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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...

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Carving and Sculpture

Want SPAM?

Bob Easton - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 12:45pm

Does anyone want a “honey pot” for advertising spam?  This blog collected 3,355 spam comments in the past 24 hours. Very fortunately, AKISMET (most highly recommended) caught all but 4 of them.

That’s about 5 million percent better than the spam filtering on Blogger!  … and the reason all those Blogger folks use CAPTCHAs. Blogger itself should be doing the spam filtering instead of making visitors jump through CAPTCHA hoops.  (Blogger’s parent, Google, has a most excellent spam filter as part of GMail, but can’t seem to find a way to use it on Blogger.)

Way to go AKISMET!

steps-beforeMeanwhile…. woodworking / woodcarving is deferring to repairing these:

Categories: Carving and Sculpture

Carving a Violin Scroll

Mary May, Woodcarver - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 4:35pm

Mary May - Woodcarver


I recently have been going through a “scroll” carving phase. When I posted photos of some of the scrolls I have carved on my facebook page, I got a request to carve a violin scroll. I thought – sure, I’ve carved a lot of scrolls in my life – how difficult could it be? Plus I was up for the challenge.

So I went to the internet, and there is an amazing amount of information out there. If you have ever studied violin making, it is an incredibly beautiful art. Everything is designed for beauty, grace, balance, symmetry, and elegance. All this makes an amazing sound, but also a beautiful work of art that requires incredible discipline and accuracy to make.

So I got my piece of wood, cut out the profile on a scroll saw and transferred as many lines as I could from any reference material I could find, and started carving. It was a real brain tease to get a nice sweeping flow to the scroll, and it is carved surprisingly deep.

step 1
step 2
step 3
Step 4

Then once you get one side that you are happy with, it’s time to carve an exact duplicate on the other side – only in reverse. It’s like carving a ball and claw foot. The first one goes great, then you have to make another to match it. Not so easy…


I was able to video this process, so it should be on my online school soon.

I’m tired. That took more energy than I imagined…

New Videos on Carving Scrolls

Mary May, Woodcarver - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 8:31am

Mary May - Woodcarver

still final for web final ep 2 photo for web

Two new video episodes have been added to my online school on carving scrolls (or sometimes referred to as volutes). Next week I will be adding a third version (and maybe a forth after that because I just can’t stop!)

Since this design is often seen in period furniture and decorative elements of architectural carving, I focused these lessons on a variety of styles of just the scroll itself.

The first one is a style you might see on an arm of a Windsor chair or similar (but not exact) to a violin scroll. The sizes are not exact to what you might make on a piece of furniture, but these lessons simply go through the technique of getting a finished carved scroll. You can adjust these to whatever you are carving.

These are carved in basswood, cut out on a scroll saw, and attached to a backer board with double sided tape. After much testing and discovery, brushing along the edge with denatured alcohol seems to work the best to release the double-sided tape. It tends to leave the tape less sticky but releases the carving easily. It is also less smelly, but it is still VERY important to work in a ventilated area (outside is best) and use chemical gloves. Any of these solvents are nasty to work with.

Happy scrolling!

The Happy Mallet Family

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 6:25pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I have a new addition to my happy little mallet family. It is a bouncing baby paper-weight!

Dave Reilly, who makes my beautiful brass and steel mallets with turned walnut and cocobolo handles just made me a sweet little mini-mallet. They’re reproducing!




And my cat, Richard Parker (did you see Life of Pie?) is enthralled with them.



These mallets weight about 1-1/3 lb, and are really a work of art – and work great too! Bonus!


WIA 15% discount – Available to ALL

Mary May, Woodcarver - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 5:25am

Mary May - Woodcarver

The 15% discount that was offered at the Woodworking in America show this past weekend is available for any new members who sign up for my online carving school before the end of the month. That makes the monthly cost $8.49 rather than $10 for as long as you are a member.

Go to my school website – http://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool and click on the following image:




There are currently 144 episodes (individual videos) with 70 complete and unique lessons.

A new video is added every week (and keeps me hopping!)

Settling back in after WIA

Mary May, Woodcarver - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:27pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I am experiencing the lull after the storm. A wonderful and energetic weekend at WIA in Winston-Salem – seeing a lot of friends and meeting new ones. And now I’m trying to settle in again. It’s sad that I probably won’t see many of these people again until next WIA.

I drove the 5 hour trip back home to Charleston, SC yesterday afternoon, and was feeling so worn out by the time I got home that I didn’t even unpack my car until this morning. I brought a LOT of extra things with me – like DVDs and resin castings, in hopes of selling them at the show. It didn’t turn out that way. I only sold a handful, but was really focusing on getting the word out for my online school – which I believe was a success. When I packed up after the show, I only had one small, empty box that I could leave. My poor KIA felt abused. And I barely had room for my suitcase. I think it’s time for an SUV or truck.

082 083


Here is a photo of my shop before unloading my car (nice and tidy – sort of). This is the “industrial” part of my shop – a great old General lathe that my husband brought down from Canada.



Here is a photo of my shop after unloading the car. A very daunting task. Looks like I won’t be doing much carving for a while…




WIA – Winston-Salem, NC

Mary May, Woodcarver - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 8:07pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

Woodworking in America, 2014, has come to a close (at least for me). Tomorrow several tours are scheduled, which I won’t be able to attend –  MESDA (Museum of Southern Decorative Arts) , the Blum house, and the Single Brother’s House – all part of Old Salem, a beautiful traditional Moravian village. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning – with car loaded with everything I brought for the show. Why is it that it always seems like I go home with more stuff??

Since I was not teaching any workshops during this show, I decided to set up a booth at the marketplace, focusing on getting the word out of my online school. I really enjoyed it, as I got to see a lot of friends in the woodworking world. Quite a few students who have either taken my classes, or who are on my online school also stopped by. It was good to meet these online students in person and several brought their carvings that they have been working on. It was so great to see their pride and enthusiasm in their work. Sometimes the online world can seem so distant, so it was really good to get some interaction and feedback.


I was not able to go around and visit with many people outside my little area by my booth, since I was the only one at my booth. It was pretty much non-stop people streaming by. So I spent most of the weekend with the SAPFM group that was right across the aisle from me – a great group of guys.


SAPFM gang – Bob Compton, Ken Johnson, Mary May, Steve Quell, Tom Sears, Elia Bizzari


After a long 2 days, we all were getting a bit squirly.


Steve Quell, prepared for his lobotomy.

I also started a twitter account today (carvingguru). I have been very reluctant to do this, as I didn’t want to be completely consumed with checking e-mails, twitter accounts, etc. I’m already spending a lot of time on the computer, but realized after speaking with several people, that twitter and instagram (another thing I should venture down, but have not pursued yet) seem to be the current way to get the word out. As I was told, Facebook is so “yesterday”. Well, I tend to live in “yesterday” on many fronts. After all, I am a woodcarver – one of the oldest professions out there.

Woodworking in America – Ready or Not!

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:54pm

Mary May - Woodcarver


Tomorrow I head off to Winsten-Salem, NC for the yearly festivities of Woodworking in America. I will not be teaching workshops as I have for the last 2 years, but will have a booth set up in their marketplace. Come by to visit and see how to get a 15% WIA discount for my online school membership ($8.49/month instead of the regular $10/month). Think of it as a FREE cup of coffee every month!

Also lots of things for sale at discounted prices – Brass and steel mallets, T-shirts, Instructional DVDs, Resin Castings of the Ball and Claw foot, various Acanthus Leaves, both Newport Shells, McIntire Fruit Basket, Camellia, Rosette, the Shell and Acanthus design, and the Dragon carving

I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of friends in the woodworking world. Come by and say HI. I will be across the aisle from the SAPFM booth, and will probably be spending some time over there playing. I’ve got a couple projects that I am bringing to carve. Will Myers and the SAPFM group have been gracious to loan me one of their wonderful workbenches (mine wouldn’t fit in a KIA). Thank you, Will!

Have chisel, will carve!

New Video on Carving a Simple Leaf

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:16pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

finished smaller

I recently added another video to the FREE part of my online school (Beginning Carving Projects) and also on my Youtube channel. It is on carving and shaping a basic leaf in mahogany. The video is a beginning video, discussing how to hold tools, how to make basic cuts, how to work with the grain, and how to create a gently twisting movement in the leaf. This was cut out on a scroll saw first and applied to a backer board to hold the carving securely.

The video also covers how to use double sided tape to hold the carving securely – how to apply it and also how to remove the finished carving.

This is also the carving project I have referred to in a soon-to-be-published article in Popular Woodworking Magazine that covers a lot of basic carving techniques in how to get started in woodcarving.

When I Get a Round TUIT

Bob Easton - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:35pm

It’s been an unusual summer, one that has left the workshop vacant for far too long.  Among the many things I want to do, one requires lettercarving at a small scale. While practicing these 1/2 inch high letters, I made a Round TUIT.

photo #1 of a "round tuit" carving. This side shows the word "TUIT" carved on a disc shape. photo #2 of a "round tuit" carving. This side shows a 5 point star carved on a disc shape.

The disc is turned from Cherry, 2 1/4″ in diameter, and 3/16″ thick.

Now that I’ve got a round tuit, maybe I can get to some of the other projects.  (After one more outside non-woodworking project.)

Categories: Carving and Sculpture

Fun with grain… Carving a fluer-de-lis, again

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 7:38pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I still continue to learn every time I pick up a carving gouge … and this time is no exception.

I recently made another video lesson for my online school. It is a much simpler Fleur-de-Lis. What is interesting about this lesson is that I ended up carving 2 of them - with the grain going in different directions in each carving. It may seem like a minor thing, but carving these 2 really shows the importance of considering grain direction before venturing into a new carving project.

finished for blog

As I was carving the first one (the one on the right in the photograph), the grain was going along the length of the wood. I really wasn’t thinking much about it as I was preparing the blank from a piece of basswood – simply cutting a square piece of wood. I positioned the design so the points would fit into the corners – therefore the grain is running at a 45 degree angle to the design. Well, I discovered (while I was filming the video) that there were some real frustrating sections in working with the grain – mostly because with a symmetrical design, you SHOULD be able to carve symmetrically also. In other words, when I make a cut on one side, I should simply be able to make the same cut on the other side, only in reverse movements. Not so with the way it was positioned on the wood. I was having to really think through the grain direction on each individual cut – nothing was obvious.

So I decided to carve a second one to show how much easier it would be if the grain was better positioned so that it went at a diagonal along the edge of the wood, but symmetrical to the design (in the photograph above, the carving on the left has the grain going vertical). Every cut could be repeated on the other side – in reverse. SO much easier, SO much cleaner, SO much more predictable.

Now, after carving for nearly 23 years, this should have been automatic, correct? Well, it was simply something I didn’t really consider until I started carving this. The wood was convenient (square piece of wood), I wanted to carve a fleur-de-lis, so just start carving… right?

As I think about this, most of the time when I carve symmetrical designs, they are automatically positioned along the grain. With this design being fitted so the points meet in the corner of the wood, it turned the carving at a 45 degree angle and really caused my brain to turn inside out for a while.

So this video shows both techniques. It shows how to carve it if you don’t plan ahead (like me) and how to make life much simpler by considering the position of the carving in relation to the grain.

Like I said – I learn every day. When I stop learning, I think I’ll stop carving…


Adventures in Maine

Mary May, Woodcarver - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 7:09pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

Last weekend I taught a very busy and successful weekend workshop at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in beautiful Warren, Maine. It was a beginning class and we covered a lot of basic instruction.

We carved an apple in relief as a beginning carving project that focuses on working in the correct grain direction. I try to vary that first basic lesson just to keep it new. Then we carved that wonderful beginning project – the camellia! It covers so many things for a beginner, that I just keep it as my favorite basic carving project. We were having so much fun with the camellia that time was cut short a little to finish the classic shell carving. We made it through all the steps, but just needed a little more time to completely finish it.

The Lie-Nielsen classroom and everyone hard at work.
Awesome new tool that Lie-Nielsen is starting to sell - mainly for spoon making, but great for lowering the background!
Focus on the camellia.
More camellia carving.
Carving a camellia flower into a painted lid.
Carving the scallop shell in mahogany.

Then Monday thru Thursday I had the great opportunity of filming an intermediate woodcarving video for Lie-Nielsen (the basic carving video filmed earlier should be out shortly). It took me a while to get used to the studio lights, cameras, and that self-conscious awkwardness of being in the spotlight, but I survived.

The video is going to show how to carve 2 different flowers – a lilly and a rose (basically an extreme camellia) in deep relief. I don’t know how long the final film will be, but probably over 3 hours of carving instruction.

Isn’t it odd that I spend much of my time carving in my own workshop with a video camera nearly always running? THAT doesn’t make me uncomfortable. But put me in a studio atmosphere with other people around, and my tongue gets tied up, my brain freezes, and I can’t remember my name. Having said that, once a chisel gets in my hand – in that environment – I’m home! All in all, it went really well and I finally got tired of being self conscious and got over it. I’m excited to see how it looks on screen.

The lilly, rose (intermediate video) and phlox (beginning video)

The lilly, rose (intermediate video) and phlox (beginning video)

The Studio at Lie-Nielsen.

The Studio at Lie-Nielsen and Harry and Lief – the guys who make it all look right.

Today and tomorrow I get to play. My lovely companion and husband, Stephen, flew to Maine to join me for a few days. I just can’t get over how beautiful this part of the country is. I’m trying to convince Stephen that we need to somehow find a way to spend the 3 summer months here so we don’t have to deal with Charleston heat and humidity.

We have nearly had our fill of lobster – and are sampling various “lobster rolls” where they claim to be the best lobster rolls in the state. The first time I saw a sign for lobster rolls, I thought it was some sort of chinese egg roll with lobster in it. Nope. It’s a lobster in a roll. Go figure. So far, Red’s Lobster rolls in Wiscasset has come out on top. Now I understand why there is always a long line at this little road-side stand.

What am I supposed to do with this? I prefer the lobster rolls - not as much work.

What am I supposed to do with this? I prefer the lobster rolls – not as much work.

On Sunday, we are heading out of a little airport in Rockland. It is a little 9-seater Sessna with Cape Air. I flew in that way, and it was just such a fun experience. You definitely get an close and personal flying experience

Marc Adams Intro to Relief Carving Class

Mary May, Woodcarver - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 2:06pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

Completed carvings.
Students getting ready for demo (ice-cream break).
Assistant, Dave Riley, posing with my online school t-shirt.
The carved lilly.
Mary demonstrating with close-up video.
The lilly in progress.
Finished carvings.
Student focusing hard - maybe needs new glasses?
More samples of finished carvings.
Beautiful carved fan bird that student brought in as show-and-tell.
Some of the finished carvings.
The entire 18 student class hard at work.
Student carving a lilly in relief.

Last week I taught a 5-day Introduction to Relief Carving class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking.

It was a full class of 18 students, and we worked through several beginning projects and progressing to quite challenging carvings. Everyone persevered and really did an amazing job. As one student commented “You really brought me out of my comfort zone”. I hope that is a good thing! If it was too easy, you wouldn’t learn anything!

Congratulations to everyone!

Sunburst fireplace carving finished

Mary May, Woodcarver - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 8:48am

Mary May - Woodcarver

Center design on the original fireplace.
Side design from original fireplace
Design laid out on wood before carving.
Finished carving

I finished the sunburst fireplace carving in poplar. Here are the photos.

I am pleased with the way it turned out. These sharp edged carvings, when the shadows fall on them, show such dramatic darks and lights. It reminds me of v-cut letter carving. I hope it doesn’t change once it is painted white.

I hope to have a photo of the actual fireplace within a month. Off to play in my workshop (I don’t get a chance to do this much these days).

Happy Carving!

Sunburst Fireplace Carving Finished

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:58pm

Mary May - Woodcarver


I recently finished details for a carved fireplace. This is going to be a reproduction of an original Charleston fireplace from the early 19th century. I will post photos when it is built and installed – hopefully within the next month. This is carved in poplar and will be painted.

I recently added a 2-episode video lesson to my online school on how to carve the smaller vertical shaped sunbursts – about 1 hours long.

Today I added the first episode of the video lesson to my online school for carving the large horizontal center sunburst design. This first episode shows how to carve the segments that generally go with the grain. The second and final episode will be added next week and will focus on carving the segments that mostly go across the grain.

I am currently teaching a relief carving class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis. We carved a very challenging lilly today and tomorrow we are going to carve that wonderful acanthus leaf. The class is going great and I’ll share more photos after the week is over.


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