Here's My Woodcarving!
by Gary Smith
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
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