Jump to Navigation

Hand Tool Headlines

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...

Be sure to visit the Hand Tool Headlines section - scores of my favorite woodworking blogs in one place.  Also, take note of Norse Woodsmith's latest feature, an Online Store, which contains only products I personally recommend.  It is secure and safe, and is powered by Amazon.

Carving and Sculpture

Wortheffort Woodworking School needs your help!

Mary May, Woodcarver - 5 hours 30 min ago

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.

The wonders of Europe!

Mary May, Woodcarver - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 8:30am

Mary May - Woodcarver

I have been in Europe for 2 weeks now. I thought I would have a lot of time to sit in quaint little cafes and write on my blog. So far in 2 weeks, this is the first time I have felt that I can sit and focus on my thoughts (and organize photos).

It has been a whirlwind of a trip. We have visited some of my husband’s family in England (Reading and Ludlow), spent one day in London, spent a day going down my husband and mother-in-law’s memory lane of when they lived in Barnett and also went to Bounds Green where the previous generation lived during the Blitz in WWII. Fascinating stories of how the average life of a 5 or 6 year old at that time was always carrying a gas mask wherever they went. To them it was the way life was. Their parents were the ones carrying the burden and anxiety of the reality of war.

Details from wall panelling in Tudor home.
Linenfold design in tudor home - from about 1500.
More details in wall paneling in a tudor home.
type of Tudor rose from around year 1500.
Ludlow castle
Tuder home.

I remember my father-in-law telling a story of when he was about 5 years old he found a unexploded bomb in London. He was very excited about his find and dragged it across their tile floor to show his mommy. She wasted no time picking him with the bomb very gently. He was quite upset that she would not let him play with his new toy.

We also went to Bangor, Wales and met Paul Sellers. He has an amazing and extensive online video school and has a great blog (http://www.paulseller.com) and also has a woodworking school in a castle! He puts a lot of energy and time into sharing his 50 years of traditional hand tool woodworking skills. There are a large number of instructional videos you can view for free on youtube and on his website and he has larger, more thorough videos on his school for a very reasonable price. His genuine desire is to help people discover the joy of this wonderful world of traditional woodworking and to continue these skills into the next generations.

Paul Sellers in his workshop
Paul Sellers workshop castle.
Some stone carved details inside the  castle.

Next we flew Ryanair from Manchaster to Bremen, Germany. We were a little concerned about this flight because whenever we mentioned we were flying Ryanair, there was a sort of smile or sometimes even an outright laugh. I was beginning to understand why it only cost us 30 English pounds each. I figured it was only an hour flight and we could put up with anything for that short amound of time. We weren’t sure what we were in for. It ended up being a good flight – very basic, but we got there OK with no issues. If you don’t have a lot of luggage, it’s a great way to go because that’s how they make their money. My husband had to check his bag and it cost twice what the flight cost :}

After this we went to visit more family in Bavaria. Had a wonderful time, ate lots of great German food and saw some beautiful old Bavarian villages.

We are now in Munich. We will be here until we fly home next week. I start to teach my 3 day beginning carving class tomorrow at the Dictum School. There are still spaces available!

Enough rambling. Here are some photos of incredible architecture and carvings. There are many more but I have to resist.

St. Pauls Cathedral, London
Outside of St. Pauls Cathedral
very weathered stone sculpture outside St. Pauls in London
Detail in church, Bremen, Germany
German woodcarvings, Bremen, Germany
Beautiful wood carved face, Bremen, Germany
Station of the cross, Munich
More woodcarved statues, Germany
Markbreit, Germany

Philadelphia Highboy – continued

Mary May, Woodcarver - Sat, 05/31/2014 - 7:55pm

Mary May - Woodcarver

I have recently completed one side of the acanthus scrolls for the top of a Philadelphia Highboy carved in mahogany. The photo below is of a Highboy that I carved about 8 years ago. Danny Hinson, of Charleston SC, built 2 of these and I carved the details both of them. He got one, and I got the other. I thought it was a great deal!


The design I am carving is a combination of several different Highboy designs. Slightly different than the one I carved before, and based on others that I have seen from photographs. I have tried to keep the original integrity and basic flow and design of the leaves as close to the originals as possible.

This is the actual carving I did for the video lesson.

This is the actual carving I did for the video lesson.

I have videoed the carving process and through the month of June (while I am traveling in Europe) each of the 4 episodes will be added to my online school each week.

It is such a beautiful, delicate and flowing design – 3/8″ thick at the thickest part, and going down to 1/8″ thick in some sections. I showed how I attached this carving to a backer board in a previous blog.

Still to come: Center shell (shown below – not quite finished), rosettes, cartouche and finials for the Highboy! Yeeha!

Center shell that will eventually be a lesson on the online school.

Center shell that will eventually be a lesson on the online school.

Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator - Carving and Sculpture

by Dr. Radut