Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Insider Tips on Entering Carving Competitions

by Let's Talk Carving with Susan Alexander
Carol Leavy, the woman in charge of setting up the exhibits for the International Woodcarving Congress, had a number of suggestions that we all would benefit from should we decide to submit a carving to any competition. Since I saw this as an opportunity for us to see the exhibit process from the “inside” I asked Carol to give us TIPS for future competitors. Here’s what she said.Click Here

Friday, November 8, 2013

Old Bethpage Woodworkers Show

Join The Club at the 
Long Island Woodworkers Show
Saturday and Sunday -  November 9 & 10
Old Bethpage Village Restoration Fairgrounds
1303 Round Swamp Road (Exit 48 from the LIE)
Volunteers are needed for our booth - Call Ed Sesack 

More information: CLICK HERE

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Sounds of Carving


Gerry Holzman's Woodcarving Blog...

 A couple of readers have asked me why I call my blog, "THE SOUNDS OF CARVING." I must be honest and admit that these are not my own words; they were a gift from a blind teenager.
During the decade of the 1990’s, the period when we were most actively engaged in the process of building the Empire State Carousel, we opened a work-in-progress exhibit at our small museum/workshop on Long Island and conducted regular tours for our guests.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


     This is the story of a woodcarver who lived in a house in a forest with a rabbit and a housemaid.
Among the duties of the housemaid was to dress the rabbit each morning as he was unable to dress himself.
One day, after they had had their breakfast and the rabbit was dressed, the rabbit and the woodcarver went out into the forest to find wood that would be suitable for carving. They soon found what they agreed was a wonderful piece of wood just perfect for a wood sculpture

Unfortunately, they couldn't agree on what to carve. 

The woodcarver wanted to carve a mother sheep feeding her lambs. The rabbit wanted to see the piece become a wooden Dutch shoe. Finally, they agreed to let the housemaid decide, so they went back to the cottage and explained their problem. 

The housemaid decided to flip a coin: Heads would mean that the woodcarver would carve the sheep, tails would mean that the shoe would win. You can imagine the suspense when she flicked up the coin, caught it and peeked. . .. 

Wood ewe or wooden shoe? Only the haredresser knew for sure.


Wood Carving Humor...source:


Friday, August 2, 2013

Wooden Money...


In today's selection -- over the last few thousand years, contrary to popular belief, the predominate form of money was not gold or silver coins, but instead such things as clay tablets and -- in the case of England -- notched tally sticks. However, metal coins survive more readily than tablets and sticks, and so many historians have falsely assumed that most money was in the form of coins. In the case of England, a lack of understanding of this led to the wholesale destruction of one of the most important collections of source material in the history of money -- and indirectly led to the construction of London's beautiful Houses of Parliament so familiar to us today:  
 A tally stick was an identifiable, tamper-proof record of the amount paid or owed in a transaction.
"[Almost all the money that survives] from earlier ages [is] of a single type -- coins. Museums around the world heave with coins, ancient and modern. Coins and their inscriptions are one of the main archaeological sources for the understanding of ancient culture, society, and history. ...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chainsaw Carving on Long Island

Sculptor gives new life to remnants of Sandy destruction

July 17, 2013 by JAN TYLER. Special to Newsday
Vincent Maggio enjoys the hammock in his backyard
Gregg Klewicki sometimes travels off the beaten path. It helps explain how he has carved out a career as an artist-sculptor despite no formal training and using little more than a chain saw.
"I was a truck driver and I just got tired of working for someone else," said Klewicki, 45, of Huntington.
He came to his new profession by experimenting and allowing his latent creativity to emerge.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New, Easier C P R !!!

II have seen this before, but you might learn something new that may save a life. 
Here is a demonstration of the new, easier CPR which takes the complication out of the method that was taught and  practiced a few years ago.  Please Watch - It's easy to remember and you don't have to be certified to use this method, and it may save a life!  This is a  great demonstration, done by the doctors who developed  the procedure at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart  Center.
I urge you to watch and then share it with those you care about. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Carving a Sweet Potato



Friday, June 14, 2013

How Much Do You Know About GLUE?

Thank you to:

Woodworking Glue Quiz:
  1. All glues are the same; they all work on wood. - TRUE or FALSE
  2. There is not one great glue that will do it all. -TRUE or FALSE
  3. All white/yellow glues are the same. - TRUE or FALSE
  4. Yellow glue is strong-White glue is only used by schoolchildren. - TRUE or FALSE
  5. There is no glue like the old hide glue. - TRUE or FALSE
  6. Aliphatic glue is superior. - TRUE or FALSE
  7. Formaldehyde glues are waterbased. - TRUE or FALSE
  8. Water based glues are harmful because they will swell and twist wood. - TRUE or FALSE 
  9. Thick glue is better and fills gaps and voids. - TRUE or FALSE
  10. More glue is better. - TRUE or FALSE
  11. More pressure is better. - TRUE or FALSE
  12. More catalyst is better. - TRUE or FALSE
  13. No glues will take a stain. - TRUE or FALSE
  14. Mechanical help such as biscuits or dowels is needed for best edge gluing strength. - TRUE or FALSE
  15. Miters and other end grain can be glued with any thick glue. - TRUE or FALSE
  16. Moisture content is important; gluing air dried lumber is not a good idea. - TRUE or FALSE
  17. Pieces should be assembled as soon as possible after spreading the glue. - TRUE or FALSE
  18. There are glues that will set in 3-5 minutes allowing very fast edge gluing of hardwoods. - TRUE or FALSE
  19. It's OK to machine immediately from press/clamps. - TRUE or FALSE
  20. Heating the glue line will not speed the cure. - TRUE or FALSE
  21. "Water Resistant" on the label means the glue isn't affected by water. - TRUE or FALSE
  22. Glues with toxic chemicals in them shouldn't be used. - TRUE or FALSE
  23. Water based glues can be used as long as the temperature in the shop is above freezing. - TRUE or FALSE
  24. Shops don't need to be humidified in the winter. - TRUE or FALSE
  25. It's OK to glue bowed, bellied or twisted stock as long as it's pulled tight with clamps. - TRUE or FALSE
  26. Glue performance can be easily tested in the shop. - TRUE or FALSE
  27. Powdered glues that require water for mixing are more likely to bleed through veneers than PVAs. - TRUE or FALSE
  28. Glues last forever; there is no shelf life. - TRUE or FALSE


1. False There are hundreds of different adhesives formulated for thousands of different applications. Choosing the correct glue for your project could determine its eventual success or failure.

2. True Although many glues have multiple applications there isn't one that can "do it all."

3. False White and Yellow glues (Poly-Vinyl Acetates) are formulated with different viscosities, solids contents and chemical modifications, for different applications.

4. False Color has nothing to do with a glue's strength or quality.

5. False There are few, if any, applications in which synthetic glues, such as PVA, can't outperform, hide glues.

6. False "Aliphatic" simply describes a broad family of organic chemicals that includes PVAs.

7. True Formaldehyde glues, although they have different chemical components, are water based just like PVAs.

8. False Most commonly used wood glues are water based and will not harm wood if high solids glues are used, assembly times allowed, and spreads are controlled.

9. False Many applications require a glue that is not thick. Although there are adhesives available that have gap filling qualities, just because a glue is thick doesn't mean it is capable of filling gaps and voids.

10. False Actually, too much glue can result in a thick glue line and, hence, a weaker bond.

11. False Too much pressure could result in a starved glue joint and a weaker bond.

12. False Catalyst levels depend on the glue and specific catalyst formulations. Some catalysts speed cure as they are increased; others slow down the cure rate.

13. True Although some glues appear to take stains better than others, there is no glue that is stainable.

14. False Using mechanical fastening devices when edge gluing tends to weaken the glue joint by disrupting a smooth true edge joint that will provide maximum strength. Devices such as biscuits or dowels should only be used to maintain alignment or to add strength in miters and butt joints.

15. False Gluing end grain may require sizing before gluing and the use of a high solids glue.

16. True Ideal moisture content for gluing is 6.8%, therefore, higher air dry moisture should be avoided. Higher moisture levels also result in wood movement after gluing with accompanying checks and splits. Lower moisture content may interfere with the glue's ability to properly wet the surface.

17. False Often, it is better to allow the glue to set for a little while before applying pressure.

18. False Although there are glues available that will set quickly, strength is often sacrificed.

19. False Regardless of the glue used, it is a good idea to allow it to cure for 24 hours before machining.

20. True When using conventional PVA the cure rate is not affected by heating the glue line, in fact, bond development may be slowed.

21. False Only glues that are "Waterproof" such as Resorcinol Resin will provide absolute protection from moisture.

22. False Most glues are made with some chemicals that may be considered toxic. With normal precautions, most glues are completely safe to work with.

23. False Although many glues are "freeze/thaw stable" many do not perform well at low temperatures.

24. False Many shops become excessively dry during the winter causing numerous gluing problems because of resulting moisture loss from the stock.

25. False Often, gluing bowed or twisted stock results in undue stress on the glue joint and glue lines that are either too thick or starved of adhesive.

26. False Because of the myriad factors involved in gluing and testing, the only way to accurately measure glue performance is through a laboratory testing facility.

27. False Once reconstituted, powdered glues actually have a higher solids content than many PVAs, and therefore are less likely to bleed through veneers.

28. False All glues have a definite shelf life after which their performance deteriorates significantly.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wood That's Tough as Nails

What natural building material is highly durable, resists flames and doesn't float? It's ipe wood, a material that upscale builders and interior designers are increasingly incorporating into their plans. But density comes at a price. Find out about this wood used to build Jones beach and Coney Island here

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Elegant Bathtubs Made Entirely of Wood

wooden bathtubs all wood baths by alegna (4)

Alegna is a design firm based in Switzerland, best known for their elegant series of bathtubs and sinks made entirely of wood. Building from their many years of experience in yacht building and processing high-quality woods, these elegant bathroom designs are a sight to behold.
To protect the wood from water damage,  CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Important Carving Tool, The Pencil

 The pencil is increasingly marginalized by technology, we reflect on its relatively recent origin in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. At least by the reckoning of one scientist, a single pencil can draw a line 731 miles (1178 kilometers) long:

"The modern pencil was invented in 1795 by Nicholas-Jacques Conte, a scientist serving in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. The magic material that was so appropriate for the purpose was the form of pure carbon that we call graphite. It was first discovered in Europe, in Bavaria at the start of the fifteenth century; although the Aztecs had used it as a marker several hundred years earlier. Initially it was believed to be a form of lead and was called 'plumbago' or black lead (hence the 'plumbers' who mend our lead water-carrying pipes), a misnomer that still echoes in our talk of pencil 'leads'. It was called graphite only in 1789, using the Greek word 'graphein' meaning 'to write'. Pencil is an older word, derived from the Latin 'pencillus', meaning 'little tail', to describe the small ink brushes used for writing in the Middle Ages.


"The purest deposits of lump graphite were found in Borrowdale near Keswick [England] in the Lake District in 1564 and spawned quite a smuggling industry and associated black economy in the area. During the nineteenth century a major pencil manufacturing industry developed around Keswick in order to exploit the high quality of the graphite. The first factory opened in 1832, and the Cumberland Pencil Company has just celebrated its 175th anniversary; although the local mines have long been closed and supplies of the graphite used now come from Sri Lanka and other far away places. Cumberland pencils were those of the highest quality because

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Carving as a Healing Method

While doing some research the other day, I found an article that talks about the healing attributes that wood carving can have for a person.  The article details how it can affect your mood and alter your stress levels. 
When you as a wood carver enjoy the projects that you are working on, you will tend to feel better about them and yourself.  You will also do a better job on the wood carving project.  I have always been a believer that people should find a hobby that they enjoy and stick with it.  You will become more relaxed and get your mind off of the stresses of everyday life.
Healing Properties of Your Woodcarving...CLICK HERE

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hopi artisans carve cottonwoods into kachinas

Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:42 AM  By Ron Dungan
Hopi kachina carving goes back to troubled times, to cultural shifts that took place a couple of centuries ago.
Carvers use a variety of methods, tools and paints — both traditional and contemporary — in creating the figures. Some use power tools, others stick with hand tools. Some use fur and feathers, others don’t. Although carvers approach their work differently, each piece begins with a cottonwood root.
The trees live along rivers, springs and washes on high plateaus and in stony passages throughout the Southwest. They put down deep roots and grow a thick layer of rough bark. They stand against floods and drought, through cold winters and hot summers, until they die and are washed away.
Some carvers gather their own roots. They walk dry riverbeds and washes after floods, watching for rattlesnakes. Other carvers are happy to leave that work to others.
“My wife and I used to get it from riverbeds,” said Arthur Holmes Jr., a contemporary-style carver from Prescott Valley, who learned from his father. “Now I have people who go and collect the wood.”
Gerry Quotskuyva, a contemporary carver who lives near Camp Verde, said he once got pretty excited about some roots he spotted. He grabbed a piece and stripped off the bark, his mind filled with possibilities, until he realized there were scorpions in the wood, and his thoughts snapped back to the moment.
Old-style carving
Kachina dolls represent dancers who perform in Hopi ceremonies. The dancers carry messages for their people and are givers of life, said Tayron Polequaptewa, a carver who lives in Flagstaff. They instill discipline. They teach children how to behave. CLICK HERE

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finding Reference Material

Finding reference material

by Lets Talk Carving with Susan Alexander

To improve our carving skills, not only do we need to learn more about this wonderful craft of carving, but we need a method of retaining what we’ve learned, or at least remembering where we’ve read it.
The only thing I own more of than tools, are books. My carving reference library fills up one bookcase that reaches from the ceiling to the floor, plus a second 3 ft. high case. Want to see a crazy person? That would be me, at midnight, going through my library trying to “remember” where I read one specific carving TIP that I need NOW!
I believe that reading is a contact sport, and if you’re going to play, you’d better have the right equipment. As with carving, the correct tool makes the job easier. Using the correct tools will eliminate the midnight madness of searching through books and back issues of Carving Magazinelooking for that one piece of escaped knowledge.
img 12 13TIP: Here's a photo of what I grabbed from my desk drawer. In order to put your hands on a TIP you read a year ago, whenever you pick up a book/magazine, you should also have one item from Column A and one item from Column B next to you. My favorites are shown below.
Issue 40 Holiday 14
Let’s say that while you’re reading Issue 38, you’re thinking the lamp I mentioned sounds like something you might buy for yourself, and that next month you’d like to carve Donna Menke’s hummingbird for your niece, and your nephew would love Sharon Bechtold’s pirate ship for his birthday.
Issue 40 Holiday 15
TIP: By writing the subject matter on a sticky note, and attaching it to the appropriate page, you’ll quickly find all the articles that you want to refer to, months, even years later. If there is specific information you need from the article, highlight that information with a marker.
TIP: There may be different types of TIPS in one article, which you want to remember. If so, you can use different colored markers. While I highlight most everything in yellow, I will highlight an item I want to purchase in the future – like a new burning tip or special color paint – with a green or blue marker.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Finned Fakes

Belleville man is world's best at carving fish decoys
John McCoy Daily Mail Outdoors editor
"Reprinted with permission from the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, Sept. 6, 2002."
BELLEVILLE -- Some people carve duck decoys for a hobby. Scott Morrison carves fish decoys.
Yes, there is such a thing as a fish decoy. People in Midwestern states use them to lure real fish within spear range. And Morrison, with only four years of experience at carving decoys, already is the world's best at that arcane pastime.
He has a bit of an advantage. As a fisheries biologist with 22 years of experience, he knows how fish look and he knows how they swim.
That knowledge helped set him apart from the crowd two weekends ago, when he captured the world championship of fish decoy carving at the Great Lakes Fish Decoy Carvers and Collectors Association's convention in Livonia, Mich.
"It's a natural fit for me," says Morrison, who lives next to the Ohio River near the Belleville Locks and Dam in Wood County. "It's kind of refreshing to be involved with a group of people who care as much about the way a fish swims in the water as they do about its looks."
Unlike duck decoys, which are judged solely upon their looks, fish decoys also must move properly in the water to score points with contest judges.
"In order to attract fish, a fish decoy has to have some movement to it," Morrison explains. "When activated by a pull on its tether line, it should ‘swim' in a lazy circle."
Six Midwestern states still allow anglers to spear large fish such as sturgeon and northern pike.
Because spear fishing takes place through the thick ice of frozen lakes, anglers use decoys to attract fish to the holes they chop through the ice.
"It's pretty neat how spear fishing works," Morrison says. "You sit in a black- walled tent that shuts out all the light. You lower your decoy into the water, and it's just like looking into a television set. When the big fish come over to inspect the decoy, it swims into the picture and you spear it."
Morrison had never even heard of a fish decoy until six years ago, when he saw one displayed at a duck-decoy competition in Cleveland. The sighting struck a chord in the 52-year-old biologist, who had carved duck decoys for years with only modest competitive success.
"I figured I knew a lot more about fish than I know about ducks," he says.
Two years later, he began entering fish decoy competitions. His works earned immediate acclaim.
Read the rest of the story, click here

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I decided to go to the master, Leonardo da Vinci, and get some TIPS from the great man!

Issue 40 Holiday 01

Proportion tricks

by Lets Talk Carving with Susan Alexander

No matter what you carve – proportions count. When a carving is unsuccessful, we know that something is wrong, but often have a difficult time deciding what is wrong. I’ve always marveled at how a great instructor or educator can quickly pinpoint exactly what needs to be corrected in a carving. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a caricature, stylistic, or realistic carving a good carver understands proportions.
I’m often asked by civilians (non-carvers), “You carve? …wood? … really? Uh … why?” Translation: “Why would you want to play with wood, sharp knives, band saws, sharpening systems, air filters, drill presses and sanders?”
I used to respond by saying, “Because I want to.” But, this last year, I took their question seriously and asked myself why I was carving – did I have a goal beyond the simple joy it brought me?
I discovered what I truly desired was to be able to successfully carve any subject that thrilled me (no matter how many years it might take.) I love wood and I love the challenge.
Issue 40 Holiday 01I bring this up, in conjunction with proportions, because since realizing my goal I found that I’m reading books in a different manner than I had previously read them.
I thought the carvings and sculptures in these books were so far beyond me that they had nothing to do with my carving efforts. That isn’t true. We can learn from everyone, especially those great artists who left us their notes.
Leonardo da Vinci left notes, diaries, and drawings. Let’s discover how we can use them.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Working With Reclaimed Woods

Saints carved from reclaimed wood and hand-painted by artisans in Guatemala.
Saints carved from reclaimed wood and hand-painted by artisans in Guatemala.

Working With Reclaimed Woods
Old barn boards, crates and pallets (often free for the taking) are all examples of valuable lumber that often gets relegated to the garbage pile. Woodworker Charles Mak, who recently made a jigsaw-puzzle frame out of pallet boards, explains how to use reclaimed wood in your projects. Read more...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Carve Hobo Nickels

How to Make Hobo Nickels

Click to view enlargment.
The United States minted buffalo nickels from 1913 through 1938.
During this time period and beyond, folk artists used hand tools to
alter the distinguished Indian head on the front of these coins.
Famous hobo nickels show the Indian's head accentuated with
details such as beards and hats or fully transformed into a famous
personality or comical character. Some artists would even transform
the buffalo on the back of the nickel into a different animal.
With a few engraving tools and a steady hand, you can alter
your own buffalo nickels or use your imagination to carve modern coins.
Moderately Easy


Things You'll Need

  • Fine-tipped marker
  • Hand engraving tool with nail and carbide tip
  • Craft knife
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Metal polish
  • Polishing cloth
    • 1
      Draw your desired shape and details on the surface of the nickel,
      using a fine-tipped marker. Try to work with the details and contours
      of the original nickel to make your finished nickel look authentic.
    • 2
      Smooth and carve away away large areas of metal with your hand
      engraving tool and a carbide tip.
    • 3
      Engrave fine lines on the metal surface with the hand engraving
      tool and a nail tip or a craft knife.
    • 4
      Hammer a nail into the coin to create stippling or small, rough
      details such as pockmarks.
    • 5
      Polish the finished nickel with metal polish and a polishing cloth.