Archives for October 2014

Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 4

Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 4

Today we will deepen the honeysuckle twine area, shape and detail the snake’s head, add texture to the Sassafras bark, and do a general clean-up of the cane work. So, let’s begin having more fun!

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

Walking Stick Joinery
Walking Stick Wood Species – Harvesting Your Sticks
Walking Stick – Adding Extras
Walking Stick – How to Clamp Your Handle

Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern

 

Step 13: Very small, tight-arced round gouges are called veining tools. This tiny round gouge makes straight-walled, round bottomed troughs, which are perfect for deepening our honeysuckle stem area.

using a veining tool in wood carving

Similar to the veining tool is the checkering tool used in gun stock carving. The checking tool comes with either a small round gouge or v-gouge, plus it has an adjustable l-shaped arm. You make your first cut line in your checkering pattern. Then adjust the l-shaped arm to the distance you want between the rows. Drop the arm into the first cut row, and it controls the distance between the rows as you cut the next.

I note the checkering tool here because while you may not ever try gun stock carving, those checkering tools make wonderful backgrounds for your relief work.

carving a Sassafras twist stick
Tear a small square of 220-grit sandpaper from the large sheet and roll it tightly into a tube. Use the tube to sand the honeysuckle trough area along the top of each Sassafras twist.

Step 14: It’s time to shape the snake’s head. To begin this area, I re-marked the outline and eye placement of the snake with permanent marking pen. Since we will carve this area, any pen markers will quickly be worked away.

carving a twisted snake walking stick

Cut along the outer edges to reduce any excess wood from the head.

shaping a snake head in wood carving

Cut along the edge of the eye area with a stop cut to lower the eye slightly on the head.

shaping a snake head in wood carving

Step 15: Round over the eye area, using the bench knife.

shaping a snake head in wood carving

Make a small, slice in the head at the outer corners of the eye, to emphasize the eye, and to create the impress of the jaw and cheek.

wood carving a snake cane

A Quick Reminder – I am posting  this Twistie Stick Snake Cane each day on my favorite carving forums.  Stop by, join up, so that you can post your questions and photos!!!!  Carving forums are like potato chips … just one is never enough … Grin!

FamilyWoodworking.org at Twistie Stick Snake Cane Thread

WoodworkingChat.com at Twistie Stick Snake Cane Thread

And while you wait to get started, visit Roy’s relief Carving Class thread – See our widgets in the right hand nav bar and on both forums!!!!

 

Step 16: Texturing the Sassafras bark is done with both the veining tool and your small round gouge. Cut small, shallow tear-shaped gouge strokes in the bark area using the small round gouge first.

round gouge wood carving

Note in the photo that I am making the bark twist by angling my strokes with the curve of that twist area. Do a few veining tools cuts to add smaller texture strokes.

round gouge carving bark texture in wood carving

With the bench knife, make a few stop cuts along the top edge of the bark in the twist areas. These stop cuts make the bark appear cracked or split – a natural occurrence for any Sassafras stick.

round gouge carving bark texture in wood carving

Step 17: Bark, literally, lies on top of the wood of a stick. To emphasize that the bark and the wood are two different areas or elements, use your v-gouge to cut a small, thin trough where these two areas meet. You can also use your bench knife to make a few, shallow undercuts into the bark to make it appears as if the bark is slightly peeling.

round gouge carving bark texture in wood carving

A little more sanding … These cleaning steps are technically called ‘dressing out’ the wood and used to catch those little imperfections while you have them in your sights.

sanding your wood carvings

Step 18: There are many, many ways to work the scaling of the body of a snake, lizard, or dragon. What I am using here is the most simple and fool-proof that I know. In working my snake, I lost just two scales – two that ‘popped’ out during the cut and my solution to those two was to simply ignore them. Mistakes happen and sometimes trying to fix a mistake just makes them worse.

Begin by marking parallel lines along the snake body lightly with pencil. Also take a moment a re-fresh the edge of your small round gouge on your honing board or leather strop.

creating round gouge snake scales in wood carving

Up-end your round gouge, which means to hold the gouge at a 90 degree angle to the wood so that the cutting edge is go straight into the wood. Gently push the gouge into the wood to cut a half-circle profile cut. Lift the gouge straight out of the wood. This is a simple push and lift stroke.

creating round gouge snake scales in wood carving

I worked several up-ended small round gouge profile cuts along the guidelines to set the spacing of the rows. Then I worked off of that center cut to create the other profile cuts in the row.

creating round gouge snake scales in wood carving

Some of the profile cuts made with my small round gouge were slightly lifted from the snake’s body. To ‘heal’ them I rubbed the wooden handle of my gouge over the snake, moving from the head towards the tail. This light pressure sets the scales back against the wood.

Healing can be done at anytime in a carving. Example, if you make a stop cut that is slightly too deep, after the second stroke is complete, turn your bench knife upside down and place the blunt side against the deep cut. Use a medium pressure and pull the blunt side down the cut to ‘heal’ it back together. Work carefully! Remember, in this example, that cutting edge is now facing towards your hand!

creating round gouge snake scales in wood carving

This style of scale creation will leave a very light, gentle impression of scales along the body. They become more outstanding when you add the linseed oil finish later.

Step 19: At this point the work on the snake is complete, and the Sassafras carving is complete, except for adding the honeysuckle vine into the trough. This is a great stopping point for the weekend.

Sassafras Twisted Snake Cane Wood Carving

So, using your roll of sandpaper, rifflers (small, profiled files), and your bench knife take a little more time to dress out your cane. Next Monday we will begin work on carving the frog that holds onto the top of the stick, creating the joints for the cane and stick, and on the finishing oil steps.

Sassafras Twisted Snake Cane Wood Carving

But right now … you are ready to go make a bunch of twistie stick key chains for your family and friends as Holiday presents!!!! And, if you have questions, comments, or want to share your twistie stick carving, now’s the time.

Sassafras Twisted Snake Cane Wood Carving

Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 3

Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 3

Free Mountain Man Cane Pattern by Lora IrishDay 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

Walking Stick Joinery
Walking Stick Wood Species – Harvesting Your Sticks
Walking Stick – Adding Extras
Walking Stick – How to Clamp Your Handle

Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern

 

Good Morning!

Today we will be creating the path and twist in the sassafras branch.

And, Lora Irish has a extra free pattern for you this morning – Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern

sassafras twistie stickA twisted sassafras stick is caused by honeysuckle vine curling around the trunk when the tree is still a year or two-year sapling. As the tree grows, so does the vine, reaching higher into the tree and thickening the width of the vine. Over the years that vine begins to straggle the sassafras trunk, forcing the tree to grow around the imbedded vine.

You will see in the photo that this process affects both plants. The sample is a wild cherry sapling that is already developing a deep, spiral scar. The honeysuckle develops a flattened side where it directly contacts the sapling.

Sassafras, wold cherry, dogwoods, and even young black walnuts are common twistie sticks as they share the same environment as honeysuckle – abandoned road sides and old fence rows.

grapevine twistie stickThe second photo shared here is a very old piece of wild grape vine – approximately 1 1/2″ thick. The vine has been dead for several years because of tree trimming by the power company, so it was ready to harvest. You can see the power and strength of the twist in this grapevine as it literally brought down the farm fence on which it grew.

A side note here, and just my personal preferences. I don’t cut twistie sticks in the wild, All of the common twistie stick trees are also the same trees that are so important to our local wildlife. Dogwood and cherry are major food sources for birds, rabbits, and deer. Black walnuts, of course, help feed our grey squirrel population throughout the year. And most importantly, sassafras is the only food source for the swallowtail butterfly during its egg, larva, and caterpillar stages of life.

Because I especially want those butterflies in my perennial flower gardens I am extremely protective of any sassafras that graces our fence lines and forest edge.

Step 7: Using a marking pen or pencil draw a line in the center of the area between the snake’s body twists. This will be the path of the top edge of the twisted stick curls. On my cane I had one area between the snake body curls that allows for two twists. Draw a second guideline 1/4″ below the first. This 1/4″ area, between the two guidelines, will become the honeysuckle vine area on the twist.

free wood carving pattern by Lora Irish

Work a stop cut, using your bench knife, along the top twistie guideline, in the background wood area. In the photo, my cane is held upside down.

free cane carving project

The second stroke of the stop cut lowers the background area at the top edge of the twist.

stop cut in wood carving

Step 8:
Everything between the snake’s body twists is sassafras wood. So the stop cuts in step 7 tapers that wood area into a cone shape that points down and into the top edge of the twist below it.

walking stick wood carving
To emphasize the tape of the twist you can also use your large or small round gouge for the second stroke of the stop cut, instead of the bench knife.

small round gouge wood carving

round gouge wood carving
wood carving a snake

 

Step 9: Using the bench knife, round over the top edge of the twistie curls – rolling the edge over to reach the second guideline mark.

learn wood carving

The honeysuckle sits down and into the sassafras wood, so create a half-circle trough using your small round gouge along the rounded-over top edge of the twist.

free wood carving instructions

Cut this trough several times, slowly lowering it into the wood. In the photo you can see the depth of the round gouge cuts in the second, right hand twist.

learn how to wood carve

Step 10: With your bench knife return to tapering the bottom section of each twist. Smooth each area of twist so that the taper moves evenly from thick at the top edge of the twist to thin at the bottom.

beginner wood carving project

As I am working my tapering I have begun undercutting the bottom edge of each twist. This is done by angling the first stroke of the stop cut behind the inside edge of the top of the next twist. When you make the second stroke, it will pop out a small v-shaped chip, leaving a narrow cut behind the twist’s inside edge.

wood carving a walking stick

Canada Goose, Part 2, page 4 has more in-depth instructions of the undercut …. and, better photos! – undercut.jpg

Under cut in wood carving

Step 11: Begin shaping the snake’s body, head, and tail, using your bench knife to roll-over the sides.

rounding over in wood carving

When the body has been shaped, the rough-out stage of this cane carving is complete. At this point you have established the curve and shape of the snake and the curve, tapering, and shape of the sassafras twisties.

under cutting in wood carving

Step 12: After the rough-out stage is done I like to do a general smoothing to any project, whether relief or 3-D. This is done by re-cutting all of the areas you have worked with your bench knife. Drop the angle of the knife blade low to the wood – the blunt or back side of the blade is just 5 or 6 sheets of paper high off the wood. Lightly glide the knife across the wood, taking very small, shallow strokes.

how to smooth your wood carving background

The top right image shows the cane’s surface before the shaving step and the bottom right shows the shaving step completed. You can see that very fine, small cuts that smooth out the shape of the cane.

how to smooth your wood carving

OK … Tomorrow we will work on texturing the wood bark, working the honeysuckle indent, and carving the little frog that sits on top of this stick. In the mean time if you have any questions, please post them now!

Thank you for reading today and for spending time with me at my carving table !!!!