Beginners Carving Corner and Beyond

Wood Carving discussions on techniques, projects, basic, general and advanced skill levels

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Paint vs Natural Finish

Every ones individual tastes vary about everything.  This applies to carvings and whittlings too.  Some like their pieces painted while some like them natural.

I remember looking upon a carving of a Santa, that was excellent.  Very very well carved.  The piece was painted to the most exact detail.  The piece was being judged, and only garnered a red ribbon.  I remember talking to the carver and he said the judges told him the carving was excellent, but the paint job made the piece look like it was plastic.  Whether one agrees wit the judge or not, his reasoning points out the two schools of thought on finishing a carved wood piece.

I like both the painted piece and the natural.  Although, there are reasons for a natural finished carving over a painted carving.  At the top of this list of reasons to finish a carving naturally is the steadiness of the painters hand, and the painters vision.  Of course there is always the time element.
 and the fact that some just love the look of natural wood.

Here's a photo of painted and natural finishes.

The ornaments and pins in the top row were merely finished with HOWARD'S FEED-N-WAX.  This is one of the fastest finish methods.  I could have dipped the pieces in a wood conditioner, then dipped into a stain, let dry and waxed.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Real Santa!

After the last post I feel obligated to post a photo of a recently whittled REAL Santa.

Thanks for putting up with me!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Zombie Santa!

I can't believe I've actually done this.  I did however have a request for a "Zombie Santa".  Maybe not a real request, but a challenge.  Maybe something like; " can't whittle a Zombie Santa, can you"?  Well, the rest of the story, was "why not".  I think I remember saying,: "what, you got to be kidding me"!  Whittle one I did!

To justify my odd behavior, I even came up with a story, in case a true believer sees the Zombie Santa.  The story goes like this:  Some believe that there are two Santa's.  One Santa is the one we all know and love.  However, there is a second Santa.  The first Santa responds well to good little boys and girls.  But the other Santa is a Zombie and does not respond well to boys and girls who were not so good.....

This Santa will have a eye screw at the top so it can be hung and buried somewhere on the tree.
I guess there's an "up side" to whittling the Zombie Santa.  No eyes and nose to worry about.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Apples For Teachers

Soon the Christmas craft and wood carvings shows will be here.  Lots of wood carvers like to exhibit and sell carved items at these events.  We always try to have something special.  I like to to whittle and have items that kids will want and can afford.  One such item is a whittled refrigerator magnet.  I found out early on that kids still like to give their teacher a gift.  Thus the idea of an APPLE.

Actually my daughter who is a teacher suggested the carved apple as a refrigerator magnet.  She said this item would be something that any teacher would use...

This project is so simple and easy that it is almost self explanatory.  One just needs:

Thin Basswood (I use 3/8" thick)
Scroll saw or fret saw
Thumb guard
Drill (to recess the magnet)
Super glue (I use the thicker super glue)
Magnet I use the extra strong (Rare earth - approx 2# pull, 1/4" in diameter)
Paint and brush

You can whittle lots of these with little expense in time or materials.  But a warning!  When done hide some, because everyone who sees them will want one.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Travelin and Emergency Accessories

No recent posts cause I've been travelin.  Drove to California and back in the last two weeks,  This road trip brought  to mind the special needs of whittlers and carvers, when on the road.  We need to be sure to take the necessary stuff so that we can whittle anywhere we wish.  As a whittler, I always have my pocket knife with me, in my pocket.  But on a two week road trip you best make additional plans to be sure you have the correct whittlin stuff.  You'll need a strop and some blanks.

Here's a simple "tool roll" to stick into your suitcase, carry-on, purse, briefcase, or car/truck glove box.  From now on I will put my backup knife, small strop, pencil, thumb guard, and a blank or two in the tool roll and leave it  in my van glove box.

Maybe I should add a few band aids!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Home Made Thumb Guard - Improvement

Several weeks ago I posted a couple of home made leather items.  One was a pocket knife scabbard and the other a  thumb guard.

Here's a combination of the two.  The main reason for this combination was to remind me to use the thumb guard.  Kind of hard to forget when you must take the knife out of the thumb guard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Whittling a Face -- A continuation!

A previous post titled " WHITTLING A FACE - A REVIEW" was kind of left hanging without being completed.  This post is intended to correct that omission.  It's kind off quick and "dirty".

This photo is where we left off.  We were roughing in the face, and had done the nose and the area where the eyes would be.   For those who have not noticed, this is WHITTLING.  The only carving tool in use is a knife.  The original post had a pointed hat like maybe it was intended to be a wizard..
 This step begins to refine the nose by removing the tips of the "wings" so that the bottom of the nose is not a straight cut.  It also begins to round the nose end.
 This next step involves removing a sliver of wood from the center of the nose and continuing the cut through the forehead to the bottom of the hat.
Continue to refine the shape of the nose by removing a chip to define the bridge of the nose.   Finally,  thin the nose up to the bridge of the nose.    

It's useful to use a "curling" knife cut from the nose tip to the bridge, to result in a kind of scoop cut.
 Draw the mustache on the wood.  Don't worry about having one side exactly the same as the other side.  Notice that the tops of the mustache become the bottoms of the cheeks.  Next make stop cuts on the drawn lines that define the mustache.  Remove a sliver of wood from the cheeks to the tops of the mustache.  Repeat this for the bottom of the mustache, only remove slivers of wood up to the mustache bottom stop cuts.

The goal here is to have the mustache appear to stand out from the face.
 Make the mouth.  Draw the mouth, and make a stop cut that defines the bottom lip.  Remove a chip from the mouth.  Remove some wood up to the stop cut that defines the bottom lip.
 Make stop cuts from the outside corners of the eyes down to the tips of the mustache.  Remove slivers of wood out to these stop cuts.
To continue the Santa face, whittle a hat.
Use the knife to give the beard some shape.  Decide on the eyes.  The fastest eye is a three sided plunge cut with the chip removed.

There's any number of refinements that can be made at this point.

Texture the beard
Round off the cheeks a bit more
Highlight the eye brows
Sand parts or all of the piece
Scrub the piece with a denture brush and soap and hot water
Finish natural, stain. or paint

Friday, May 27, 2016

Muscle Memory and Whittling

When speaking of muscle memory one has to think practice.  In its most basic explanation muscle memory involves both muscles and the brain.  Wood carvers when asked about the learning of their skills, they may respond practice, practice, practice.  Whenever I hear practice, practice, practice; my mind goes to the phrase "practice makes perfect".  When practicing knife cuts and whittling, just be sure that you are practicing them correctly; because with repetition something happens between your brain and your muscles.  If you practice enough repetitions and they're incorrect or result in something that you do not want,  muscle memory may embed your practiced whittling to the point that it may be difficult to change.  The better method of practice is to practice the whittling so that the result is what you want.  This may take some planning.

When whittling Santa pins, it is always desirable to whittle a smiling or a happy Santa.  However, it seems that it is easier to end up with a Santa face that is not so happy.  I learned about this connection between the muscles and brain long ago and then applied it to learning to whittle happier Santa faces.  I had an opportunity to demonstrate whittling, and wanted to hand out what I had whittled.  At that stage of my whittling, my Santa faces some times were not happy.  In fact they might have been scary to some.  So I set out to whittle happy faces as a demonstration.  I concentrated on those knife cuts that resulted in a happy face.  I kept doing the same thing over and over.  After a day of this I realized that almost all the Santa faces I carved were happier.

Oh there's a few with that "surprised" look, but none that are scary.  Practice, practice, practice.

When I whittle the Santa faces now, my muscle and brain memory take over, and don't have to worry to much about the results-------most of the time.

However, I am working on a zombie Santa now!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thumb Guards

For a whittler (carving with a knife) the thumb guard is of great value.  Here's the proof!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Whittling Necessities!

One of the main reasons I like whittling is its portability.  Most pockets can handle a pocket knife and a piece of small wood.  Well I like to whittle small too!

Here's what is in my pocket most of the time:

Knife, strop, piece of wood, and thumb guard.

The pocket knife "scabbard" is oil impregnated leather.  This prevents the possibility of moisture caused rust...As you can see, all are "home made".

For public whittling, maybe I should add a sign: