorption of color into the end grain. I use half and half. Half clear shellac and half alcohol. Some people dip their carvings, but (being a little frugal) I will paint the sealer on. I start from the top and go down to avoid over saturation at any one place. My carvings are dry enough to paint within the hour.

When I paint, I paint with a wash. In other words, I thin my paint to a water-like consistency. For oil, I use turpentine as a thinner. For acrylic, I use water.

I will use a "stiffer" paint for the eyes or any other part of the carving I want to stand out.

Make sure you paint every part of the carving. If you miss a small spot, that spot will be much darker than any other because the antique mixture will soak into that spot much more than the surrounding area. Check your carving for full coverage.

The acrylic paint is dry and ready to antique in a couple of hours. The oil takes a couple of weeks.

The reason for the antique is to subdue the colors and make them a little more realistic and less "plastic". I use linseed oil and artists burnt umber. The mix is about one baby food jar plus one quarter inch of oil color (burnt umber). If its too dark or too light, just add to or subtract from the amount of oil. Make SURE that the burnt umber is mixed thoroughly with the linseed oil.

I let the carving dry for two or three days before I apply a light coating of a furniture paste wax. A light buff and it's ready to go.

If I am finishing a carving that is to be kept natural, I still seal and then apply a coating of linseed oil. I might tint the linseed oil a little, depending on the natural color of the wood I am using, and the impact I want to make. In the past I have even taken camphor wood (a light colored wood) and tinted it a light lavender to achieve the result I wanted. After I have applied the linseed oil, I may call it finished or, depending on what I am looking for, I will apply a good paste wax to finish the carving.

Tip of the Day - Imagine a flight of stairs made from a single piece of wood that has the grain running up the stairs. The front of each step will be the end grain and the top of the each step will be "with" the grain. If you intend to paint each step a different color, paint from the top down so that the different colors do not migrate into the end grain and "dirty" up the next color (as it would if you painted from the bottom up). You run into the same problem if you are painting from a coat to pants with a distinct cut line at dividing point between the two. Paint the coat first! In other words, if you are painting the clothes on a carving: Paint from the highest level to the lowest level. Paint the collar first at the tie, the tie, then the coat, then the back of the shirt collar, then the shirt and then the pants. Follow the pants with the shoes and last, the socks. Once again, in short form: paint from the highest level to the lowest level.

Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp


Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 10 - The Many Cuts For Carvers

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Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 07:40:34 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 10 - Nuts and Bolts

There are only three cuts that you should be making with your knife. For accuracy, safety, and complete control in your carving, your training with the knife should include a time to learn these cuts thuroughly.

The first cut is called a "push " or "lever" cut. This cut is made by holding the handle in your fingers and allowing your thumb of your opposite hand to become a fulcrum at the back edge of the knife blade. Keep the thumb in position (on the back of the blade) and pull back with your other hand (usually the right). In essence, you are levering off slices of wood. It will feel odd for awhile, but it is the cut of choice for the best control.

The second cut is called a "paring" or "pull" cut. This cut is the same cut you use when you peel potatoes or apples. Hold the carving in your left hand, place your right thumb on the bottom of the piece and curl your fingers (of the right hand) towards you as you slice away a piece of wood. Keep your thumb out of the way! If keeping your thumb out of the way is too uncomfortable, use a thumb guard and stop the stroke when touching the guard. I prefer the thumb guard and have not cut my thumb....yet!

The final knife cut is the "stop" cut. This is the cut you make when you want to control the end of your "push" or "pull" cut. For example: The division between the collar and the neck, coat and the pants, or shoes from the socks. Your desire is to "stop" the cut precisely at these lines. Use the thumb on your right hand to brace the cut and make deep (relative) incision along your line. Use the "push" or "pull" cut to cut to the incision. Out pops the chip (or slice).

The first cut described is the "finesse" cut of carvers. With this cut you have excellent control of the depth, width, and length of each cut you make. The second cut is the cut generally used to "get it off". This is the cut for rough out. You can take off a lot of wood in a very short period of time with this cut. Secondarily, this cut is also a very precise type of cut. The third cut is a "cut of control". It's a cut intended to provide a boundary or transition point from one point of the carving detail to the other. This cut is generally used to indicate a division of material.

All cuts made with a knife are made with the fingers and finger muscles and NOT with the arm and arm muscles.

Keep your knife sharp, don't dwell too long at any one point as you carve, move around. It will give you a better perspective of where you are going. Relax every 20 or 30 minutes, take a break!

One word about carving with a gouge (no mallet). This type of carving cut is rather simple. Your right hand provides the power to the cut and your left hand controls where and how much. The type of cut is controlled by the design of the gouge.

Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 11 - The Practice Stick

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Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 08:21:08 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 11- Nuts and Bolts

The "Practice Stick" means exactly what the words imply: A stick used for practice.

Practice sticks are those little pieces of discarded wood I use for practice. I carve eyes, noses, lips, hair, ears, full features, bird wings, feathers, a fish face, bear face, dog lips, etc., etc., etc.. In other words, I use these pieces of wood to practice any feature in carving that I am having trouble with or I'm trying to decide how a certain feature should look.

Sometimes I will make up individual sticks, one for each feature I want to practice and remember. I have these things laying around all over the place, but close enough for reference and easy enough to find.

My sticks are usually (but not limited to) 1 Omega" x 1 Omega" x 12". I keep them as long as I can (only limited by what's in the wood box) to give me something to hang on to. The corners are ideal for the nose plain for a face or the curve of an eye.

When I travel, I carry at least two of these sticks for practice. These sticks are always either bass or pine.

Practice sticks are a very important part of carving. These things will help you transform your thoughts into reality. It's kind of a notebook for carvers only it's much more visual.

There are available, from the good carving supply houses, sample practice carving sticks that have been done by the "pro's". These samples are made out of a pale yellow acrylic-like material and very durable. I keep a couple of these around as good examples of how it's supposed to be done. My own personal sticks are "face" sticks originally carved by Harold Enlow (my carving God) and Dave Stetson (one of my favorite carvers). These sticks will cost you about 12 dollars, but are well worth it.

Tip of the Day - When you carve eyes, carve the right eye first (left as you look into the face), that way you can use this eye as a carving guide to a good, matching, left eye without your carving hand being in the way. Same thing when you are drawing or painting the eyes in: Do the right eye first!

Keep Those Chips Flying!

Willis (Bill) Sharp

Day 12 - Must Books

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Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 22:12:57 +0000
Subject: Woodcarver: Day 12 - Nuts and Bolts

Today is the last of this daily "Nuts and Bolts" course and will be short and very uncomplicated.

There are, in my most humble opinion, three books that are a must for beginning carvers (even some of us that have been at it for awhile).

The first book is a book for all carvers: Chip, Relief, and In-The-Round. The title of the book is "How to Carve Wood", a book of projects and techniques by Richard Butz. You may not like his way of carving, but he is a great teacher and writes in a style that we can all understand. His book is a wealth of information and a must for any woodcarvers bookshelf. There are very few questions on carving that are not in this book.

The second is a book for those of us that love animals and like to present them in wood. The title is "How To Draw Animals" by Jack Hamm. I know, I know, its not a carving book. Your right, but what it is, is a book on the structure and characteristics of mammals that is worth its' weight in gold. Before you put a knife to wood, take a look at this book. You will not be disappointed.

The final book is a book for those of us that carve caricature or reality of the human head and body. The title is "Drawing The Head And Figure" by Jack Hamm. Same comment as above. I know what it is, but the content is what we need. The final chapters on folds and clothing is worth the price of the book by itself.

The price of Butz's book is about $18.00, for Jack Hamm's books, about $9.00 each. If you have problems finding these books, give me a jingle, I can help.

As most of you know, this is the last of the series and, I must tell you, it has been a joy for me. I have met a bunch of wonderful people and, I hope, we will continue to correspond over the next few years. I am gratified to tell you all, that I Haven't received one negative comment since the beginning. I received a couple telling me I was somewhat ill-advised to put on the air for free, something that could be sold, but I don't look at it that way. I love what I do and if I can get even one more person interested, that's good enough for me.

Look for a course on carving "little people" later on this year, if I get my scanner, and I can put it all together. In the meantime, if you really want to have some fun, try it in person (you may pay a little more) the next time your in my area and I'm center stage.

If I can be of further help to any of you, at anytime, I'm just a couple of key strokes away. Until then, goodbye, farewell, so long, tah tah, adios, adieu, sayonara, tcheus, and see you later!

Tip of the Day - Instead of Tip of the Day, I've changed my mind and I demand payment: Would you, please, send me your city and state or city and country if you took advantage of me and followed the course. It's good for my ego.

Keep Those Chips Flying!