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My second and third attempts . . . and a couple questions

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  • My second and third attempts . . . and a couple questions

    I'm basically just practicing at this point . . . using pocket knife and an old, gougy looking thing that was in a box in my shop (my parents had a wood lathe about 50 years ago . . . I think said gougy thing was from that). Oh . . . and I do have a strop and compound (and use them obsessively). I'm not shooting for anything with these except for having fun and figuring out what I'm doing

    The faceless farmer is faceless because I started carving on the flat side, not a corner, and didn't know where to go with it. Figure I'll revisit when I learn more.

    So . . . the questions

    1: I really see myself doing caricatures (both people and animal). What is the best book for that? I'm looking for something that shows step by step. I've viewed a bunch of videos, but aside from those of Doug Linker, a lot of Youtube stuff loses me. I'm more of a book learnin' than video guy . . . just the way my brain works . . . I reckon.

    2: For doing caricatures . . . from a few inches high to a foot high, what would be the two or three most useful gouges and v-tools at this point? I don't know enough to decide what might be too big and what might be too small. I see stuff from 1.5 mm and up . . . but have zero idea of what to order (I'm on a budget with this . . . and don't want to get tools I don't really need ).

    Thanks, Ya'll
    Last edited by Rontana; 07-30-2019, 08:25 PM.

  • #2
    Well, you've got a good start going there. There are so many books that it's easy to get information overload. The magazine WCI is a good place to start, and since you are on a budget, look for free stuff. I found a lot of book type info just searching for free wood carving patterns. Woodbe carver has a good site too. Very informative.

    As far as tools go, a 1" knife and a 1.5 - 2" knife are all you really need. A small vee gouge from Flexcut will get you started. About 3mm or so. Also 1 small U shaped gouge. I bought their knives and like them, but others don't. I think dedicated non folding tools are the way to go.

    The gouge you have is for turning and should be put away. You can make vee cuts with a knife too, but for beginners like us a dedicated vee tool is worth getting. Flexcut also has a set of palm tools I like. It's what use most. I bought some gouges when I first got into it, but they sit unused in my carving tool box. If I had to do it over again, I would have asked first then saved up and bought a high quality knife. But you don't know what you don't know right?

    Books: Thrift books often has carving books at reasonable prices. The Beginners Handbook of Woodcarving is decent, as is First Projects for Woodcarvers. The one with the boot, dog, and nativity. I learned alot from that book. Also, look at thrift stores. I bought several carving books there. It's a good source.

    But I've learned the most from just carving. I have a practice stick I use to test the sharpness of my knife and I just carve on it. Practicing noses and eyes. Made a round ball. Every time the knife hits the wood you are learning. And you are off to a good start. Just get good with the knife and you can do most anything. Lots of folks here too to help. Hope this helps!
    Last edited by Unclescott; 07-31-2019, 08:52 AM.
    Carving since 2017


    • #3
      Certainly a nice start there, Rontana. Check out "sharonmyart" Youtube video to create a more detailed face for the fellow. I like the Mike Shipley books. I've bought some good books off Ebay and Amazon used that were reasonable.

      I have a blizzard of books and it seems I am always getting out different ones to look at. Except for Shipley's books, it seems no one book covers everything and I'm always looking at various ones to answer a question I might have.
      Living among knives and fire.


      • #4
        QUOTE: "I'm not shooting for anything with these except for having fun and figuring out what I'm doing."

        Rontana, if that's why you're carving, you're doing it for the right reason! If it ceases to be fun it becomes work.

        Regarding the "flat-faced" character, you can level off the face area, glue on a suitable piece of wood, and carve away...if you don't like the results, lop off the piece and repeat.

        I won't comment on the books as I don't do caricatures, but we have some fine carvers here that do, and I'm sure they'll be along shortly to help, but expect a range of opinions. The generous sponsor of this forum has many good books across the spectrum of carving subjects, and you might try your local library for starts.


        • #5
          You might try and run down the Jack Price book, Carving Small Characters. It goes through a really good tutorial on carving caricature faces. Mike Shipley and Pete LeClair have great books on caricature carving, and Pete's has a book on carving caricature heads and faces.

          You are off to a great start, and one thing I might add after looking at your carvings...maybe my old eyes deceive me, but it seems maybe your knife may not be sharp enough as some of your cuts don't look as clean as a sharp knife might make them. Just my .02!

          In fact, your smaller character looks like it is carved in the Jack Price style...

          Good luck and enjoy a very addicting hobby!


          • #6
            Uncle Scott . . .

            Thanks for the info on v-tool size. I'm already looking at knives (waiting for Helvie to start accepting orders again) as the shortest blade on my pocket knife is 1.5 inches. I'm looking at a detail and a small detail

            Wood Burner. . .

            I've watched quite a few of the Sharonmyart videos. Some have been helpful. After seeing your post, I looked up Mike Shipley. Turns out I used to live close to his tiny Ozark town (Dora) and in fact almost bought a house there back in the 1980s. I think I'll pick up one of his books.

            Arthur C . . .

            It's completely true that "If it ceases to be fun, it becomes work." While I still build musical instruments, I now only do it occasionally, and often give them away (aside from a few that I really enjoy playing). A decade back I was into selling them - and sold a bunch - but the business side sucked all the fun out of it for a while

            T Box . . .

            Yup . . . those pieces of mine are a little furry. I don't think it was so much the knife as it was the wood. I bought some 2" x 12" basswood turning pieces from the guys who have long sold me luthier wood. Their stuff is great for instruments . . . but they're not marketing to whittlers. I'm guessing it was the southern basswood I've heard ya'll speak of. And yup . . . this is happily addictive. I'm amazed when I look up at the clock and see how much time has slid by.

            - - - -

            Does anyone have any other suggestions on a couple of v-tool or gouges I should get?
            Last edited by Rontana; 07-31-2019, 02:17 PM.


            • #7
              i have to carve everything two or three times i even have pieces ive done 8 times i used to beat myself up because i couldnt fo it the first time but ya know that isnt a big deal every time its gets better and you'll end up being satisfyed and from your post you got the hang of it


              • #8
                First off, just an FYI...Helvie is back now accepting orders. Second, on books...I agree with tbox61. Books by Jack Price, Mike Shipley and Pete LeClair will get you on your way to carving caricatures, and will cover sizes from 3" to about 8" tall.
                Keep On Carvin'
                Bob K.

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                • #9
                  Rontana..... Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. If you like them then that's all that's important. However, if I can suggest one thing I'll pass on what was passed on to me when I first started carving. "Don't be afraid to remove more wood." Beginners are always afraid of ruining what they believe to be a finished piece. However, the removal of additional wood usually adds more detail and character to your caring. Good Luck!


                  • #10
                    Most experienced carvers will recommend not buying sets of gouges as you often end up with a few you never use. I bought a set of these about 20 years ago when I got somewhat serious about carving. I still use almost all of these on most of my carvings. The most used is the 3/8 #3, but I use all the others also. Also, I suggest this to go along with the gouges. I think the best step-by-step book is actually Wood Carving Illustrated magazine. Every issue has several step-by-step articles.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks all . . . I ordered a roughout and a small detail knife from Helvie (along with more compound) and bought a 4mm Flexcut v-tool. Also got Pete LeClair's "Caricature Faces" and Mike Shipley's "Country Bear" books. Along with my pocket knife, this stuff ought to keep me going for quite a long time.

                      The suggestion to remove more wood is much appreciated . . . as I was very much just doing small shavings. What helped the most is that I started stropping my blades frequently - every half hour or so of whittling - which made life much simpler. I thought they were sharp before, but soon discovered there is normal sharp and there is whittling SHARP.

                      Have done a couple more wizards . . . and am working on a little dolphin. Man . . . who knew this was so much fun.


                      • #12
                        Nice carvings, tool and book purchases are good ones Beware carving books carving tools and carving it self is very addictive and you may be hooked already. But there are much worse things to be addicted to so carry on.


                        • #13
                          Nice carvings!