Notes from the Net

by F. Pierce Pratt

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"Notes from the Net"
is a column compiled from a few of the email messages posted to the
Woodc@rver Mailing List.

There are many good messages to choose from. So many, it 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 .

From: Marcia Berkall

In response to your questions: Most beginning carvers tend to carve flat faces. Try holding your hands up to your face, one on each side, joining in front of your nose. Now move your hands away, keeping the contour of your face constant. You will discover that your hands form about a 90 degree angle where they joined in front of your nose. Most of my students are surprised by this. When you carve a face, keep this in mind. You may want to do some practice faces using the corner of a piece of wood. Don't be afraid to dig in ... most beginners are a bit timid! There are no set rules that I know about on where to begin when carving a face. When I start, I usually draw lines for eyes, bottom of the nose, chin and top of head, as well as a vertical center line. I almost always start with the eye line. Since the nose will be the highest point, I try to get that plane first. I use a large veiner to rough out the eye sockets, nose, etc. If you are serious about carving faces, you should pick up an art book showing proper proportions, structure, head types, etc. I highly recommend "Drawing the Human Head" by Burne Hogarth. From: Anthony J. LastI usually tell my students who are carving faces in the round to stand in the corner, not for being naughty, but to illustrate that when the tip of their nose is in the corner each cheek touches a wall, indicating a 90 degree angle

between cheek, nose and cheek.


The latest rule of thumb on pricing of crafts that I've heard is: $5/hour plus 3 times material costs yield the wholesale price. The wholesale price times 2 yields the retail price. For craft fairs price your carvings somewhere between wholesale and retail price. When your carvings start selling well you can raise the hourly rate. For one of a kind, original, or unique carvings, I generally start at $10/hour, then lower the price to where I think the item will sell.

From: Richard A. Kellerhouse.

An experienced member of our local club was showing me how to do "wet on wet" with acrylics. He used a small spray bottle (perfume) filled with water and an emulsifier (like the stuff used for contact lenses). He applied a few very light squirts to keep the base coat wet enough to apply the layer coats. He said an old decoy carver had shown him this trick.

From: Harry L. Stewart

The pigments of oil stains will settle to the bottom of their container and often are difficult to consistently stir. Take a few bolts and drop them in the container. Then shake, rattle and roll to mix up the stain before you open the container.

From: Steve Engrave

I used to work in the picture framing industry. We used the following method to remove nicks in wood if the nick wasn't too deep. Take a damp cloth and lay it on the nick. Heat a piece of metal and lay it on the cloth. The hot moisture will cause the wood fibers to swell. Usually, there is no need to sand the finish, unless it is cracked.

From: Bob Gander

One way of giving oak a grey color is to put some iron (old nails or other scrap metal) into a bucket of water for a day or two and then "paint" the oak with this solution. Apparently the iron oxide (?) reacts with the tannin in the oak to create a grey color. You will want to experiment with this first on some scrap pieces.

From: Sister Barbara Maunz

I have found lots of sanding uses for almost anything that spins, rotates, or jiggles. Instead of spending lots of money, I hunt for items at garage sales ... anywhere secondhand "junk" is sold. My latest find was a battery operated facial kit for $.50. All it needed was realignment of its inner parts. I now have a spinning soft brush for polishing. I also have fitted an electric manicure machine with sanding sleeves and discs for a low speed controllable sander. My next search will be for an electric toothbrush! Now, I'm just wondering how I can adapt a Water-pik to carving use.

From: Bill Dentzel

When I am making carrousel animals I have to deal with many different pieces in the pre-assembly stage, i.e., legs, heads, necks, ears, etc. I have solved my grasping problem with the following vice. 1. I have a wooden vice consisting of two 4 x 6"s running vertically to the floor, purchased toward the bottom by a movable pin and on the top by a pipe clamp. The wooden shaft on which the pin runs on and the pipe clamp can be as long as you want, giving you a vice which can open to 3, 4 or 5 feet if necessary, Mine opens to about 4 feet. There is also a little horizontal 2 x 4" shelf along the top of both 4 x 6"s to help steady things and put in spacer blocks when necessary. I have photos of this vice, that I have incorporated into my carving bench on my website at Dentzel Carousel Company website.

From: Anthony J. Last

You find that after you have been carving for some time that everyone has their own method of sharpening. Putting a dime at the back of a knife on a stone to give the correct angle is an old trick of Rick Butz to get a good knife angle. I only sharpen knives by hand. I do not use wheels or belts. I find that the new diamond impregnated steel from DMT is fast for knives and can be followed by a leather strop. The strop can be made by gluing an old belt, shiny side down, to a piece of wood (like a paint stirrer).

From: Joe Brott

Usually, a V-tool can be sharpened by treating it as three separate tools. Each edge is a straight flat gouge. The V where the edges join is a small U- gouge. I prefer to sharpen the two flat edges first, then the V by rolling it on the stone like a small U-gouge. The angle of the edge at the outside of the V is critical. A sharp angle will cause you to raise the rear of the tool to get it to cut. A shallow angle will let you shave nice clean v strips of wood. I prefer to use a motorized sharpener for V-tools. My next choice is a home made sharpening stick. For this I take a piece of basswood (or other wood) about 12" long and 2" to 3" wide. I cut two or three parallel and adjacent V grooves in the wood 6" or longer. Next, rub the V grooves and ridges with white buffing compound. You now you have an excellent slip sharpener for the inside and outside of the V tool. I prefer this over slip stones because you do not cut a second bevel on the inside of the V tool like most do with slip stones.

From: Keith De'Grau

What I do is brush a coat of shellac on a leather hone and sprinkle on a compound. It's dry & ready to use in about 15 minutes. You would can visit my site and view my leather hones at:

From: Will Sharp

When you have finished painting for the day, try applying a little Vaseline to your brushes to reshape. The Vaseline will help to preserve the hair and allow the brush to retain its shape. Store your brushes vertically in a jar, glass, or can, with the tips pointing up

Thank you, Pierce Pratt
(918)661-9703, fax(918)661-0243
slowmail:F.P. Pratt, 1290G Plaza Office Bldg., Bartlesville, OK 74004