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Notes from the Net

by F. Pierce Pratte Fppratt@aol.com

...is a column compiled from a few of the email messages posted to the WoodCarver listserver. In these messages are the tips, hints and other tidbits traded each day between WoodCarver participants. There are so many messages to choose from that it is difficult to select only a few 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 <fppratt@ppco.com>.



From: Darrin Tissandier <stryker@erinet.com>

In this world people have spun yarns and handed down legends and customs for centuries. Each of you has most likely been told a legend by your parents or grandparents that you will relate to someone someday. The legend of Wood Spirits comes from the German Ancestry. Its telling may vary some from village to village, but the main theme is as follows:

When a couple had their first child and each additional child, they would bring a log from the forest and place it under the bed. The log remained under the child's bed for life until he was to marry. The parents, upon learning of the marriage plans, took the log to the local woodcarver and had him bring out the "Spirit that lived in the log." Sometimes the spirit looked wise and loving, sometimes comical, sometimes very serious. Whatever the woodcarver produced was then given to the newlyweds to bring special wisdom, joy, peace and love to the couple's new home. Hence the "Wood spirit" is bought to bring the same good tidings to the purchaser's home or office, or as a gift to a friend or for their newlywed children. Thus beginning ones own family "Tradition."


From: Kevin <qdraw@ix.netcom.com>

One of the members of the Mon-Yough Woodcarvers woodburned an old world santa on a small sled his wife had purchased. He then colored it with colored pencils. These were colored pencils like kids use. It looks great. Everyone thought it was oil paint. Just thought I would pass this on as I've never seen anyone use them before.

From: Becky Nozirozi <Nozirozi@aol.com>

I use nearly the same method. Last year, I woodburned an old Santa on a purchased wood sled, crackle finished around it, distressed the edges, and used colored pencils like "Prisma Colors." You can blend colors if you color in solid and use an eraser to "smear." I also got "skid burns" from using my finger tips to blend the lighter colors.


From: Jere' L. Scott <artcreat@alaska.net>

Question: Should I use sandpaper to finish something carved with a knife? Yes 'N' No! Depends on the finish you are looking for. Good knife work leaves tiny facets on the surface that provide texture and character for the finished piece. Sandpaper may be used to smooth the piece if you are seeking to finish it in some other way, i.e. painting. A knife finish can be painted, stained or finished some other way too. The desired finish texture is up to the artist and what the artist seeks to convey. Never, repeat never, use sand paper and then go back to using your knife in the same area. You will put microscopic nicks in the edge of your blade. The sand from the paper imbeds itself in the wood.


From: Joel Jacobson <joel@cpcug.org>

Carol Hughes wrote:

> I'm sort of new to the list and to carving. I am having problems with
> antiquing the Santas that I have done.

I find that wiping a dark minwax stain, such as Jacobean or Special Walnut, over a carving will produce a nice antique effect. It takes a little practice, but it's well worth it.

From: Willis (Will) Sharp <bsharp@gvn.net>

Try one cup of linseed oil and 1/4 inch of Burnt Umber oil paint (from the tube). Make sure you mix it well. Paint it on quickly or mix up more in a coffee can (depending on carving size, of course) and dunk your carving. Leave the oil mixture on for about 10 to 15 minutes. Wipe it off and dry. You'll love the results. One word of warning: Do not use too much of the Burnt Umber. It will be too dark. You might want to try the mixture on a painted scrape to see how you like it. Drying time is about 1 to 2 days. You can then wax with a natural wood wax. I use Treewax.

From: M. Paul Ward <mwardwood@worldnet.att.net>

The technique of glazing or "antiquing" can be done in many ways. My way has been mostly to use the glaze that comes with the three step antiquing kits. It is difficult to find these kits now but I have discovered that ZAR puts out a 2 step glaze and antiquing product in different tones. I use black #8. It is oil based but does good over both oils or acrylics. Drying time is 12 hours.

From: Dave Andreychek <chipps@netrax.net>

On acrylic paints I use burnt umber watered down so it will easily brush into all the nooks and crannies. Then I wipe it off, leaving the deep parts of the carving a darker color. This must be done quickly before it dries. Depending on the size of the carving, I may do this in steps, covering only portions of the carving and wiping it off.

From: Bonnie Graser <GRASER@wartburg.eu>

I paint with acrylic and then either brush or dip in a mixture of burnt umber paint and oil...I happen to now be using walnut oil (like you cook with!!). I usually mix just a small amount and brushed it on but have mixed a larger amounts and dipped too. When I dip, I use about an inch worth of the burnt umber from the tube (oil paint) and a couple cups (maybe 3) of oil). But more often I just mix a small amount to do a single carving, about 1/8th inch from the tube and mix in about a baby food jar lid of oil. I slop it on all over (everything that didn't get painted gets quite dark so make sure everything is painted). Then wipe with a paper towel. I let dry for a day or night. If it's not as dark as you want you can do it again.

From: Steve Bean <Beaner3138@aol.com>

I have used Briwax on antique reproductions and had some trouble with it loosening paint. I now use a mix of Butcher's Clear Paste Wax and Liberon Black Pantinating Wax. I melt 1 pound can of Butchers Clear Paste Wax in a double boiler and add about 2 heaping table spoons of the black pantinating wax. Then I it together then let it cool. This has worked well for me and it smells like regular paste wax. I rub it on, let it set for a couple of minutes, then buff off and air for a day. You could change the mix of the wax for the color you want. I have used it on shore bird decoys and it gives them a pretty aged look.

From: Joan Shaw <chas@starpass.net>

I keep a mix of burnt umber oil paint and mineral spirits in a jar for my antiquing. No formula, just dump some in and mix it up. When antiquing, I control the effect by the amount of oil paint I get in the brush. If I want a deep effect I get the brush to the bottom of the jar and pick up as much oil paint as I can. For a lighter effect I just swish the brush through the solution to load less paint on the brush.


From: les hastings <hastings@gisco.net>

White glue is a hobby glue, used primarily on paper and other highly porous substances. It was the first of the dairy product glues produced. It is not a particularly strong glue and is not suitable for work that must stand up over long periods of time. Carpenters glue (yellow or beige) is much more preferred. Its drawback is that it doesn't particularly like acidic woods.

The acids have a tendency to break down the glued joint with time. 5 min. epoxy is a fine glue for someone traveling just short of light speed, but, the slow set is preferable. It has the advantage of staying wet longer and penetrating the fibers of the wood. The more penetration, the stronge the joint. The slow set glue can also be mixed with small amounts of sanding dust (same wood type) to keep the glue from weeping out of the joint. This is the reason that so many people use the 5.


From: Joel Jacobson <joel@cpcug.org>

A Carver's Screw (sometimes called: Carver's Bench Screw) is a threaded rod, usually with a square Acme-like thread. One end is pointed and threaded like a woodscrew. This goes into the bottom of the carving. The other end is squared off so it can be turned with a wrench in order to screw the pointed end into the wood.

What you have is a rod with a machine thread screwed into a piece of wood. The rod is then placed through a hole in the bench, and a wing nut is run under the bench to hold the work tight to the top of the bench. Incidently, the wing nut has square holes punched in the wings the same size as the squared off end. This way, the wing nut doubles as a wrench to drive the threaded end into the work.

The advantage is that you can carve with no obstructions over the work. Youcan reposition the work easily by loosening the wing nut, turning the work, and retightening the nut.

From: Robin Edward Trudel <rtrudel@yahoo.com>

You can carver's screws easily and cheaply. Most hardware stores have "lag bolts" which have wood threads on one end and machine threads on the other. I bought several sizes, with nuts and washers. I've had pretty good luck using them for small statuary and busts. The average cost of the lag bolts was less than 50 cents each.

From: Joel Jacobson <joel@cpcug.org>

The distinction between a lag screw and a carver's screw is more important for bigger work. The machine threads on a lag screw are "V" shaped. The carver's screw threads are square or Acme style. This allows a wider shoulder for force to bear on. The carver's screw's tapered end has a blunter angle.


From: Donna Olmstead <olmstead@pitnet.net>

My favorite stain is one that I make myself. I use low odor mineral spirits(turpentine) and mix in some artist burnt umber oil paint. I made a batch a few years ago using about a couple cups of turpentine and I about 1/2 inch oil paint. I am still using that same batch. Start with less paint and add more until you get the color you want. I use this stain on painted surfaces and it gives a nice warm, aged look. On raw wood it gives a nice warm color. I would describe the color of my homemade stain as an apple butter brown and is the only thing I use on my Santas.


From: Melody Kay McFann <melodyspyrographics@minister.com>

I get a lot of my designs from children's coloring books. My dad always teased me about my coloring books. Most of my Christian work has come from those coloring books. All the plaques I made for co-workers as gifts for their children to mark their baptisms came from coloring books.

Thank you, Pierce Pratt

(918)661-9703, fax(918)661-0243

F.P. Pratt,
1290G Plaza Office Bldg.,
Bartlesville, OK 74004