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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



Loren, my hat's off to you! I knew doing Notes From the Net probably wasn't just cut-n-paste, but then, I thought, "Hey! Almost all the great writing is done by our good and generous woodcarving friends on the Web". How hard could it be? When it got down to it, this was much tougher than expected. It is no longer a mystery why it took three of us to replace you, and you're still not entirely off the hook! Anyway, I'm real glad to be here and will try to keep up the great standard set by you and Pierce Pratt. I will also stop whining.


Pricing Your Woodcarvings

The following tip on pricing your woodcarving work by Joe Dillett may be a repeat article on NFTN. I did a quick scan through recent issues of WOM and didn't find it, so it's a good time to revisit even if it is a repeat. If you read nothing else, read #5 twice maybe. This time it comes from the Knotholes group (Thanks to Doug Evans)

Pricing is as much of an art as the carving itself. No one can tell you what price you need to put on your work. You begin your pricing experience by putting a price you feel is correct and adjusting that price as you see fit.

1.. The more you sell the better you are going to get at pricing. If you only carve once or twice a year you may not get very good at carving. If you price your work once or twice a year you most likely will never get good at pricing. On the other hand if you did 20 selling shows a year it would only take a few years to determine the correct price.

2.. Pricing is determined by market. If you select carving shows for selling you have a limited market coming into that show, which is heavily baited with similar products. You're fishing and your product is your bait. When the waters are heavily saturated with bait it reduces the possibility of you getting a bit. High-end shows where your products are unique create the best environment to get that bite. You may have to travel to get into shows were people spend more money. Decide on a show by imagining what the average person is going to spend on an impulse item. Ask yourself what the total gate will be at the show. Ask yourself how many of those people will be willing to impulse-buy your priced item. Maybe less than half of those people will even see your items and it will appeal to less than half of those that do see it. I quickly learned that shows with a gate of 4,000 people where the majority will impulse-buy $50. Of those 4,000 people maybe only 100 are ready to impulse-buy $500 items. My items price $1,000 and over might reduce my customer base to only about 3 people at that show. The chances of those 3 seeing it, liking it and buying it are slim at best. One of two things must happen for me to increase my customer base. I need more people or people willing to spend more money or both. I found better shows, home shows, where my products fit better and people are coming to spend tens of thousands of dollars on cabinets etc. Besides with them building or remodeling they can add the price of my mantel into their mortgage. T
he high-end art shows worked well but there was lots of travel involved. Also the fair became my best show because the gate is 250,000 people. Because I've been working that fair for over 25 years I can easily book a whole year's worth of work at that one show because people know what I'm about and my product is the same year after year.

3.. Pricing is determined by demand. You have to create a demand for your work and that is done by selling and more selling. The more demand for your stuff the higher price you can charge. People know that if they want a custom mantel they will have to wait 5 years. Because of that they never seem to question the price.

4.. Pricing bares a responsibility to past and future customers. Once you price your work your customers make an investment. You have a responsibility to protect their investment by not reducing the price to the point of destroying their investment. You have a responsibility to your future customers to give them a good value for their investment.

5.. Pricing bares a responsibility to you, your family and your community. Giving your work away as gifts is one thing but to continually work for peanuts is not fair to you, your family or your community. Your time is valuable. Your family is your most important responsibility and if you take more time than necessary away from them and receive little in return you do your family an injustice. The same is true with your community of which you could be spending time volunteering and getting involved in community activities. Your time is valuable to all those around you so don't cheat them. Because of the above, and because at shows people want a quick answers on what something would cost, I found it necessary to come up with a standardized formula for pricing. If they ask me what something will cost this year and again next year I will never remember what I told them so to be consistent I need to rely on a formula. I may get 100 people asking at one show what something would cost and I never have time to write down what I quoted to each person. I need my price to be very consistent from one year to the next so my past customers know that their investment is protected. All I need to ask them is the size. I tell them that my price is based on $4 per square inch of carved area plus material. Relief carvings are easier to price off the top of my head because the area is simple to calculate. Carvings in the round are tougher because I need to estimate total area around, under and between. That $4 per square inch plus material is the rough estimate, which I base my pricing on. Then if there are unusual aspects of the carving it may effect the price up or down depending on the job.

Joe Dillett The Carving Shop http://www.thecarvingshop.com


Safety Tips for the New Year

Now we have a couple of tips for keeping the New Year safe. This first is from Susan Irish of Classic Carving Patterns about how NOT to make boiled linseed oil from raw linseed oil. Actually, this tip was signed by her husband, Mike.

Hi Richard,


Linseed oil is flammable and could...or would...catch fire or blow-up by applying heat or flame!! The term 'boiled' does not mean it is heated to a boil, rather that the oil is treated chemically with dryers that aid in drying after the oil is used on wood. Not sure why the term 'boiled' is used it may go back to a time when the refining of the oil involved some sort heat/heating/rendering process.

Raw linseed oil is rarely used for finishing as it can take months or even years to dry, you can use *very small* (...drops!) amounts of 'Japan Dryer' added to the raw oil to aid in drying. Japan Dryer is available at better or larger Wood Working supply outfits, do some experimenting with small batches of oil until you find the right formula for your oil.


Hope this helps,

Carving Patterns Online Designs
Online Since 1997!
Classic Carving Patterns By L.S.Irish


Next Vic Hamburger tells how he dodged a bullet thanks to good safety habits around a table saw. Keep in mind all the power tools that support our woodcarving art, band saws, drills, foredoom tools, etc, each have their own sets of safety practices. I would much rather print a positive story of these practices being used then a tragic one of them being forgotten at the expense of a woodcarving friend, so "Be careful out there!"


I was working in my shop this evening. While ripping a thin piece of stock on my table saw, I got a not-so-gentle reminder to always expect the worst from a power tool.

I had completed pushing the piece of stock thru the blade, and had used two push sticks to both hold it down and push it thru the blade. At the very last second, both pieces of stock fell back into the blade, rather than pushing off the back of the saw as I intended. I have no clear idea how, but within a split second, both pieces of wood were 15 feet behind me, and my push stick had been violently wrenched from my hand, with a split down the cherry hardwood face that has rendered it useless for pushing ever again.

The GOOD NEWS is that I ALWAYS start the saw with my face/body out of the line of the saw blade path should it catch something and throw it back violently. Secondly, I ALWAYS work to one side of the saw blade path, and that is where I was tonight, out of harms way. Either piece of wood would have, at a minimum, left a serious bruise on my body. The push stick took the brunt of the damage that otherwise would have happened to my hand if I had not used the stick.

The only damage, other than the push stick, was the saw table insert, which was severely damaged when (probably) the push stick was shoved violently downward at it. My hand tingled for a few minutes after from the shock, but that was the extent of my problems. I am very thankful that I followed my own safety rules and kept my fingers away from the blade and myself out of the line of potential kickback. I can replace the saw table insert and the push stick. The old push stick will hang in my shop as a reminder of the danger of power tools.

I tell you this story only because I was fortunate. I won't call it lucky, I don't leave my safety to luck in the shop. I followed my rules and kept myself as safe as I could, I was fortunate that nothing worse happened.

For all of you who use power tools, and even hand tools in your carving, PLEASE, know how they work, how they can cause accidents, and set your own set of safety rules that prevents those accidents to the best of your ability. Keep yourself safe and happy in your shop, today and every day!

Happy New Year to all!
Vic H


Marblizing Wood

and we'll wrap up this issue with a tip on how to put a marble faux finish on your woodcarving or woodcarving base. This one is from Susan Irish herself.

Good Morning Marcia,

I haven't tried marblizing with woodcarving but we use to do a technique for ceramics years ago.

Working in acrylics we would base coat the work first with a pale gray tone over everything. Then using a wool sponge (one of those with the great big holes that are just great for the bath tub) we would thin some medium gray acrylic, pat lightly on a cloth to remove the excess moisture then tap the piece in a random pattern. These two steps gave a mottled type of background. Let dry very well.

The marblizing fun came next. Get a large bucket, big enough to dunk your piece. Now make several thinned mixtures of turpentine and oil color in varying shades of blue gray, brown gray, and off white. Keep the oil mixtures close to each other in tonal value and color. A hint of color change and value change works better than a dramatic color change. So when you can just see that the gray has turned blue or just turned brown is better than 'it's Brown or it's Blue' changes. A good test for the thinning process with the turp is that it is just right when you can start to read the newspaper writing through a small drop or puddle of color.

Fill the bucket with cold water and add about a tablespoon of thinned oil color to it. The oil color will float on top of the water in a puddle. Use a spoon handle to swish the oil once then slowly dunk your piece. You don't want the entire water surface coated ... you want it to look like the filling in a brown sugar cinnamon bun. As the ceramics went down into the water it picked up the oil mixture in a very random swirling motion. We would let that 'sort of dry', which usually meant it had stopped dripping but still had some shine to the oil color. While it dries clean your bucket and get ready to dip again with a new color. You can use as many oil colors as you want, but three usually was a good number.

With ceramics there is a hole in the bottom of the piece where the mold opening was, which was great for holding on to during the dipping process. With a woodcarving you might want to add a eye hook to the bottom both for holding and for hanging while it drips.

Once you have several swirled oil colors added and the piece has again 'sort of dried' use an old toothbrush and add just a few splatters of whatever oil mixture you have left over. When you are done you will have a varied background of shades of gray with pale and changing swirls of oil gray tones, then a few spots-splatters of more solid oil color. Plus as you start with the piece entirely coated with acrylics and you are only dipping the work not soaking the work, the wood shouldn't get excessively wet in the process.

This is fun to do, but PLEASE practice it first on something you don't mind ruining as it does take a little practice to get the oil to swirl just right.

Hope this helps.

Carving Patterns Online Designs
Online Since 1997!
Classic Carving Patterns By L.S.Irish


Well Gang, that's it for this issue. Keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and be safe so you can keep using this great stuff from the Net.
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