Notes from the Net

by Pierce Pratt

Woodcarver Ezine
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Carvers' Companion Gateway

"Notes from the Net" is a column compiled from a few of the email messages posted to the WoodCarver listserver. 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: Pierce Pratt


From: Joe Brott <>

I mix Burnt Sienna into paint thinner, then add that to boiled linseed oil. It gives a very nice golden sheen when applied to basswood.

There are several variations to this mix. Add melted bees wax for a wax finish. Add polyurethane for a varnish like finish. Or, spray with clear acrylic after wiping off the excess stain.

You can paint over the no-wax mixture with thinned oil paints, either wet or dry for various affects, and after drying for a couple of weeks, you can use acrylic paint over the stain. I like to stain my santas and cowboys, then paint them, leaving skin the natural stained color.


From: Joe Brott <>

Regarding chip carving through stains. I've tried it with linseed oil based stain and acrylics. The oil stain didn't give much contrast, and seemed to bleed a bit.

I like to use acrylics on thin flat stars for Christmas ornaments and chip carve a pattern through the paint. It gives a vivid contrast, white wood and bright paint. Red acrylic paint works best.


From: Mike Dunk <>

Thanks to the ravages of time, I also need some additional help when working on fine details on carvings. I've tried a number of solutions: special prescription glasses, magnifier lamps, clip-on magnifiers, etc. I bought an Opti-Visor (2X) and found it works great but I didn't like the "enclosed" feeling. To give me a more open working feeling I cut away the top of the visor over the lenses and between the straps connecting the lens to the head band. This opened the top and allowed me to look over the top of the lens without putting my tools down. This has weakened the Visor somewhat, but I have not found this to be a problem.


From: Marcia Berkall <>

I use a portable carving bench with two (or more) small wood screws to hold my carving. Personally, I prefer this to a carver's screw. With a carver's screw, using a mallet causes the carving to turn. I have little patience having to constantly stop to turn the carving and retighten the screw. Using two smaller screws, the carving doesn't turn when using a mallet. I keep a wrench near my bench so it only takes a minute to attach the work.


From: PbsDAD <>

I've had really good results making small cutting and detailing blades by grinding and shaping 5% cobalt steel replacement cutters for metal lathes. The blanks are inexpensive (usually $1 to $6 dollars depending on size), are easy to grind, take a superb cutting edge, and are highly resistant to "losing their temper" during shaping or resharpening.


From: Harry L. Stewart <>

Here is a tip for a roll up tool pouch for some of your knives and gouges. I bought a nail pouch at a discount store for about a dollar, brought it home and sewed it on the wife's machine so it had eight pockets to hold knifes, gouges, chisels, etc. It is made of a light canvass type material and provides an easy way to carry a few tools to a carving club or on a trip.


From: Danny Fultz <>

My dad has made handles for some of my gouges, with his wood lathe. He puts a brass nut over the end of the handle and cuts it round. The brass is softer than the turning gouge and cuts fairly easily. This makes a really nice ferrule. The brass nuts are available at most hardware stores.


From: Joe Brott <>

I use homemade (stick) substitutes for stones, hones and strops. The basic sticks are 3/8" X 2" or 3" wide MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), 12 to 16" long. I use an auto adhesive or high quality commercial spray adhesive to apply 150 grit Alumina-zirconia (emery type cloth) to one side and 240 grit wet/dry aluminum oxide paper to the other side. That is my basic shaping/sharpening stick.

My second stick has 320 grit wet/dry aluminum oxide paper on one side and leather on the other side. This is my hone/strop stick. I apply white aluminum oxide buffing compound to the leather.

The secret to using the stick seems to be keeping the blade flat on the stick without giving it the "old barber roll" at the end of the stroke. Lift them blade straight up, turn it over, and then pull it straight back flat on the stick.


From: "Will Sharp" <>

When you need to write or draw on wood, use a filler coat of 1 part shellac to 1 part alcohol and allow to dry. Draw with a waterproof pen (ball or felt). No running or ink fuzzing.


From: Bonnie Graser <>

To clean sandpaper when it is clogged, use a white plastic eraser.

Get a piece of crepe rubber from a shoe what he'd use for the heel of a work boot...use that on your sanding disks and on your large sanding face wonders! Just one swipe across ever so often does it! It is cheaper than the sticks you order from the catalogs!


From: Joe Brott <>

Make foam brushes from old (or new) upholstery foam. Cut the foam into 2" cubes with a pair of scissors. Clamp a foam cube in forceps like veterinarians use. You now have very inexpensive brushes with throw away pads. These work well for stains.

From: Michael D. Parker <>

Another trick is to attach one of those black office "Binder Clips" to the end of a handle. Makes for easy installation and removal of the foam. I use foam (not styrofoam) that companies use in packing items such as computers, etc.


From: Ramsey <>

A cabinet maker friend of mine uses large, square portable fans that you can buy at most hardware store and attaches a furnace filter to the back. He hangs 4 of these from the ceiling in his shop so that they create a circular air flow. He removes the filters every few days and blows them out with his air compressor. This seems to be quite effective.


Thank you,

Pierce Pratt

email:, Phone: (918)661-9703, Fax: (918)661-0243