Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Carving Guilt!!! %$&*#!!!!?

How many woodcarvers "complain" about not having enough time to spend carving.  I hear it all the time.  It used to be from the younger carvers who have not yet retired.  This makes a lot of sense.  It does take time to provide the necessities required to raise a family.  But, more and more I am hearing this from folks who are older and have retired.  It's easy to understand.  If one is not careful, one may begin to back off from kicking back and spending some quality time carving.  Even when retired, it's too easy to say, "I got too much to do to spend time just sittin and carving".  I almost feel into that trap, just today.  I started the morning out by stropping my pocketknife,  getting a block of wood,  sawing a blank,  brewing a quality mug of coffee, and sittin in the shop.  Soon, my thoughts moved from whittling to all that I could or should be doing.  I started feeling guilty.  That feeling passed as soon as I took stock of myself and where I was in this world.  My thoughts went like this:

1.  I'm 77 years old
2.  I've been married to the same wonderful woman for 54 years
3.  I've got two grown daughters on their own with families and quite successful
4.  For the first ten years of marriage I mostly worked two jobs.
5.  I retired at 50.
6.  Helped start a viable company.
7.  Am reasonably healthy,  but still have all he ailments of most people my age.
8.  I have some good friends that will help me when needed.
9.  Any day of the month I can write and cash a check for $100 and not worry.

I, like so many of my generation worked hard, and made sacrifices to get where we are today.
After these realities became apparent, the thought of guilt because I was just sittin and whittlin vanished.     My wife likes to say;"life is too short to read poor books".  I say life is too short to worry bout all the things you should be doin .  In my case I should be whittling.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Florida Bound!

Every year for the past 12 years we have gone to Florida for several months during the winter.  We started out with two weeks but now we're up to two months.  We rent a house on the beach, in the pan handle.

My days are devoted to carving and fresh seafood, with a bit of good beverages.  I enjoy the time that I can spend with some very nice folks that are residents.

This year, as last year, I'll be teaching several classes focusing on beginning wood carving/whittling.

I will try to post some projects on the blog, along with anything else that I think might be interesting.

Thanks for your continuing interest in this blog!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Carving a Ball---Great Exercise For Newer Carvers

Carving a round ball from a square piece of wood is a great way to learn and/or practice knife skills.  Carving a Ball is also a good way to practice several knife cuts.

Several years ago, while participating in a woodcarving show I watched a very experienced carver whittle such balls from square stock.  I asked him, "why the balls"?  His reply was, "I've been carving for 30 years, but never got too old not to practice.

I'm old now and understand the wisdom of that answer.

I use this exercise when instructing new carvers.  I find it a great way to practice thumb assisted push cuts and paring cuts.

STEP 1:   Ware a cut resistant glove on your hand that holds the wood.  Ware a thumb protector on your hand that holds the knife.

STEP 2:  In the photo I use a 3/4 x 3/4 x 4 inch piece of Basswood.  1 x 1 x 4 inch would also work.  The extra length of the wood serves as a handle and for carving additional balls.

Draw a pencil line around the top of the piece of wood 7/8 inch from the end.

STEP 3:  Using a thumb assisted push cut remove the corners of the wood at the top of the piece. 

STEP 4:  Remove the bottom corners of the wood using a thumb stopped paring cut.

STEP 5:  Use a combination of the thumb assisted push cut and thumb stopped paring cuts all around the piece until all the flat wood is removed, and the ball shape is achieved.

The key to this project is practicing  the knife cuts.  Do not attempt to remove too much or too large a chip with these knife cuts.  A great wood carving friend told me to "think grains of rice".

STEP 6:  Here's one completed ball.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Getting "lost" in your carving!

More whittlings from small scraps.  The pocket knife is for size reference.  

My most enjoyable carvings are those in which I become completely "lost" in the actual carving.  I become so focused and absorbed in the effort that I am not aware of anything else going on around me.  For me, this means a small carving.  A piece so small that I have to hold it very close to my eyes to see the knife blade make the cuts.  So small that it takes total concentration.   This for me is fun!  It might be fun for you too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Small Carvings Continued (Bottom Of The Scrap Box)

If you keep on using the largest of your scraps from the scrap box you'll get to the bottom.  This is where the really small pieces of scrap are found.  These small scraps are what I like the most.  Maybe it's just because I'm frugal, but I like the get the most out of my wood.

Here's an example of getting the most out of your wood.

This photo shows the sketch, the cut out pattern, and the pattern traced on some scrap Basswood.

After cutting out the blank, roughing it out with my pocket knife, and sanding; my little polar bear is ready for finish.  Finish of choice is a light spray of polyurethane to seal the wood then wax and buffing.

From start to completion 40 minutes (including sanding and dry time)......Not too hard either.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Small Carvings From Scrap Wood

Some times my scrap box overflow-th!  And since I am basically a cheap feller I cannot see it go to waste.  I am constantly on the look out for small items to carve from pieces of this scrap.  This is where my sketch book comes in.  When I see a small object that I could carve, I sketch it, and some times I just sketch an object from memory.  The important thing is to get it sketched in the sketch book.   If I see a carving that I'd like to do, I usually modify it quite a bit in my sketch.

For this post I'll focus on the little bear in the bottom right corner.
I may add some notes to the sketch that I'll use at a later date.  

The first thing to do is to make a pattern just in case you want to carve more than  one.  I use carbon paper to transfer the sketch to a piece of 1/4th inch thick fiber board, then cut the pattern out using the scroll saw.

After the pattern is cut, I choose a piece of 7/8 inch thick Basswood from my scrap box.  Trace the bear pattern with the wood grain running from the top of the bear to the bottom.

Cut the blank out on the scroll saw.
Since I am a whittler, I use mainly the knife to shape the piece.

After using the knife to roughly shape the little bear, I used sand paper to smooth the wood.

Here's a side view of the little bear.

Here's a 3/4 view so one can better see the little bears head.

This is a fun little project that can be finished natural, stained, or painted.  It may be sanded smooth or not.  And it's a great way to use up some of the wood scraps.

Perhaps, the most important thing is to remember that the first thing to do is make a template, because you'll surely want to make more than one.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On The Corner Leprechaun Pin

The previous posts were pins that were whittled on flat surfaces, and the faces were more cartoonish.  This post will focus on whittling on the corner and will result in a more detailed human face.

STEP 1   Cut a 3 to 4 inch triangular blank, so that you have a 45 degree corner to carve on.

STEP 2  Carve the top hat the same as described and shown in previous posting.

STEP 3  Draw the nose and the top of the eye area.

STEP 4  Make stop cut(s) on sides of the nose, with the point of your knife.  Be sure not to undercut the nose sides.  This means that you should tilt the knife towards the nose center for these stop cuts.

STEP 5  Make stop cuts defining the top of the eye areas.

STEP 6  The tops of the eye areas are curved or angled down a bit.  Some times it's easier to achieve this curved stop cut by making two cuts wit the knife tip, rather than twisting the knife in one motion and run the risk of breaking the blade tip.

STEP 7  with the knife tip, remove the chip formed by the stop cuts at the nose side and the top of the eye areas.

STEP 8   One chip removed.

STEP 9  Chips removed from both eye areas,

STEP 10  Draw the top and bottom of the beard with a pencil.

STEP 11  Make a stop cut at the top beard line and taper the face down to this stop cut.  Draw the hat band and buckle in the top hat.  Make stop cuts at this line.
Thin the hat brim.

STEP  12  Taper the hat top down to the band and buckle stop cuts, to have the band and buckle stand out a bit.  Remove some wood from the sides of the buckle to make it stand out too.
Draw the mouth in with a pencil.

STEP 13 .Make stop cuts defining the mouth and cheeks.   Remove a little wood under the mouth stop cut as well as the cheeks.  Remove a small chip of wood above the nose to separate the eye brows
use the knife to shape the tip if the nose.

STEP 14  Cut the top of the hat off.  Remove the bottom of the piece of wood.

STEP 15  Shape the beard and the top of the hat with the knife.

STEP 16  At this point I like to scrub the piece with dish liquid soap and a denture brush to remove pencil marks, dirt and any fuzzies that lurk in the crevices and knife cuts.

STEP 17  This piece will be painted, so I must decide whether to seal the wood to prevent paint colors bleeding into each other; or wood burning a line between the different colors.  I prefer to wood burn.

STEP 18  Paint with acrylics.  I choose to not texture the beard on this one.  But I did add a wee bit of red blush to the nose and cheeks.

STEP 19   Here's a painted one with the beard textured.

Just glue the pin back on, and be ready for St Paddy's day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NO-SEE-EM Leprechaun Pin

Get ready for St Patricks Day, March 17.  I have selected this Leprechaun Pin as a class project for some newer wood carvers.  In order for a project to be selected for a "beginners" carving (Whittling) class it must meet the following standards:

A.  Have a good chance of each participant completing it,
B.  Be on the smaller side,
C.  Be able to be carved with only a knife,
D.  Involve the basic knife cuts (stop, push, and paring cut),
E.   Be fun to carve, and put to use.


STEP 1:  Cut out the blank from 1/4th to 3/8 inch Basswood.  I like to pencil in the hat band with the buckle to show the carver how the het will look (even though these reference lines will be whittled away.

STEP 2:  Since this project will be done by a new whittler, I like simplify it as much as possible.  This means that the nose will be added later.  We will use a round bead or ball set into a small drilled hole.  Locate the hole centered and up against the bottom of the hat brim.  Select a drill bit the size of the round wood bead or ball, and drill a the hole about an 1/8th inch deep.
Add caption

STEP 3:  Using the knife, round over the top of the hat sides and the edges of the face.  Taper the hat brim from the edges up to the top and down to the bottom.

STEP 4:  Glue the round bead or wood ball into the drilled hole.  Make sure the ball or bead stays above the surface of the face.

STEP 5:  Draw the hat band and buckle, and make stop cuts on these lines.Make shallow stop cuts to isolate the hand band and the top of the buckle.  I like to hold the knife firm and move the wood into the blade in a rocking motion).  Avoid running the knife blade over the edge of the wood.

STEP 6: Next, a simple beard treatment is all that is needed.  Make notches around the outside of the chin and sides of the Leprechauns face.  This will become the beard.

STEP 7:  Make stop cut the smile and paint!  No-see-em on the left and see-um on the right.  Just place the nose a bit lower for eyes/



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Leprechaun Top Hat Pin

March 17, 2017 is St. Patricks Day.  Irish and wanta be Irish all celebrate.  Some of these celebrations occur in pubs.  Everybody wants to be wearin the Green, green hats, sweaters, scarves, and any number of pins.  This little project was picked to include in a class of beginners that I may be teaching while in Florida during February/March.

I selected this project because the class will focus on whittling, and the project incorporates STOP CUTS, PARING CUTS, and THUMB ASSISTED PUSH CUTS.

STEP 1:  Saw the blank from 1/4" or 3/8" think Basswood.  I like to add handle for beginners to hold onto when whittling.  Draw lines at the top and bottom of the hat brim.

STEP 2:   Make STOP CUTS at the top of the hat brim on the two corners.

STEP 3:  After the two corners have stop cuts, connect the corner stop cuts with a continuous stop cut, that isolates the top of the hat from the brim.  I do not like to use my knife as a pencil to make these stop cuts.  I like to hold the knife steady and "rock" the wood into the blade.  This prevents the knife blade from going over the edge of the wood and possibly cutting me.

STEP  4:  This step starts the rounding of the top part of the hat.  I like to use a paring cut from the top of the hat down to the stop cut that separates the brim from the top of the hat.  Do not get too aggressive with these paring cuts,  Remove thin slices.  Be careful of the hat brim, as it is very fragile.

STEP 5:  Continue using paring cuts to round the top part of the hat.  I like to place my thumb as a stop to prevent my knife holding hand from getting too aggressive and have the knife cut through the brim.

STEP 6:  Once the top of the hat is rounded, you car draw the hat band and buckle.

STEP 7:  Make shallow stop cuts to isolate the hand band and the top of the buckle.  I like to hold the knife firm and move the wood into the blade in a rocking motion).  Avoid running the knife blade over the edge of the wood.

STEP 8:  Next make stop cuts to isolate the buckle.  Start with the sides of the buckle.

STEP 9:  Make a stop cut to isolate the top of the buckle.

STEP 10.  Lightly par down from the top of the hat to the top of the hat band and buckle, to have it stand out from the hat.

STEP 12:  Further pare down the hat band on each side of the buckle to have the buckle stand out from the hat band.

STEP 13:  Begin to thin the hat band, while you still have a handle to hold on to.  You may wish to apply some liquid super glue to the top and bottom of the hat band to strength it.

STEP 14:  Use a scroll saw to cut off the "handle".

STEP 15:  If you haven't already done so, I recommend applying liquid super glue to the hat band, at this step or before.  The hat band is very fragile and may break off.

STEP 16:   After the super glue is set finish thinning the hat brim.

STEP 17:  I never sand so I'm ready to paint.  Just have to glue the pin back on,