May 2015 Happenings

May 2015 Happenings

Lora S. Irish
Author of Classic Carving Patterns

Designs Online since 1997

Lora S Irish Carving PatternsIt’s our birthday! 
This May we will celebrate
two full years back on the web with and
So, what have we been up to during this time?
Just check out the list below :)


Walking Sticks & Wizard Wands Carving Patterns (48)
Architectural Designs Carving & Pyrography Patterns (30)

Dragon Medallions Carving & Pyrography Patterns (11)
Pyrography Doodles Carving & Pyrography Patterns (29)
Mushroom Spirits Carving & Pyrography Patterns (18)
Seashore & Ranch Signs Pyrography Patterns (4 x-lg)
Shorebirds Mantels Carving & Pyrography Patterns (4 x-lg)
Country Store Signs Carving & Pyrography Patterns (4 x-lg)
Celtic Dragon Signs Carving & Pyrography Patterns (4 x-lg)
Southwest Animals Carving & Pyrography Patterns (16)
Owls & Mushrooms Carving & Pyrography Patterns (21)
Pottery Birds Carving & Pyrography Patterns (30)
Fretwork Butterflies Scroll Saw & Quilt Patterns (20)
Fretwork Lamps Scroll Saw Patterns (19)
Halloween Scroll Saw 1 Scroll Saw Patterns (21)
Halloween Scroll Saw 2 Scroll Saw Patterns (21)
Lora S Irish Carving PatternsPumpkin Carving Patterns (71)
Heart Shaped Patterns Carving & Quilt Patterns (18)
Birds of Prey Carving & Pyrography Patterns (12)
Southwest Animals Carving & Pyrography Patterns (16)


Chip Carving Basics – 37 pg pdf, 3 chip carving projects
Wood Spirit Mushrooms – 48 pg pdf, 18 carving patterns
Whittle Fish Decoys – 60 pg PDF, 41 whittling patterns
Pyrography Doodles – 55 pg PDF, 26 pyrography patterns
Art Styles of Pyrography – 190 pg PDF, 15  projects
Pyrography Animal Portraits – 41 pg PDF, 3  projects
Pyrography Masks – 41 pg PDF, 2 in-depth projects
Flamed Earrings – 60 pg PDF , 41 jewelry projects
Easy Steps to Sharpening – 38 pg PDF
Introduction to Pyrography – 38 pg PDF, 5 patterns


Free Lora Irish Wood Carving Projects
Beginner’s Tool and Supply Kit

Lora Irish Carving PatternsFree Lora Irish Walking Stick Projects
Walking Stick Joinery
Walking Stick Wood Species – Harvesting Your Sticks
Walking Stick – Adding Extras
Walking Stick – How to Clamp Your Handle
Day 1 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving

Day 2 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 3 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 4 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving

Day 5 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
 Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern

Lora Irish Relief Wood Carving Free Projects
Canada Goose Project
Canada Goose Project 1
Canada Goose Project 2
Canada Goose Project 3
Canada Goose Project 4
Mule Deer Relief Wood Carving Project

Lora Irish Chip Carving PatternsFree Lora Irish Whittling Projects
Tiki Chess Set Project
Ice Fishing Decoy Carving
Ice Fishing Decoy Gallery One
Ice Fishing Decoy Gallery Two

Free Lora Irish Chip Carving Projects
Chip Carving
Sharpening Your Chip Knives
Positive Space in Chip Carving
Chip Carving Seminar
Chip Carving Supplies
Chip Carving Graphed Patterns
Chip Carving Hand Positions and Grips
Chip Carving – Triangles and Square Chips
Chip Carving – Straight-Wall Chips
Chip Caved Game and Chess Board
Chip Carving Sampler Pattern Layout
Chip Carving Common Mistakes
Chip Carved Shortbread Cookies

Free Lora Irish Painting Your Carving Projects
Basics to Painting
Acrylics over a Primer
Lora Irish Carving PatternsChina Painting with Acrylics
Dry Brushed Acrylics
Marbling & Splatter Painting
Simple Dry Brushing
Vintage Painting
Painting Supplies
Paint Kit Supplies for Painting
Steps to Success, Painting
Burnishing Your Wood Carving
Simple Blending Acrylic Paints
Techniques for Painting
Basics to Painting


Toxicity in Pyrography and Wood Carving
Photography for Pyrography
Contrasting Tonal Values
Fading Pyrography Projects
Pyrography on Paper
Lora Irish Pyrography, Derringer PatternTonal Value Sepia Worksheet
Pyrography Practice Boards
Pyrography Holiday Cards

Blue Heron Tavern Pyrography
Coloring Wood Burnings Colored Pencils
Pyrography Leather Journal
Wood Burning Animal Fur and Hair
Mapping Your Pyrography Pattern
Simple Pyrography Shading


Color, Shadow, and Light in Pyrography
Mushroom Pyrography Doodles
Pyrography Steps Portrait Burning

How to dry brush paint a relief wood carvingPyrography Doodles
Pyrography Feather Border
Ceremonial Mask Pyrography Project
Cougar Pyrography Project

“We – Michael and I – want to thank everyone who has supported
and encouraged us these last two years.  We are so excited
about the coming year and all of the new adventures and
growth ahead of us!” – L S Irish, 5/2015

Choosing Your Bench Knife

Choosing Your Bench Knife

I had a question from on the Wood Spirit Carving Project that is being posted right now, that I thought I would share with you.  The question was “How do you pick the right sized bench knife?”

Please remember you can click on any image for a full-sized photo.

Quality of the Steel

wood carving the wood spirit patternThere are three important considerations in which bench knife you purchase.  First is the quality of steel in the blade, which determines whether you can bring the knife to a very sharp, fine point with a sharp edge.  While your hand will adjust to a knife handle that is not an absolute perfect in fit, there is nothing you can do to improve a poor quality steel blade or force it into holding an edge.

This top photo shows an ergonomic handled chip carving knife.  I use this one for my general craft needs as cutting paper, cutting chipboard, or cutting leather.  The handle is slightly too wide for a comfortable grip in my hand, and the extension of the knife point beyond the hand grip is a touch too long.  Yet, this knife would be a perfect grip for a carver with a larger hand size than mine (woman’s small).  The steel of this blade is very high quality.

Length of the Blade

wood carving the wood spirit patternSecond is the length of the cutting blade.  A long bladed bench knife is perfect for de-barking walking sticks, for long whittling cuts, and for general shaping.

This second photo shows a long bladed bench knife.  This is the classic bench knife that is often shown for beginning carvers, yet its primary use is for long whittling strokes as de-barking walking sticks or rounding over the corners of a practice block.  The handle of this knife fits my hand perfectly, but the long blade pushes my fingers away from the wood.  I use this one for rough-out work, but never detail or shaving work.

Fit of the Handle

wood carving the wood spirit patternFinally, the third consideration is how the blade handle fits in the palm of your cutting hand.  I use ‘the rule of thumb’ to size my bench knives.  For a moment extend the thumb of your non-dominate hand in the ‘thumbs up’ position.  Wrap your dominate hand around that extended thumb with the extended thumb tip resting at the mid-joint of the first finger.  Use a light, semi-open grip.  For me, the size and length of that extended thumb is the perfect size for my bench knife and tool handles. (See bottom photo)

The third photo shows my favorite bench knife, a rose wood handled large chip carving blade.  The handle is exactly the size of my extended thumb, and the blade point is never more than one inch away from the wood.

wood carving the wood spirit patternI have a second chip carving knife that I use regularly that is classified as a small chip knife.  The knife has a very short, narrow handle and a 3/4″ or less blade.  A short blade, as a large chip knife, brings your hand right onto the carving wood, which gives you more control over the movement of the cutting tip.  Very small, short blades, as a small chip knife, are perfect for getting into those tight corners or creating undercuts.



 Rule of Thumb Sizing

wood carving the wood spirit patternIf I am sizing a palm handled tool, I slide my non-dominate hand further up into my dominate hand so that the first joint of the extended thumb rests against the mid-joint of my first finger.  This places the pad or base of my extended thumb into the center of my carving hand palm.  The size of my thumb pad is about the size that I want for my palm tools.

Which bench knife or carving tools work best for you is determined by what style of wood carving you are working, the size of your hand, and your hobby budget.  Of note is that many wood carvers own and use more than one bench knife or set of gouges, so that we will have on hand the right tool for the right job.  As your hobby grows so will your tool hoard … :)

If you are just starting your hobby of wood carving you may wish to check out our article on the Wood Carving Tool Kit.