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 Woodcarvings by Maura

So, You really want to be a woodcarver?

The State of Woodcarving in America Today



Chapter 13

Things that Ive learned (and wish to pass on)


      Woodcarving can be taught, creativity cant.

      A good tool is worth the price you pay for it.

      Safety can never be underestimated.

      Boil a cypress knee and the warm bark will peel off

      There are more woodcarvers than you think there are.

      Most people are held back by their own fears.

      Crazy glue can be used to glue cuts closed.          


      Wood does talk to you

      You can put wood into a microwave to dry it or to kill bugs in it

      Smaller pieces of wood can be glued together to make larger pieces of wood.

      Crumpled up brown paper bags can be used for fine sanding

      Patterns are easy to make


      If you want to know something, just ask.

      Strop often, sharpen less

      Different woods carve differently.

      Bad tools dont get used

      Dont carve after sanding, the grit will dull your tool

      A good tool becomes an extension of your arm.    

      Inspiration comes from unexpected places.                 


      There are no mistakes in woodcarving, only new opportunities.

      Sawdust in the air can, combined with a flame or spark, can cause an explosion.

      Anybody will buy anything if you make them think they need it

      Always bring wood into your shop at least two weeks before you plan to use it.

      Find cheap tools at estate sales

      Keep your tools well and they will keep you well

      Gouges can be used upside down

      It is much easier to carve using two hands and hold down devices.

      Use a sharp straight edge of broken glass to clean up a carving.

      Dont be afraid to learn

      You can sharpen your tools with sandpaper

      Original carvings sell better than carbon copies              


      A V-tool actual has 3 separate blades

      Always plan to demonstrate at any show you attend.  Those who demonstrate usually draw a crowd.

      Cover your workbench with inexpensive rubber mats.

      Wood carves easier when wet but most likely will crack while drying.

      Couples together will spend more than they would separately

      It is not terribly difficult to make a website

      A chisel is not a pry bar

      The width of one eye is always equal to the space between the eyes.

      No matter how much wood you have, you wont have the right size for your next project


      Carving tools usually sell for what theyre worth on internet auction sites

      Remove pencil marks with rubbing alcohol

      There is always lots of free wood on trash day.

      If you price a carving too low it wont sell

      The most valuable lessons are learned from your worst mistakes.

      Wood dust can explode if there is an open flame nearby

      Use spar varnish on wood which will be displayed outside    


      Do not use a mallet on palm tools

      Agree on the price for a carving before you start it

      Use a scraper to remove excess glue

      Standard drying time for fresh-cut wood is 1 year to 1 of thickness.

      Any wood can be carved

      The corners of the mouth line up with the centers of the eyes.

      A high swivel chair with a back and footrest is the perfect carving chair.

      People will buy unique items.

      There are cheap tools to be found at yard sales and estate sales

      Always complete a commission carving when promised

      After cutting away the skin of a golf ball, use the excess skin for a paint cup.


      Turn a problem area upside down and then try to carve it.

      There is never enough time or money

      Wood dust can cause cancer and other diseases.

      Most carvers have a variety of different woods stored away in their workshops and will pass a piece or two on to a new carver.

      Young children can carve soap but the chips are slippery.

      If you have wet paint on a palette, put it in the freezer between painting sessions

      You can make excellent woodcarvings with a single knife.

      You can never use too many pictures

      A power saw can cut faster through flesh than wood.

      Never stand in a direct line with a table saw blade.

      Rubber bands can be used as clamps


      Use a v-tool for outlining, not using stop cuts will save lots of time and you will not crush the wood fibers.

      Thin cardboard can be used as a strop.

      Shave the hair on your arm to test the sharpness of a tool.

      Books are worth their weight in gold but a good carving video is better

      When picking something thing up, you will knock over another, maybe even 2 or three.

      The more costly a tool, the more likely it is to jump off your workbench.

      A mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water sprayed on wood will make it easier to carve.

      Tools should be purchased as needed 

      Looking and acting like a professional will make you one

      Tools can sense when youre afraid of them


      Someone will buy it

      Bartering is alive and well

      The best way to learn is to do

      Wood contracts and expands

      Sell the right things at the right shows

      Grinling Gibbons glued layers onto his carvings.

      Let the customer be involved, update them on their carvings progress. Email them pictures in various states of completion.

      Big things start from small things


      You can soak a thin board in water, cover it with a wet towel and use a household iron to  remove any warping or cupping

      Word of mouth is the best selling tool

      There could be only one master carver in any one municipality. 

      You can burnish wood by using a rounded piece of hardwood to press into your carving.

      Wood is dry when it has a 10% or less moisture level


      Woodcarvers are the most helpful group of people that I have ever met.

      Cuts usually happen reaching for tools

      Always get a deposit which will cover the costs of a commission carving

      Clean sandpaper using hard rubber

      It is not expensive to own your own website

      There is always more than one way to do something

      Share your knowledge

      Slowing down wood drying time will lessen checking. 





Chapter 12     /     Chapter 14


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2005 Carvin' in NYC


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Maura Macaluso
Staten Island, NY

made in the USA