Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 133, September 2016 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 Mark Davis
Glendora, CA

EDITOR'S NOTE: We featured Mark's workshop in our February 2016 Show Us Your Shop column in Wood News Online

Carved Wainscot Panel.
Took a long time on this one.

I started carving in 2002 when I was a single father, still toiling in relatively square minded design. Long straight lines, a little molding here and there to break things up, but nothing of artistic note. Then three things happened simultaneously; I met my wife, discovered the Legacy router milling machine, and began experimenting with dry bent laminations, steaming and bending wood.

Newel Post. One of my favorites.
I learned so much doing this one.

My wife, who loves wood, in particular quarter sawn white oak like me, bought me some carving tools and said "why not decorate some of your work with a flower or design?" Well, to be honest, it scared the hell out of me! Really? Put a chisel to wood for reasons other than a mortise or paring and cleaning up a joint? Well, I did. I carved a "G" into the front of a meter lamp I had made for a friend. A simple G and I was off trying all kinds of things. I was no longer fearful. So for all of you just have some courage and you'll be able to carve.

Electric Meter Lamp

The Legacy allowed me to experiment with round shapes, more detailed than the lathe could produce. it allowed me to reproduce the reeds and flutes I admired in old world columns and moldings. I then began to leave a blank band around my columns and pillars so I could carve floral designs around the round shapes. This actually led me to the stairway carvings I am proud to have done. While I don't mind the actual carvings not being perfect, I do take the time to make sure the outlines of all of them are. Look at them, the outlines are all machined and perfect. The insides I try. If I succeed great, if not, really no one will ever notice. Especially when combined with such a nice symmetrical outline. The Legacy contributed to this ability tremendously.

I have never really tried to carve a face or hand or animal, my mind just doesn't see those shapes well; I guess I could train it some, but really the fascination for me is taking a fairly plain project and making it special with a flower or acanthus leaves, Or some geometric shape like the scallops.

Wife's 2nd anniversary Gift
Mahogany 10 x 10 floral carving with stippled background
to look like linen.

Over the years I have taken carving inspiration from everywhere; Cemeteries, old homes and buildings, European castles, magazines, TV and movies etc. I automatically notice the architecture and woodworking design before anything else that flashes on the screen. I can't help it. I then store it and retrieve it later for use on a project. I admit to copying the carvings on old antique furniture we possess in our house. These are a great source when looking for inspiration. For many projects, carving takes place long after most of the more dangerous power tool use is complete, so this allows for a more mellow phase of woodworking, carving, drinking some wine and listening to tunes. I am truly blessed to have the shop I have, the motivation to create day after day, the vision to see the shapes and the energy to pull it all together, without the aide of complex drawings. I rarely if ever do full size drawings. I sketch them out once on the piece, adjust and go to town. I simply love woodworking and the excitement it brings to experiment and learn new things.

Free Standing Column

Kitchen Island Flower Applique


Rosette Carving Process


Rosette Windows

Free standing coat rack with
ornate carving for my in-laws



Mark can be reached directly via email at mark.w.davis@sce.com .

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