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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

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.


New FREE beginning carving lesson

Mary May, Woodcarver - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 8:41am

Mary May - Woodcarver

I have added another beginning video lesson to my online school. It is available to free members and shows how to carve a peach and leaf in shallow relief. I plan to add this lesson to my youtube channel also – hopefully by tomorrow.

peach png


You should be able to print the pattern below. If not, let me know.


Sunday I will be heading to Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis to teach a class August 4 – 8 on relief carving. I believe there are still a few spaces available.

There are also a few spots available for the beginning carving class I will be teaching at Lie-Nielsen in Maine August 22 & 23.

I am actually going to get into my workshop today and carve! What a strange concept. I have been so busy with travelling, teaching, video editing, paperwork, taxes (yes, I just finished last year’s taxes) and other distractions, that I haven’t done much carving for the last 2 months. So I am going to take a deep breath, clamp down a piece of wood… and carve… I’m not even sure what I will carve, but I’m just going to see what happens. I have pieces I should work on – commissions and such – but today I just need one of those days where I disappear into carving an unplanned design of… something… I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunburst Design for a Fireplace Surround

Mary May, Woodcarver - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 7:46pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I am currently working on carving the details for a reproduction fireplace surround. The style is a traditional Charleston design and has 2 small vertically positioned sunburst designs on either side of a large horizontally shaped one.

I have finished one of the side sunbursts and have just added the video lesson to my online school. The wood I carved this in is poplar. It’s not my favorite wood to carve because it can be kind of spongy and stringy, but since this is going to be painted, this is what the builder chose.

This design is a little unique in that the “rays” on the design are carved down to a corner, rather than a curve – at least on the 2 smaller side ones. This creates a nice, sharp shadow. The large center horizontally positioned one has more rounded and hollowed shaped rays.

The grain pattern turned out to be quite nice, so it is a shame to paint it…

First carved sunburst in poplar
Original 1820's fireplace that I am attempting to reproduce.
Center design on the original fireplace.
Design laid out on wood before carving.

Wortheffort Woodworking School needs your help!

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 9:07am

Mary May - Woodcarver

Shawn Graham, of San Marco, Texas had a dream of opening a school focusing on traditional woodworking skills – Wortheffort Woodworking. He used to be an Industrial Art’s teacher (if that’s what they are called these days – those that are left), so he has a heart for young people. He has had a passion to share the creative knowledge of woodworking to young and old to discover that joy and accomplishment of making something with your own hands.

The school has been open for over a year, but Shawn has discovered the struggles that come along with starting a new venture – mostly financial, proper and convenient location, and the ability to get the word out.

He has had several well-known woodworkers teach at his school – Christopher Schwarz & Shannon Rogers are the ones that come to mind (and little ol’ me scheduled to teach in September 19 – 21)

The current school located in San Marco has closed, but he is wanting to open again within the next few months at a location in Austin, TX – much more centrally located so he can focus on the local population and also homeschoolers in the area.

Please check out his website to learn more about his dream – and if you feel so inclined, please do what you can to help get the word out about his school or contribute to his fundraising efforts to relocate in Austin.

Thanks so much for your support!

New Popular Woodworking Class on Carving a Traditional Fan

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 6:01am

Mary May - Woodcarver

Popular Woodworking Magazine is revving up its online classes. I have recently participated in adding a class on “Fan Carving” which will go live towards the end of July. This design is that simple, yet elegant pattern that is often seen in highboys, chairs, and I have often had requests to carve this on fireplace mantels.

This class shows how to lay out the design, how to carve the curved edge decoration, and how to round over the individual fan segments – focusing on carving in the correct grain direction. Quite often, these are carved where the center of the fan slopes deeper, but this lesson shows the process of carving the design into a flat board – which actually gives you a lot more flexibility of where you can put this. It also requires minimal wood preparation.

Once you learn the technique of carving this fan, you can adjust the design by adding more segments, carving it deeper, changing the size, etc. The options are endless!



Lie-Nielsen Open House

Mary May, Woodcarver - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 11:53am

Mary May - Woodcarver

This past Saturday, after teaching a 5-day class at the Center for Furniture Crafstmanship, I participated in the Lie-Nielsen Open House in lovely Warren, Maine.

I got to see a lot of friends from the woodworking world, and also met some new ones. I enjoyed fabulous lobster that just melted in your mouth, and was entertained by a talk by Peter Follansbee about his adventures with “green wood”. He is a great presenter – and also does some amazing woodwork and 17th century carving. I spent a lot of my time at the show (when I should have been carving myself) watching him shape wood with tools a LOT larger than I use.

Bob Van Dyke of Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking was also there. I will be teaching a class there November 7 – 9. Bring any carving project you are working on and we’ll figure it out! Spaces are still available.

There are also a few spots still available for the beginning carving class I am teaching at Lie-Nielsen August 23 & 24. I am reserving great weather for that weekend – 70 and no humidity!

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship Beginning Closs

Mary May, Woodcarver - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:52am

Mary May - Woodcarver

Last week I taught a beginning woodcarving class at a school I have not taught at before – The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in beautiful Rockport, Maine. This school has a wonderful atmosphere of creativity and the students did a great job carving acanthus leaves, camellia flowers and even a Tudor rose! And the setting is simply pristine. Here are some highlights:

Working hard.
Acanthus leaf project and Tudor Rose.
Grace Carving a Tudor Rose.
Tudor Rose in Walnut
Charlie looking very happy with his accomplishments.
Don and Jeremy focusing on the details.
Successfully completed carvings...
Such focus!
Happy students (expecially Mac in the background - who was my assistant during the class).

I had an opportunity to escape the 100 degree temperatures with 90% humidity in Charleston, SC and actually leave the windows open at night to feel a cool breeze (what was that strange feeling?) I really can’t get enough of the Maine climate and beauty.

So… next month I will be coming back again to teach another beginning class at Lie-Nielsen August 23 & 24. Then the following week I will be filming an intermediate woodcarving DVD (the beginning carving DVD should be out soon, so keep your eyes open for that).

I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Chris Pye, who will be teaching an advanced carving class at the school for the next 2 weeks. It’s a small world out there when it comes to woodcarving, and I knew I would meet him along the teaching “circuit” somewhere. He has written several woodcarving instruction books and also has an online school. I could consider him “competition”, but ultimately if our end-goal is to teach this art that we both love, then whatever we do and however we do it will lead to sharing this wonderful art.

Gargoyles, Faces and More

Mary May, Woodcarver - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 7:28am

Mary May - Woodcarver

I have not had a chance to go through all my Europe photos, but did find some fascinating photos of carved faces and gargoyles. The personalities in some of the faces are just wonderful. Penrhyn castle (where Paul Sellers has his school in Bangor, Wales) had some incredible stone carved faces as capitals. I have heard that the stone carvers often put the personalities of other carvers into their caricatures, and you can almost see them joking around on the jobsite – exaggerating the features of the artists.

I would love to do more carvings of faces – maybe when I’m retired :)

Outdoor stone detail on St. Paul's Cathedral, London
Stone carving at an entrance to a cathedral in London.
Marble face on a fireplace - Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Wales
Stone carved capital at Penrhyn Castle, Bangor Wales
Detail in shell niche - Green man?
Celtic creature in Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Wales
I love this one - creature chewing on fingers.
Stone carved capital in Penrhyn Castle.
More faces in capitals - Penrhyn Castle.
And more capitals - aren't they great?
And more...
Another stone capital
What character!
Figure carved in ebony - about 12 inches tall.
Ebony carving - about 12 inches tall.
King carved in oak in Tudor house - from about 1300.
Another detail in the Tudor home - from about 1500.
What great expressions!

Carving the Tudor Rose

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 4:30pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

The Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose

While I was recently in England, I was so inspired by the lovely Tudor Rose – I had to carve one! Here are the step-by-step instructions. The first episode of the video is being added to my online school tonight.

So much fun! I almost feel guilty :)

With a v-chisel, carve along the outside edge of the rose.
With gouges that fit the outside edges of the rose, make vertical cuts (I used the #5, 14mm, #7, 12mm, and #4, 18mm)
With a #4, 18mm, make an angle cut from the straight outside frame edge to the edge of the rose.
With a v-chisel, carve around the center of the rose.
With a #5, 14mm (a smaller #5 will fit better), make a vertical cut to define the inside circle.
With a v-chisel, carve around the outside edge of the inner petals.
With a v-chisel, carve out the small sections between these petals.
With a #7, 12mm and #5, 14mm, make vertical cuts along the edge of these inner petals.
With a #7, 12mm, make a vertical cut to separate the larger petals from the small leaves.
With a #5, 14mm, carve each side of the small leaf down at an angle so that it appears to go under the flower.
With a #8, 6mm, #7, 12mm, and #3, 6mm scoop out this section of the petals, leaving a raised section in the middle of the petal.
With a #5, 14mm, make 2 cuts at an angle to separate each of the large petals.
With a #5, 14mm and #3, 6mm round over the outside edges of each of the larger petals.
With a #7, 12mm, lower down all the smaller petals.
With a #7, 12mm, separate the smaller petals.
With a #8, 6mm or #7, 12mm, scoop out this section of the smaller petals.
With a #3, 6mm, round over the outside edges of the smaller petals.
With a #4, 18mm, round over the center of the rose.
With a v-chisel, make v-cuts in a cross-hatch pattern in the center of the rose.

Teaching in Munich, Germany

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 5:32pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

We arrived back home from a 3-week trip to England and Germany late Monday evening. It was an amazing trip – met some great people, ate fabulous food, and saw some of the most beautiful wood and stone carvings. Now I have to sort through several thousand photographs and try to remember where they were all taken.

I taught a beginning woodcarving class at Dictum in Munich, Germany. They have an incredible store where they sell a wide range of hand and machine woodworking tools. Check out their website. If you can’t find it at Dictum, it’s probably not out there. My husband spent several hours drooling over their tools.

Peter Lanz, who organizes the classes and school, is a great guy and helped a lot in translating during the class. Although most of the students spoke English, and woodcarving is sort of a universal language - sometimes words just aren’t needed!

The students did a great job during the class and we worked through 4 complete projects in 3 days that covered a wide range of woodcarving skills. Maybe because I didn’t ramble on as much during this class, they had more time to carve :)

Students working hard at the Dictum School.
Carving a "Peach" - the beginning project.
Carving a Phlox Flower
2 different Student version's of carving the "Phlox".
Peter Lanz having fun with acanthus leaves.
The finished acanthus leaf.
All the finished projects from one student. I'm so proud of all of my students!
Peter Lanz and my husband, Stephen, looking like they're talking about the deeper things in life over a couple of beers.
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