Archive for How-To

Notes From The ‘Net

Notes From The ‘Net

Ques­tions and Answers About Carv­ing Gath­ered From Pop­u­lar Carv­ing Groups

 Edit­ed by Matt Kel­ley


I was weed­ing through some old files recent­ly and ran across this ques­tion and series of com­ments that appeared in the orig­i­nal Wood­carv­er List mail group back in March 2009,  Although 8 years old, the infor­ma­tion is still quite use­ful.

On Taking Photos Of Carvings

Alex Bis­so posed the fol­low­ing ques­tion:

I have a recur­ring prob­lem with get­ting good pho­tos of carv­ings.  My stan­dard method of tri­al and error with the light­ing, inside and out­side works some­times but not con­sis­tent­ly.  On my last fish for exam­ple, I took one pho­to (after a cou­ple of tries) using a piece of light blue foam from an old camp­ing bedroll and the col­or and con­trast came out very well.  How­ev­er, when I tried to set up with a cloth maroon cloth back­ground to take more pho­tos, it looked good but my cam­era did not like it at all.  The pho­tos were either too dark or too bright and glarey and the col­ors did not look true.  There must be a way to set up for pho­tos that pro­vides a good back­ground and light­ing for true col­or with­out glare.  Can any­one sug­gest some­thing sim­ple and reli­able that might work.  

Byron Kin­na­man was the first to reply:

Get a pho­to cube.  It’s a white nylon cube that dif­fus­es the light and elim­i­nates glare.  They usu­al­ly come with 4 col­ored back­grounds and come in dif­fer­ent sizes.  I bought mine on eBay.   Sim­ply search on eBay for “pho­to cube”  there’s lots to choose from.   The best thing for pho­tog­ra­phy since the inven­tion of film.    

Alex respond­ed:

Thanks Byron — I will look into the pho­to cubes.  I will prob­a­bly still have ques­tions about light­ing.  

Joe Dil­lett wrote:

I think Byron’s com­ment about the pho­to cube is good. Oth­er things that are help­ful is always use a tri­pod. I always put some­thing white in the pho­to, even if it’s in the cor­ner that will be cropped off, so the cam­era has some­thing to use it for white bal­ance. Shad­ows help define depth. I like using one light source, gen­er­al­ly from the side, to show shad­ows. Nat­ur­al out­door light seems to be ide­al how­ev­er indoors the day­light type of bulbs yield good results.    Joe Dil­lett

Mau­ra Coop­er added:  

As for pic­tures, I just bought a new Nikon and the dif­fer­ence in my pic­tures is amaz­ing.  I also thank god for dig­i­tal cam­eras.  I often take up to 20 pics of the same thing, chang­ing the light­ing, chang­ing posi­tions, chang­ing back­grounds. Then load all the pics into my pc and pick out the best one or two.   

Ron Ram­sey penned the fol­low­ing:

If you want a pro­fes­sion­al look­ing pho­to­graph on a bud­get, fol­low these instruc­tions:
Set up a table or sawhors­es against a wall in a room where you will be able to block out all of the the light or to make the room dark at night. You want to be able to con­trol ALL of the light on your carv­ing.  Too much light in the wrong place will cause the col­ors to be washed out or the carv­ing to have too much glare in some areas.  This why it’s NOT RECOMMENDED TO TAKE PHOTOS OUTDOORS!

Go to a fram­ing store and buy a large piece of medi­um grey poster board.  Bend the poster board so that has a curve at the back and is ver­ti­cal against the wall at the top and hor­i­zon­tal against the table at the bot­tom.  Some thumb­tacks out­side the edge will help hold it in place.

Use a min­i­mum of two lights that have swiv­el bases and adjustable arms.  Use CFL bulbs.  Nat­ur­al light bulbs are bet­ter if you don’t plan on pro­cess­ing your pho­tos on pho­to soft­ware. The bulbs should not be more than the equiv­a­lent of 40 watts incan­des­cent.  The rea­son you need two or more lights is that you will need to direct the light from at least two direc­tions to fill the shad­ows.  You will still be able to get shad­ows to show the detail but there wont be areas that are lost in shad­ow.  Cov­er the light bulbs with semi-trans­par­ent trac­ing paper taped to the lamp­shades.  This is to dif­fuse and soft­en the light.  Pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers have spe­cial lights that work essen­tial­ly the same way.  Exper­i­ment with the adjust­ments of the lights.  Do not point the lights direct­ly at the carv­ing.  I some­times point the lights at the ceil­ing to reflect the light off of the white sheet rock.  The ide­al light­ing will be much dark­er to your eye than what appears cor­rect.  Some­times it appears too dark to take a pic­ture but don’t be fooled.  


If the pho­to appears too dark when you upload it, exper­i­ment with the bright­ness and con­trast.
USE A TRIPOD!  Set the ISO at 200 or less, and the high­est res­o­lu­tion your cam­era allows.  Too high of an ISO will cause grainy pho­tos. Set the cam­era on man­u­al and don’t use the flash.  Use the timed release to release the shut­ter so there will be no move­ment.  You will be tak­ing the pho­to at a very slow shut­ter speed and any move­ment will cause blur.  Most dig­i­tal cam­eras will set the expo­sure for you. Use a 10 sec­ond time delay to allow the cam­era time to set­tle down after you push the but­ton.

I pre­fer to take under exposed pho­tos and then work with them with pho­to pro­cess­ing soft­ware.  This allows me to enhance the bright­ness and con­trast and adjust the col­ors and sat­u­ra­tion.  The com­put­er pro­cess­ing can take a bit of expe­ri­ence to mas­ter but it’s pos­si­ble to get qual­i­ty raw pho­tos with the pho­tog­ra­phy tech­niques I’ve out­lined above.  Take lots of pho­tos, upload them to the com­put­er and ana­lyze the weak­ness­es.  Adjust light­ing angle etc. and take lots more.  You will learn what works for you and what doesn’t 

Jeff Pretz  com­ment­ed:

Very Help­ful for us who are learn­ing to take pic­tures of our carv­ings!  Thank you very much Ron!          

MikeG  added: 

Great idea to write down the set up, flash set­ting, posi­tion (flash, cam­era and sub­ject), type of lens and expo­sure num­ber on the paper, so you will know what going on between frames and lot eas­i­er to fig­ure out from tri­al and errors. Dig­i­tal cam­era are lot eas­i­er than 35 mm. Write down every­thing, no mat­ter what or why. With­out record, you waste more time. Good Luck (Great tip by Ron)

Loren Woodard wrote: 

For my pho­tographs I use a home made light tent.  Lynn Diel had an arti­cle in Carv­ing Mag­a­zine a few issues back that told how to make the light tent.  My best results have come with a light blue back­ground.  I use three lights.  My light tent is wrapped with a bed sheet.  I use a clamp-on light fix­ture on top with a stan­dard incan­des­cent bulb that shines through the top of the light tent and onto the light blue back board.  I then light the front with two light that have 13 watt day­light (flo­res­cent) bulbs in them.  I direct one light on each side of the carv­ing.  This set­up seems to work bet­ter for me than any oth­er method that I have tried.  I too had a ter­ri­ble time with light.  As a mat­ter of fact, I had an arti­cle turned down for a carv­ing mag­a­zine because of the pic­tures.  I’ve worked hard on the pho­tographs and the above worked bet­ter for me than any­thing. 
By all means, don’t use a bare flash.   

Byron Kin­na­man replied to a com­ment about nat­ur­al out­side light:

I agree that it’s hard to find a soft light day.  Pro­fes­sion­als use col­or cor­rect­ed lights and polar­ized fil­ters on the lights for direct light­ing. Many use umbrel­las for soft non-direct light.  The lights are still col­or cor­rect­ed.   I man­aged to find cou­ple 5000°K CFL lights.  From the pic­tures I don’t think they’re exact­ly 5000°K.  I’d like to find some 5900°K light with­out pay­ing an arm and leg for them.  I also use the pho­to cube which pro­vides a nice soft light.  I pre­fer to use 3 lights.   2 at approx­i­mate­ly 45° and one over­head slight­ly behind the sub­ject, some­times ref­er­eed to as a halo light.  With the halo light slight­ly behind, the sub­ject is sep­a­rat­ed from the back­ground and appears to float.  Many cat­a­logs use that tech­nique.

I’m going to dis­agree with part of what you say.   Nat­ur­al dif­fused sun­light pro­duces the nicest pic­tures.  Note I said dis­used.  The col­ors on a cloudy day pop.  Direct sun­light is not good nor is direct light of any kind.  With sun­light you don’t have to fuss with col­or tem­per­a­ture set­tings. Some CFLs have a green cast to them and can be dif­fi­cult to deal with. I’ve had to mess with the col­or tem­per­a­ture set­ting using CFLs.

Ron Ram­sey con­clud­ed:

It’s true that cloudy days can work to get great pho­tos but you have to wait for the right day.  Where I live it’s not cloudy that often  and when it is, it’s usu­al­ly rain­ing or snow­ing.  With the indoor method you can take pho­tos on any day or night.   Col­or casts can be a prob­lem so it’s a good idea to get famil­iar with a soft­ware pro­gram that allows you to change the bright­ness, con­trast, sat­u­ra­tion and col­or hue.  The cloudy day method is a good option but I find I have
much more con­trol over the shad­ows and details by using lights.  That’s why pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers use a stu­dio to take pho­tos of art.  Nat­ur­al light can some­times oblit­er­ate fine details because it is com­ing from all direc­tions at once.  By using adjustable lights you can fine tune the look you want and cause the details to show up.

That’s it for this edi­tion of NFTN.    If you see a post on one of the FB groups or Mail List­servs that you think should be pre­served in NFTN, please use the form below to sub­mit your sug­ges­tion.

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Will Hayden 4 Inch Figure

Projects From Will Hayden — Step-by-step 4 Inch Figure

Wel­come to the sec­ond in a series of carv­ing tips, hints, pat­terns and instruc­tion from the late Will Hayden’s pho­to gallery.  In this install­ment, you will find Will’s step-by-step method of carv­ing a 4″ tall fig­ure.  Includ­ed are sev­er­al bonus pho­tos of a 4 inch “WOM” fig­ure from Will’s own hand.  Enjoy!








Selling Finished Work

Selling Finished Work

By Lora S. Irish

I had a ques­tion post­ed to me on one of my mes­sage boards.  The per­son was ask­ing how to sell their fin­ished works (pyrog­ra­phy) and whether to pur­sue art gallery space or craft show space. Per­haps oth­ers will add ideas to this dis­cus­sion on the Wood­carv­er List Face­book group.

In my expe­ri­ence arts and crafts shows often do way bet­ter for carvers and burn­ers than art gal­leries when you are look­ing for sales for your work.

Art gal­leries have lim­it­ed space for work in their brick and mor­tar store fronts, there is only so much room espe­cial­ly for 3-D dis­play. This means that as a carver/pyrographers your chances of get­ting space are extreme­ly lim­it­ed and if you do win space the num­ber of items they can show for you is lim­it­ed.

A gallery will charge up to 50% of the sale price of your work as their com­mis­sion. If they offer you a One Man show or Solo Show the costs of the adver­tis­ing and enter­tain­ment for the affair can also be charged against your sales.

Gal­leries work extreme­ly well for flat work as paint­ings, etch­ing or prints. Prints usu­al­ly have the pref­er­ence as they can be racked and are inex­pen­sive­ly priced for cus­tomer from between $50 to $250. Plus print sales sup­port the fram­ing busi­ness that most gal­leries have.

As an artist you can incur unex­pect­ed costs by work­ing through a gallery set­ting.  Often a gallery will require you to car­ry insur­ance on the full sell­ing price of your work to pro­tect them from pay­ing for the nat­ur­al dam­age, wear and tear that can hap­pen to your work while in their cus­tody.  Also you as the artist are finan­cial­ly respon­si­ble for any ship­ping costs to and from the gallery.

High end arts and craft shows on the oth­er hand are where an artist rents space for the affair and then set up their own small, portable shop front. Depend­ing on the show you might be rent­ing a space inside a large build­ing, a cer­tain size of grass plot or some­times a sec­tion of tent. Check to see if you need to pur­chase elec­tric­i­ty or not … if you need it. You will most like­ly need to fur­nish your store set­tings as tables, table cloths and chairs.

For me the biggest dif­fer­ence between a gallery and an arts/craft show is the atmos­phere. A gallery is qui­et, con­tem­pla­tive, one or two peo­ple at a time and ‘I’m con­sid­er­ing buy­ing’ place. A shows in noisy, bus­sel­ly, some­times hordes of peo­ple and ‘I have mon­ey in my pock­ets’ place .…

If I may be so bold as to throw out a few ideas for you to con­sid­er before your next show:

1. Cre­ate your ‘store front’ care­ful­ly and well before you go to any show.

Make it adjustable by using small­er table units (4′ sec­tions) that can be rearranged to fit any space.

Make it match. Go ahead and invest some mon­ey into a nice look­ing arrange­ment of match­ing fur­ni­ture pieces instead of going to the base­ment and grab­bing some saw hors­es and old ply­wood scraps. The first looks pro­fes­sion­al and prof­itable imply­ing that you have made enough sales to jus­ti­fy the set up. The lat­ter looks throw togeth­er and just cheap so to the cus­tomer you obvi­ous­ly are not a sell­ing artist.

Don’t use table cloths to “hide” struc­tur­al units. Use cloth to give accent and col­or to your pieces. Cloth works won­der­ful­ly as a visu­al divider between items or groups of items.

I once saw a set­up of shelves cre­at­ed with small step 5′ high step lad­ders. The lad­ders were paint­ed bright fire engine red with black trim for the met­al parts. Then white paint­ed boards were slid through the steps to cre­ate the shelv­ing. The craft ware could be set on the shelves, cer­tain pieces fea­tured on the step lad­ders top board or inside the A shape of the lad­der steps and more piece hung from the sides of the lad­ders. Easy to put up, take down and extreme­ly eye catch­ing.

2. Some things small and inex­pen­sive — some things medi­um and afford­able — some things expen­sive and impres­sive — at least three things out­ra­geous­ly priced and just in your face atten­tion grab­bers. As a pyro show artist I would include key rings with quick and easy designs and maybe ribbons/silk flow­ers on the key ring that any­one could afford. Next would be my ‘bread and but­ter’ price range with items that both art­sy and use­ful as your purs­es or as spoon hold­ers or let­ter box­es. Then I would show my ‘com­mis­sion’ area of work as burn­ings of a pet por­trait group along with the orig­i­nal pho­tos that I used. Final­ly I would show a few works that were priced just above my chok­ing lim­it as a framed and mat­ted 12″ x 24″ full col­or drag­on burn­ing or a full dec­o­rat­ed man’s leather vest.

(Chok­ing price is where I still have my fin­gers tight­ly gripped around the work but the mon­ey in your hands that you are wav­ing under my nose smells awful good.)

3. Don’t set a table between you and your cus­tomers. Keep an open area where you are invit­ing them into your stu­dio and shop area. A table becomes a visu­al bar­ri­er between you, them, and what you have to sell. It’s the biggest bar­ri­er for a cus­tomer to cross if they want to buy!!!!

Bring along anoth­er per­son so that you have one work­ing the sale and one watch­ing the wares, and take turns. Often my Michael is a far bet­ter sales per­son than I am as he can brag about his wife far bet­ter than I can.  So over the years he was our pri­ma­ry sales­man at any show.

4. When­ev­er pos­si­ble demon­strate at the shows. Set a small table at the side of your booth; in fact creep it out into the walk­ing path. Have sev­er­al pieces on the table in dif­fer­ent fin­ished stages. Let your cus­tomers see how much work goes into what they are going to buy.

Tell them about your­self, how you are a ‘trained artist’ or ‘self-taught’ artist and a lit­tle some­thing about why you chose burn­ing. Cus­tomers love to take home a sto­ry along with their pur­chased item.

5.  Cre­ate bright­ly col­ored match­ing long aprons!  You can get can­vas aprons at or that can be hand paint­ed.  Use acrylic paints and dec­o­rate the whosits out of them.  They don’t have to match for each per­son in the show booth but should have your name plas­tered bold­ly in the upper cen­ter sec­tion.

Why!  Because you want them to remem­ber your name. You want them to go home with some­thing more than “I saw this wood carv­er who does chain saw bears”. What you want is for them to go home and tell the sto­ry that they saw this chain saw carv­er named “Carvin’ Calvin”. Hav­ing your shop name or the name you carve under bold­ly paint­ed on your chest is instant adver­tis­ing and instant recog­ni­tion at the next show they go to.

Plus no show per­son wants to stand all day long in their own booth.  Every once in a while you will want to go for a walk, stretch your legs and check out the com­pe­ti­tion.  Why not adver­tise while you do it … :)

6.  Add some­thing smelly to your craft shop.  I know this one sounds fun­ny but smell is a major fac­tor in catch­ing people’s atten­tion and in get­ting them to remem­ber you!  I learned this one through my favorite quilt fab­ric shop.  The own­er had bowls and bowls of pot­pour­ri every­where in the shop.  Her store smelled like apples and cin­na­mon.  Lat­er when I would root through my quilt fab­ric and come across a piece I had pur­chased at her shop that fab­ric still smelled like apples and cin­na­mon … guess who’s store I thought of every time I went look­ing through my fab­ric!

As a carv­er at a show I would hide cedar chips through­out the store area.  They smell great and they have a com­mon­ly rec­og­nized wood smell.  As a pyro­g­ra­ph­er I prob­a­bly would use one of the musky incense smells, some­thing mas­cu­line and strong as san­dal­wood or a spice smell as nut­meg.

Smell sells … it’s sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly said to be one of the ways we decide who we will part­ner with as mates, so to me it’s fair game as a busi­ness own­er.

7. Remem­ber that most sales made through an arts and crafts show come after the show has closed, not dur­ing the show. So have lots of hand out, fliers and busi­ness cards ready with your name, busi­ness name, address, email, blog url, and phone num­ber clear­ly print­ed.

I remem­ber one of my first show­ings was a real flop, I think we made all of three sales that three day week­end. But the next week­end the phone rang off the hook with peo­ple would had picked up a busi­ness card at the show and want­ed to set up a com­mis­sion sale.

Stan­dard Dis­claimer:  This is just my expe­ri­ence, oth­ers may have a total­ly dif­fer­ent view.  Please take what you want and throw the rest away.,

Designs Online Since 1997 by L.S.Irish

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures many of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Beginner Tool Sets

Beginner’s Tool Sets

By Lora S. Irish

I am a real believe in beginner’s carv­ing tool sets for sev­er­al rea­sons.  Usu­al­ly we, Mike and I, sug­gest a basic five or six tool set for around $50 and a bench knife or chip knife as your first invest­ment into carv­ing.  So our begin­ners start with an invest­ment of less than $100.

There are sev­er­al forms of carv­ing where one or two tools are real­ly all you need to start our hob­by as fig­ure carv­ing or whit­tling with a bench knife or high qual­i­ty pock­et style knife — chip carv­ing where a chip knife and stab knife will do every­thing you need.  But those two tools — the bench knife/chip knife and stab knife — will not let you explore relief carv­ing!

A basic beginner’s set with round gouges, chis­els, skews and v-gouges will let a begin­ner try every style of carv­ing. After you have set­tled into your favorite style of carv­ing you may end up using just a few of the tools, so some may seem a waste of invest­ment.  For some rea­son I have nev­er got­ten com­fort­able with the skew chis­el?!? But hav­ing enough tool pro­files at the start of your hob­by gives you so much more vari­ety in carv­ing styles that I believe they are worth it.

I start­ed with wood spir­it walk­ing sticks and a bench knife was all I real­ly had to have.  Yet, some­how, I have end­ed up a relief carv­er and just a bench knife won’t get me very far into this form of carv­ing.

With an inex­pen­sive (notice I did not say a CHEAP craft store set) beginner’s set you have at hand the basic tools for any carv­ing you might want to try.  As you devel­op you style, dis­cov­er your favorite vari­a­tion of carv­ing then add high qual­i­ty tools specif­i­cal­ly for your type of carv­ing.  But don’t throw that beginner’s set away as one day some­thing might catch you atten­tion and you will be delight­ed that you have them on hand.


This basic begin­ners carv­ing set includes two sizes of round chis­els, a skew chis­el, a straight chis­el, and a v-gouge.  Also shown are a long-blad­ed bench knife and a large chip carv­ing knife for straight-edge cuts.


Sharp­en­ing stones, strops and rouge are an impor­tant part of any carver’s tool kit.  No mat­ter how much a carv­ing tool ini­tial­ly cost, it is no bet­ter than its cut­ting edge.  Shown here are a Japan­ese wet stone, ceram­ic stones, a pro­filed hon­ing strop, leather strop, and a syn­thet­ic strop.  You can also obtain vary­ing grits of emery cloth at your local hard­ware store for edge sharp­en­ing.


Many of the tools that will end up in your carv­ing kit are basic house­hold tools.  Scis­sors, ink pens, pen­cils, and graphite paper are used to trans­fer your pat­tern to the wood.  A T-square will help you prop­er­ly set the pat­tern to the wood blank.  You will need sand­pa­per is sev­er­al grits from 150- to 320-grit for prepar­ing your wood and for smooth­ing out rough areas in the carv­ing.  You will also need mask­ing tape, dust­ing brush­es, and an assort­ment of small rif­fle files.


For many carv­ings, whether you do 3-D work or relief carv­ing, will require some means of secur­ing the wood.  Shown here is a basic bench hook or brac­ing board that you can make out of scrap ply­wood.  The front edge of the board drops over the edge of your table.  The back cor­ner brace allows you to push the cut­ting stroke into the cor­ner with­out the wood mov­ing from the pres­sure of the tools. (Plans for the bench hook may be found by click­ing HERE).

Just my opin­ion.,

Designs Online Since 1997 by Lora S. Irish

LoraIrishLora S. Irish is a carv­er and designs projects and tuto­ri­als for carv­ing, pyrog­ra­phy and relat­ed art.  Her line art pat­terns and draw­ings site, fea­tures line art designs cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly by Lora for craters and arti­sans.   Her blog, at, fea­tures many of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.



Notes From The ‘Net

Notes From The ‘Net

Ques­tions and Answers About Carv­ing Gath­ered From Pop­u­lar Carv­ing Groups

 Edit­ed by Matt Kel­ley


Wel­come carv­ing friends to NFTN, ver­sion 2.0.   In this ongo­ing series we will gath­er the best ques­tions, answers and com­ments from the more active Face­book and mail list carv­ing groups, such as the Wood­carv­er List, Wood­carv­ing 101 — The Joy of Wood­carv­ing, and the Inter­na­tion­al Fish Carvers & Painters Asso­ci­a­tion, and present them here.

Enjoy, and Carve On!

On Woodburning Tools

On the tra­di­tion­al email Wood­carv­er List, James Nor­ton wrote:  I am a novice wood­carv­er who has start­ed a some­what ambi­tious bird carv­ing. I am near­ing the point where I will be detail­ing the feath­ers, and wish to get feed­back from more expe­ri­enced carvers than myself about the best wood­burn­ing tool.  I am look­ing for a set that allows pre­cise tem­per­a­ture con­trol and that has a vari­ety of tips for dif­fer­ent pur­pos­es. Sug­ges­tions wel­come, thanks in advance.

Faulkner2206 replied:  I find the cole­wood “detail­er” works great for bird’s and is rel­a­tive­ly rea­son­ably priced. Tips are easy to change and you will find you need to use just a few dif­fer­ent tips for most birds.

Ear­land­Barb wrote:  Per­son­al­ly, I think all the major brands that you will find in a wood­carv­ing store are pret­ty much equal. Some pre­fer one, some anoth­er. I am hap­py with my Nib­s­burn­er but I don’t think they are mak­ing them any more. For­tu­nate­ly, I can use Cole­wood tips with it.

Stephen Blak­ley added:  I take class­es from a guy who uses Razor tips.  He believes the tips are bet­ter than the Col­wood.  To do the quill, I pur­chased a Razor tip pen and tip, with an adapter to fit the Col­wood.  He honed down the one tip on my Col­wood  so that it was thin­ner.

Faulkner2206 replied:  I always hone my burn­er tips, both Cole­wood and Razor. Sharp­en them like a knife for real­ly tight feath­er barbs. Much of this becomes a mat­ter of per­son­al pref­er­ence based on what you get used to.

Byron Kin­na­man wrote:  The trou­ble with mak­ing the tips thin­ner is they burn up faster.

The tech­ni­cal aspects of wood burn­ing tips — any con­duc­tor (the tip is a con­duc­tor) the small­er the cross sec­tion­al area, the high­er the resis­tance, and the hot­ter the tip.  The more frag­ile the tip, the soon­er you’ll have to replace the tip.

One con­sid­er­a­tion is the mate­r­i­al the pen is made of.  You want a pen that doesn’t trans­fer heat eas­i­ly.  This will allow you use it longer than one that made of mate­r­i­al that is know for it’s abil­i­ty to trans­fer heat, like alu­minum.  Plas­tics can be made to either slow down heat trans­fer or speed up heat trans­fer.   Most wood burn­ing pens that are plas­tic are of the slow down heat trans­fer type.   The alu­minum pens trans­fer heat rapid­ly.

Anoth­er thing to watch out for is hype.  There’s a cou­ple man­u­fac­tures that hype their prod­uct and demand a high­er price.  A cou­ple hype capa­ble of 150 Watts, typ­i­cal wood­burn­ing hap­pens below 30 watts.  2000° tip tem­per­a­ture, what are you try­ing to do?, melt the tip, start a fire?  There are sev­er­al good wood burn­ers out there with­out buy­ing the hype.

Faulkner2206 added:  When burn­ing feath­ers  low heat and sharp tips make for bet­ter birds. Tips are not per­ma­nent, they are expend­able just like glue and paint.

That’s it for this edi­tion of NFTN.    If you see a post on one of the FB groups or Mail List­servs that you think should be pre­served in NFTN, please use the form below to sub­mit your sug­ges­tion.

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Review: Concepts to Caricatures

Concepts To Caricatures — Celebrating 25 Years of Caricature Carving

The Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca

Reviewed by Matt Kel­ley

CCA Book 01

The Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca (CCA), as many of you know, was found­ed in 1990.  In this, their 25th anniver­sary year, they have released their sev­enth book, Con­cepts to Car­i­ca­tures; Cel­e­brat­ing 25 Years of Car­i­ca­ture Carv­ing.

Unlike many of their books, this vol­ume from Schif­fer Pub­lish­ing is not cen­tered around a spe­cif­ic project; rather, each CCA mem­ber cre­at­ed a carv­ing in their own style.  Some of the projects are indi­vid­ual fig­ures; some are set in scenes — no restric­tions were placed on style, size, or sub­ject mat­ter.


  • Who Are The Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca?
  • His­to­ry of the Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca
  • Overview
  • Step-by-step with Chris Ham­mock
  • CCA Chap­ters — a chap­ter with each of 25 CCA mem­bers over 97 pages
  • Pat­terns - 13 pages worth
  • Mem­bers Gallery — anoth­er 13 pages

Chris Ham­mack Step-by-step — The Pitch

Chris Ham­mack, who is know for his west­ern art, decid­ed to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and carved a base­ball play­er.  Actu­al­ly, he carved five car­i­ca­tures of a pitch­er on the mound, one each for:

  • The Sign
  • The Look
  • The Windup
  • The Stretch
  • The Release

While there are pho­tos of all five carv­ings, the step-by-step cov­ers the every­thing from con­cept to fin­ished carv­ing for The Windup.  The first set of pho­tos include the final design sketch, cut­ting out the pat­tern and trans­fer­ring front and side views to the block, and bands awing the blank.  Chris then spends the next 25 pages cov­er­ing the carv­ing and fin­ish­ing of the piece, con­clud­ing with some great gallery pages.  Along the way he salts the pho­tos with lots of com­men­tary and hints.  There is a lot of detail in this sec­tion, and an expe­ri­enced carv­er should have few prob­lems fol­low­ing the steps-by-step.  This is not for the faint of heart, how­ev­er, as there are a lot of skin­ny limbs and thin cross-grain sec­tions to deal with.  As Chris notes ear­ly in the intro­duc­tion to the step-by-step, “I rec­om­mend leav­ing those [cross-grain] parts ’til last and not being far form a tube of super glue and some accel­er­a­tor.”

CCA Chap­ters

After the step-by-step, you’ll find almost a hun­dred pages devot­ed to the addi­tion­al 25 CCA mem­bers includ­ed in the book.  Each chap­ter includes a brief biog­ra­phy of the mem­ber, an dis­cus­sion of the devel­op­ment and carv­ing of the piece, some tips and a selec­tion of in-progress and fin­ished pho­tos.

CCA Mem­bers and carv­ings Includ­ed:

  • David Boone — Are You a Hat­field or McCoy
  • Mitch Car­tledge — Big Daddy’s Big Night
  • PJ Driscoll — Let The Games Begin
  • Gary Falin — Lance Boyle
  • Gene Fuller — Check­mate
  • Dale Green — Don’t Drink and Drive
  • Bruce Henn — Dia­mond Dev­ils — Lit­tle People’s League
  • Eldon Humphreys — Gui­tar Man
  • Randy Lan­den — Pull
  • Pete Leclair — Mornin’ Ladies
  • Don Mertz — Windy Win­dale
  • Kei­th Mor­rill — San­ta Chess Set
  • Ryan Olsen - Still Fits
  • Steve Prescott - Cow­boy Wis­don
  • Doug Raine — Vaque­ro
  • Floyd Rhadi­gan - The Old Salt
  • Joe Schu­mach­er — Squin­ten Clin­ten
  • Sandy Smith — Mel­on­Col­lieBa­by
  • Dave Stet­son — Female Fig­ure
  • Den­nis Thorn­ton - Eagle Eye
  • Bob Travis - You Are My Sun­shine
  • Rich Wether­bee — Back Forty
  • Jack A Williams — Pickin’ and Sin­gin’
  • Tom Wolfe — Home Deliv­ery
  • Joe You — Feed­ing The Prince

Won­der about the carv­ings behind the titles?  You’ll need to get the book to see!


Here you’ll find a pat­tern the carv­ing includ­ed the CCA Sec­tion.  Some are sim­ple out­line pat­terns; some include much more detail.


A taste­ful selec­tions of pho­tos of oth­er carv­ings by CCA mem­bers

In Con­clu­sion
The lay­out of the book is good, the pho­tos excel­lent.  A tip ‘o the hat to edi­tor Sandy Smith and her asso­ciate edi­tors Randy Lan­den and Bob Travis.  Anoth­er tip ‘o the hat to Jack A and Car­ol Williams for the cov­er and stu­dio pho­tos, as well as Chris Ham­mock for the step-by-step pho­tos.   The lay­out and pho­tos, as well as the humor present when­ev­er CCA mem­bers assem­ble, all com­bine to make this an enjoy­able book to read and use.

If you are a car­i­ca­ture carv­er this book should be on your Christ­mas list (It’s still not too late).   If you are a more gen­er­al carv­er, you still should con­sid­er this book, as learn­ing more about how a carv­ing is con­ceived and cre­at­ed will be of ben­e­fit.

To learn more about Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca, their oth­er pub­li­ca­tion and the annu­al CCA Car­i­ca­ture Carv­ing Com­petion, vis­it their web site at

CCA Book 02

Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Update

Susan bio shot    Susan Alexander and Let’s Talk Carving Are On Hiatus!






Hel­lo every­one!  Susan Alexan­der is tak­ing a few months away from writ­ing Let’s Talk Carv­ing.  We expect her and Let’s Talk Carv­ing to return in the new year.  We’ll let you know as soon as a return date is con­firmed.  Until then, you may con­tin­ue to sub­mit ques­tions and com­ments using the form below (but please don’t expect an answer right away).



Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 11

Susan bio shot    The Most Funnest* Carving Competition Ever!

Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.  Safe­ty First!





Enter­ing a carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion usu­al­ly involves a whole lot more than carv­ing a com­pe­ti­tion-wor­thy piece. What type of wood should you use? Do you have the right size at home, or do you have to go out and buy wood? Is the com­pe­ti­tion close enough so you can deliv­er your carv­ing, or do you have to search for the cor­rect size box, gath­er pack­ing mate­r­i­al, pack it up, add postage, mail it, pray it gets there safe­ly and then there is the cost and pack­ing of the carving’s return trip home. All this takes time, and you haven’t even start­ed the funnest* part yet – carv­ing!

I cer­tain­ly am not try­ing to dis­suade you from enter­ing any/all carv­ing com­pe­ti­tions; go for it, espe­cial­ly the 50th Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress in 2016, as well as your local carv­ing club com­pe­ti­tions.

… how­ev­er …

I am here to offer you the oppor­tu­ni­ty of hav­ing some plain, old-fash­ioned, sit­tin’ on the back porch while the autumn leaves fall, carv­ing FUN in the next few weeks! I’m speak­ing of the third annu­al Helvie Knives’ Han­dle Carv­ing Com­pe­ti­tion, run by Rich and Hol­li Smith­son, own­ers of Helvie Knives. This carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion offers all of the fun and none of the has­sle.

For $5, which includes your entry fee, Rich/Holli (prob­a­bly Hol­li) will send you exact­ly what you see in the pho­to below – an unsharp­ened dum­my knife with a 6 inch bass­wood han­dle and an entry form.

Helvie Knife Handle Blank and Entry Form

Helvie Knife Han­dle Blank and Entry Form


If your carv­ing turns out spec­tac­u­lar­ly well, and you want it returned in lieu of allow­ing it to join the 170 oth­er carved knife han­dles dis­played at Helvie’s head­quar­ters, then send an addi­tion­al $5 when you mail off your carved knife han­dle and they’ll send it back to you after the com­pe­ti­tion.

Of course, there are a few rules. This is the third year of the com­pe­ti­tion, and the rules have been firmed up a bit because carvers are such a cre­ative bunch. Basi­cal­ly, it’s just “carve the han­dle with­out cut­ting it apart or glu­ing any add-ons to it, and leave the blade alone.” Not sure what exact­ly is allowed? Go to web­site and read the rules.

I asked Hol­li to send me a few pho­tos of knife han­dle carv­ings from past years so you can have an idea of what types of carv­ings have been done in the past….looks like every­thing from A to Z!





It’s great that Helvie offers three sep­a­rate prize cat­e­gories:

  • Begin­ners’ Class – 1 year or less expe­ri­ence
  • Inter­me­di­ate Class – 1 to 3 years expe­ri­ence
  • Open Class – Any­one regard­less of expe­ri­ence

You are on your hon­or to enter the cor­rect class. Carvers are an hon­est group of peo­ple main­ly because it is a small com­mu­ni­ty and we would all know if you fibbed.

To receive your Helvie blank, send $5 to:

Helvie Knives

P.O. Box 145

Tip­ton, IN 46072

Now, this is the impor­tant part. To get your atten­tion, I am putting this in bold and red, typ­ing it in cap­i­tal let­ters, and cen­ter­ing the lines.


BY OCTOBER 16, 2015.

It takes a few days for the post office to deliv­er your check to Helvie, and then anoth­er few days to receive your blank. Turn around time for me was less than a week.

If, in the next day or two, you put a check in the mail to them, by the time you receive your blank, you should have a good two weeks to carve and fin­ish you knife han­dle and get it back to Helvie by Octo­ber 16. That is more than enough time for you to turn out a com­pe­ti­tion-wor­thy 6” carv­ing. Sounds like a ter­rif­ic carv­ing club project to me.

I asked Hol­li if the met­al used in the dum­my knife could be sharp­ened, and she said, “No, but it could be used as a great but­ter knife.”

That cinched it! I sent Helvie a $15 check, less than the cost of a deliv­ered piz­za. For that I received two blanks ($5 each) and guar­an­teed return ship­ping ($5). My $15 invest­ment, even if I don’t win a prize (great prizes, by the way – see below), is well worth hav­ing two real­ly cool but­ter knives.

Got ques­tions about the com­pe­ti­tion that I haven’t answered? Call Hol­li Smith­son at Helvie Knives at 765–675-8811, or email her at You can also check out for addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion.

If you send me pho­tos of your Helvie carved knife han­dles, I’ll run them, with your name, in the Novem­ber issue. It would be great to see everyone’s carv­ings. You can send your pho­tos to

Helvie will take all carv­ing entries to the Rene­gade Roundup in Ten­nessee to be judged by CCA mem­ber, Steve Brown.  Par­tic­i­pants do not need to be in atten­dance to win. Win­ners will be noti­fied either by phone or email – your choice.

Speak­ing of win­ning, we have to thank Lar­ry and Car­ol Yud­is, own­ers of The Wood­craft Shop (click their ad in the col­umn to the right to go direct­ly to their online store), for gen­er­ous­ly offer­ing the fol­low­ing prizes:

  • $70 Gift Cer­tifi­cate for First-Place in the Begin­ners’ Class
  • $50 Gift Cer­tifi­cate for First-Place in the Inter­me­di­ate Class
  • $30 Gift Cer­tifi­cate for First-Place in the Open Class

Wait … there’s more.

We also have to thank Gene Webb, of Gene Webb Wood­carv­ing (click his ad in the col­umn to the right to go direct­ly to their online store), for gen­er­ous­ly offer­ing the fol­low­ing prizes:

  • The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Begin­ners’ Class
  • The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Inter­me­di­ate Class
  • The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Open Class

Wait … there’s still more.

Oth­er carvers and com­pa­nies are com­ing on board in sup­port of the Helvie Knife Han­dle Com­pe­ti­tion. Helvie has already received and will award two $25 gift cer­tifi­cates from Chip­ping Away, two rough­outs from Jim His­er, and a spe­cial carv­ing from Don Mertz, cur­rent sec­re­tary of Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca.

Wait … there’s even more!

Every first-place win­ner will receive a Helvie Knife of their choice. Click on the Helvie Knife logo in the col­umn to the right to go direct­ly to Helvie’s online store where you will see hun­dreds of knives made to the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of some of the finest carvers in the world, and avail­able to you. Over­whelmed with which knife is best suit­ed for your style of carv­ing and size of your hand, or have a spe­cif­ic need? No prob­lem! Speak with the own­er, Rich Smith­son, at 765–675-8811 and tell him I told you to call. He is accus­tomed to work­ing with carvers. After ask­ing you a few ques­tions, Rich will be able to give you his knife rec­om­men­da­tions. Talk about per­son­al ser­vice! Start­ing this month, Helvie Knives is one of our new spon­sors. Please wel­come Hol­li and Rich Smith­son to the Carvers Com­pan­ion and the Let’s Talk Carv­ing fam­i­ly.

Carvers help­ing carvers.


You Are Never Alone

H.S.'Andy' Anderson and Harold Enlow

H.S.‘Andy’ Ander­son and Harold Enlow

So … who is stand­ing over your shoul­der, whis­per­ing into your ear? Don’t turn around. You won’t see the line of carvers who have giv­en you the help and encour­age­ment that made you the carv­er you are today, but they are all behind you. Even if you can’t see them, slow down for a moment the next time you carve and you may very well feel them, and if you are like me, hear them, as well.

At the last Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress ban­quet, I sat with Neil Cox, Vic Hood and Ter­ry Brash­er. When I got home and start­ed a carv­ing, they came to mind. Think­ing about them, I felt bad­ly that I hadn’t told them how each had influ­enced my carv­ing edu­ca­tion. Every time I reach for a V-tool, I hear Neil’s gen­tle voice sug­gest­ing to start with a vein­er because it is eas­i­er to fix a mis­take made with a vein­er than a V-tool. When­ev­er I believe the face I’ve carved is just about done, I hear Vic Hood telling me I could go “deep­er.” When I’m lay­ing out a face, Ter­ry Brash­er is remind­ing me to mea­sure my face by the size of the eyes so it will fit into the size wood I’ve cho­sen.

Although I thought about it dur­ing the ban­quet, I nev­er told Neil, Vic or Ter­ry, “Thank You,” but I’m doing that right now.

So, how about you? Who is stand­ing over your shoul­der? Do they know that they’ve helped you? Besides thank­ing them, we should be pass­ing along their nuggets of wis­dom. That’s what carv­ing and this col­umn is all about.

While I was think­ing about adding this new fea­ture, it just hap­pened that, on the same day, I spoke with both Rick Jensen and Lar­ry Yud­is, so I asked them who they would thank, and why. You’ll see their respons­es below.

I’ve already primed the pump, but here are two more peo­ple I want to thank, with more next month, because I’ve got a thou­sand of ‘em.

Kei­th Miller, the first per­son who put a bench knife and a piece of bass­wood in my hands taught a Wednes­day night carv­ing class at The Cen­ter in Palos Park. Kei­th extolled the virtues of look­ing at a carv­ing not only right side up, but upside down, down from the top, up from the bot­tom, and from both sides. After I would do a “quick” scan of my carv­ing, hop­ing it would be “good enough”, he would take it from my hands and point out what this novice carv­er had over­looked. Yes, Kei­th, I remem­ber you say­ing, “It isn’t done until I say it’s done.” Thank you, my friend. If not for you, this won­der­ful carv­ing com­mu­ni­ty would not be a large part of my life.

Rick Jensen, 2014 WCI Carv­er of the Year, reminds me (to this day) that it is vital to wear an apron with a front leather insert when pow­er carv­ing because a bit going at 40,000 RPM can grab your clothes and hurt you bad­ly. To dri­ve that point home, he has told me, in graph­ic detail, what he has seen an out-of-con­trol bit do to a carv­er. Before I even sit down to carve, I look at my pow­er carv­ing equip­ment, hear Rick’s words and reach for my leather apron.

Thank you’s from:

Rick Jensen: I always think of my good friend, Harold Enlow, every time I do a demon­stra­tion.  Harold taught me how to carve clean and how to impress peo­ple when I carve by using large tools to make big bold cuts.  He also taught me how to hold an audience’s atten­tion while carv­ing by mak­ing these large dra­mat­ic cuts and telling jokes and sto­ries. 


Lar­ry Yud­is: I guess if I’d have to put into a few words how Harold Enlow influ­enced me it would be:  Remem­ber, it’s just a piece of wood … and, some­times you have to impro­vise.  That just showed me a per­son shouldn’t get all worked up if some­thing isn’t turn­ing out quite the way it was intend­ed.  Change your pat­tern … change your plans … impro­vise!

You must know what I need­ed to do after hear­ing Rick and Lar­ry thank Harold. I had to speak with Harold Enlow.

While I prob­a­bly own every Harold Enlow book, I had nev­er met the leg­endary carv­er. I called Rick Jensen for Harold’s phone num­ber. Took a deep breath, called Harold, intro­duced myself, told him about this new fea­ture, that both Rick and Lar­ry had cho­sen some­thing he had taught them to pass on to our read­ers. Then I asked Harold, “Who would you want to thank and why?”

Harold told me that, with­out a doubt, it would be H. S. ‘Andy’ Ander­son. Andy’s car­i­ca­ture carv­ing book influ­enced Harold’s entire life, which is accu­rate when you remem­ber that Harold Enlow is known as the God­fa­ther of Mod­ern Day Car­i­ca­ture Carv­ing, writ­ten numer­ous books with their accom­pa­ny­ing study sticks, is a tool mak­er, black­smith, and a found­ing mem­ber of CCA, the Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca.

I won­dered if Harold and Andy had ever met. Harold said that although he was sta­tioned in Albu­querque, New Mex­i­co, while Andy was liv­ing in San­ta Fe, unfor­tu­nate­ly he had nev­er had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet Andy, and would prob­a­bly have been hes­i­tant to talk to such a famous carv­er. I told Harold now he knew how I felt talk­ing to him.

So this part of our sto­ry almost comes to an end, except … just before we hung up, Harold men­tioned a pho­to that Don Arnett had manip­u­lat­ed a few years back … that includ­ed Harold and Andy.

Of course, I couldn’t let that lie. I had to con­tact Don Arnett. You’ve already seen Don’s won­der­ful, heart-warm­ing pho­to at the begin­ning of this fea­ture. Thank you, Don, for allow­ing us to share it with our read­ers.

So, my carv­ing friends, this is a bit like, except a carvers’ ver­sion. It was Andy Anderson’s book that influ­enced Harold Enlow who influ­enced Rick Jensen, Lar­ry Yud­is and an entire world of carvers, and, in the end, it was Andy in Don Arnett’s pho­to that inspired the name of this new Let’s Talk Carv­ing fea­ture, You Are Nev­er Alone.

I won­der who was look­ing over H. S. ‘Andy’ Anderson’s shoul­der.

If you have a carv­er or instruc­tor you would like to thank, use the form below to send me their name, and in a few sen­tences what they specif­i­cal­ly taught you that improved your carv­ing skills and cre­ativ­i­ty.

You can send me one or numer­ous “Thank You” mes­sages to be pub­lished, as space per­mits. They can either be for the same per­son or for dif­fer­ent peo­ple. In today’s world, we can’t have too many “thank you’s” float­ing around out there, plus what­ev­er it was that helped you be a bet­ter carv­er will now be read and help oth­er, new­er carvers.

Carvers help­ing carvers~

Until then, gen­tle read­er, may your wood be plen­ti­ful and your tools stay sharp. Take care, carve lots, and always remem­ber to smile.


*Yes. I know there is no such word as “funnest.” I made it up. It’s one of the perks of writ­ing this col­umn.



Notes From The ‘Net

Notes From The ‘Net

Ques­tions and Answers About Carv­ing Gath­ered From Pop­u­lar Carv­ing Groups

 Edit­ed by Matt Kel­ley


Wel­come carv­ing friends to NFTN, ver­sion 2.0.   In this ongo­ing series we will gath­er the best ques­tions, answers and com­ments from the more active Face­book and mail list carv­ing groups, such as the Wood­carv­er List, Wood­carv­ing 101 — The Joy of Wood­carv­ing, and the Inter­na­tion­al Fish Carvers & Painters Asso­ci­a­tion, and present them here.

Enjoy, and Carve On!


From Wood Carvmg 101

Bri­an Pachol­ka asked:

I want to carve a tur­tle and leave it out in the weath­er. What is the best wood to use and the best way to pre­serve it. Once I put it out, it will nev­er be touched again so I want it to last as long as pos­si­ble.

Jim Doyle replied:

Not so much the type of wood, but the cut. I always opt for heart­wood.

Ron Snow added:

White or Red Cedar, Teak, or Cypress. A few coats of boiled lin­seed oil, thinned.

Per­ry A. Reynolds com­ment­ed:

Jim and Ron just gave you the best infor­ma­tion for what your seek­ing to do

Ron Snow added:

I sug­gest­ed those woods, espe­cial­ly the Teak and Cypress, because they are almost imper­vi­ous to weath­er and age to a beau­ti­ful gray over time.


From Per­ry A. Reynolds

The Knife and The Tree!

For thou­sands of years the knife has been an indis­pens­able tool. Though at one time made of stone or bone, the knife, in all of its forms, has graced the hand of mankind. The tree is much as man is! It has giv­en man kind warmth, shel­ter, food and raw mate­ri­als nec­es­sary to sur­vive. It is born from its par­ents seed and at first is weak and frag­ile. It suf­fers from cuts and bruis­es and bears the many scars of life. It is prone to dis­ease just as we are and its goal is to bear off­spring to insure the con­tin­u­ance of future gen­er­a­tions. As it grows old it becomes weak­er and then when its time comes it dies and returns to the soil. It is much as we are. So, the next time you carve, think about that knife and that tree and do your best to give both the fit­ting trib­ute that they deserve!

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Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 10

Susan bio shot      How To Make A Koozie Sander

When Gene Webb told me he made a large sander out of his koozie, I had to ask him for direc­tions so I could share the infor­ma­tion with all of you and because while I don’t own a large sander, I do own a Gene Webb koozie. Here are Gene’s instruc­tions on how to make your own koozie sander.

(Editor’s Note:  Always wear prop­er safe­ty equip­ment when using any pow­er tool.  Under­take and use this project at your own risk.)

I wore my logo off my koozie, so I decid­ed to try and make a big sander that I could use in my drill. It works great and wasn’t too hard to make.

My koozies have a plas­tic cup built inside it (not all koozies have that). The plas­tic cup makes it durable and is why I chose this type of koozie for my wood­carv­ing school and busi­ness. Now, I can use it as 3” by 4” sander that works pret­ty well in a drill. You have to run the drill slow­ly, with it being that big. 

Webb Koozie Sander 1

All I did was cut out 2 end caps about 1/4 small­er in diam­e­ter than the koozie cup. I need­ed the end caps because when I tight­ened the all-thread bolt with­out them, it squeezed the koozie flat. The end caps help to hold the belt on, and to keep the cup’s shape.

Webb Koozie Sander 3

The belt took a while to fig­ure out. Final­ly, I used Goril­la tape on the back. Where the sand paper meets, the pres­sure slight­ly expands a small gap, but the Goril­la tape is still hold­ing strong. 

Webb Koozie Sander 2

To make a koozie sander, you’ll need:

  • A cool Gene Webb koozie with a built-in plas­tic cup
  • 80 grit Swiss sand paper
  • Plex­i­glas for 2 small 1/4″ thick end caps
  • Goril­la tape
  • One 3/8″ all thread bolt with 2 wash­ers and 2 nuts.

They can throw in their own cussing as they go.

This koozie sander works great on sand­ing off the burs. You could use the sander in the drill, or strap the drill down and just hold the wood to it.  What­ev­er works best for you.

Webb Koozie Sander 4

Remem­ber – you will have to run the drill slow­ly, with it being that big, and because we don’t know how long the Goril­la Tape will hold, always work slow­ly, care­ful­ly, wear eye pro­tec­tion, and check your koozie sander before and after each use. 

If any­one has any ques­tions about the instruc­tions or the sander, they shouldn’t hes­i­tate to call me at: 865–660-1110.


Thanks, Gene, for tak­ing the time to send us the instruc­tions and the pic­tures, and for spon­sor­ing the Carvers Com­pan­ion.

Like I always say, Carvers help­ing Carvers!



Sub­ject: Ques­tion on Paint­ing, then Seal­ing a Carv­ing

I received an email from Rick Houlden regard­ing an issue he is expe­ri­enc­ing when paint­ing his carv­ings, and then using a sealant.

I dip my carv­ings and some­times I can see some col­or com­ing off onto the paper tow­el when remov­ing excess sealant. Since I work out of my garage that is attached to our home I have nev­er been inter­est­ed in using (can’t think of the name) the fin­ish that is known to be flam­ma­ble on the used rags. I found my cur­rent sys­tem in a carv­ing mag­a­zine, the carv­er not­ed that this sys­tem doesn’t leave flam­ma­ble rags around and also is more cost effec­tive. But it can have issues when apply­ing the sealant over acrylic paints when remov­ing excess sealant from the carv­ing.

I asked Rick what sealant he was using. Here is his reply:

I used the Min­wax Poly­crylic in the clear satin fin­ish it is a water based sealant. I like many carvers lay­er my paints either by blend­ing the col­ors or as with the eyes paint a black dot then inside the black I paint the brown or blue in a small­er diam­e­ter then add a small white dot as the reflec­tive high­light. I have usu­al­ly after dip­ping give the carv­ing a minute or two to drip off the excess but at times need to take a tow­el or paper cloth to remove access sealant. If not care­ful with the way I han­dle the carv­ing at this point I can have small spots of col­or pull off. It doesn’t hap­pen all the time and I am slow­ly per­fect­ing the way I do this but it made me won­der what is if any the com­plete cur­ing time of the acrylic paints. Most seem to believe that is when it is dry to the touch but since in the past I have had some col­or come off this gives me the impres­sion that the lay­ered area may not have been com­plete­ly cured at the time of dip­ping.

I have begun to put a sealant coat­ing on the carv­ings before I begin to paint but I know this is not the issue since I have had the col­or show­ing on the cloth even before I began this process.

I know some carvers say to dip the carv­ing and then once the major­i­ty has drained place the carv­ing bot­tom down on a paper tow­el to allow more run off of the excess. But I many times let the col­or con­tin­ue to the back­side stop­ping at the point where the hol­low­ing of the carv­ing begins.

If you have a sug­ges­tion for Rick, send it to, or fill in the info below, with your com­ments, and it will get to me. I will for­ward your emails to Rick as I receive them (so he doesn’t have to wait a month), and will also share them in my next Let’s Talk Carv­ing col­umn.


Until next month, gen­tle read­er, may your wood be plen­ti­ful and your tools stay sharp. Take care, carve lots, and always remem­ber to smile.