re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Archive for May, 2018

136. Carving a Christmas tree stump.

Are you one of the shrinking group of Americans who still buy a real Christmas tree.  My wife and I are.  We love the smell of pine, the color of the tree, the decorating and the beauty.  Now I have to ask, what do you do with your Christmas tree once January rolls around?

You might be saying, but this is June, this is way too early.  We having gotten past Thanksgiving or even summer.  And that is the usual response.  But when you are carving you have to think ahead.  You have to prepare to have wood available to carve when it is time to carve.  You have to think about sources of wood.

One source is the trunk of the family or neighbor’s Christmas tree.  After Christmas, usually right after New Years, when all the decorations come down, take the tree into the back yard or into the garage.  Cut off the branches and the top third of the tree trunk.  Put this trunk into the rafters of the garage where it will remain until August or October.  Then take down the dried out trunk, cut it into pieces and begin working.

On these carvings I use power tools to cut more than blanks and rough outs.  The pine tree is plenty hard, knotty, stringy so power helps the project along.  Rough out the shapes desired. Finish with knives and gouges. Pine trees do take thinned acrylic paints rather well.


Snowman on a stump

The nicest carvings I have been making from tree trunks are snowmen.  I have also made Father Christmas faces.


135. Carving ideas – flowers, colors, and design.

One can not take wood carving and carving tools everywhere. This is especially true in big cities where one depends on mass transit. Mass transit requires safety measures such as metal detectors. Metal sectors find sharp metal objects such as carving tools. Said tools would then be lost to confiscation.

So, one needs to find something creative to take on mass transit. Pencils, markers, and colored pencils work, for now. In preparation for times when carving can be done, flowers. Design and color continue. Here are a few sketches and ideas. Some are copies of other artists work. Some are originals. Can you tell which is which? Shalom.

“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies… this our hymn of grateful praise.”

134. Carving: A book to know.

One thing that attract me to wood carving is trees. Now that might sound to obvious, but trees – their shape (both positive and negative), color, smell, bark, leaves, sound, feel, climb-ability – are a big part of carving for me. That is why I recommend wood carvers have a few books on trees and wood around.

One book worth having is “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees.” This field guide is filled with many interesting facts, wonderful color plates and much information useful to a wood carver. Its introduction tells us that there are over 50,000 species of trees in the world. Only 680 of them are native to America. Wood carvers are always looking


for different wood to carve. Good, basic wood types – bass, butternut, sugar pine, white pine, birch, walnut, oak. But just this one fact about s pieces opens up worlds of possibility for the carver. So many kinds of wood to try, so little time.

The color plates of tree bark and leaves are also useful. Audubon divided the plates into groups by leaf shape and structure. Further subdivisions by tree types allows the reader to quickly find a type of tree of interest. Tree identification is aided by the plates provided. Cottonwood bark carvers become much more aware of tree bark, its beauty, and variety.

One other feature that a carver may find useful is the section giving tree descriptions, habitat, and range. Carvers looking for different kinds of wood, assuming they are a bit more adventurous and aren’t just going down to the local lumber yard, will know where the tree of interest can be most easily found.

Audubon’s Field Guide for North American Tree is a valuable and interesting tool for any wood carver.

133. Dolphins, noteworthy creatures.

Wish you could hold this one. It really is one of the best parts of the piece. And dolphins are interesting and delightful in so many ways.

By the numbers: 40 species, can live 50 years, largest 30 feet(killer whale is a dolphin – didn’t know that), smallest 3 feet, max dive depth 1,000 feet, speed – avg 3-7 mph, up to 20 mph, and can weigh up to 19,000 lbs.

Other stuff to know: protect weak or injured members, intelligent, sleep with only half their brain, are very playful, and they are different from porpoises.

This dolphin is made carved in basswood. Sanding doesn’t normally get done my shop, but dolphins need to be smooth, so 80 grit, 120 grit, and then 600 grit. It was painted with acrylic one drop paint to fifteen drops of water. Finally it was buffed with a brown paper bag, wax was applied and after drying it was buffed again. You should feel it.

Hope you get to catch the wonder of some part of creation this summer. Shalom.


132. Woodwork from other places 10, Germany. Erhard Schön, woodcuts

Wood cuts by Erhard Schön, a master carver who shone after Albrecht Durer. You know Albrecht Dürer, right? If you do not, let me encourage you to check him out to.

Pictures here come from Pinterest. Now you have the name you can check out Erhard in many other places.

What caught my attention was the amount of work he produced, the quality and quantity of detail, and the social, political commentary he made in his work. He was a product of his time, living and working during Renaissance Humanism and The Reformation of the 16th Century. He is worth knowing for both his wood carving and his view on life. Check him out.

I left the thumbnails small so as to not lose detail.

British Museum – Erhard Schön, Picture Puzzle of Jonah and the Whale and a Squatting Peasant, a woodcut.

131. Woodwork from other places 9, China.

Does Post 115 ring a bell? Pictured is another rather small bell. It is not nearly as decorated as the previous one, however, the work is no less intriguing. Five key pieces, each carefully cut, shaped, and arranged. The piece would fit into a large hand. Perhaps it was used for a small animal like a calf, goat or sheep.

Haven’t tried posting sound here. I mention that because, despite its size, the bell rings rather loudly. It would surely provide identification of a small, active animal. The hardwoods used give a great volume of a penetrating kind.

I know, the next picture doesn’t look like a bell. Well, it isn’t. Please do check back sometime to find out what it is and a few more pictures of it. Until then, Shalom.

130. More Christmas trees, more hope.

Variety is one of the spices of life, to rephrase an “old saw.” So here are a few more pictures of Christmas trees. See post 127 for the first rendition.

The first one was found in a “big box” store. It comes with a story. Our daughter collects Christmas trees, all kinds. So many that it is more and more difficult to glean news ones from the “boxes.” We were excited to travel to China several years ago figuring new ground to cover. You know it, right? Everywhere we looked, “made in China.” All the trees our daughter already had. I took pictures as reference for future work.

Needless to say, we have to make our own for her. That is the second set of pictures. Cedar scrap wood from a carpenter’s discard box, black spray paint, white acrylic snapped on with an old toothbrush, super glue, and spray on urethane. Tadaaa! Shalom.