Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 165, May 2019 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Here's My Woodcarving!
By Jeff Franklin
Ottawa Lake, MI

I received my first knife in the fourth grade (a souvenir keychain knife) and have been cutting at wood ever since. I did my first carving when I was a teenager, I carved an elephant with a 5" sheath knife that was 3/4" long from walnut. The cat chewed it up so I carved another one that I put more thought into. I still have that elephant and am still happy with the results. Shortly after completing the second elephant I acquired a Millers Falls carving tool set and haven't looked back.

Most of my carving is realistic relief carving and is usually inspired by nature. My drawing skills are rudimentary so I usually use photographs to get my details correct. I admire carvers who can deviate from reality. Caricature carvers in particular. I don't possess that skill so I stick to mimicking what I see as beautiful. I usually carve in sassafras when I want to see the grain and maple when I don't, although I have carved pretty much all woods including white oak and dense exotics, which I don't recommend.

My commissions are usually some sort of personalized signage, lettering, or furniture detail and architectural replication.

The project pictured above was a test for myself. It is carved from a solid block of hard maple and is 12" across. I wanted a shallow bowl and didn't want to stray too far from reality. It is is based on a white water lily and lily pad that are commonly found in lakes around where I live. It was carved entirely by hand, no power tools were used. It was a project that allowed me to get a lot of practice sharpening tools. Total time was 52 hours.

I saw this carving board at a local store and thought it provided an interesting shape to work with. It's made of hard maple and is 8" wide x 10.5" tall x 1". I tend to outline my carvings with a border but then purposely violate the border by allowing the carving to spill out.

This carving was inspired by the Bible verse John 20:27 regarding "Doubting Thomas". It is 20" wide 16" high and 3" deep and carved from Black Cherry. The hands are approximately life size. I always carve my work from one solid piece rather than carving individual pieces and then assembling them. Just a personal preference. It can sometimes create unnecessary challenges but, that's just the way I prefer to do them.

This is obviously a welcome sign. It is 7.5" x 11.5" x 1" and carved in Butternut. It's another example of how I don't stay in the lines.

This one was a bit of a challenge. It is Mt. Denali with The Alaska Range. It's about 36" long x 5" high x1" and is part of the quilt rack. The challenge was to represent Mt Denali with an appropriate scale. It's hard to see in the photo but Spirit Lake is in the foreground and helps with the scale. This is a view that is often found in the tourist literature.

Jeff can be reached directly via email at jeff@franklincase.com.

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