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Here's My Woodcarving!

by Gary Smith
Hurricane, UT

Note: click on any picture to see a larger version.

My love of horses and the west is what gives me inspiration for my carvings. I was drawing horses when i was a kid, and at 12 years old I made a wild west town out of wooden orange crates. I should have taken some photos but back then most folks did not have a camera.

The carvings in the photos below were made out of a 4x8x8' long piece of wood. I cut it down to 3' lengths then ran them through my jointer to clean them up. The wood is about 60 years old and I got it from an old saw mill. I need to go get some more! It is yellow pine and very hard to cut, but it carves real well.

When I got the plank cleaned up, I cut it up into three 12-inch pieces so the grain ran up and down. The horses are 11-inches tall, so I had to glue them up. They are 16 inches from nose to tail. The 4x8 came out 3x6, so I glued those up and that gave me the space i needed for my pattern. I cut the wood out with my band saw as close as I could to get rid of the waste. Then I put the horse upside down in my wood vise and cut the wood out from between the legs and tail.

After that I roughed the rest out on my drill press with a 1-1/4" sanding drum. After that, to get it close I used small files, my old timer pocket knive and a miniature rotary tool, as well as some sandpaper and a lot of work. There's a lot of carving on the wheels on the wagon - the spokes are handmade. There are 7 felloes and 14 spokes on each wheel. The driver is made out of the same wood as the horses. The eyes on the horses are Sandalwood and took the better part of a day to get right, but the color is perfect for the look of a real horse.

All the horse carvings have on them is polyurethane to give them that Palamino color.

Everything on the wagon works - the brakes, the wheels, the gears, the chuck box...and it is all hard wood. The tongue has the hounds in place. The bows are maple, the seat will bounce. I used brass for all the metal parts so they will age with time and get that old look. Now I need to start on the other one...I got the wagon for it ready. The harness was definitely a learning curve, but I had a lot of fun looking for all the part names so I could get them right. If anyone needs to know anything about making a harness, I can probably help!

You can email Gary at .

Would you like to see your carvings in this column? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your favorite woodcarving projects along with captions and a brief history of your woodcarving. (Email photos at 800x600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store gift card if we show your carving work in a future issue!

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