Monday, September 7, 2009

Many Mini Santas

Christmas time is a-commin', so I'm starting to stock up on Santas. First up is my 2009 ornament. I try to do a different style of ornament every year. I'll do some of the old ones as well, but I introduce a new one annually.

These guys are carved from 1.5"x1.5"x4" basswood. They are carved "on the corner". that is, they are carved so that the nose is formed from a corner of the block. This is a technique to make getting the curvature of the face easier.

This year I'm also doing a limited edition of 5 sets of 5 different Santa miniatures. This Old World Santa will be the first figure in the sets. These are MINIATURES! They are carved from a 1"x1"x3" block of basswood and are NOT carved on the corner.

Minis are a lot of fun to do. Some people do this size of carving all the time. I tease Tom H all the time about how his carvings are so small I have a hard time seeing them, much less carving at that scale. And Don Mertz, The Woodbee Carver, has a whole "line" of carvings he calls Whittle Folk that are all about this size. This, however, is my first major foray into carving this small. I had to go out and buy some +3 reading glasses just to be able to see what I was doing! Gettin' old is hell, let me tell ya.

The knife is a Ralph E. Long Model WH-9 that I've modified to fit my druthers. The blade is about 1" long, and the point originally continued on up which put the tip of the knife about 3/16ths of an inch above the back of the blade where it joins the handle. That put the tip too high for me to use comfortably, so I took a diamond hone to it. I brought the point back down to where it is even with the back of the blade. This is one rockin' miniature knife!

I'm not real pleased with a couple of these guys. A couple of them are probably going to get recarved before long. Eyes at this scale are a real b. . . . . . challenge.

This next bunch was inspired by Don Mertz, again! He calls them Pin Heads because they are carved from the old-fashioned clothes pins that you can get from Hobby Lobby. I saw his, and I just HAD to try it!

I think the pins are made from beech, but I'm not totally sure. The ones I have are almost as easy to carve as basswood, but the wood is darker and has some dark spots in it. These pins are about 9/16" in diameter. Talk about a challenge! Especially the eyes! Never mind carving them, painting them is the real killer. If you click on the picture you'll see that the eyes on the two red-and-whites on the right are pretty wonky. I either need to make the eyes bigger or get a smaller toothpick (that being what I use to paint the eyes).

If you are interested in talking to Ralph about his knives, his email addy is

And now for something completely different:

This woodspirit is carved from a birch dowel 1.5" in diameter by 6" long. I'm working on a step-by-step that will appear on this blog real soon now.

Until then, let the chips fly!


  1. great bunches of santa,, great job, arleen

  2. Great looking bunch of Santa's Robert! Keep up the good work! Love the 1 inch standing up guys.


  3. Good stuff Bob, I like the first couple best, really good detail and knife technique. Must be a real challenge doing the cloth pegs. How did you get them to all stand up straight?
    It is a guess but it looks like the pegs could be birch. In Europe we have a lot of small pegs, hooks, knobs etc turn from birch. A much underrated wood.

  4. Thanks, Arleen and Corey.

    Sean, I got them to stand up by leaning them against the backdrop. The pegs could be birch. I have a birch dowel that looks similar, but the pegs carve much more easily. Maybe it's the fact that the cuts I'm making on the pegs are much shallower.