Archive for Projects

Securing Work Holders

Doubt­less many of you, like me, have accu­mu­lat­ed var­i­ous work hold­ers over the years.  Because I may use one work hold­er on one carv­ing, a dif­fer­ent one on the next and no hold­er on a third, I have always been reluc­tant to drill holes in my work bench to screw down any par­tic­u­lar device.  As a result, I have screwed the work hold­ers to boards, and then clamped the board to the bench with hold downs and bar clamps. 

The only prob­lem is that even the hold downs and clamps could not safe­ly hold the board in place once I start­ed whal­ing on a carv­ing with mal­let and gouges.  Stop­ping to re-secure every dozen whacks on the work piece did not lend itself to a smooth work­flow, so an alter­na­tive solu­tion was needed.


First, I decid­ed to uti­lize the exist­ing bench dog holes, rather than drilling any addi­tion­al holes in the bench.  Final­ly a pos­si­ble answer dawned.   Some years back I pur­chased sev­er­al iron clamp­ing han­dles to use with a home-made carv­ing arm.   With the addi­tion of sev­er­al car­riage bolts and over­sized wash­ers a solu­tion was at hand. 

I drilled holes in the mount­ing boards spaced to match the bench dog holes, then drove the car­riage bolts through the boards and through the bench dog holes.   With the addi­tion of the wash­ers and clamp­ing han­dles the prob­lem was solved.

The real test was need­ed!  Out came the mal­let and gouges.  I am hap­py to report that the solu­tion worked well.  The work hold­er hard­ly shift­ed at all, sav­ing time and allow­ing safer work­flow.  The car­riage bolts and clamp­ing han­dles also worked well on a dif­fer­ent style of work holder.



It looks like the bolts and clamp­ing han­dles will work pret­ty well with just about any work hold­er you can mount on a sol­id board!

Just a note:  There may be sev­er­al sources for the cast iron han­dle, but I have con­firmed they are avail­able from The Wood­craft Shop.  They are list­ed on their web site as “Cast Iron Han­dle for Carv­ing Arm — 3/8” x 16 Thread” at $5.95 each.

W3E at CCA Seminar

By Matt Kelley, World Wide Woodcarver Exchanges Coordinator

As many of you know, the World Wide Wood­carv­er Exchanges (W3E) have been going on for many years, with the Secret Pal exchanges occur­ring quar­ter­ly for the last 19 and one-half years.  While prepar­ing the ship­ping infor­ma­tion for Secret Pal ses­sion #78, it occurred to me that a num­ber of the par­tic­i­pants in that exchange were going to be at the 2017 Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca sem­i­nar in Con­verse, IN.  This pre­sent­ed a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for some par­tic­i­pants in the Secret Pal exchange to hand off their carv­ings in per­son, rather then via mail.  Accord­ing­ly, at lunch on the Sat­ur­day of the sem­i­nar, the six carvers in atten­dance gath­ered to hand off carv­ings and have a pho­to tak­en.  It took sev­er­al shots to get the pho­to right, in part because of a time­ly pho­to bomb by one of the CCA mem­ber instructors!

The next Secret Pal ses­sion will start soon, with the 20 year anniver­sary Secret Pal exchange start­ing near the end of December.

Exchange #79 (Fall ’17) - Com­mit­ment Reg­is­tra­tion begins on the Autum­nal Equinox, Sep­tem­ber 22 and ends Octo­ber 22. Ship­ping infor­ma­tion sent by Novem­ber 10

Exchange #80, the 20th Anniver­sary ses­sion (Win­ter ’18) should be a spe­cial event – Com­mit­ment Reg­is­tra­tion for ses­sion #80 begins on the Win­ter Sol­stice, Decem­ber 21 and ends Jan­jary 21. Ship­ping infor­ma­tion sent by Feb­ru­ary 10

For more infor­ma­tion about the W3E exchanges, click HERE.   Come join the fun in the longest run­ning secret pal exchange on the ‘net!

From Left: Car­ol Leavy, Kevin Apple­gate, W3E Coor­di­na­tor Matt Kel­ley, Steve Fowler, Gary Free­man, and Doug Evans

Steve Brown Pho­to Bomb!


Carvings From Down Under — John Carriere’s Cobra

John Car­riere want­ed to carve a snake; a BIG snake.  In this instance, a 32 inch high repli­ca of a cobra.  The job took the res­i­dent of Dar­win, North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry, Aus­tralia some 650 hours; the project was carved in Tas­man­ian Oak.  That’s a lot of work for a rep­tile, but as you can see, the result was worth the labor.  John was kind enough to share these step-by-step images of the carv­ing process.

When view­ing the gallery, use the « and » to move for­ward and back; click on an image to close it.

Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 9

Susan bio shot  Carving Found Wood



A carv­ing friend, John Car­riere from Dar­win, Aus­tralia, emailed me that he recent­ly had com­plet­ed carv­ing his “found wood.” When I imag­ine drift wood, it isn’t any­where close to the 90 lbs., 15’ length of John’s found wood.

Of course, I had lots of ques­tions; the first of many being what “shore” was he walk­ing along when he dis­cov­ered it. I knew you’d be inter­est­ed in all of John’s answers and his ter­rif­ic pho­tos of this mas­sive carving.

Dar­win is at the top end of Aus­tralia so the shore here would be the Tim­or Sea being part of the Indi­an Ocean. The east­ern part of Aus­tralia is where the Pacif­ic Ocean is and Dar­win is close to the west­ern part. I don’t know where this tree float­ed from but it did not appear to have been root­ed here. Indone­sia is north of Dar­win so there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty it came from there.

I have final­ly fin­ished the large carv­ing. The pho­to does not do it jus­tice as a lot of carv­ings, with­in the carv­ing, do not show up very well. As it is drift wood, there was a bit of rot in some places.

(Click the pho­to for a larg­er view — use your web brows­er “Back” but­ton to return)

Back of the root.


Front of the Root


I found the trunk on the shore dur­ing a lunchtime walk about three years ago. Most of the tree was there, about 15 feet long. The flare or skirt at the bot­tom that helped to sup­port the tree was what drew my atten­tion to it. It was about a yard wide and tapered up like a tri­an­gle. It was too tempt­ing so I came back on the week end with a saw and a dol­ly. I cut out the tree and oth­er unwant­ed parts. The part I want­ed was very heavy, about 90 pounds and I had to tum­ble it up a bank of about 8 feet. I got it on the dol­ly and wheeled it to my car. I was in the process of get­ting a her­nia try­ing to tum­ble it into the trunk when a jog­ger came by and offered to help. I gra­cious­ly accept­ed it and we got it in the car. When I got home, I had to care­ful­ly tum­ble it out of the car. I then blast­ed it with the gar­den hose and got most of the mud and mold off of it. The rot in some areas got soft­er but remained.

I left it out­side for about a year as I wasn’t sure what I want­ed to carve on it, but it lent itself to being a moun­tain. It got rained on for a wet sea­son of harsh trop­i­cal storms which addi­tion­al­ly cleaned it but pro­gressed the rot. Some sec­tions of it were hol­low so rain got in there.



I car­ried out more prun­ing which reduced its weight con­sid­er­ably and brought it into my work­shop. I was still unsure of what to carve on it until I received my copy of the May-June 2014 issue of Chip Chats Mag­a­zine. The carv­ing of a moun­tain scape by Dylan Good­son gave me the idea of doing some­thing sim­i­lar. I copied the house on his carv­ing but the rest of the carv­ing is from my imagination.



I did a lot of home­work on off cut pieces of wood to prac­tice carv­ing flow­ers, vines, shrubs, trees, etc. before carv­ing these on the blank. It took from mid Feb­ru­ary to mid May, about 350 hours to com­plete it.



I have attached addi­tion­al pho­tos show­ing more detail of the indi­vid­ual carv­ings. There is also a pho­to of the back so you will have a bet­ter idea of what I had to con­tend with. So it stands by itself as the base of it is like a third of an upside down cone. I worked around and includ­ed some of the rot in some of the indi­vid­ual carv­ings. I made lib­er­al use of plas­tic wood when required. It took the stain quite well and is hard to notice. There is a round area under the house which was rot­ten. There was noth­ing I could do with it oth­er than to carve an imi­ta­tion boul­der in pine and glue it in.



I carved some of it as it stood and laid if flat on my work­mate bench for most of the carv­ing. My edged tools were used for most of the carv­ings. The excep­tion was the stone work on the house where I used a Drem­mel with a small bit. I didn’t sand between the carv­ings in order to main­tain a rough sur­face sim­i­lar to grass, weeds etc on the sur­face of a moun­tain. The trees were sand­ed to 180 grit but then roughed up with a v tool to sim­u­late bark. I have it on a wood box in my work­shop. The box is about 3 feet off the floor which is a good height for a line of sight to it.

The fin­ish is Cabot oil based stain and var­nish (satin tint) fol­lowed by car­nau­ba wax applied with a shoe pol­ish­ing brush. It was then pol­ished with a com­bi­na­tion of a shoe brush and a tight fibre pol­ish­ing cloth used to pol­ish lim­ou­sines. It’s a hard wax to pol­ish and your arms are con­sid­er­ing claim­ing a divorce from your body, but the fin­ished sur­face is worth it.

John Carriere

 My daugh­ter, Tanya, has helped me with these pho­tos. If you have any oth­er ques­tions, don’t hes­i­tate to let me know.

Take care, John

John, I doubt many of us will ever find, much less have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to drag home 90 lbs. of Indone­sia drift wood. Thank you so much for shar­ing the infor­ma­tion and pho­tos of your mas­sive carv­ing project. What a great carv­ing adventure!

Until next month, 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 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 #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.

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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.