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  • using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

    Hello woodcarvers, this is my first question for my first project, so thank in advance for any advice.

    I want to start out by carving a simple squirrel and we have lots of pine trees on our property, some have to be chopped down because of bark beetles. I wanted to check to see if pine is ok for carving. Also, do I have to let it dry out or do anything to the wood, or can I just use a block of fresh carved wood and begin?

    I have leather gloves, a wood base with edges to carve on and tools. I saw a big wooden mallet that you hit the carving tool with and was thinking about buying it, but I don't know until I start what method will work for me.

    Thanks SO much!

  • #2
    Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

    Amy, before I'd give any advice, how about letting us know what kind of tools you have, what kind of pine that is, how long it has been dead, do you want to start carving from a whole trunk section, or cut it into smaller size pieces.

    You shouls also check to see if the wood has started to deteriorate (rot) due to fungus or insect infestation.

    If you have tools designed for mallet use, go ahaed and get a good quality mallet. If they are designed for hand use, DON'T start pounding on them. Tools designed for mallet use usually have a steel or brass ferrule on the end of the handle.

    Some pines are better carving than others. White Pine, sugar pine, and yellow oine carve fairly well. Spruce, sometimes mistaken for pine is not so good.

    Al

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    • #3
      Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

      Thanks AL. Well, my tools are xacto carving tools that fit onto a metal ferrule (handle, right?) - I wanted to get wooden handle tools that would fit nicely in the palm of the hand but I already have these tools and since I'm starting out I thought I'd give them a try... they are new and sharp.

      Our Pine is Ponderosa, and they may chop it down next week... so I will have fresh cut Ponderosa Pine and make sure it has no fungus. I think I might split the wood in half but it depends on how big the tree is I use... I think I want the first squirrel to be about 4x4 by 8' tall.

      Thanks so much for your time

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

        OK, that's some more info......it doesn't sound like these are tools made for mallet use. So don't go that route. Ponderosa pine can be a good carving wood, but may be a bit prone to splitting as you carve. I'd suggest you have it quarter sawn, or split into pieces about 1 to 2 inches larger than you want to carve, and at least 18 inches long. It's best to let it air dry for at least 6 months to a year, but you can carve right away if you want. As your carving dries it will probably split or check. You can help eliminate this by treating the wood prior to carving with pentacryl or similar wood stabilizer. This is available from carving suppliers.

        If you choose to dry it first, seal the ends with parafin wax. Melt it in a double boiler and apply liberally to the ends, then set it aside to dry. Short pieces of 18 inches should dry in about six months time, maybe a little less if you are in an arid climate.

        There will probably be a lot of other advice coming your way from this site, and it is all valid, as there are many approaches to carving and finding and treating wood.

        Most of all have fun with it!

        Al

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        • #5
          Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

          Hey, that sounds like the tools I started with 30 years ago.. use them they will work just fine for starters. I still use the u shaped gouge and the pencil size detailer. be careful, the tip of that real sharp pointed thing can break at the tip and pop right back at yer eye.... about the ponderosa , it is not famous fo its carvability ...but give it a try and see what happens! try it green(fresh cut) if theres any dead branches give them a try. Best tip.........buy a basic whittling knife and use the heck out of it. if you see any free wood, try it,
          art the barkguy

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          • #6
            Unlike Poker if you carve you will always be in the Chips!

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            • #7
              Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

              wow, thanks SO much everybody for all the help. I am excited now to start carving, thanks to you all. I like to sculpt, so trying 3-d figures in wood will really be interesting and I feel a lot less intimidated now that I have some friendly advice. Thanks again, and if anyone else thinks of any advice, I'm all ears... I sure don't know a thing about wood carving so this is invaluable info. I think the wet pine idea, which I have never heard of before, sounds like it will fit my situation. Now I can't wait to start!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                Amy,
                While I do most of my carving on basswood, catalpa, or butternut--and have just finished a week-long workshop with David Sabol using WET green white pine, THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE! Every night we'd spray our carvings and seal them in an airtight container. The wood was still wet at the end of the week. That's been a month now and the almost completed carving hasn't split or cracked. It was quite an experience. But I like to try different ways to carve and now I know!

                Part of the secret to becoming a good carver is not being afraid to try different tools and woods and kinds of carvings---especially at the beginning. While I now like to carve a variety of things, I have tried relief, caricatures, animals, and some birds. And I keep coming back and trying them again and again when I find a new technique or hint.

                This board is an excellent place to get carving advice from all levels of expertise. Mostly, we just like to visit and share things that we've learned the hard way to make it easier for someone else. You're the winner. Keep trying and let us know how the squirrel is coming.

                Donna T

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                • #9
                  Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                  Pine! You have pine! Wow, that ought to be nice to carve. The majority of my found wood is hard maple. It carves well when wet. But once it dries you find why they call it 'rock' maple. Welcome to the world of carving
                  Carving is the art of taking a block of wood and cutting off anything that doesn't look like a carving.

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                  • #10
                    Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                    Thanks so much everybody for the advice and encouragement!!

                    We'll have lots of pine when the trees (4) come down, so if anyone lives near Durango, Colorado, they are welcome to some Ponderosa Pine wood )

                    Thanks again - wait, one more question if anyone see this - after wet pine carving, are there any special tips for letting it dry out? Then what do you put on it, anything like Orange oil, or??

                    Thanks,

                    Amy

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                      Amy,
                      You sure got a hockey sock full of great advice here as far as what to seal it with when you are finished there are a multitude of different waxes and finishes you can use. Yes by keeping the carving covered with even a garbage bag everytime you are finished your carving session will let it retain the moisture and it wont crack. Once the carving is finished seal it right away and then what I do is sit mine on four blocks of wood. This allows the air to circulate under the carving. Now mind you I do large carvings if yours is a small carving you can use four dice. I learnt this trick from Jeff Phares and find it really works.
                      Colin

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                        I'm always intrigued as to how much I learn from this board, and visiting websites.

                        After reading your wet carving posts, I found the German carvers frequently wet carve spruce. I'm becoming fascinated with the history and folklore of woodcarving. I have found a few references to Dave Sobol but no website or book references. Anyone find any links?
                        Humor Heals

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                        • #13
                          Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                          BasketballJones, I think you're referring to David Sabol so a spelling glitch is causing the problem. Sabol has lots of books published by Schiffer and they're available from Amazon or almost any carving catalog. I don't know of any Sabol web site -- but that doesn't mean there isn't one :

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                          • #14
                            Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                            Actually I got a few hits on web sites under both names which confused me, as they misspelled his name. Your are right it is David Sabol. I've been browsing the various websites. I found that Shawn Cipa lives near me and David Bloomquist lives in the same neighborhood as my wife's family in New York. I'm fascinated with the various artists, techniques, and mediums of everyone.
                            Humor Heals

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: using Pine - dried or fresh chopped?

                              Hi,
                              I just took a workshop from Sabol and got one of his business cards with his website and email address. Unfortunately, they are in my carving box and I left it at the shop. If you haven't found it by the time I pick up the box next week, I'll add it to this thread at that time.

                              Postscript: carving green, wet white pine was the darnest thing. No sticky residue, but the water just ooozed out in front of the knife and gouge as I made cuts. We did have to keep them 'wet down' after starting--dipping them in water and sealing them in bags or containers at night--for the duration of the 4-day workshop. SO, the surface drying process starts quickly and Sabol said he paints the carving within a day or so after finishing carving.

                              Donna T

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