Archive for How-To – Page 2

Small Carving Work Holder

Small Carving Work Holder

By Steve Kulp

In response to a ques­tion on a Face­book group from Richard Sanchez about work hold­ers for small­er carv­ings.  Steve Kulp shared his design for a small work hold­er uti­liz­ing balus­ter screws and scrap wood.  This is a good method to hold small­er work and pre­vent injury!  Fol­low­ing is an expand­ed and more detailed ver­sion of his com­ments:

General Dimensions and Hardware

Gen­er­al Dimen­sions and Hard­ware

Gen­er­al Dimen­sions and Hard­ware. Note: don’t drill the 3/4 in. hole com­plete­ly through the hold­er block, or flat­ten the hole sides. You’ll see why lat­er.

How to locate 1/4 in hole in the end

How to locate 1/4 in hole in the end

End view show­ing how to locate 1/4 in hole. Note: after drilling 1/4 in. hole re-drill slight­ly larg­er for screw thread clear­ance , also make sure the hole is at least 3 1/2 in. deep for balus­ter screw clear­ance .

Drill pilot hole in work piece

Drill pilot hole in work piece

Drill pilot hole in bot­tom of work piece about 1 in. deep, first mak­ing sure that it will not inter­fere with the carv­ing. After drilling the pilot hole run the Balus­ter screw into the carv­ing , either by using dou­ble nuts on the thread­ed end , or pli­ers grip­ping in or about the mid­dle of the Balus­ter screw .

Mounting workpiece on holder

Mount­ing work­piece on hold­er

Now we find out why we didn’t drill the 3/4in. hole through. ! drop a 1/4 in. nut into the 3/4 in hole and jig­gle it around until it lays flat on the bot­tom side of the 3/4 in. hole , lined up with the end drilled 1/4 in hole.  Push the Balus­ter screw into the end hole till it butts against the nut.  Start the nut onto the Balus­ter screw by turn­ing the carv­ing until the nut is start­ed . After the nut is start­ed you should be able to turn the hold­er until the whole assem­bly tight­ens . And this is why we didn’t flat­ten the edges of the 3/4 hole , the round­ed edges will hold the nut while you tight­en it .

Mounted vertically in a bench vice

Mount­ed ver­ti­cal­ly in a bench vice

The assem­bly tight­ened and mount­ed ver­ti­cal­ly in a bench vice .

Using the side hole

Using the side hole

Using the oth­er hole you can mount your carv­ing with the hold­er hor­i­zon­tal in a bench vice .

Horizontal clamped to a bench or table

Hor­i­zon­tal clamped to a bench or table

Vertical holder clamped to a bench or table

Ver­ti­cal hold­er clamped to a bench or table

You may vis­it Steve Kulp’s Face­book page to see more of his work by click­ing HERE

Will Hayden Nametags

Projects From Will Hayden

The late Will Hay­den was a long-time mem­ber of the Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­can and a pro­lif­ic carv­er.  He was also a long-time mem­ber of the Wood­carv­er List and par­tic­i­pant in the World Wide Wood­carv­ing Exchange.  Will was always eager to share — advice, carv­ings, pat­terns, projects — any­thing to advance the art.  In his lat­er years, Will repeat­ed­ly give me per­mis­sion to use any of his pho­tos in WOM and on to fur­ther pro­mote the art and craft.  Will’s fam­i­ly has gra­cious­ly re-affirmed  that con­sent, and so in the issue we’ll begin a series of carv­ing tips, hints, pat­terns and instruc­tion from Will’s own pho­to gallery.

The first install­ment is a gallery of carved Wood­carvers’ Name Tags — a per­fect project for a club to under­take to help iden­ti­fy their mem­bers, or for a friend­ly com­pe­ti­tion between mem­bers.  To vis­it the Name Tags pho­to gallery, click HERE.   Enjoy!


Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 7

Susan bio shot        Burs for Beginner Power Carvers

Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.

Please join me in wel­com­ing Wood­carvers On-Line Magazine’s newest spon­sor, Gene Webb’s School of Wood­carv­ing locat­ed in the Smoky Moun­tains in Townsend, Ten­nessee. Just go to the right and click on his link and you will be tak­en direct­ly to Gene’s wood­carv­ing shop where you’ll find tools, carv­ings, DVDs, bits and burs. Or, you can speak to Gene Webb at: 865–660‑1110.

If you ever saw my stu­dio, you would know my heart is firm­ly enmeshed in edged tools. I own micro tools, palm tools, Euro­pean sized and mal­let tools, and dozens of knives of all shapes and sizes – from ½” blades to hog­ging knives. I unabashed­ly love tools. I see, in each one of them, the raw met­al that came from the earth. I can imag­ine how it was fired, ham­mered and sharp­ened. And then the tool came to live with me…forever and ever.

So, the ques­tion I have been ask­ing myself this last year is, “Why am I carv­ing less often?”

I real­ized that the answer is, “Because my hands hurt A LOT the next day.”

Bot­tom line: Yes. I have seen the doc. Can’t do much about it. I have arthri­tis. It’s not rheuma­toid. Got some meds. Tried mis­cel­la­neous home reme­dies, all of which do some good.

Will it stop me from carv­ing? No. But, is it slow­ing me down? Yes. DANG IT!!

A while back, I pur­chased a Fore­dom and then a RAM think­ing I could use pow­er in lieu of edged tools, at least for rough­ing out a carv­ing. I found pow­er just didn’t work for me. The burs bounced and stuck and jumped and skid­ded across the carv­ing. I didn’t want to give up. I tried dif­fer­ent types of burs, then dif­fer­ent sized burs, and final­ly dif­fer­ent amounts of pow­er. My carv­ings were so ugly, the only rea­son I kept them was because they were the excel­lent exam­ples of bad pow­er carv­ing.

This was why I took Rick Jensen’s pow­er carv­ing class last month. I was cer­tain that six days of pow­er carv­ing under Rick’s tute­lage had to point me in the right direc­tion. And, boy, was I right! Plus, I can report that I expe­ri­enced only a min­i­mum amount of pain in the days that fol­lowed. Best of all, in addi­tion to pow­er carv­ing, I still used my first love — edged tools — just not as often.

Tak­ing Rick’s class was a bless­ing. Sit­ting next to Gene Webb made it a dou­ble bless­ing. While Rick taught us how to pow­er carve a bark house, stairs, rocks and a San­ta, I was keep­ing my eye on Gene as he pow­er carved wood spir­its and Amer­i­can Indi­ans. I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from two mas­ter carvers.

The week I returned home, I thought about this col­umn and that many of you may want to con­sid­er pow­er carv­ing for the same rea­son I was pur­su­ing it. Six days of pow­er carv­ing in Ten­nessee helped me nail the basic tech­nique, but I cer­tain­ly am not expe­ri­enced enough to advise you what bits or burs to start with. So, I called Gene Webb and asked his advice.

My ques­tion to Gene was, “What burs would you rec­om­mend to a WOM read­er who wants to try pow­er carv­ing.” Gene, of course, sur­passed what I expect­ed. He pro­vid­ed us not only with which burs to begin with, but carved two wood spir­its and took a pro­gres­sion of pho­tos to help us under­stand each bur’s use.

Here is Gene’s reply:

I think four burs would be best.

 Gene Webb Burrs 1

These four burs com­plet­ed the two carv­ings I am about to show you. These burs will also work on bass­wood, and walk­ing sticks.

Gene Webb burrs 3
#1 is a Sabur­tooth, yel­low flame. 1/8th” shaft. I use it for rough­ing out small spir­its, Indi­an, etc.  

Gene Webb Burrs 4

#2 is a super coarse ruby. I used it to smooth them up.  3/32 shaft.

Gene Webb Burrs 5

#3 is a dou­ble cut car­bide dove­tail. 1/8″ shaft. I used it on the hair.

 #4 is a 1/16′ Sphere Dou­ble cut car­bide ball. 1/8″ shaft. I used it for the mouth, nose and eye holes.

Gene Webb Burrs 2

Gene Webb Burrs 6

These are small carv­ings. One is cot­ton wood bark, the oth­er is cedar.

These small spir­it carv­ings are signed and dat­ed. They retail for $30.00 and are approx­i­mate­ly 2’‘ wide and 6’’ long.

FYI: I already pur­chased Gene’s cedar wood spir­it. The cot­ton wood bark spir­it may still be avail­able.

If you think you may want to jump into pow­er carv­ing, like I did, Gene has put togeth­er a carv­ing bur kit that has every­thing need­ed to do most small projects. The kit is list­ed on his web­site for $105.95 (about a $15 sav­ings, which is the cost of a bur). The kit includes a sander that Gene uses on his carv­ings, and of course, you can call Gene at 865–660‑1110 when you need advice or get stuck, and he will get back to you as soon as he is free.

And, once more, I want to thank Gene Webb’s School of Wood­carv­ing for spon­sor­ing Wood­carvers Online Mag­a­zine. Carvers help­ing carvers!!

Chain Saw Carving

Oh … almost for­got.

The two-day chain saw carv­ing sem­i­nar I took from Gene was awe­some! I roughed out a cedar wood spir­it and an Amer­i­can Indi­an.

I admit to wound­ing the chair, but it sur­vived. I came back with a lot of knowl­edge and all my appendages intact. It was great!



Sub­ject: Pray­ing Hands – In-The-Round Carv­ing

Last month, I received an email from John Mitchell ask­ing about plans or mag­a­zine arti­cles for carv­ing pray­ing hands in-the-round. I received an answer all the way from Aus­tralia, from John Car­riere. Here it is:

Just read your arti­cles in WOM.

I researched my old wood carv­ing mag­a­zines and found three arti­cles that John Mitchell might like to look up. All are in the British Wood­carv­ing mag­a­zines.

One of them is in the July/August 2001 issue page 22 enti­tled “Skilled Hands” by Pete Ben­son.

Anoth­er is in the September/October 1997 issue, page 37 enti­tled “Give Him a Hand” by Derek Old­bury.

The oth­er one is in the May/June 2001 issue, page 17 enti­tled “Lend­ing a Help­ing Hand” by Michael Painter. 

I hope they can be of assis­tance to him. 

I am work­ing on a large relief carv­ing at the moment. It is a moun­tain­scape about 700mm (2.5 feet) wide by about 900 mm (3 feet) high. It is part of a tree trunk I found on the shore. 

I have been try­ing out a neg­a­tive ion gen­er­a­tor in my studio/workshop. The prin­ci­ple is that neg­a­tive ions gen­er­at­ed from the gen­er­a­tor cling to dust par­ti­cles, mak­ing them heavy enough to fall to the floor, thus clean­ing the air. A spin off is that there is a very pleas­ant smell from the neg­a­tive ions. You might like to look into this as a future tip for wood­carvers. 

All the very best to you Susan,


John, thank you so much for tak­ing the time to research your back issues of the British Wood­carv­ing Mag­a­zine. Good luck on your moun­tain­scape. Also, please let us know if the neg­a­tive ion gen­er­a­tor actu­al­ly does help clean the air of dust par­ti­cles. We all would be inter­est­ed in that!

If any of our read­ers now use, or have had any expe­ri­ence using a neg­a­tive ion gen­er­a­tor in their work­shop, please drop me an email using the form below, or at, and I’ll share your expe­ri­ence with the rest of the WOM read­ers.


Next month, I’ll show you the “Ulti­mate Bird­hous­es” that Howard Atwood carves. They are absolute­ly amaz­ing! Howard was kind enough to allow me to share, with you, how he mod­i­fied a spe­cif­ic tool for his bird­hous­es, with great results. 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.



Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 6

Susan bio shot   Gene Webb’s Indi­an Mask

Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.

I spent six glo­ri­ous days with Wood­carv­ing Illustrated’s 2014 Wood­carv­er of the Year, Rick Jensen. He taught two back-to-back, three-day bark carv­ing sem­i­nars. Rick’s projects includ­ed carv­ing a bark house with a spi­ral stair­case, and a San­ta with jin­gle bells on a leather belt.

Rick held his sem­i­nars at Gene Webb’s School of Wood­carv­ing locat­ed in the Smoky Moun­tains in Townsend, Ten­nessee. Rick plans to return to Gene’s stu­dio April 1 thru 6, 2016. As in 2015, both pow­er and edged tools will be used. The 2016 sem­i­nar has a max­i­mum of 10 stu­dents. 9 carvers have already giv­en Rick a $100 deposit to hold their space. If you are inter­est­ed, call Rick at 218–281-5107 for the project’s details.

Rick Jensen, Susan Alexander, Gene Webb in Townsend, TN

Rick Jensen, Susan Alexan­der, Gene Webb in Townsend, TN

As luck would have it (mine, not his), Gene Webb’s per­ma­nent carv­ing sta­tion was locat­ed next to mine, which allowed me to observe him pow­er carve an Amer­i­can Indi­an mask. I’m cer­tain I must have annoyed Gene with a series of ques­tions about pow­er carv­ing. How­ev­er, Gene, who has carved for over 40 years, won numer­ous Blue Rib­bon, Best of Show and People’s Choice Awards, was a true Ten­nessee artist, instruc­tor and gen­tle­man. He kind­ly answered each of my ques­tions with grace and patience.

Mask Front-Gene Webb

Mask Front-Gene Webb

Gene carved his mask in spald­ed maple wood using an NSK and Fore­dom. He took the time to explain which bits he chose to use, and the thought process behind his choic­es. I was fas­ci­nat­ed because I sel­dom have had any luck with pow­er carv­ing.

Gene carved the front of the mask before hol­low­ing out the back, leav­ing some del­i­cate por­tions only ¼” thick – so thin you could see light if you held it up to a lamp.

Mask Back - Gene Webb

Mask Back — Gene Webb

After Gene hol­lowed the back of the mask and carved in a hang­er, he buffed the entire carv­ing, front and back, with dif­fer­ent fab­ric-backed grits of sand­pa­per he mount­ed on a man­drel and loaded onto a Fore­dom. Gene then took a wood burn­er to the mask. I asked him to take a pho­to for us when it was ½ burned, so you could see the remark­able dif­fer­ence burn­ing made to the carv­ing.

Half Burned Mask-Gene Webb

After wood burn­ing, Gene applied a fin­ish, which dark­ened the wood dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

Completed Mask -Gene Webb

The final carv­ing was 15” tall by 6” wide.

I was so enthralled with the entire process that I pur­chased Gene’s DVDPow­er Carv­ing an Indi­an Mask, watched it that evening in my room (after carv­ing for 9 hours with Rick), and the next day went back and pur­chased Gene’s Pow­er Carv­ing a Tree Spir­it DVD. Gene has 19 DVD’s at $22.95 each. Even though I prob­a­bly will nev­er carve a mask, I’ll refer to Gene’s DVD when I attempt to pow­er carv­ing an Indi­an face.

There are numer­ous things I like about Gene Webb’s DVDs. While they are pro­fes­sion­al­ly pro­duced, they don’t feel staged. Like many things that are done cor­rect­ly – you don’t notice that the sound, cam­era angles and light­ing were well thought out. Gene has an easy way of explain­ing the art of carv­ing. His friend­ly man­ner and expla­na­tions of bits, carv­ing tools and carv­ing meth­ods belies his numer­ous awards and 40 years of carv­ing expe­ri­ence. When I watch Gene’s DVDs, I feel like I’m get­ting great advice from a carv­ing friend and neigh­bor.

I told Gene I want­ed to tell you, the WOM read­er, how much I enjoyed his DVDs and he said that should any of you decide to pur­chase one of them, if you men­tion my name, you can email him a pho­to of your carv­ing and he’ll cri­tique it at no charge. I know I’ll be tak­ing advan­tage of that offer.

When you have a moment, check out Gene Webb’s web­site at You’ll find a lot of inter­est­ing carv­ing items on Gene’s site, includ­ing bits, books and tools. If you are ever in the area, or would like to take a trip to the Smoky Moun­tains, Gene offers indi­vid­u­al­ized carv­ing instruc­tions for $150/day or $200/2-day class. Depend­ing upon the sub­ject mat­ter, he also offers week-long class­es. While Gene is flex­i­ble, depend­ing upon his sched­ule, pow­er carv­ing, edged tool class­es (or a mix­ture of both) are usu­ally held the first week of the month.

My trip to Townsend, Ten­nessee has reaped WOM read­ers an addi­tion­al ben­e­fit. Gene has agreed that if a WOM read­er has a carv­ing ques­tion, you may call him at 865–660-1110. Men­tion my name, and Gene will get back to you as soon as he is free. Carvers help­ing carvers!

Fol­low­ing my sem­i­nars with Rick Jensen, I adven­tur­ous­ly signed up for Gene’s 2-day pri­vate chain saw class. I hope to rough out two projects — one per day — an Amer­i­can Indi­an and a wood spir­it — both from a slab of cedar log. I don’t know whether you should send your good luck wish­es to me or Gene. I’ve nev­er picked up a chain saw before. Best send them to Gene.

Here are a few pho­tos of past masks Gene has carved. Vis­it his web­site to see more of his carv­ings.

Cedar Mask -Gene Webb

Cedar Mask -Gene Webb

Bison Masks -Gene Webb

Bison Masks -Gene Webb

Indian Masks -Gene Webb

Indi­an Masks -Gene Webb



Sub­ject: Pray­ing Hands – In-The-Round Carv­ing

I received an email from John Mitchell. He’d like to carve an in-the-round carv­ing of pray­ing hands, and is ask­ing if any­one can pro­vide him with plans. If we couldn’t pro­vide him with plans, John said he saw an arti­cle in a mag­a­zine that gave full instruc­tions for carv­ing pray­ing hands, but can’t recall the issue or name of the mag­a­zine. Can any read­er point John in the right direc­tion? Use the form below to email me, or send the infor­ma­tion to and I’ll for­ward it to John as well as print it in my next Let’s Talk Carv­ing col­umn.


Sub­ject: A Dif­fer­ent Per­spec­tive

Last month, Shorty Short’s (from Shorty’s Wood Shop) sent us a TIP that sug­gest­ed when we look at a carv­ing we turn off the lights from time to time and have one small light off to the side when exam­in­ing our carv­ing, I received an email from Joe But­ler remind­ing us that look­ing at our carv­ing in a mir­ror will give us an entire­ly new per­spec­tive that will allow us to see what parts of our carv­ing are out of synch. Thanks, Joe. It was good hear­ing from you.

Let me add that when you view your carv­ing in the mir­ror, have a pen­cil with you. While look­ing in the mir­ror, put your fin­ger on the spot that needs adjust­ing. When you turn the carv­ing back to face you, mark that spot with your pen­cil. That way, even if you put your carv­ing down for a day or two, you’ll know exact­ly what needs to be adjust­ed once you begin carv­ing again.


Sub­ject: Win­dow Fans and Fur­nace Fil­ters

Last month, I shared Jan Oegema’s email with you regard­ing attach­ing fur­nace fil­ters to a box fan. First of all, my sin­cere apolo­gies to Jan because I spelled his last name incor­rectly. While I kept a few of his vow­els and con­so­nants, Jan’s last name is def­i­nitely not Omega. It must have been a Freudi­an slip because I have recent­ly begun to study the Greek lan­guage, which, of course, includes the let­ter Omega. Sor­ry about that, Jan.

Not only did Jan accept my apolo­gies, being a great carv­er, he sent me a few more pho­tographs and TIPS to share with you. In this pho­to you’ll rec­og­nize the fil­tered box fan that Jan referred to last month. It is inter­est­ing to see how Jan secured it to the ceil­ing.

Jan's Filtered Box Fan Ceiling Height

Jan’s Fil­tered Box Fan Ceil­ing Height

I’ll let Jan tell you, in his own words, about the sec­ond batch of pho­tos he sent us. When I first received them, I thought the pho­to below was of a small vac­u­um sweep­er so I emailed Jan for an expla­na­tion.

Jan's Floor Polisher

Jan’s Floor Pol­ish­er

Here is Jan’s response.

The pic­tures show a floor pol­ish­er NOT a vac­u­um. I con­vert­ed the floor pol­ish­er into a sharp­en­er.

I take the whole pol­ish­er apart and build a case around the motor. Then I take the brush­es out of the round hold­ers and screw a piece of wood on there (as seen in the pic­tures). Glue a piece of leather on the wood (suede side up). From the han­dle I use the switch and the cord and use a used Kitchen draw­er han­dle so I can take it with me on tour. Often I make a sec­ond round set with 200 grit sand­pa­per.

Parts of Floor Polisher

Parts of Floor Pol­ish­er

Jan's Reinvented Tool Sharpener

Jan’s Rein­vent­ed Tool Sharp­en­er

Jan's Reinvented Tool Sharpener

Jan’s Rein­vent­ed Tool Sharp­en­er

I wish I was hand­i­er, but it was cer­tain­ly inter­est­ing see­ing what Jan can do with a floor pol­ish­er!

My Warn­ing to WOM Read­ers: Only if you are very famil­iar and schooled and con­fi­dent in your mechan­i­cal and elec­tri­cal abil­i­ties and the type of equip­ment Jan has tak­en apart and put back togeth­er, should you even con­sider attempt­ing what Jan has accom­plished. You know who you are. I know I couldn’t morph a floor pol­isher into a sharp­ener with­out injur­ing myself or set­ting fire to my stu­dio.


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



Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 5


Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.

We take so many every­day things for grant­ed. While I try to be grate­ful for the many bless­ings life has bestowed on me, with carv­ing and my carv­ing friends high on my list, some of the sim­plest mir­a­cles escape my atten­tion because I didn’t know they even exist­ed.

Those were my thoughts as I lis­tened to David J. Lin­den, an Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­science at The Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, being inter­viewed on the radio. When the inter­view con­clud­ed, I ordered his book Touch – The Sci­ence of Hand, Heart and Mind so I could share two facts about touch that he dis­cussed.

The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind by David Linden

The Sci­ence of Hand, Heart and Mind by David Lin­den

Although Lin­den spoke on sev­er­al aspects of his book, the first of two items that caught my atten­tion was his point­ing out that when we hold a tool, do we real­ize that we are able to actu­al­ly feel what the end of the tool has touched? Stop for a moment and think about this. It was some­thing I had nev­er con­sid­ered.

Accord­ing to Lin­den, this is pos­si­ble because although our hands have four dif­fer­ent touch recep­tor sys­tems, it is the 350 Pacin­ian cor­pus­cles (that look like a tiny cross-sec­tion of an onion) in each fin­ger that allow us to feel what the end of the tool has touched. The Pacin­ian cor­pus­cles are extreme­ly sen­si­tive to tiny vibra­tions, and each vibra­tion received sends fire spikes to our spinal cord and then on to our brain stem so we can inter­pret what the end of our tool is doing.

While Lin­den used a shov­el as his exam­ple, of course, I was think­ing about a bench knife or a gouge cut­ting into wood grain. In Linden’s words, “When we use a tool, like a shov­el, we can per­ceive tac­tile events at the work­ing end of the tool almost as if our fin­gers were present there. Imag­ine dig­ging into a pile of grav­el with a shov­el and then doing the same with a pile of soft, loose top­soil. You can eas­i­ly dis­tin­guish the dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties of grav­el or top­soil through the shov­el, even though your hands are far away from the con­tact point. Fur­ther­more, with prac­tice, our abil­i­ty to inter­pret this kind of long-range touch infor­ma­tion improves. In this way, the violinist’s bow, the surgeon’s scalpel, the mechanic’s wrench or the sculptor’s chis­el effec­tive­ly become sen­so­ry exten­sions of the body.”

So the rea­son you can feel the dif­fer­ence between carv­ing bark and carv­ing wal­nut is because of the 350 Pacin­ian cor­pus­cles in each of your fin­gers turn­ing the tool’s vibra­tions in your hand into ener­gy and send­ing fire spikes rac­ing to your spinal cord and then up to your brain.


The sec­ond point of inter­est from Linden’s book that I want­ed to share, and that affects each of us, is how we feel pain. Here’s a brief syn­op­sis:

Ever cut your­self – deeply – then said, “Oh *&%# that is gonna hurt!” and wait­ed for the pain to hit? In Linden’s book, he explained the rea­son for the inter­lude between the first pain we feel and the sec­ond pain that arrives after­wards.

The ini­tial pain we feel trav­els to our brain fast. It’s car­ried to our spinal cord and up to our brain by a mix­ture of two types of fibers – A-delta and A-beta. The A-beta fiber trans­mits that first painful elec­tri­cal spike at 150 miles per hour. It tells you to stop cut­ting your­self … or to take your hand off the hot pot. In oth­er words: THIS HURTSSTOP NOW!

The sec­ond wave of pain (that you wait for) is trans­mit­ted by C-fibers that trav­el at only 2 miles per hour. This pain’s pur­pose is to demand you do some­thing to pro­mote heal­ing – like stop­ping the bleed­ing.

Isn’t it amaz­ing that elec­tri­cal spikes are trav­el­ing through our body at 150 miles per hour, and we are total­ly unaware of it? And, isn’t it a coin­ci­dence that the author’s last name, Lin­den, is also the name of the lin­den tree, com­mon­ly known as bass­wood? Hmm­mm.

Now, if any­one asks why you carve so often, you can smile and tell them that you are improv­ing your mind’s abil­i­ty to inter­pret long-range touch infor­ma­tion.

That should work.



Sub­ject: Let the Shad­ows Tell You

I received a very inter­est­ing TIP from a carv­er named Shorty Short.

I am a hob­by­ist carv­er. I use to sell my work on-line by request order. Since my wife died I just carve what I want and give them away. My sug­ges­tion is one of my dis­abil­i­ties that I have dis­cov­ered ben­e­fi­cial. I am almost total­ly col­or­blind.

When look­ing at pic­tures or live fig­ures such as birds, rep­tiles or facial fig­ures turn off the lights from time to time and have one small light off to the side when exam­in­ing your piece. Let the shad­ows show you what you need to enhance or bring out. Carv­ing is cre­at­ing illu­sions mak­ing a 1/4″ nose look extreme­ly large. Some­times col­or can mis­guide your desired out­come. Try it and see if it works for you!

Fas­ci­nat­ing! This is some­thing I’ll def­i­nite­ly try. Thank you, Shorty!


Sub­ject: Eagle Head Walk­ing Sticks

In response to last month’s email from Mike Her­mann ask­ing about eagle head walk­ing sticks, I received the fol­low­ing email from “Jake Resid­ing in Ohio – a Iowa Hawk­eye at Heart.

I make eagle canes for wound­ed war­riors. I use a design from WCI spring 2006 issue 34 page 64. It is real­is­tic in design. Maybe he could get a back issue or look for it online. If you would like to see some of the canes I have done go to the site and click on Ohio recip­i­ents. They are list­ed as by Jake Jacob­sen, Myron Jacob­sen and some are list­ed by Huber Heights senior carvers. Mine are done com­plete­ly by myself. They are the ones with a han­dle above the eagle head as I drill through them so they can be mount­ed on the shaft rather than as the cane han­dle.

This URL will take you to the site where cane pic­tures are dis­played. I have pro­vid­ed canes more than 80+ canes I do not know the exact num­ber as I lost track. When you get there click on Ohio.

As it hap­pens, I have the Wood­Carv­ing Illus­trat­ed issue that Jake ref­er­ences. To make it eas­i­er for Mike to find WCI Issue 34, I took a pho­to of the cov­er and the first page of the arti­cle, so you could see the type of eagle described. The arti­cle, Real­is­tic Eagle Bust,  writ­ten by Pat Miku­la Moor, includes full carv­ing instruc­tions.

WoodCarving Illustrated Issue 34

Wood­Carv­ing Illus­trat­ed Issue 34


Pat Mikula Moore's Eagle Article in WCI Issue 34

Pat Miku­la Moore’s Eagle Arti­cle in WCI Issue 34

Jake, that’s a ter­rif­ic sug­ges­tion for Mike, and you have my sin­cere thanks for all the canes you’ve carved for our vet­er­ans. Bless you.


Sub­ject: Win­dow Fans and Fur­nace Fil­ters

I received an email from Jan Omega out of Ontario, Cana­da. Jan has the great­est sense of humor. I met Jan and his wife once, over 8 years ago, and I still have a small cot­tage he carved. Here’s Jan’s TIP.

As you well know I am NOT much of a read­er (lips get tired) but I read all of your let­ters. WELL DONE !!

I do use the old 2’x2’ x6” win­dow fans in my prepa­ra­tion shop 10’x14’ Have them hang­ing from the ceil­ing and have fur­nace fil­ters taped on BOTH sides so all my air in that small shop gets fil­tered con­stant­ly while I do cut­ting and or grind­ing

I DO spray “Endust ” on the fil­ters so all dust gets caught and once in a while I vac­u­um the fil­ters and because of the “ENDUST” it comes off easy.

You have your self a great day now you hear.

Two great TIPS from Jan – secur­ing fur­nace fil­ters on a fan, and then spray­ing them with Endust! While I can’t hang a fan from my drop ceil­ing, I thought this was such an inter­est­ing idea that I bought a box of fur­nace fil­ters and attached one to a fan with a bungee cord. Here’s a pic­ture of how it turned out. I still have to attach one to the back.

Box Fan with Filter

Box Fan with Fil­ter


Now, I just have to remem­ber to buy the Endust! Thank you, Jan!! To learn more about Jan, his carv­ing stu­dio, and to see his carv­ing gallery, go to

It’s all about Carvers Help­ing Carvers!


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



Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 4

Susan bio shot Technology — Can’t Live With It — Can’t Live Without It! 



Please refer and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.

The last week in Jan­u­ary, my inter­net access, per­son­al com­put­er, iPad, scan­ner, inkjet and laser print­ers got into an argu­ment and decid­ed not to com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er. It was like a mas­sive divorce; they were all going their sep­a­rate ways. I spent over five hours cajol­ing, and then beg­ging them to acknowl­edge each oth­ers pres­ence.

Hop­ing for a dis­trac­tion, I turned on the radio and began reen­ter­ing the Blue­tooth 16 dig­it Key Code (num­bers and cap­i­tal let­ters) for the fourth time, when the radio announc­er advised, “Although it is true Mer­cury has gone ret­ro­grade, only the “unin­formed” believe that this plan­et has the abil­i­ty to dis­rupt com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

Yeah – right – you betcha.

It was then that I men­tal­ly list­ed all the rea­sons I love carv­ing wood so much more than deal­ing with tech­nol­o­gy. You can carve any piece of wood, any­where in the world, with­out pass­words, inter­net access, pro­grams, inkjet or laser car­tridges, key codes, pro­gram upgrades, virus­es, virus pro­tec­tion pro­grams, scan­ners, down­loads, files, fold­ers, USB ports, dri­ver updates, clouds, back­ups, blue­tooth, and emails I should have, but I swear, nev­er received. It’s just you, the wood and a sharp tool. Heav­en!

You wouldn’t believe it, to read the above, but I like tech­nol­o­gy, except when it doesn’t work NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, and if I had won the MEGA-MILLION LOTTO I promise you, in a heart­beat, I would have drop kicked every last piece of tech­nol­o­gy I own out my sec­ond-sto­ry win­dow as soon as I checked that no one was in the back yard and would get hurt.

And then … as usu­al … life proves how very wrong I am. Here it is – almost two weeks lat­er – and I am singing technology’s prais­es. Let me explain.

I was speak­ing with Carv­ing Illustrated’s 2014 Wood­carv­er of the Year, (applause, applause) Rick Jensen, about bark pow­er carv­ing when Rick men­tioned that air fil­ters (because of dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers) don’t always fit secure­ly into air clean­ers. While teach­ing one of his class­es, Rick noticed dust cling­ing to the wall behind the air clean­ers and decid­ed to inves­ti­gate. Rick then told me some­thing that I thought would be a ter­rif­ic TIP for this col­umn.

It was Feb­ru­ary 11 when I called Rick to request his per­mis­sions to share his TIP (remem­ber the date – it’s impor­tant lat­er on). Not only did he allow me to share his TIP with you, he offered to pro­duce a short video for us!

That evening, Rick asked his wife, Jody, (who just came home from a long day at work), to record his TIP, edit it, and send it to me via their Drop­box. I received the video, down­loaded the file to my Drop­box, and emailed the shared link to Matt Kel­ley, who will do his mag­ic so all of you can see Rick’s air fil­ter TIP, when you click the link below.

Did I men­tion that I LOVE tech­nol­o­gy?

I always say that wood­carvers are the best peo­ple and it’s true. Now, I want to add that wood­carvers’ wives (and hus­bands) are just as great. Thank you, Jody, for tap­ing Rick’s TIP for all of us!

You can see Rick’s TIP by click­ing: HERE

On a side note … just for the heck of it … I checked the Inter­net and (I would nev­er lie to you) Mer­cury stopped going ret­ro­grade on Feb­ru­ary 11. I told you to remem­ber that date.

Life is cer­tain­ly full of mys­ter­ies.

Oh … one more thing … while I chat­ted with Rick, he men­tioned that he and Jody had just shot two videos for Sabu­ur­tooth Tools. You can see them at: Enjoy!


E-MAIL:  Sub­ject — Human Hands

I received an email from carv­er, Gary Cum­mins, ask­ing:

Can you rec­om­mend any instruc­tion­al books, arti­cles, DVDs, etc. on the sub­ject of carv­ing car­i­ca­ture and real­is­tic human hands out there?  Tips, advice, etc. would be appre­ci­at­ed. My carved hands either look like a knot of sausages or claws.

The first thing I did when I received Gary’s email is trot down to my work­shop and dig through my study sticks. One of my favorites is from Dave Stet­son. Dave’s is the only hand study stick I have ever come across. I’ve owned it for years, and can’t recall where/when I pur­chased it.

Closed Hand Study by Dave Stetson

Closed Hand Study by Dave Stet­son

Because I think it is rather use­less to sug­gest an item to a carv­er with­out advis­ing where it can be pur­chased, I went online and searched and searched and searched and came up with nada. I made a few phone calls to ven­dors – still nada.

Dave’s web­site, didn’t offer the hand study stick either, so I called him – twice. But, there was no answer and no voice mail avail­able.

Not to be deterred (work­ing hard for you, Gary), I emailed Dave.

Dave called me right back and we had a great con­ver­sa­tion. Ends up that he had just pur­chased a new phone and hadn’t had time to set up his voice mail yet. Bot­tom line, we are in luck! Dave no longer pro­duces these hand study sticks, but has about a dozen left. [Edi­tor note — make that eleven left.]  If you would like to pur­chase one, email Dave at They cost $24.95 plus ship­ping. When he sells the last of them — they’re gone.

Before our con­ver­sa­tion end­ed, Dave asked if I had ever seen the Carvi­nOn­line web­site. I hadn’t, but after­wards I checked it out. It looks ter­rif­ic. There must be close to 20 accom­plished carv­ing instruc­tors offer­ing carv­ing videos. Their web­site is:

There is a cost per month, or for three months, or for the year to access the videos. What I liked was that there were a num­ber of free lessons offered by dif­fer­ent instruc­tors, so you can actu­al­ly take a test-dri­ve before you buy. I did notice that there is one les­son offered on how to carve an opened hand.

If you pre­fer to pur­chase a book on hand-carv­ing, then Ivan Whillock’s Hand Pro­por­tion Made Easy con­tains infor­ma­tion on carv­ing opened and closed hands as well as on the hand’s anato­my. This book is offered from our fine spon­sors.

Hand Proportion Made Simple by Ivan Whillock

Hand Pro­por­tion Made Sim­ple by Ivan Whillock


Thanks for your email, Gary. One of the rea­sons I enjoy writ­ing this col­umn is because I learn so very much when research­ing ques­tions like yours, as well as the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make new carv­ing friends like Dave Stet­son.


E-MAIL: Sub­ject — Eagle Head Walk­ing Sticks

I received an email from carv­er, Mike Her­mann, ask­ing:

Hi Susan, I was won­der­ing where to find walk­ing stick how-to project of an eagle’s head.

Ini­tial­ly, I respond­ed to Mike’s email with two book sug­ges­tions. The first book, should he want to carve a whim­si­cal eagle, is one I owned that uses bass­wood eggs, Carv­ing Wood­en Fin­ger Pup­pets and Cane Top­pers 20 Whim­si­cal Projects from Bass­wood Eggs by Ross Oar. The premise is that you carve a hole in the back of your eagle head carv­ing which then allows you to either mount it on a cane, as a top­per, or place (not mount) it on a child’s fin­ger as a fin­ger pup­pet.

Finger Puppets & Cane Toppers by Ross Oar

Fin­ger Pup­pets & Cane Top­pers by Ross Oar

I wasn’t cer­tain if Mike want­ed to carve a real­is­tic eagle, so I found a sec­ond book, online, Carv­ing Wild Fowl Canes and Walk­ing Sticks with Pow­er by Rus­sell, $14.95. I don’t have a pho­to of that, but there was an eagle on its cov­er.

Since that time, I’ve been think­ing about Mike’s request. Per­haps, Mike want­ed to carve a walk­ing stick with an eagle’s head for a vet­er­an. If so, Hey Mike – here are two great links.

If you go to: you’ll see a news video about George and Don­na Gun­ning, along with Bert Tru­man, who have cre­at­ed over 1800 Eagle Canes. They’ll make an eagle’s head cane for any vet­er­an that requests one, free of charge. I had to share this with all of you. It makes me feel proud to be in the com­pa­ny of wood­carvers. Bless George, Don­na and Bert!

Then, I found a sec­ond web­site, the Eagle Cane Project. This group’s goal is to pro­vide PRESENTATION CANES to a select group of Post 9–11 Vet­er­ans who have received some man­ner of leg dis­abil­i­ty from com­bat relat­ed actions.

Their home page is: Their site is very com­plete and well orga­nized. It offers Eagle Cane Project guide­lines, request form, poster, tuto­ri­als, and a list of par­tic­i­pants and orga­ni­za­tions, by state, with their emails, recip­i­ents, con­tacts, links and Eagle Cane News.

It any read­er would like to offer addi­tion­al sug­ges­tions for Mike, please email me at (or use the form at the bot­tom of this arti­cle) and I’ll list your sug­ges­tion and name in the next issue of WOM.


E-MAIL: Sub­ject — Styl­ized Carv­ing

I receive at least one email every six months ask­ing for books on styl­ized carv­ings. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I could nev­er pro­vide an answer, so this time I went to my bud­dy, Lar­ry Yud­is, of The Wood­craft Shop, for a sug­ges­tion. He searched and found, The Art of Styl­ized Wood Carv­ing by Solomon & Hamil­ton, $19.95. You can pur­chase this book from your favorite carv­ing store, or one of our ter­rif­ic spon­sors. If you order from The Wood­craft Shop, this book is Item 912436. Thanks for your help, Lar­ry.  (Link to The Wood­craft Shop in the Spon­sor side­bar to the right.)


E-MAIL: Sub­ject — Pre­serv­ing Wood Carv­ing Stat­ues

Last month, I received an email from Jim Sul­li­van regard­ing pre­serv­ing wood carv­ing stat­ues. I haven’t received any respons­es from read­ers, so I’ll run this by you a sec­ond time, hop­ing some­one can offer a sug­ges­tion for Jim. Here’s the orig­i­nal email.

I own a nativ­i­ty scene crèche of sev­er­al carved wood­en fig­ures and a carved wood sta­ble. The crèche was pur­chased in Ober­amegau, Ger­many, in 1958. I think the carved wood sta­ble may be of arol­la (Swiss) pine, a type of white pine. It is stained a medi­um brown and the carved fig­ures (prob­a­bly from a dif­fer­ent, close-grained wood) are unstained. What should be done to pre­serve the wood from dry­ing out or oth­er­wise improp­er­ly aging? Thank you.


E-MAIL: Sub­ject — Pow­er Carv­ing Ref­er­ence

Last month, I also received an email from a carv­er who received a flex-shaft grinder/carver for Christ­mas. He asked for any Ref­er­ence Books or YouTube Videos that oth­er carvers can rec­om­mend for pow­er carv­ing.

We can rec­om­mend, Pow­er Carv­ing House Spir­its by Tom Wolfe. It is avail­able from WOM’s carv­ing sup­ply spon­sors.

Power Carving House Spirits by Tom Wolfe

Pow­er Carv­ing House Spir­its by Tom Wolfe


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



If you have ques­tions for Susan, please sub­mit them using the form below.


Susan Alexander’s Let’s Talk Carving Issue #3

Susan bio shot      Do They All Look Alike?


Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ direc­tions.

Do your wiz­ards, house and wood spir­its all have the same expres­sion on their face? Do they look as if they are relat­ed to each oth­er and have the same blood line, but not in a good way? Do you need some­thing to spark your imag­i­na­tion to find new and dif­fer­ent faces to carve? Oh do I have a TV Show for you!

First, a caveat: I don’t watch scary movies. I don’t like scary movies, but for the last three years, I’ve been watch­ing Face Off on the SyFy Chan­nel sim­ply because I am amazed at how artists can cre­ate “char­ac­ters” which is exact­ly what we do when we carve faces.

Face Off is a com­pe­ti­tion series that explores the work of spe­cial-effects make­up artists. You can go to to see some of their work from past episodes, but it is best to watch full episodes (also avail­able on their web­site) because it takes you through the artists’ (the series begins with approx­i­mate­ly 10 dif­fer­ent artists) thought process­es, sketch­es, clay mod­els, col­or choic­es, wardrobes, and reviews. Admit­ted­ly, you prob­a­bly would not carve 90% of the crea­tures the artists cre­ate, but watch­ing the cre­ative process is mes­mer­iz­ing, espe­cial­ly when they decide to cre­ate “nature” crea­tures. This is where our wood spir­its, house spir­its and wiz­ards appear – even a few gnomes and dwarfs.

The judges, Ve Neill, Glenn Het­rick and Neville Page are spe­cial-effects mas­ters who have worked on movies such as Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Beetle­juice, Mrs. Doubt­fire (Ve Neill did Robin Williams’ make­up), Buffy, X-Files, The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man, Plan­et of the Apes, The Incred­i­ble Hulk, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, and togeth­er have won Acad­e­my Awards and Emmys. When the judges point out the com­peti­tors’ errors, we are all giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from them. The judges also dis­cuss why cer­tain artists fail, which often includes bal­ance and pro­por­tion – some­thing we all use in our carv­ing.

Take time to watch one Face Off episode. Don’t be turned off if they are doing zom­bies or skele­tons. Over­look the sub­ject mat­ter and lis­ten to the judges. We can all pick up a few point­ers, and you will def­i­nite­ly find new expres­sions for your carv­ings.



Last month, I did a shout-out for fel­low carv­er, Rich Neely, who asked for tips, videos or books on carv­ing a female face.

Short­ly there­after, the cav­al­ry (con­sist­ing of “Ol’ Don” Burgdorf and Don Mertz) arrived full of edu­ca­tion­al infor­ma­tion. I’ve down­loaded a few pic­tures so you have an idea of their offer­ings. I love Ol’ Don’s warn­ing.

Read More→

Carving Out Your Opportunities

Carving Out Your Opportunities

By Per­ry A Reynolds

As we con­tin­ue our pas­sion for wood carv­ing many of us may desire to explore addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties in wood carv­ing relat­ed activ­i­ties. Many, if not most, even­tu­al­ly choose to begin sell­ing their work. This choice can be for many rea­sons. From sim­ply seek­ing addi­tion­al income to sup­port our carv­ing habit, to reduc­ing our abun­dance of carv­ings or may be to even­tu­al­ly seek wood­carv­ing as a full time occu­pa­tion. Even if a per­son is not an accom­plished wood carv­er there are still plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties that exist for the artis­tic, cre­ative or ener­getic indi­vid­ual that wants to par­tic­i­pate in carv­ing as an vehi­cle for addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty.
Lets take a look at var­i­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties that a carv­er or artist may choose to explore. Bro­ken down into clear­ly defined aspects and cat­e­gories of carv­ing, the fol­low­ing ideas are sim­ply basic choic­es.

All wood carv­ings can be divid­ed into two basic aspects: Abstract and Real­ism. Many carv­ings also bridge these two cat­e­gories. One good exam­ple is car­i­ca­ture carv­ings. Though we can eas­i­ly rec­og­nize them as a human, ani­mal or oth­er fig­ures they are abstract inter­pre­ta­tions of those enti­ties.

Types of Carv­ings

A brief descrip­tion of the types of most com­mon­ly found wood carv­ings include:

Dec­o­ra­tive Carv­ing

This can come in many forms but for the sake of time and space this can be best defined as carv­ings meant to be placed on a shelf, dis­played on a pedestal or hung on a wall, tree, door or oth­er place of dis­play for visu­al enjoy­ment. The vast major­i­ty of wood­carv­ings fall into this cat­e­go­ry.

Func­tion­al Carv­ing

Things meant to be used in dai­ly life. Spoons, Bowls, Jew­el­ry, Hunt­ing Decoys, Dis­play Shelves, Fur­nish­ings and oth­er carv­ings that are pro­vide not only beau­ty but also func­tion.

Archi­tec­tur­al Carv­ing

This aspect incor­po­rates both dec­o­ra­tive and func­tion­al. Exam­ples include Fixed Fur­nish­ings, Door and Win­dow Mold­ings, Doors, Man­tles, Cab­i­netry, Stair­case Com­po­nents, Sig­nage or any oth­er carv­ing that pro­vides dec­o­ra­tive func­tion and except for move­able sig­nage is usu­al­ly a fixed enti­ty that becomes an inte­gral com­po­nent of a home or a com­mer­cial build­ing.

As a carv­er, artist, crafter or any oth­er occu­pa­tion in which a per­son choos­es to par­tic­i­pate for prof­it it is imper­a­tive to struc­ture your prod­ucts or ser­vices so that they will make mon­ey. Here is a basic for­mu­la if you are seek­ing to mar­ket your work as well as sur­vive in the carv­ing relat­ed busi­ness (or any busi­ness).  Mate­r­i­al + Labor + Over­head = Cost.  Cost + Markup = Sales Price. If you under­cut your labor you walk back­wards. Over­head encom­pass­es the indi­rect costs such as sup­plies, trans­port­ing the prod­ucts, pack­ag­ing, adver­tis­ing, busi­ness cards, entry fees, dis­plays, etc… It is also imper­a­tive to add a prof­it (of what­ev­er per­cent­age you choose). Dis­re­gard­ing any of these fac­tors is a recipe for fail­ure. If you are inter­est­ing in mar­ket­ing your work as a prof­itable hob­by and you adhere to those sim­ple for­mu­las then as your cus­tomer base grows you will be afford­ed far more oppor­tu­ni­ties!

Read More→

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!

Using colored pencils on carvings

On the Wood­carv­er List mail group, Jim Williams posed this ques­tion:

I want to try using col­ored pen­cils to put sub­tle col­ors on a wood­carv­ing.  Does any­one out there have any expe­ri­ence with this method?  Do I seal the wood first or seal after I use the pen­cils?  If I want a stain for the major­i­ty of the carv­ing can I apply a light stain and then use col­ored pen­cil for the high­lights and then seal the whole thing with a poly fin­ish?  All infor­ma­tion or sug­ges­tions are wel­come.

Joe Dil­lett answered:

Hey Jim,

The answer to your ques­tion is to test on sam­ples. There are three basic types of col­ored pen­cils: wax, oil and water­col­or. Each will react dif­fer­ent­ly. Most papers has enough tooth to get an even col­or dis­tri­b­u­tion, how­ev­er wood is quite dif­fer­ent and dif­fi­cult to get an even coat. Even water­col­or pen­cil, which absorbs even on paper does not on wood. I have tried sev­er­al dif­fer­ent meth­ods of using col­or pen­cils for adding a lit­tle hint of col­or but was nev­er sat­is­fied with the results. Maybe some oth­ers here have found a tech­nique to achieve good results?

Pat Sher­man com­ment­ed:

If you take odor­less paint thin­ner and dip your col­ored pen­cil in it first, you can put the col­or on wood pret­ty good.  Oil pas­tel sticks will also work.   Put the col­or on and then go over it with the paint thin­ner.  Melts it like paint.

Den­ny Bell added:

I have used col­ored pen­cils and cray­on pen­cils for high­light­ing some carv­ings.  The pen­cils were applied to the raw wood and coat­ed with a clear fin­ish with­out prob­lem.  Some carvers use the col­ored pen­cils then soft­en the col­or using a wet brush to blend the pen­ciled areas togeth­er.

Don­na Menke pro­vid­ed this answer:

Jim, I have used oil pen­cils to col­or wood burn­ings and they worked very well. They are soft­er than reg­u­lar col­ored pen­cils, although good qual­i­ty artist-grade col­ored pen­cils are OK.  You want the tooth of the wood to grab the pen­cil col­or, and bare sand­ed wood works very well. So I would seal after­wards.

Stain­ing first would pose no prob­lems at all. Just keep it light enough so that the pen­cil will show up.  Fin­ish­ing with poly for oil pen­cil is a prob­lem since the poly will dis­solve and smear the col­ors. I fixed this by seal­ing the design first with the poly and then wait­ing until it was dry before fin­ish­ing the whole thing.

From Gene Brem­mer:

A few years ago, I took a fish paint­ing class out in New Hamp­shire from a fish painter/taxidermist.   He main­ly puts out CD’s on fish paint­ing.   One of the ways we paint­ed larg­er areas of fish is to take a dry water­col­or pen­cil and lit­er­al­ly scrub over the side of the fish where we want­ed a col­or.   I do mean we did scrib­ble on the fish repro­duc­tion.   After that we took and wet a reg­u­lar paper tow­el with water and wrung the water out of the paper tow­el.   We squeezed it in all dif­fer­ent ways until the tow­el was only damp.  Then we went to the fish and dabbed over the col­or we had just scrib­bled on the fish.   It spread the col­or so very nice­ly over the fish.  If it takes the col­or off then you have used too much water.   But, you can put the col­or right back on and do it over.   Now this would prob­a­bly not work very well in tiny, del­i­cate areas unless using a small brush.    Give it a try and I am sure you will have lots of fun with it.

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Lora Irish’s Santa

Santa Pattern

By Lora S. Irish

Here is a great San­ta pat­tern, com­pli­ments of Lora 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 hun­dreds of pages of free projects and tuto­ri­als.