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.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


a folk history by Donald K. Mertz – The WOOD BEE CARVER

Wood carving is perhaps one of the oldest forms of art that originated the first time a human shaped in a decorative manner a piece of wood with a sharp stone. Whittling developed when sharpened metal knives were used to carve a hand held piece of wood making Whittling one of the earliest forms of carving.
In the United States Whittling was most prevalent in the century between 1865 and 1965. The Civil War brought together men from different states and territories in a melting pot kind of gathering. Sitting around the campsite the soldiers would relax by talking, playing cards, writing letters and some would be whittling. The folding jack knife was common among the soldiers who, if one had a knife one was prone to whittle. Some soldiers who were more proficient at whittling would teach others to whittle walking sticks or canes, animals, human figures, spoons, smoking pipes and whimsies like wooden chains, ball in a cage, fans and puzzles. A soldier from Maine would teach a soldier from Ohio how to whittle a particular object. A soldier from Georgia would show a soldier from Tennessee how to whittle. This was repeated over and over in the melting pot of the casual school of whittling.


The Yankee boy, before he’s sent to school,
Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool,
The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
Turns, while he hears his mother’s lullaby;
His hoarded cents he gladly gives to get it,
Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it;
And in the education of the lad
No little part that implement hath had.
His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings
A growing knowledge of material things.
Projectiles, music, and the sculptor’s art,
His chestnut whistle and his shingle dart,
His elder pop-gun with its hickory rod,
Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad,
His corn-stalk fiddle, and the deeper tone
That murmurs from his pumpkin-stalk trombone,
Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed
His bow, his arrow of a feathered reed,
His wind-mill, raised the passing breeze to win,
His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin;
Or, if his father lives upon the shore,
You’ll see his ship, “beam ends upon the floor,”
Full rigged, with raking masts, and timbers stanch,
And waiting, near the wash-tub, for a launch.
Thus, by his genius and his jack-knife driven,
Ere long he’ll solve you any problem given;
Make any jim-crack, musical or mute,
A plow, a couch, an organ, or a flute;
Make you a locomotive or a clock,
Cut a canal, or build a floating-dock,
Or lead forth Beauty from a marble block—
Make any thing, in short, for sea or shore,
From a child’s rattle to a seventy-four;—
Make it, said I?—ay! when he undertakes it,
He’ll make the thing and the machine that makes it.
And when the thing is made—whether it be
To move on earth, in air, or on the sea;
Whether on water, o’er the waves to glide,
Or, upon land to roll, revolve, or slide;
Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,
Whether it be a piston or a spring,
Wheel, pulley, tube sonorous, wood or brass,
The thing designed shall surely come to pass;
For, when his hand’s upon it, you may know
That there’s go in it, and he’ll make it go.
by John Pierpont