Southtowns Woodcarvers of Western New York

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January 2011 Tips

When trying to carve a hand use a leather glove filled with rice as a model. The rice will let you position the hand the way you would like it.

Use a straightened paper clip dipped in paint to make dots

September 2010 Tips
After carving a pumpkin and wanting to light it use a holiday electric candle. Shorten the tube  to a couple of inches. This provides better light than battery operated candles.
June 2010 Tips
Paint your carving under the type of light you will be having it displayed.
Use different size bottle tops to make circles.
May 2010 Tips:
Do not attempt to carve mahogany, it is hard and will mess up your tools.
March 2010 Tips:
When carving horseshoes, leave the center area of the shoe intact until you finish carving the shoe, then cut out the center with a scroll or coping saw.
Cleaning brushes after using oil base paint. Use an empty coffee can - cut a Y in the plastic top - suspend the brushes in paint thinner - wait until paint settles to the bottom, then take out the brushes. The thinner can be reused by pouring it out carefully so that the sediment on the bottom is not distrurbed.
Go to and check out , Tools in a carousel which fits  inside a 5 gallon bucket. This makes it very easy to transport your tools and the bucket can be used for a improvised seat.
January 2010's Tips:
After using acrylic paints and cleaning your brushes dip the brushes into hair conditioner.
When woodburning, be selective in your detail.
Barnes & Noble has a reduce table. Check it out for carving related books.
November's Tips

Burt Jones- Lysol disinfectant “4 in 1” mildew remover with bleach. Maybe it’s the bleach but after 10 days outside my carved pumpkin still looks good with a single application. (purple label on bottle).

Bill MacDougall - Desk Calendar, turn over. Backside has no printing on it. The paper stock is heavier and may be used for patterns.

Cut cardboard into strips and use to  hone tools.


October's Tips:
Wine corks - soak them in water so they expand to their original size.  You may then use them on tools to provide a comfortable hand hold.  Also infuse the cork with your sharpening compound to hone the inside of gouges.
September's Tips:
Use  rubber drawer liner to hold your carving in place while carving.
June's Tips:
When carving something on the end of a piece of wood, start with a longer piece and when finished carving cut off the excess. 
A tiny plane can take corners off  wood quickly.
Wear carving gloves.
Put Santa doll heads on dowels that are mounted on a base for easier viewing. ABRANET - is sold in sheets that look like a screen. It has thousands of tiny holes that allow the saw dust to pass through the sheet allowing it to work faster than ordinary sand paper. Jim O’Dea has a package containing 6 different grits from 80 to 400 available. You can order this from Jim at <>
May's Tips:
Keep your tools honed, use plastic tubing to protect tools,  pick up  dolls (especially Santa’s) at garage sales and keep their heads to use as references.
May's Tips:
April's Tips:
Using a mixture of 3 parts water & 1 part alcohol that is sprayed on wood to make carving easier.
March's Tips:
Use a toothpick to paint eyes on a small subject.
When trying to saw a round object lengthwise glue a square block on the end to keep it from turning.
When storing paint turn the bottle upside down to prevent the top from getting clogged.
Ice cube trays make a good palette.
February's Tips:
Keep your tools sharp, run them on a strop every 20 minutes when carving.
When you are trying to match paint color, brush the fresh paint on a baggie. Then you may place it over the old paint to see if it is a match with the paint on your carving.
Whatever your subject may be, go to the library and the internet and find out everything you can about it. If there are photos, see if they are available from different angles.
January's Tips: 
Repair a birds beak using super glue & baking soda. If you put super glue on the beak then dip it in baking soda and keep on repeating this it will build up and you can sand (not carve) this to finish. For a complete explanation of this technique see Ev Scudder or Bill MacDougall.
Older Tips:
Woodcarving using alcohol
Get a small spray bottle and fill it to the halfway mark with rubbing alcohol, then fill the rest of the container with water. When working on a piece that is quite difficult to carve because of the end grain or the hardness of the wood, spray a little of the alcohol and water mix on the wood and let it sit for a minute or so and then carve away. It works extremely well. The end results will surprise you.  It might raise the grain a tiny bit but that shouldn’t be a problem if your tools are sharp. The only problem that I have with this mix is that it makes your carving area smell like a doctor’s office. Give it a try if you have a hard unruly piece of wood.  There also may be an additional side benefit, if you cut yourself the alcohol will kill the germs.  
Carving Miscue
While carving a figure of the "Risen Christ, just like clockwork I messed up when I carved in the eyes. After beating myself up for being so klutzy, I decided to patch in some plugs and try it again.  I just happened to have a piece of thin wall brass tubing that I bought at the Holland Ace Hardware.  It was just the size to fit in the established eye sockets.  I "sharpened" the circumference of the end of the tubing. Then by hand I twisted the tubing in the eye socket (sounds awful doesn't it) until I though it was deep enough to accept a plug. I cleaned the waste wood out with a small gouge.  Once again I took the brass tubing and cored out two plugs from scrap stock off the wood used for the figure.  It's pretty important to use the same material especially if the carving is going to be left with a natural finish. The plugs were glued in place and the eyes were recarved.  This isn't anything new but maybe someone has not heard of it before.  Oh yes...once fixed, don't point out the repair to every one else.
Regards, Bob Zimmerman

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