Wood Spirit Cane and Walking Stick Carving

Wood Spirit Cane and Walking Stick Carving

As a new wood carver you would think that the classic wood spirit face would be difficult to create.  Yet, it is one of the simplest, method-technique topics that wood carvers and whittlers can work.

Wood carving the wood spirit face
Face carvings, as the wood spirit, or as shown above as a Mushroom Wood Spirit, begins with a series of simple angled cuts to establish the planes in the face. These planes create the depth, width, and feature areas as the rise of the eyebrow ridge, the deep set of the nose bridge, and the angle and slant of the mouth.

wood carving the wood spirit
Where you create the planes and angles determines the finished look of the face.  In this sample the nose plane is exaggerated and the eye depth plane is minimized.  When the shaping steps are done, this Mushroom spirit has an extra long nose that fills up the needed space to create the mushroom stem.

To learn more about Wood Spirit Facial Plane carvings, check out our E-Project – Wood Spirit Mushroom Carving E-Project – which takes you through all of the steps to create the facial planes, plus gives you eight full sized 3D patterns.  If you want to focus on the Wood Spirit face, check out Wood Spirit Carving E-Project, which takes you through the face carving as well as how to paint your wood spirit walking stick.

If you are an advanced wood carver and just are looking for new ideas, browse through the Canes, Walking Sticks & Wizard Wands Pattern Package with 48 full-sized 3D patterns or our classic Cane Handles & Walking Sticks Patterns with 38 patterns.

And, if you stop by our new Facebook page you will discover a discount code for ArtDesignsStudio.com for $5 off that can be used for each of the Pattern Packs or E-Projects above.  Save up to $20 on your next wood spirit carving project!

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Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 5

Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving, Day 5

free wood carving instructions by Lora IrishGood Morning! I am running far better on time this morning than I expected so I am going to post the final steps to this Sassafras Twistie Snake Cane today.

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 19: To finish out the top of my cane and add some fun interest I have added a small frog clutching to the stick, just out of reach of my snake’s head. The tracing pattern is posted here or create your own cane hugger by marking it to the top of your cane topper with a pencil.

 

Cane huggers – small animals and birds that wrap around the sides of your cane – are an old carving tradition. These little creatures most often have out-stretched arms or wings that ‘hug’ the shaft of the stick. Beavers, raccoons, squirrels, mice, dragonflies, and, our choice, frogs are all found in folk art styled walking sticks.

free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish

Step 20: The frog is first stop cut using the bench knife, along the outer edges of the frog’s body. This separates him from the top area of the stick. I lowered the cane top about 1/8″ at the frog’s face and tapered it down to 1/4″ at the frog’s rump.

free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish

Taper the stick twist area of the top to gradually flare.

free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish

Step 21: Undercut the stick area into the top twist. This deepens the wood around the frog, making the frog appear to stand higher off the cane.

free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish

Shape the frog body, legs, and eyes using your bench knife to round-over each area. With 220-grit sandpaper and rifflers, smooth out the frog.

free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish
free wood carving instructions by Lora Irish

Step 22: You can harvest fresh honeysuckle vine to use on your Sassafras twist cane. Select second year growth or older – it will have a brownish tone to the paper-like bark. Green tone bark is first year growth and often is not strong enough to dry well.

Roll the vine into a loose circle and hang in a dry, dark space for about 3 weeks. This is long enough for the vine to loose most of its sap and moisture, but still be pliable enough for curling.

Strip the paper bark layer from the vine before you add it to your walking stick Sassafras carving. Honeysuckle looses its bark easily. If you leave the bark on the vine only the bark layer will be attached during the gluing. When the bark is shed you will lose the vine around your cane.

You can also purchase pre-dried, pre-striped honeysuckle vine, seagrass, raffia, and even paper rope from most baste weaving supply stores to use with your canes.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish
Try Save-On-Crafts.com and  BasketPatterns.com.

Soak your vine in warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes. Lightly blot on a dry towel to remove the excess water from the outer surface.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

Check the thickness of your vine – the thinner part of the vine should be at the top of your stick, with the thicker, older growth, at the bottom. Using super glue, place several drops into the vine trough on your carving then place the vine into the trough. Hold in place for about 1/2 minute. Work just one or two inches at a time, slowly rolling the vine around the cane.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

Step 23: Cleaning and finishing prep steps.

With any cane topper my cleaning steps begin with a hard scrubbing using an old toothbrush which can reach into the deep undercuts. This is followed by a quick wash at the sink to remove any dirt and hand oils, using a small amount of dish washing soap, warm water, and a small glass scrubbie brush. Rinse well, but do not over-saturate or soak in the water. Blot your carving and allow to dry for about an hour.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

Next, mix one part linseed oil with one part turpentine. Stir well, but don’t make bubbles. Brush one generous coat to all areas of the cane except the very bottom edge. Allow the oil mix to sit for 10 minutes. Wipe briskly with a dry cloth to remove the excess oil. Repeat one time.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

This oil mix replaces the natural oils of your caving wood and soaks deeply into the wood fibers. After the oil finish has set for several days you can return and apply whatever finish you personally prefer, including polyurethane, varnish, or wax. If, as I prefer, I will add several more coats of oil mix over about a one week period as my final finish.

Step 24: My cane stick – a two to three year Black Walnut branch – is still green. So I will be dry setting this stick, and will not do the final glue-up until several months from now.

I have drilled a 3/8″ hole into both the cane topper and the Black Walnut stick. For my dry set I am using a 3/8″ hardwood dowel, which will be replaced with 3/8″ threaded pipe when I do the final gluing. My dowel holes go as deeply as possible into both parts of the cane to give as long a section as possible for the jointing pipe.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

To hide the joint line between the cane topper and the stick, I have used my bench knife, and small round gouge to cut a 1/4″ deep well inside of the top of the Black Walnut stick. The outer 3/16″ of the stick is left un-carved to create a lip area.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

When the cane topper is put into place on its stick the joint line between the two parts is hidden by the well area in the top of the stick.

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

In a couple of months, after the Black Walnut is well dried, I will set the cane using two-part epoxy and the 3/8″ threaded pipe.

Step 25: Thank you for letting me share my love of carving with you in this cane carving project!

free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish

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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

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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 !!!!

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DIY Eclectic Primitive Pallet Dresser

DIY Eclectic Primitive Pallet Dresser

DIY Pallet Wood DresserEclectic means to derive an idea, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. In this case, my primitive bureau is a conglomeration of some of the many ‘someday’ bits, pieces, boards, and hardware that have accumulated in the shop over the years. You probably have boxes of them, those little parts that you know someday you will need or want.

Over the many years of wood carving and wood working I have enjoyed trying my hand at a smattering of furniture projects. Our woodworking shop is well equipped with the basic power tools, as well as many fun specialty tools that are used to create precision cuts and glass smooth finishes. Unfortunately with my husband’s illness and my Mom’s advanced age I seldom can take the time away from the family to dedicate to the hours of work that it takes to produce a classic piece of furniture.

But I will admit that I have missed that part of wood working tremendously. So this weekend I decided to indulge myself in a little back porch wood butchery … grin!

This all began with a Friday afternoon yard sale purchase of a 24” wide, 36” high, 8” deep used, battered bookcase. It was painted wedgewood blue, with lots of scratches and dents, and had a broken kick board (toe board). I knew I didn’t need another bookcase when I bought it, but it is solid wood and priced at only $5.

DIY Pallet Wood DresserSunday morning came and I headed to the shop to grab a board to replace the kick board … that seemed a good place to start. Passing the tractor shed, which is an add-on to the workshop, I noticed a bunch of old pallets that I had picked up somewhere for one of those ‘someday’ projects. I stopped, looked the pallets over carefully, and made the decision that today was that someday! That yard sale bookcase did not have to stay a bookcase, it could become the carcass for a set of dresser drawers made out of the pallet wood.

Since I really couldn’t hide out in the wood shop this weekend I grabbed up the zaw-zaw, the jig saw, and the disc sander. With a few hand tools – dovetail saw, rough cut saw, screw drivers, that sort of thing – I turned the back porch into a weekend work area where I could be close at hand for the family while doing some fun wood butchering.

DIY Pallet Wood DresserThe first goal was to convert the bookcase into a chest of drawers without purchasing anything – I wanted to use the wood and hardware that I had on hand. My second goal was to accept that this would not be perfect – I knew that using the tools that I could carry to the porch I would not be making precise, accurate cuts or joints.   So this project started out as an eclectic primitive project.

 

  1. Using the zaw-zaw, hammer, and a crow bar, I cut the pallets apart. A nail set and hammer removed the cut nails from the boards. A light sanding with 80-grit paper removed the worst of the splinters and fuzz bunnies.
  2. I decided that I wanted a series of small drawers, so I used some ½” x 1” framing strips to make the drawer supports.   These strips were left-overs from a repair for a door frame. The bookcase has three shelves, so I divided each shelf area into space for two drawers. Some wood glue and a few screws secured the drawer supports to the inside of the bookcase.
  3. The drawers are just simple butt-joint boxes with ¼” plywood floors. I made each box ½” less wide than the inside width of the shelf and ½” shorter than the height of the drawer area. No two drawer areas turned out to be the same. The drawer sides were made out of pallet wood and the plywood was left-over from my pyrography projects.
  4. The drawer fronts were cut from pallet wood at the full width of the bookcase and tall enough to cover the ½” of the shelf support. I tried to allow about ¼” air space between each drawer. The fronts were attached with screws, working from the inside of the box.
  5. Because pallet boards are often cracked, split, or broken, I quickly realized I would not have enough boards to create six 24” wide drawer fronts. But going through the cut pieces left from the first several drawers I did have enough to turn one large drawer area into two small drawers.
  6. DIY Pallet Wood DresserI removed the broken kick board and replaced it with pallet wood.
  7. I needed drawer pulls, so while rooting through my someday boxes I came across five old glass knobs from Mike’s father’s woodworking days. Two ceramic knobs turned up in one of my Dad’s boxes.
  8. The top of the bookcase was in very bad condition, so I cut a new top from an old walnut table leaf. The table was long gone, but I had held onto the extension leaf for years. The top is held in place with screws working from the inside of the bookcase – dresser carcass.
  9. While looking for drawer knobs I stumbled across an old, discarded bathroom mirror and then found a pair of wrought iron shelf brackets. The brackets were so old the plastic packaging had turned yellow, and cracked. A simple butt-joint frame made from pallet wood scraps became the mirror support. Two long pallet boards were mounted to the back of the frame to attach the mirror to the back of the case. For a little added pizzazz I used the iron shelf brackets on the top of the dresser to also attach the mirror.

So … the photos show you where I am. The woodworking is done except to sand off a few really rough areas. I know that I am going to paint over the wedgewood blue with first a medium tan and then black. With sandpaper I will rough up the corners and edges to let all three paint colors show.

Pallet Wood Dresser Pineapple CrochetThe whole family has become involved in this project. Mom would like to see me paint lettering to the pallet boards – fragile, this side up, or even hazardous waste. I am thinking adding luggage stickers or packing slips to the boards, then roughing them up so it looks as if the dresser is made from antique shipping crates. Mike, my beloved hubby, wants me to remove the glass knobs and carve wood spirit faces as my drawer pulls and he wants it for his knife collection storage. All my son will say is, “Gee, that will look awfully good in the corner of my room!” I’ll let you know when we decide where this project goes from here.

I just may keep this one for me.  Whosits!  A gal needs some special place to store her doily crochet books, hooks, and pineapple work.

In the meantime, have some fun this coming weekend doing your own eclectic primitive pallet wood project! Oh, and the total cost of this project was $5 for the bookcase and a full day of absolute fun, plus the joy of putting some of those ‘someday’ bits and pieces to work.

 

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