Archive for Instruction

CCA Seminar 2018

CCA Seminar 2018

The annu­al Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca (CCA) Sem­i­nar is held each year in con­junc­tion with the judg­ing of the Car­i­ca­ture Carv­ing Com­pe­ti­tion, round­ing out a busy week in Con­verse, IN. The instruc­tors for the 2018 Sem­i­nar are Ron Dowdy, Jim His­er, and Den­nis Thorn­ton.  Par­tic­i­pants will carve one day with each of the instruc­tors in rota­tion over the three day sem­i­nar.  The fee of $165 includes the three days of instruc­tion and lunch;  blanks are an addi­tion fee per instruc­tor.  The 2018 sem­i­nar is sched­uled for Fri­day, August 24 through Sun­day, August 26.

As of this writ­ing, the 2018 sem­i­nar is full or very close to it.  How­ev­er, there is a wait­ing list, and every year there are sev­er­al can­cel­la­tions.  It is not unusu­al to work through a wait­ing list of 6 to 10 peo­ple. Please con­tact Bob Travis to be on the wait­ing list. or to cheek on cur­rent sta­tus. Bob’s email is rltravis AT



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.



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.



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

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 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 #2


It’s the Hol­i­days! My favorite time of year when all carvers are busy carv­ing presents for the peo­ple in their lives, while at the same time the peo­ple in their lives are won­der­ing what they could pos­si­bly buy for their carv­er. I thought it would be fun to help them (and you). I went through all the carv­ing-relat­ed items I own and love and that I thought would be great stock­ing-stuffers (and some items that would nev­er fit into a stock­ing) for your loved ones to buy you this Hol­i­day sea­son. Then I cre­at­ed a Woodcarver’s Wish List as well as a Wood­carver’s Let­ter to San­ta. Sim­ply print them out, fill in the blanks, and San­ta (or his helper elves) will know what carv­ing items you are hop­ing to receive.

The list has 30 carv­ing gifts to choose from, and in case I missed what you real­ly want San­ta to bring you, I left a blank space so you can fill it in. For each gift, I includ­ed an approx­i­mate price. Please con­sid­er patron­iz­ing one of the won­der­ful spon­sors of The Carvers’ Com­pan­ion and Wood­carv­er Online Mag­a­zine. They are sim­ply the best!

Here are descrip­tions of each item on the Woodcarver’s Wish List, with an approx­i­mate price. Please refer to all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ labels instruc­tions for prop­er prod­uct usage.



#1    2” Harley Knife  The Harley knife, made by Del Stubbs, is named after Harley Ref­sal, the well-known Scan­di­na­vian fig­ure carv­er. This knife has an extreme­ly sharp edge. The hard­ness of the steel makes the knife cut effi­cient­ly, and while they tell us it should be used on clean bass­wood, I have per­son­al­ly butchered some cot­ton­wood bark with it. I liked this knife so well I pur­chased two.Approximate cost:       $39 includes a cus­tom fit­ted sheath (which you want). I believe it is only avail­able from:

#2   Helvie Don Mertz, CCA, Sig­na­ture Series 6–2 BH, Mini Mertz II Knife  This Wood Bee Carv­er knife has a long blade that is excep­tion­al­ly sharp all the way to the han­dle for reach­ing into those tight spaces. I dis­cov­ered it at The Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress this last June. Don Mertz, CCA, had numer­ous Helvie knives avail­able. While all of them looked ter­rif­ic, Don helped me choose this one. I’ve only used it a short time, but real­ly like it because of the blade and also because the han­dle is big, but not too big. This knife is avail­able in a reg­u­lar sized han­dle as well. Approx­i­mate cost:        $38


#3   The Break­through Fish Carv­ing Man­u­al by Mark Fra­zier, 292 pages  This black and white book is a mon­ster. It cov­ers ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al, pow­er carv­ing, mouth, eyes, fin tech­niques, habi­tats, bases, installing eyes, and much more.  Approx­i­mate cost:        $30

#4   Dynam­ic Wrin­kles and Drap­ery by Burne Hog­a­rth, 144 pages  This book deals with the sys­tem of wrin­kles and drapes as influ­enced by move­ment. It doesn’t tell you how to carve the folds and wrin­kles in clothes, but how and why wrin­kles act the way they do, includ­ing their anchor points. It is an invalu­able resource if you are carv­ing clothed fig­ures, or a very old nude. Approx­i­mate cost:        $24

#5   The Art of Carv­ing Net­suke by Peter Ben­son, 167 pages  Peter Ben­son gives us an excel­lent guide on carv­ing net­sukes (minia­tures) includ­ing eye, scales and feath­er tech­niques, tools and nine sweet projects. Approx­i­mate cost:        $28

#6   An Illus­trat­ed Guide to Carv­ing Tree Bark – Releas­ing Whim­si­cal Hous­es and Wood­spir­its from Found Wood by Rick Jensen and Jack A. Williams, 75 pages  An excel­lent guide that also includes a chap­ter, with pho­tos, describ­ing the sev­en species of cot­ton­wood that is grown on the North Amer­i­can con­ti­nent so you can rec­og­nize which type of bark you are carv­ing. Now, that is cool! Approx­i­mate cost:        $15

#7   Relief Carv­ing in Wood – A Prac­ti­cal Intro­duc­tion by Chris Pye, 165 pages  Chris Pye takes you through the process of carv­ing in both low and high relief, illus­trat­ed in detail with col­or pho­tographs and line draw­ings, includ­ing chap­ters on tools, mate­ri­als and set­ting up your work­place. Chris Pye carves for England’s roy­al­ty, and teach­es in the U.S. once a year on the East Coast.  Approx­i­mate cost:        $20

#8   The Artist’s Com­plete Guide to Facial Expres­sion by Gary Fai­gin, 287 pages  While this book does not show you how to carve facial expres­sions, it does explain the eleven key mus­cles of facial expres­sion and how they affect the face in the six basic human expres­sions. I enjoy this book and ref­er­ence it often. Approx­i­mate cost:        $35

#9   Carv­ing Facial Expres­sions by Ian Nor­bury, 64 pages  Illus­trat­ed with 150 pho­tographs and draw­ings, mas­ter carv­er, Ian Nor­bury, pro­vides a range of exam­ples show­ing many human emo­tions. I keep going back to this lit­tle book because every time I read it I learn some­thing new. At his last exhib­it, Ian’s carv­ings sold for over $20,000. Approx­i­mate cost:        $15

#10   Cre­at­ing Car­i­ca­ture Heads in Wood and on Paper – A step-by-step guide for Design­ing & Carv­ing heads and faces by Marv Kaiser­satt, 137 pages  While this book has a very long name, three more words, “The Bible of ” should be added to the begin­ning of the title. It has an immense amount of infor­ma­tion, pro­vid­ed by an excel­lent edu­ca­tor. It is the eas­i­est and most com­pre­hen­sive car­i­ca­ture guide I own. It was once out of print, but for­tu­nate­ly it is now avail­able. Approx­i­mate cost:        $25

#11   Whit­tling Lit­tle Folk by Harley Ref­sal, 137 pages  Remem­ber the Harley knife I rec­om­mend­ed ear­li­er? It was named after the man who wrote this love­ly book which is filled with fun lit­tle peo­ple to carve. All 18 projects are designed to be done with only a carv­ing knife – no oth­er tools required! Approx­i­mate cost:        $17

#12   Bible Dudes by Lau­ra Dun­kle  This sweet lit­tle five page pam­phlet has all the nec­es­sary pat­terns and instruc­tions (for wood sized 1” x 4 ¼” or 1” x 3”) to eas­i­ly carve cute fig­ures that look very much like shep­herds, wise men, and even a Joseph that would be per­fect for a quick nativ­i­ty set that you can carve in your lap, while lis­ten­ing to TV. You’d have to adapt one of the male pat­terns for Mary by delet­ing the mous­tache and beard, carv­ing a small­er nose, and adding a few wisps of hair, but with a bit of imag­i­na­tion, I know you could do it. Approx­i­mate cost:        $6


#13   Carv­ing San­ta Orna­ments by Mark Gar­gac, 100 min­utes  This DVD com­bines two styles of carv­ing – tra­di­tion­al full relief as well as a pierced relief fash­ion, and includes full detailed instruc­tion. Mark’s tech­niques can be applied to walk­ing sticks, cane and bark. Approx­i­mate cost:        $26

#14   Carv­ing Wood­spir­its with Mark Gar­gac  This DVD starts at the rough­ing out stage, estab­lish­ing pro­por­tions in bark, then the set­ting in and detail­ing of the fea­tures, hair and beard of a wood­spir­it. In this DVD and the one above, Mark reminds me of a friend­ly neigh­bor who invit­ed you in to watch him carve. He has an easy atti­tude and before you know it, you’ve learned how to carve a wood­spir­it. Approx­i­mate cost:        $26

#15   Wood Carv­ing Basics by David Sabol, 2-DVD Set  This DVD cov­ers a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent carv­ing styles, includ­ing selec­tion of wood, choos­ing tools, relief, pow­er, and chip carv­ing, as well as fin­ish and paint­ing. Approx­i­mate cost:        $30


#16   12 Pock­et Heavy Duty Can­vas Tool Roll for Palm Tools and Knives  Good, sim­ple, easy, inex­pen­sive method to trans­port palm tools. Approx­i­mate cost:        $11

#17   12 Pock­et Heavy Duty Tool Roll for Larg­er, Long Han­dle Tools  Same as above, but for mal­let, long-han­dled or Euro­pean tools. Approx­i­mate cost:        $13

#18   20 Pock­et Stubai Deluxe Tool Roll  This cus­tom tool roll has 4 flaps on the inside that fold over the tools to insure they won’t fall out. Vel­cro holds every­thing tight after it folds togeth­er. Did I need this tool roll? No. I own the two tool rolls list­ed above. Buy­ing this was a lux­u­ry, plain and sim­ple. But, I love tot­ing my tools in it; and my tools appear to be hap­pi­er trav­el­ing in it. Approx­i­mate cost:        $59

#19   Apron with Suede  I real­ly like this apron. It is long and the suede gives extra pro­tec­tion to most of our vital organs. Approx­i­mate cost:        $25

#20   Palm Pounder  Although this palm mal­let was cre­at­ed to reduce shock when dri­ving carv­ing tools with your hand, which you prob­a­bly shouldn’t do (use a mal­let if the wood is that hard), after carv­ing for 32 hours at The Con­gress using all types of tools, wear­ing this palm pounder stopped the pain I was feel­ing in my palm. So, I’m sold on it. It has an adjustable wrist strap for a com­fort­able, one-size-fits-all fit. Approx­i­mate cost:        $12

#21   Dust-Bee-Gone Mask  Yes, this is expen­sive, but you are worth it. The mask won’t fog your glass­es and works with beards. It is com­fort­able, stur­dy, has an adjustable nose­piece and is hand wash­able. It comes in 3 sizes. I’ve had mine for 6 years, so it has cost me $6/year or .50/month or .12 week. What can you buy for .12 week? Cer­tain­ly not a new lung. Pro­tect what you have. Approx­i­mate cost:        $35

#22   OptiVi­sor  I use this over my glass­es, to carve and paint eyes, as well as find and get rid of the fuzzies that gath­er in cor­ners. The OptiVi­sor comes with dif­fer­ent types of lens plate num­bers (strengths) avail­able. I checked – mine is a #4. You can also pur­chase dif­fer­ent lens plates. Approx­i­mate cost:        $46 Addi­tion­al lens plate:     $30


#23   OCC­Tools Half-Moon Curved Skew Knife  At The Con­gress this year, I met John Vali­ton, a fel­low stu­dent in Tom Gow’s bark class, a good carv­er, and all round nice guy who brought this snazzy tool to my atten­tion. This half-moon skew is sharp, has a nice point and is curved to fit into those tight lit­tle cor­ners where fuzzies breed. OCC­Tools were pre­vi­ous­ly Den­ny tools; now they are made by Mike Ship­ley. Approx­i­mate cost:        $25

#24   Dock­yard Micro Carv­ing Tools  This 5 piece Gouge set con­sists of 1.5mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, & 5mm U‑Gouges which I use over and over again espe­cial­ly when carv­ing small eyes, for the part of the eye by the nose, and the bags under the eyes. Approx­i­mate cost:        $60

#25   Dock­yard Micro Carv­ing Tools  This 4 piece V‑Parting Set con­sists of 1.5mm, 2mm, 3mm 90° V‑Tools & 2mm 75° V‑Tool which I use for carv­ing hair, beard, and wrin­kles in the cloth­ing of small carv­ings, as well as crows feet (around the eyes – not actu­al crow’s feet). Approx­i­mate cost:        $46

#26   OCC­Tool “Real­ly Big” Gouge, #3 – 1” sweep or 25 mm  I use this and the one not­ed below on almost every good-sized carv­ing – whether it is bark or bass­wood. Approx­i­mate cost:        $26

#27   OCCT “Real­ly Big” Gouge, #5 – 1” sweep or 25 mm  I like this and the one above because even the cor­ners of the gouge are sharp and can be used for rough­ing out a carv­ing. Approx­i­mate cost:        $26

#28   The Muf­fer Buffer  The Muf­fer is used on your pow­er drill or Fore­dom. Made in the U.S.A., you use it to buff your carv­ing after it’s been paint­ed or oiled, then waxed. I found out the hard way that you have to be cer­tain it is spin­ning in the direc­tion of the wood grain. Approx­i­mate cost:        $50

#29   Col­wood Super-Pro II Wood­burn­ing Kit  This Wood­burn­ing kit has a Detail Pen as well as a Heavy Duty Pen. Both sides can be used for nor­mal burn­ing, but only one at a time. I’ve had this unit for 4 years, and while I am not a pyro­g­ra­ph­er, I am very pleased with it and how quick­ly it heats up and cools down (10 sec­onds). Approx­i­mate cost:        $180 – depend­ing on the acces­sories that come with the kit.

#30  Razaire 530 Dust Col­lec­tion Sys­tem  I’ve owned mine for at least four years and haven’t had a lick of prob­lems with it. I’m not an expert on dust col­lec­tion, but I’ve been advised that this unite is the small­est, qui­etest dust col­lec­tor, rat­ed 530 CFM, which cap­tures more of the dan­ger­ous “float­ing” dust than units with more CFM’s. It is only 11” x 11” x 6” so it doesn’t take up much room on my work­bench. It is also easy to move at only 7.25 lbs. Approx­i­mate cost:        $340 for the unit.  Stan­dard replace­ment fil­ters: $16  2” Fil­ter Frame to add addi­tion­al fil­ters:        $13



To down­load a print­able copy of the San­ta Let­ter,  click HERE


To down­load a print­able copy of the Wish List, click HERE



Con­grat­u­la­tions to Richard Houlden for sub­mit­ting our first Hum­ble Brag, along with photos!

You may have noticed, I’ve added the word “SAVES” to our Epic Fail­ure and Hum­ble Brag title. I think we all find ways of “sav­ing” our carv­ings from becom­ing epic failures.

If you have an Epic Fail­ure, a Hum­ble Save or Brag, that you’d like to share with oth­er wood­carvers, drop me an email at We’d love to hear your story!

Richard Houlden’s Hum­ble Save and Brag

Before I begin this tale you should know that my sto­ry could have been an epic fail­ure numer­ous times, but end­ed up as a hum­ble brag, thanks to friends and family.

Here in Vir­ginia, it is the Forestry Department’s 100th anniver­sary. The James Riv­er Wood­carvers Club received a request to carve orna­ments for the Governor’s Christ­mas tree. While not a mem­ber of the club, I am friends with a few mem­bers who sent the email along to me.

In my mind, where all my great carv­ings are stored, I decid­ed to carve an elf with his cap being a Christ­mas tree. That way, I would con­nect the forestry theme with the hol­i­day. Isn’t it fun­ny when we believe we have come up with a unique and inno­v­a­tive design and think, “Man, this will be cool! I bet no one has ever carved some­thing like this before.” Nine times out of ten, some­one already has – but so what? It doesn’t take any­thing away from the design we’ve cre­at­ed. To high­light the anniver­sary, I decid­ed to hang a carved sign below the orna­ment that read, “100th.”

Did I men­tion I am a stay-at-home dad with a wife and two boys? Even though that email invi­ta­tion arrived on Sep­tem­ber 12th, “life hap­pens” and I total­ly for­got about it

Fast for­ward to the sec­ond week in Novem­ber. As my wife, Heather, and I are final­iz­ing plans for the hol­i­days, I said, “Oh shoot. Wasn’t I sup­posed to do a carv­ing for that anniver­sary thing at the Governor’s mansion?”

My first thought was to back out. Time was short. They need­ed to receive the orna­ment by Novem­ber 24th. But, my lov­ing and sup­port­ive wife asked, “If you took the next few days and focused a good amount of your time on the carv­ing, couldn’t you get it done in time to paint and ship off?”

She was right. And even if I didn’t fin­ish it in time, I could always put it in my Etsy shop. So, I go to the garage and spend that evening and the next day carv­ing the orna­ment, includ­ing hol­low­ing out the back por­tion. I hol­low out all my orna­ments because the weight of an orna­ment is an issue that needs to be addressed. After all, it will hang on the branch of a tree.

Oh shoot” again. I planned on hang­ing the “100th” sign from the bot­tom of the orna­ment. Since I hol­lowed it out, there is no “bot­tom” to hang the sign from. Do I have time to carve and paint and fin­ish anoth­er one? It’s already Novem­ber 17th!

Long sto­ry short (well not real­ly short) I am dis­cussing my dilem­ma via email with Susan and with­out bat­ting an eye, she writes, “If you want 100th on the orna­ment, con­sid­er paint­ing it (in gold?) on the third (widest) branch from the bot­tom. Paint­ing num­bers is a lot eas­i­er than carv­ing num­bers. You could burn it in, but the tree would have to be a lighter shade of green for the burn marks to show up.”

Short­ly there­after, my wife walked in the door. As we sat down to share the events of the day I told her Susan’s idea. Heather agreed, “That would work and save you a good amount of time in the long run.”

So that is exact­ly what I did.

Let me quote Dr. Seuss, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” I pulled the forestry department’s red and green logo off the inter­net which shows a stream flow­ing between two tree silhouettes.

Virginia Dept. of Forestry Logo

Vir­ginia Dept. of Forestry Logo

I matched the logo’s col­ors; their green for my tree and their red for the elf’s cap. On each side of the cap I paint­ed a tree sil­hou­ette, and in an effort to tie every­thing togeth­er, I added a blue line along the brim of the cap/Christmas tree to reflect the stream. I was very pleased with this and it arrived at the Forestry Depart­ment a day ahead of their deadline.

I was so hap­py to receive a “thank you” email from the man in charge of gath­er­ing the orna­ments, John Camp­bell Direc­tor, Pub­lic Infor­ma­tion Divi­sion, Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Forestry. Here is an excerpt.

It will be a show­piece on the Gov­er­nor’s tree this year and will adorn the VDOF tree next year and every year there­after. In addi­tion to the beau­ti­ful carv­ing, the per­son­al­iza­tion you added to help us cel­e­brate our 100th anniver­sary is such a spe­cial touch.”

As Dr. Seuss said, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Rich Houlden Elf Close Up Rich Houlden Elf Front View

Rich Houlden Elf Left Side Rich Houlden Elf Right Side



I received an email from a fel­low carv­er, Rich Neely. Here was Rich’s question:

I’ve been try­ing to find some tips on carv­ing a female face. There are some videos on You Tube, but noth­ing I’ve seen tells me how to make a face with dis­tin­guished female traits. Can you rec­om­mend a source such as YouTube videos, books, or chat room dis­cus­sions that will help me out?

Thanks in advance for your help, Rich

Hi Rich, I’ve checked through my carv­ing ref­er­ence library, and the only book I have (but, it is a good one) regard­ing female faces  is Carv­ing Clas­sic Female Faces in Wood – A How-to Ref­er­ence for Carvers and Sculp­tures writ­ten by Ian Nor­bury and pub­lished Fox Chapel Pub­lish­ing Co., Inc.

This is a shout-out to our read­ers. If you have addi­tion­al tips on carv­ing female faces that you’d like to share with Rich and the rest of us, drop me an email at: and I’ll pass it on in our next issue.


Until next time, gen­tle read­er, I wish you a Blessed Christ­mas. 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 #1

Susan bio shot  Neat And Organized – Dave’s Totes




Please refer to all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ label instruc­tions for prop­er prod­uct usage.

After record­ing my first video, I received emails and phone calls accus­ing me of being “neat and orga­nized.” This mis­con­cep­tion evi­dent­ly comes from the back­ground of my video – my tool shelf.

Allow me to set the record straight. The only time my stu­dio is any­thing close to being clean, is when I “neat­en it up” pri­or to tap­ing a video or tak­ing a pho­to­graph. Oth­er­wise (and I’m not proud of it) – it looks like a bomb went off in there.

I’ve read arti­cles from Mas­ter Carvers advis­ing that tools should be set down with the tips fac­ing away, not touch­ing each oth­er, and that we should clean up our wood chips. While I know this is excel­lent advice, it’s about as easy for me to fol­low as exer­cis­ing dai­ly while lim­it­ing my intake of ice cream and Snick­ers. I have good inten­tions, but heck, you know which way the road of good inten­tions is paved.

So, when Dave Myers from Onalas­ka, Wis­con­sin, pulled up a chair next to me in Tom Gow’s Bark Carv­ing Class at the Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress last June, and start­ed unload­ing his carv­ing sup­plies, I was total­ly awed and aston­ished! Now, there is a carv­er who is NEAT AND ORGANIZED in cap­i­tal letters.

Tote 7

On the sec­ond day of the five-day class, I told Dave that wood­carvers would love to see his equip­ment totes and know how he made them. Dave was kind enough to take pho­tos, email me ter­rif­ic instruc­tions, and allow me to share them with all of you. Carvers are the best people!

Look­ing at his totes, I thought that Dave had cut grooves into the ply­wood for the dividers. After read­ing his instruc­tions, I now know that he glued in the dividers — very smart and quite a lot easier.

Here are Dave’s instruc­tions and pho­tos on how to cre­ate his carv­ing totes – for glue, bot­tles, and wood­burn­ing tools. Dave even tells us where he pur­chas­es his totes, what thick­ness of ply­wood works for him, and the type of glue he prefers to use. Dave is one orga­nized carver!

 Dave Myer’s Equipment Totes

Over the past eleven years I have tak­en many carv­ing class­es and have dis­cov­ered that I arrive with­out all the sec­ondary essen­tials. Items such as a spray bot­tle with a solu­tion of water and alco­hol when encoun­ter­ing dry wood, or just plain water when wet paint­ing. Of course one should have his own bot­tle of Sim­ple Green and a brush to clean that piece you have spent dili­gent hours carv­ing. My solu­tion to arriv­ing at class total­ly pre­pared was to orga­nize. To that end I have devel­oped a plan that works for me.

To that end I have devel­oped a plan that works for me. Mate­ri­als need­ed are a Plas­tic Box, a thin sheet of hob­by ply­wood and a fast act­ing glue. Plas­tic box­es I use are are Sterilite found at stores such as Wal-Mart, or Shop­ko and come in var­i­ous sizes. Ply­wood sheets are the thin­ner type which can be found close by the bal­sa wood dis­plays used by hob­by­ists. They come in 12”X12” or 12”X24” sizes with thick­ness­es of 1/8”, 1/4” and 3/8”. My pref­er­ence is the 1/8” and 1/4” sizes. Price range is between $2 to $6 for both plas­tic box­es and wood. These stores con­tin­u­al­ly run coupon deals that can be print­ed from their Web sites reduc­ing the over all cost.

Glues I use are the fast dry­ing types. My pref­er­ence is the Cyano­acry­late glues found at most hob­by stores. My pref­er­ence is BSI but most oth­ers work fine also. The glue comes in var­i­ous con­sis­ten­cies: Thin, Gap Fill­ing, and Extra Thick. A spray-on Accel­er­a­tor is used to set the glue. If you make an error there is also a un-glue that can be applied to fix it. You sim­ply apply the glue, spray the Accel­er­a­tor and you are done. A word of cau­tion: use these in a well ven­ti­lat­ed area and don’t get glue on your fin­gers, as once you spray the Accel­er­a­tor your fin­ger will become attached also. Keep the un-glue close. Eye pro­tec­tion is also rec­om­mend­ed. I should note that although this is a two step process this type of glue is also found in a one step bottle.

The process is rather sim­ple. I gath­er the items need­ed to be orga­nized, place them on a sheet of paper and trace an out line around and between each item. Keep enough space between each item to make room for a par­ti­tion. After cal­cu­lat­ing the height need­ed for the tallest item select the right sized box. After deter­min­ing sizes for the base and par­ti­tions, I cut them out with a band saw and sand the edges. You will find that the cor­ners of the box are round­ed and the inside bot­tom of the box is small­er than the top. Thus you will need to round their cor­ners a bit. It may be a good idea to cut out the base dimen­sions on a piece of paper to drop in the con­tain­er before purchasing.

When going to wood­carv­ing class I use a large tote to put my mate­ri­als in and in that tote is a list of its con­tents. Includ­ed on that list are three box­es. The one with my liq­uids also had room for a small box of Band-Aids® and a bot­tle of iodine in case my skin should sur­round a knife blade. A sec­ond box has glues and a third con­tains wood­burn­ing tools, pow­er sup­ply, pens and replace­able tips.

Tote 1

Tote 2

Tote 3

Tote 4

Tote 5

Tote 6

Tote 8

Tote 9

Thanks Dave! I appre­ci­ate you allow­ing me to share your tote idea with oth­er carvers. I also know that I will nev­er be as neat and orga­nized as you are – but it does give me a some­thing to shoot for.

May your wood be plen­ti­ful and your tools stay sharp. Take care, carve lots, and always remem­ber to smile.