Archive for December 2012

November/December 2012 WOM

Welcome to Issue 6 of Year 16 of Woodcarver Online Magazine.

Our Front Page pho­to this issue is:

Fred Zavadil’s



Fred Zavadil’s Santa

 Hel­lo carv­ing friends -

Wel­come to the final issue of WOM for 2012. The Christ­mas sea­son is upon us, and what bet­ter way to cel­e­brate then the 2012 San­ta Gallery. There are some great carv­ings in the gallery this year, with a lot of first-time entrants, like Fred Zavadil and his won­der­ful San­ta. As a bonus, you’ll find down­load­able pat­terns and instruc­tions for two orna­ments designed and carved by Joe Dil­lett. Thanks to all those who sub­mit­ted pho­tos; please plan on send­ing pho­tos of your favorite San­ta or sea­son­al carv­ing for the gallery in 2013.

2012 has been a year of tremen­dous change, not the least of which is my very recent retire­ment after over 38 years of ser­vice at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. I’m look­ing for­ward to 2013 and more time with fam­i­ly, much more time at the carv­ing bench, rid­ing my Ram­bler tad­pole design recum­bent trike, work­ing on improved skills with clay and draw­ing, updat­ing the Carvers Com­pan­ion web sites, and not get­ting up at 5:30 am. (Most par­tic­u­lar­ly the last!) Retire­ment will also mean I’ll final­ly have time to attend more events like the Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress and vis­it with friends, to which I am also look­ing forward.

If you are a Face­book mem­ber, take time to vis­it the Carvers’ Companion/Woodcarver List Face­book group. This pro­vides a place on FB for carvers to post carv­ing pho­tos and to chat about carv­ing, ask ques­tions, etc; it also serves as a com­pan­ion to the Wood­carv­er List­serv. Come on by for a vis­it with the 239 cur­rent mem­bers! Click HERE or on Face­book search for “Wood­carv­er List”

In this issue:

San­ta Gallery 2012

Part 4 of Find­ing and Col­lect­ing Cot­ton­wood Bark by Alex Bis­so

Ho, Ho, Ho by “Ol’ Don” Burgdorf

Pete LeClair’s Santa


Call For Front Page Carv­ing Pho­tos We’re always look­ing for great pho­tos of great carv­ings for the front page of WOM. If you’d like your pho­to to be con­sid­ered, send it on in. Please include the back sto­ry, mate­r­i­al and fin­ish info, size, etc. Send to womed­i­tor AT

Arti­cles and sug­ges­tions for arti­cles are always wel­come. Feel free to send sug­ges­tions and requests. For infor­ma­tion on sub­mit­ting arti­cles for pub­li­ca­tion, click HERE.

WOM Editor Matt Kelley

WOM Edi­tor Matt Kelley


From Pete LeClair

Pete LeClairPete LeClair’s Santa

Pete LeClair’s project this issue fea­tures a revis­it to a San­ta from 2003

Santamaster-A Santa2003pattern

Pete LeClair is a well-known carv­er and teacher, author of three carv­ing books and a mem­ber of the Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca. You may learn more about Pete at his page on the CCA web site. Be sure to tour the rest of the CCA pages when you have a moment. In addi­tion, you may email Pete at pet­ele­clair AT Pho­tos copy­right 2001 — 2012 by Pete LeClair.

This pat­tern may be copied for indi­vid­ual use only; repro­duc­tion for resale is pro­hib­it­ed with­out express writ­ten permission.

From “Ol’ Don’s” Drawing Table

OlDonFrom “Ol’ Don” Draw­ing Table

Ol’ Don” Burgdorf con­tin­ues his reg­u­lar series of pat­terns for WOM with Ho, Ho, Ho and A Mer­ry Christ­mas To All.

To print the pat­tern, click here; the pat­tern will open in a new win­dow, and should print on 8.5 x 11 paper. For Print­ing Hints, click here.

Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho!

Ol’ Don” Burgdorf is a carv­er and artist from Hohen­wald, TN. Don’s fea­ture “Doo­dles ‘n Notes for Carvin’ Folks” appears reg­u­lar­ly in Chip Chats, and his pat­terns are now found in each issue of WOM and Carv­ing Mag­a­zine. He has sev­er­al pat­tern port­fo­lios on a vari­ety of sub­jects avail­able for down­load from his web­site. For infor­ma­tion about the port­fo­lios and oth­er cus­tom ser­vices Don pro­vides carvers, click here. Some of Don’s “Chat­ter­ing Chip­pers” pat­terns can also be seen at the Wood­carver’s Porch pat­tern page.

Ol’ Don now has rough­outs avail­able for some of his pat­terns. You are invit­ed to vis­it Ol’ Don’s home page, or email him at ol’­don AT

Copy­right 2011–2012 “Ol’ Don” Burgdorf. This Pat­tern may be copied for indi­vid­ual use; repro­duc­tion for resale is pro­hib­it­ed with­out express writ­ten permission.

Finding and Collecting Cottonwood Bark, Part 4

Find­ing and Col­lect­ing Cot­ton­wood Bark

By Alex Bisso

Part 4 — Bark Clean­ing and Storage

Bark Clean­ing and Storage

All of the bark that I col­lect is moved to my bark work and stor­age areas.  These are the areas where I do the final clean­ing of the back of the bark and break or cut the bark into rea­son­ably sized pieces for sale and stor­age.  To min­i­mize required move­ment of the bark I find it help­ful to have my work area close to both my rough bark stor­age areas and my sale-ready bark stor­age areas.  My rough bark stor­age is kept out­side and includes most­ly bark that has not had the back cleaned yet and pos­si­bly has not had the out­side hosed or swept.


Rough Bark Stor­age Area

When stack­ing bark in the out­side stor­age areas, I always put down some tim­bers to hold the stored bark off the ground, pri­mar­i­ly to help keep the bot­tom of the stor­age pile dry.  I stack each lay­er of the bark par­al­lel to the one below it so I can get as much bark as pos­si­ble in the area avail­able.  Alter­nat­ing the direc­tion of each lay­er would pro­vide more ven­ti­la­tion but this would take up a lot more space and make the piles larg­er and hard­er to cov­er.  I have found that stack­ing the bark as close­ly as pos­si­ble still leaves plen­ty of spaces in the stack for ven­ti­la­tion and I have nev­er had a prob­lem with that prac­tice.  How­ev­er, I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend keep­ing the stor­age pile cov­ered, espe­cial­ly through the win­ter and any rainy weath­er. 
Anoth­er impor­tant thing to have in the bark stor­age area is a good-sized stump to use to set the bot­tom end of the bark on as you work to clean off the back of the bark.  The two main ben­e­fits of this is that it allows you to clean the bark with­out too much bend­ing over and the end of the stump helps pro­tect the blade of you knife as you chop down on it.  I rake up around this area week­ly (pri­or to garbage col­lec­tion) to keep it rea­son­ably clean.  As you can imag­ine, I spend a lot of hours here.  In this pho­to you can see a cov­ered stor­age area on the left side of the photo.


Bark Work Area

I should note that I posed for this pho­to and was not actu­al­ly clean­ing the bark, which is why I am not wear­ing gloves.  I keep my bolo knife very sharp and have learned to always wear gloves when doing this – it guards against not only a bad cut from the knife but also from wear­ing out fin­ger­tips on the bark.  For win­ter I will restack the bark along the house and at least cov­er it with a piece of blue con­struc­tion foam.


My pri­ma­ry stor­age area for ready-to-sell bark is a large (10′ wide x 20′ long) tarp shed.  Besides the stored bark, I have a 6″ jointer/planer and a 14″ band saw in this shed.  The band saw is extreme­ly use­ful for final trim­ming and divid­ing up sec­tions of bark.  I also use it some­times to cut bark into small blocks or planks or rough cone shapes for trees when I get requests for such items.

The shed includes met­al shelv­ing for short pieces of bark in the front left as well as met­al shelv­ing stand­ing in the mid­dle that I use length­wise for long pieces of bark.


Shed Stor­age Area

In the pri­ma­ry, ready to sell, bark stor­age areas, I cca­sion­al­ly label the kinds of pieces stored in a loca­tion to facil­i­tate select­ing pieces for an order.  Although you can­not read the labels in the pho­to, the top of the shelf here is des­ig­nat­ed for pieces for light­hous­es and/or pieces for San­tas with trees.  The mid­dle shelf is for pieces for reg­u­lar whim­si­cal hous­es.  The table lev­el shelf is for pieces that make or can be cut into pairs for in-the-round houses.


Bark Stor­age Area

A sim­i­lar arrange­ment for bark stor­age exists in the back, left area of the tarp shed.  In gen­er­al, I have found that going ver­ti­cal and stor­ing the bark on sev­er­al acces­si­ble lay­ers of shelves makes it much eas­i­er to find pieces that fit the requests of my bark customers.


Steel Shed Storage

In addi­tion to a large tarp shed, a 10′ wide x 8′ deep steel stor­age shed is also used for bark stor­age.  Like the tarp shed, this is an excel­lent way to store the bark because it keeps it pro­tect­ed from mois­ture.  As you can see, espe­cial­ly on the left side of the shed, it could be hard to look through this bark to find pieces with­out cre­at­ing a bark­slide.   Like in the tarp shed, all of this bark is cleaned and ready to sell  and hope­ful­ly some of it will be moved into the bet­ter orga­nized tarp shed soon.  There are also two large stor­age piles along the fences in my yard, soon to be cov­ered by tarps.  Stor­age capac­i­ty is about maxed out but that is good as we are into the win­ter sea­son.  Col­lect­ing bark in the win­ter is dif­fi­cult because access to many poten­tial areas is pre­vent­ed or lim­it­ed by unplowed road;, because snow makes trav­el­ing through wood­ed areas dif­fi­cult and see­ing what is on the ground dif­fi­cult; because bark on dead trees is often frozen on and not to be removed, and because bark on the ground is often frozen to the ground.  Expe­ri­ence has taught me that it is best to stock up before the win­ter than to have to try to col­lect bark under win­ter conditions.


Steel Stor­age Shed

Com­ing up in Part 5 — Haz­ards of Col­lect­ing and Oth­er Comments

Alex Bisso with a Cottonwood Monarch.

Alex Bis­so with a Cot­ton­wood Monarch.

Alex Bis­so is a wood­carv­er, and col­lec­tor and sell­er of cot­ton­wood bark and oth­er found wood. To view some of Alex’s carv­ings and cot­ton­wood bark sup­ply at Be So Good Wood, click HERE.

Copy­right 2012, All rights reserved. May not be repro­duced in whole or in part with­out pri­or writ­ten permission.

Santa Gallery 2012

Santa Gallery 2012


San­ta Carv­ing sign by Tim Berry

Wel­come to the Annu­al San­ta Gallery pre­sent­ing the San­ta and sea­son­al carv­ings sub­mit­ted by the read­ers of Wood­carv­er Online Mag­a­zine.

Click the links below to vis­it the Gallery pages; when com­plete, close the Gallery win­dow to return here.

San­ta Gallery Page One

San­ta Gallery Page Two