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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


We're going to start this NFTN issue off with pricing your work for sale.  Now I know a lot of carvers that view selling their carvings as something too cold and mercenary for them to even consider.  This is absolutely understandable however, this woodcarving "addiction" tends to come with other "habits" like tools and wood.  Then don't forget classes, seminars, woodcarving events, and the travel expenses necessary to to take you to these events.  Feeding these habits can be very guilt free when you pay for them with carving sales.  There were a lot of hobbies for me before this one, and I think one of the reasons this one "stuck" was that, when I sold my work, it was self sustaining.  On another level, you'll be recciving a really objective view of how your work is doing when they hand you those "green ribbons".

How to Price Your Work

Joyce asked:

Hi, everyone,
I just learned of this list serve. I don't know many who carve, so this is a wonderful resource!  I just finished a 9" x 12" carving I  was commissioned to do- but I don't know what to charge for it!  Originally I set a shop rate of $35/hour based on my costs to keep my shop going- but the carving took 60 hours, so at $2100 both the client and I thought it was too much money.  I agreed to charge the client "the going rate"- so my question is, what would ordinarily a carving like this sell for? It is of bass wood and designed for a
space in the client's kitchen.  The photo is before the finish was put on it.


To which Joe Dillett responded:

At a rate of $4.50 per square inch (the carved area) plus material, this piece if the carved area was 9 X 12 would be 108 inches square. At $4.50 per square inch times 108 would be $486 plus about $40 for meterial would be a
total of $526.

The carving time of a job like this would be about 8 to10 hours.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552


Hugh gave us a vocabulary builder.

Heh there Joyce---nice relief carving looks clean & tidy---what to charge?????---there are so many variables--not the least of which was what you originally discussed $wise--it sounds like you are almost in a "make me a generous offer" situation---don't put down a "nice job" unnescessarily, but at the same time be propitious and that will never let you down----regards--Hugh (skincarp)

(Propitious? It's an adjective meaning;

  1. Presenting favorable circumstances; auspicious. See synonyms for favorable.
  2. Kindly; gracious.

And yes, I had to look it up- Mike B.)


Then Maura wrapped it up:

There is another important thing to think about.  When one buys "art"  They are also buying the artist and the artists reputation.  If you carved a rose and Ivan whillock or joe dillett carved the same rose, could you get the same price as they do?  Their "going rate" will be much higher than someone only carving for a few years. even if your rose is technically better than theirs.  Sometimes in the beginning we practically have to give our work away.  If you give your customer a good price and they are happy with it, the word of mouth advertising will be much valuable than money.  For the next project you can charge more and with the practice you will get faster and someday in the future you will find yourself spending a reasonable amt. of time carving the item and recieving a reasonable price for it at a price a customer is willing to pay.

Maura carvin' in nyc


Now a couple more species of woods for our list.

Black Walnut

Doug Neely wrote:

I'm working with a large piece of walnut and I realize it's hard ,but it seems to be getting harder? Is there any way to soften(wet) this piece or is sharp tools and mallet my way through? Have to keep a close eye on the grain for checking too.

THX...Doug Neely

Byron commented:

Some people use a 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol sprayed onto the wood to soften.


And Joe Dilette added:

Hardness is a relative term. Black walnut is what I carve mostly however I  use chisel and mallet. If you are trying to push the tool like you're  carving basswood, yes walnut is hard to make substantial cuts by hand  pushing the chisel. Walnut need a mallet for heavier cuts but can be hand  tooled, for finish cuts, with sharp chisles taking lighter cuts than  basswood.

Water, if it would soften, would only be absorbed into the wood about 1/16 of an inch per application and most of your cuts will go deepter than that.

Using a mallet for your rough cuts and hand push the chisels, using light cuts, for finishing is the best way I've found to work woods with medium hardness like walnut to harder woods like purple heart and ebony.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop

And finally Bill Smith wrote:

I agree with what Joe is sayin here as I enjoy it and have been known to carve black walnut by hand with a knife.  I do this because I am not pushin to get it done or an order. But I will use a chisle and a malet when it comes to removin large amounts of walnut.



Doug Neely posed another question:

Yes I also noticed that Birch hasn't been identified.  Where does it stand on the carvable list?

Doug Neely...a  newbie


To which Bill Judt replied

It's an excellent carving wood. Close-grained, light color, stable, takes 
finish easily.
My preferences in birch are:
1. Northern White
2. Eastern Yellow
3. Western Red


My books are for sale at: http://wwwoodcarver.com/Books/Books.html
W.F. Judt,
46 Harvard Cres,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
Email: bjudt@sasktel.net
Website: http://www.wwwoodcarver.com

And finally, in the "I can't believe I did this" category...

If They Featured Woodcarving on America's Funniest Home Video

Lori Corbett started all this when she wrote:

OK, I know I'm not the only one who can turn the simple into monumentally stupid. How 'bout sharing your stories about "Your Ride on the Stupid-Train"? I'll start off...this happened last night...

Let this be a lesson, kiddies...
You know those long flex-tips that you put on the end of your super glue bottle so you can get into tight places? Mine had a blockage, so I figured that rather than replace the tip (they come in packages of 25, and I had...oh, say..24 left), I figured I could just blow out the blockage. Tip removed (there's still time to toss it and put on a new one, but...not me), I put it up to my mouth (what...you thought I'd do something reasonable, like use compressed air, or something!?), remembering ONLY at the moment it touches my lips that moisture ACCELERATES the setting of super glue. So, there I am...tongue glued to the inside of my lips, lips glued together where they weren't glued to the flex tip, and the flex-tip dangling off my lip like some kinda octopus arm, hoping like H*** that I can sneak past my husband to the bathroom. No such luck...

Second in stupidity only to attaching my legs together above the knee (DON'T hold a clogged tube upside-down a give it a good squeeze while wearing shorts).

Lori Corbett

Please visit my website: Whispering Eagle Studio
For info on ordering my book: "Carving Award Winning Songbirds"

Whispering Eagle Studio
530 East 5th North
Saint Anthony, Idaho 83445

Greg Wikerosn
related this story.  I noticed he was "telling" on someone else, not himself <G>.

You almost made me spew my coffee with that one! Thanks for the chuckle.

It reminded me of a time when I worked at Englers Woodcarvers here in Branson. One of the demonstrating woodcarvers was trying to super glue a piece of wood to a relief carving he was doing, using his hand for a clamp.  Needless to say he soon came up to me with a large board attached to his hand asking me to "quietly" see if there was any super glue remover in the store. So I "quietly" turned around and -shouted” across the floor asking if anyone had any super glue remover on them,.much to his horror.

Five or six of us spent the next several minutes standing around him discussing the surgical procedure he was going to have to endure before someone finally came up with some stuff to unglue him. We ribbed him relentlessly the rest of the day.

Greg Wilkerson
Greg's Ego Site
Woodcarvings For Sale
Woodcarving Supplies For Sale

"Woodbutcher" Jan chimed in with..

Its hard to beat that s what happen to Lori.  I can still see us in her studio, Her showing those georgeous carvings and I see her running from there to the house... Too bad it was not filmed.

One stupid thought comes to MY mind.  This happened in 1990 we had been to Branson for a week of caracature carving and I made up my mind I was gonna make six sport related carvings Cut them all out with band saw all the same hieght, and one was a hunter carrying a gun in one hand, and in the other he had a duck holding by his neck and another has some fish and so on.  Had one left to finnish and I did not want to repeat my self so one early morning I carved a little racoon wich was being held by the scuff.  AFTER I made Thea a morning coffee I brought in my latest carving (as proud as a peacock ) and said LOOK what I made this morning.  Thea looks at the carving, looks at me and back to the carving and asked WHY IS HE CARRYING A PENGUIN??????????

Ps I made a new one and still save the Coon penguin It keeps me HUMBLE!!!!!!

Woodbutcher Jan

You are invited to check out my website: http://www.janscarvingstudio.com

Also take a look at my picture trail albums http://www.picturetrail.com/woodbutcher

Patti Landmann had a contender.

Hi Lori,

I'm nothing but honest and certainly stupid.  My story starts on a beautiful day sitting on the deck in the sunshine carving on a Santa carved from a basswood egg.  I was enjoying the birds and the flowers and carving one of my favorite low stress figures.

I suddenly realized that a small SPIDER was crawling across the back of my holding hand....in a heartbeat...the blink of an eye...I hit him real hard..with the hand that was holding the knife.  Spider?....who knows where he went...but the knife was standing straight up in the back of my hand kind of vibrating from the impact.  Duh!   Little spider...Big Knife.  Can I get on the stupid train?

Fortunately little blood and no real damage.  Just missed some important looking vessels in there...Unfortunately..husband was home.  He just shook his head in a kind of sad way and helped me recover.

Patti Landmann, Rio,  WI

And our final contestant is Steve Nordhauser:.

I think I set the record for the shortest time owning a knife before drawing blood.  I put some Swedish laminated steel carving knives (with optional leather sheaths) on my Birthday and Christmas list.  My Mom decides to give me the knives for my birthday (around Thanksgiving) and the sheaths for Christmas.  I hold this lumpy package and something slips out and lands between my legs (happily point up).  I didn't even see what it was and grabbed for it.  Right to the knuckle bone.  It couldn't have been more than 0.5 seconds since I still have pretty quick reactions.  They came in cheesy plastic sheaths that didn't fit well.  Now she won't give me anything sharper than a pencil eraser as a present.  Still her little boy at 47years old and counting.

Steve Nordhauser

I can't help it Lori... you win hands down.  I'm so glad I wasn't holding a knife when i read that the first time.

OK, Gang, until next issue, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and be careful out there.  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 - Woodcarvers' Porch - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarving List2


Editor's Note: Disclaimers and Cautions