Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Whittlers %#&%%#@

Do you ever get a weird reaction from someone when you tell them that you are a whittler.  I some times get a weird reaction; but usually only if the person is older.  "Older" is kind of relative, cause I'm nearly 78 and I mean older than me.   I think the chances for the weird reaction comes from folks who know what a thesaurus is and have used one.  Referring to the  thesaurus and looking up the word "Whittler" the following words and phrases are listed to mean pretty much the same thing:

"Someone who whittles"  usually as an idle past time." nothing, idler, layabout, loafer, bum, a person who does no work,  AND MY FAVORITE - "A lazy bum".

At least one a day a week I and some like minded friends carve/ whittle at the local senior center.  Old  people hang out at the senior center.  I think you can figure out where this is going....For years folks would stop and greet us with the words, "Good Morning Whittlers".  I always thought I detected an intonation in this greeting that suggested these folks had recently used the thesaurus.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wood Carving Styles (Flat Plane & Traditional)

WARNING  The following is an extreme over simplification....

Newer wood carvers soon discover what is labeled "flat plane carving".  It's always easier to show examples of flat plane carving than try to explain with mere words what flat plane carving is.  It becomes even easier to make the distinction between traditional caring style and flat plane style  with examples.

It's even easier to show the differences when you use exaggerations like I have done.

The example on the left is traditional carving, and on the right is flat plane carving.

On the left, traditional.  The right flat plane.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Whittling TIP

One of the great joys of whittling is its portability. Carrying a piece of wood in your pocket with your pocket knife lets you whittle anywhere.  However, sharp edges on the wood can cause discomfort in your pocket as well as when holding the wood to whittle.

I like to knock all the sharp edges off the wood before putting it into my pocket or when getting ready to carve/whittle.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Whittling Small Flat Plane Animals - GETTING STARTED

Whittling small flat plane animals is not as difficult as many think.  This posting will attempt to convince you to give it a try.

I am discovering that these small whittled pieces are great for stress relief and getting out of the carving doldrums.  They are fast not too difficult and folks seem to take a liking to them.

The vary size and nature of these smaller pieces kind of force you to slow down, both physically and mentally,

Here's some tips!

Use a very sharp, flat ground knife.

Use  slicing motion when cutting.

I sketch the animals on paper, in profile, or print them out from the internet.  When you print them out you can adjust the size from small to larger.

Select the wood thickness based upon the size of the animal on the print.  Heavy/wide bodied animals should be whittled from a thicker piece of wood.  Don't skimp on the wood thickness.

Use transfer paper (carbon paper) to transfer the animal profile outline on to the wood.  You may want to leave a "handle" on the cut out to help in holding the wood while whittling.

Use a scroll saw to cut the blank.

NOTE  When you sketch the blank you can sketch in the "flat planes" or you can sketch in the animals profile with the curves.  If you sketch the profile with the curves you will need to use the scroll saw to cut the "flat planes".

NOTE  The "flat planes" are easy to determine.  Rather than the curved surfaces of the profile, break these curves up into flat surfaces.  Kind of like "connecting the dots".

Here's a 15 minute Christmas tree ornament of  "Chesty".

Keep checking the blog for more on the ultra flat plane smaller animals.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tiny Flat Plane Rooster

It's been too dang long sine I posted up something on the blog.  No excuses!  Well I could come up with several (many in fact).

Here"s a little Rooster, in the ultra flat plane style.

I'll post the steps by step whittling soon.


Don't let the size throw you, it's quite simple to whittle,

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.