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Carving Walnut

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  • Carving Walnut

    Hello all,

    I've been carving, or actually shaping a cane handle out of walnut. Boy is it hard. Has anyone else had much experience with walnut? Do you usually use a knife and chisels, or a rotary tool?

    I'm shaping a handle that I'm going to attach to an oak dowel with a threaded cane fitting. I'm not sure how decorative I'm going to get with it. I will be turning one end of the 1' oak dowel to taper it down to 3/4'. I will probably put a few rings on the shaft as well.

    Share your thoughts with me :


  • #2
    Re: Carving Walnut

    Walnut is a dream to carve when it is green but if it has been sitting around for a few years its like carving cement. I have carved a little of it and it takes detail extreamly well and has beautiful grain but if I had to carve a cane topper I think I would power carve it. Just my opinion


    • #3
      Re: Carving Walnut

      Chris - I have carved walnut once before on a relief project, and your right - it is like chipping in stone. I can't imagine trying to carve cain topper out of it unless like Colin said you use power. That being said, what type of wood do most people use for cain/walking stick toppers. I am carving one out of basswood right now, but I know it is not as strong as some of the other woods.


      • #4
        Re: Carving Walnut

        Yes Colin, I bought a block at Exotic Woods in Burlington about a year ago, so it's hard. So far I've been able to roughly shape the grip and then use my drill press with a drum sander to smooth it.

        Ric, check out this link

        I'm trying to simulate this style of cane, with the contrasting wood colours. If I were doing a walking stick topper, I think I would pick a softer wood than Walnut. Since the weight will be put on the handle of this cane, I wanted to use something strong, but now I'm paying for it.


        • #5
          Re: Carving Walnut

          I made a cane with a walnut topper earlier this year. It was a football which I turned and then tried to carve the laces. It was a fairly unpleasant experience and the laces became more of a faint suggestion than a carved feature. That said the cane was a big hit with the local retired coach who had both knees replaced.

          I have used mahogany for a couple of pieces which I think is hard enough to survive use yet very carvable. Right know I am carving a topper from Basswood which before I began I thought would be too soft for a cane but now I am starting to think it may be OK in service. I have a bottle of wood hardener I am going to test on some scrap this weekend to prevent dents. (we've talked about this before)

          Despite the hardness of your walnut the style you have shown in your last post should be easy enough to create with a bandsaw and spindle sander. Good Luck I think canes are a great subject for carves and other handimen. The user will greatly appreciate the gift and proudly use something 'warmer' than a aluminum, institutional, one size fits all unit.
          Ah Chip


          • #6
            Re: Carving Walnut

            Chris, I think you should give the walnut a goodhearted try.
            It is prefered by many master carvers, using good mallet tools and mallet. 2cherries is one of the better brands.
            Clean and sharp cuts = no sanding.....Yay...

            art olver


            • #7
              Re: Carving Walnut

              Hi chris
              I'm not sure how far along you are.i would follow these steps
              1) band saw
              2) belt/disk sander
              3) rotary tool
              4)gouges for detail
              have an article by Duncan White and he uses 5'-1/4' threaded rod to conect topper to shaft.with decorative feature between
              handle & shaft(collar-laminated coloured wood)
              if interested i could send it to you.



              • #8

                I agree with the suggestion to use a mallet and chisels.

                The majority of gunstocks are made from figured walnut, the best are inletted with hand tools. Tough wood but takes and holds details very well.

                English and Claro walnut are among my favorite woods.

                Fred Krow


                • #9
                  Re: Carving Walnut

                  Thanks guys, I will get out the mallet and chisels and give it a go. I was playing around with a scrap of it last night and you're right, it does hold detail very well. Even though it is hard to carve, I would like to use it again.

                  James, I'm at about step 3 right now, only I've been trying to use my chisels rather than rotary tool. You've sparked my interest, I would like to see that article if it isn't any trouble.



                  • #10
                    Re: Carving Walnut

                    FWIW, I am making some hardwood spoons, and have been doing some of the rough shaping with a spokeshave. It's working well for me. Perhaps this or something similar would work for you as well.


                    • #11
                      Re: Carving Walnut

                      It would be no problem,send me your address to [email protected] and I'll mail you a copy.



                      • #12
                        Re: Carving Walnut

                        A friend of my exhorted upon me that carving hardwoods ( I think he had a piece of walnut in his hands at the time) is the same as carving soft woods. The only difference is the size of your chips. Walnut really is a pretty wood. Good luck.
                        Carving is the art of taking a block of wood and cutting off anything that doesn't look like a carving.


                        • #13
                          Re: Carving Walnut

                          I carved two spoon/fork sets out of walnut. It was green. I was picking a load of it up at a lumber mill. They had cut off some of the board ends because of checking and let me have some. It was great to carve. The end grains cut smoothly with no chipping out. And it a spectacular figuring in the grain. Lots of color variations. I wish i had grabbed more of it.
                          Honey, Where are the band-aids, again?


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