Woodcarver Ezine
Back Issues
Carvers' Companion Gateway



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



OK, you made the cut... now how do you get rid of the chip you produced?  Some interesting solutions and then a couple of wood species facts.  As usually there were very interesting conversations on the Woodcarver's List.  Read on!

How to Give Woodchips the Brush Off... or Not?

This was a spin off from an earlier discussion on oxidation of cherry wood...

Joking aside, the removal of wood chips while carving, particularly in relief, is an issue for beginners.  Their first impulse is to either flip the chips away with the tool or to brush them away with their hands.  The flip method results in some bad habits with the tool such as prying on the last cutting stroke, which dulls the tool and fuzzes the cut.  It also stalls the carving process because to cut, flip away the chip, cut, flip away the chip is an inefficient way to carve.

Brushing the chip away with the hand is another method I've seen among beginners.  They will make a cut, and, almost without thinking, brush the chip away.  With nearly every cut there is a following brushing away move.  That, too, is an inefficient way to carve.  The repeated brushing over the wood with the hand has other disadvantages as well.  Each pass adds more body stain to the wood, so many carvings get quite soiled. Even "clean" hands add oil to the wood.  I've also seen carvers, unconsciously in the habit of brushing their hand over the wood while carving, ram it into the tool on the other hand, or even pick up a sliver from the wood.

The tried and true method of removing the chip in the tool path is to blow it away with a short puff of breath.  The chip moves out of the way without the carver needing to stop the cutting strokes.  Then, when  large clusters of chips gather on the carving or on the bench, it is best to remove them with a brush.  These methods keep the carving unstained, the bench clean, and the carver working efficiently.

Ivan Whillock Studio
122 NE 1st Avenue
Faribault, MN 55021
Visit my website at
Visit my Picturetrail album at

Then Maricha (from Down-Under) shared this little gem with us with us.

hi folks,

the line of conversation has been most interesting.  sorry to be so late in joining the conversation about oxidizing and removal of chips... comments have been interesting and informative.  i have always been taught never to blow the chips away as you carve.....because you blow away the karma or the spirit of the divine inspiration (also when you blow away sometimes the dust and chips may hit you in the eye) so like most of the rest said, the removal of chips is best done with a brush. the wood is happy the creative soul is happy, the carver is happy and we are all tuti contenti...very happy.

best wishes


To which Ivan replied:

Interesting cultural difference here?  The traditional European carvers I studied with and observed work with both hands on the tool and setting the tool down to pick up a brush after each cut would stall the progress.  So, when a chip is in the way they just blow it aside and keep on working.  When a pile of chips has accumulated, then work is stopped and they are brushed away. The thing to avoid is brushing over the wood with your hands, as that dirties it.

 (I think the northern hemisphere effect must be opposite, clearly they breathe their spirits INTO the wood.)

This "chip talk" also reminds me of the Native American whose ritual was to have a wood chip burying ceremony after each carving day--to return the chips to the earth.

It is interesting how various traditions have developed, based on both practical and spiritual concerns.

Then Ron trumped them all with this <G>...

Hi Ivan and Maricha,

Here's a variation on the chip removal technique.  Pete Gresham, a well-known mantel carver at Silver Dollar City, keeps a toy rubber pig handy on the workbench with his tools.  I think he swiped it from his son years ago.  The pig does an excellent job of "blowing" away chips when squeezed in their direction.  The sight of this along with the accompanying "oink oink" always brings laughter from the guests watching Pete do his work.  His hands never touch the wood; he does, however, have to set his tool down  to accomplish the task.

Your friend,

www.RonWellsWoodcarving.com featuring Carvings, Blanks, and the Ron Wells Carving Knife

I gotta get me one of them!!

Oxidation of Cherry Wood

Greetings to you all,

I am new to the group and almost as new to carving.

I am trying some different kinds of wood to see what they will do for me.

I have just done a relief carving in cherry wood, and by the time I finished the carving, the earliest carving stage had oxidized already. Does anyone have any good advice on how to keep cherry from oxidizing while I am working on it?


Bob D


Keep it covered when you are not working on it; keep it out of the sun especially.  But don't worry too much, as the patina will even out in short order--unless there's a very long time between carving sessions.

Ivan Whillock Studio

Bob was still going to write this project off, but  Ivan offered other posibilities and several others echoed in with encouragement:


Bob, I've carved a lot of cherry wood through the years and never had a situation where the color didn't eventually even out. 

n fact, I recently completed a cherry wood carving for a customer that had laid uncompleted for many years.  Out in the sun, the color evened out in a short while.  After finishing, the new carving was undetectable from the old.

Therefore, out of curiosity, I'm wondering how much time elapsed between the first part of the carving to the last? 

Another possibility is the staining that may have taken place from your hands as you worked.  Many beginners rub over their carvings again and again, removing chips, testing the texture, even enjoying the feel of the wood itself.  That all adds body oils, etc. to the surface which colors it.  I've seen beginners' carvings "body-oiled" to a dark patina. 

If it's a project that you like, instead of abandoning it, why not try cleaning it, say with mineral spirits, to see if the surface evens out that way?  Also, a cherry stain should both bring out the grain and even out the color for you.

(As an aside, a good hint for all carvers is to remove chips by blowing them away or using a brush, avoiding going over the carving with the fingers as much as possible.  And, of course, keeping the carving covered between sessions is always a good idea.)

(Which led to the thread above-Mike)

Ivan Whillock Studio


Don't worry about it.  I have worked extensively with cherry and the color will equalize with or without a UV protective finish.  The UV finish may slow down the oxidation of the color but will not prevent it. I have finished pieces with different colors due to working on them after part of the piece has oxidized and they evened out.  On the door in this link http://www.carvedbyramsey.com/Hope_Carved_DoorLG_.jpg, the contractor had put a cardboard protective strip on the threshold and when I went to finish it in place the threshold was much lighter with a distinctive line.  The door is in complete shade.  I finished the whole thing with a UV protective finish and within a couple of weeks the finish had equalized and it all matched.

Ron Ramsey


With your coaching and prodding, I have checked out how the rest of my cherry wood has aged with similar exposure to the atmosphere and I have got to come to the conclusion that this particular carving was the victim of too much touching with dirty hands, as the other samples show some slight fading, but not the dirty look of the carving.
</>  I love the feel of wood, and when I am carving, I use my hands a lot to check out the contour and texture of the surface. I have re-worked the offending section and the result is very satisfactory.  So the moral of this tale is to keep my hands clean and not put my dirty dabs on the wood.  You are a great group of people.Thanks

Bob D

Arolla Pine

Anyone have any idea what "Arolla Pine" is?  Just got the latest 'Wood Carving' magazine from
GB & they have some beautiful carvings done in this wood.  Ran a quick search, but nothing.

Dick Carter

Rip took a fine swing at the question for a "single":

Dick, I think it might be an Austrian pine.  Used in the carving school over there.  That might be the Latin name.


Then Lloyd blasted it out of the park!

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arolla_pine

The *Swiss Pine* or *Arolla Pine* (/*Pinus cembra*/; family Pinaceae http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinaceae>) is a species of pine tree that occurs in the Alps and Carpathian Mountains of central Europe in Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania

It typically grows at 1,500-2,200 m altitude. It often reaches the alpine tree-line in this area. The mature size is up to 25-35 m height, and 1.5 m trunk diameter.

It is a member of the white pine group, /Pinus/ subgenus /Strobus/, and like all members of that group, the leaves
('needles') are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They are 5-9 cm long. Swiss Pine cones are 4-8 cm long.
The 8-12 mm long seeds have only a vestigial wing and are dispersed by Spotted Nutcrackers

Lloyd Skeoch
Markham, Ontario


BTW, Wikipedia has answered many questions for me when  "Ask Jeeves" failed.  Google usually took me there when the query was tough. - Mike B.

OK, Gang, until next issue, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and when you do get rid them... use whatever method makes your soul feel good.  See ya next issue.

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 - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarving List2




Editor's Note: Disclaimers and Cautions