The WOOD BEE CARVER is primarily a knife carver who started as a boy growing up on a farm three miles south of Poneto, Indiana whittling with a pocket knife in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. In the early 1970’s David Monhollen showed me the fundamentals of carving and ever since I have pursued wood carving as a growing experience of learning by doing. Even though other carving tools are used in some carving projects, yet my first love is carving only with a knife. Thus I have developed a style I call “Whittle-Carving” which is simply carving only with a knife.
The boyhood interest in pocket knives and the continued use of knives in carving compels me to test and try out carving knives made by knife makers as well as reshape older pocket knives and utility work knives into carving knives.
I was introduced to Ralph E. Long knives by good woodcarving friends, Mike Sullins and Mark Akers of South Carolina who gave me a couple of REL knives. I liked them and ordered a couple more from Ralph. Recently I ordered a few more of his WH-8 curved bladed knives. The blade shape is a smaller version of a Tupelo or sometimes called a Cajun Whittler. The blade shape is actually called “Scimitar” which is a curved blade with the cutting edge on the convex curve and the back edge is concave curve. The Scimitar is a “slicing” blade shape and the curvature of the cutting edge mirrored with the curved back makes the blade highly maneuverable in tight areas.
These photographs are a few examples of how maneuverable this blade shape is in reaching into tight areas. It is also an excellent shape for doing all kinds of slicing cuts even with the blade up side down. The concave curvature of the back of the blade allows for a quick roll out when making a slicing and rolling cut with the tip of the blade. In many ways this blade shape can “slice around corners” as it can reach areas that other blade shapes can not reach. It does take a while to get used to using the “Scimitar” blade shape but in the end it has become a favorite among many. Keep in mind that there is no one perfect blade shape so having multiple blade shapes is essential. Plus it is fun to experiment with each blade shape to see what each can do. But in the case of this particular knife by Ralph E. Long, it is definitely a “keeper.”
These four photographs show different views of the pirate carved to basic form with the knife used to carve it in the foreground. The next series of photographs will be a photographic trail of various areas of the pirate showing first the basic form and then the completed and detailed area. Remember what I often say: “Form Follows Function and Detail Follow Form,” which means to “carve to form” first and then “detail builds in the form.” The “form” and then the “details” of the pirate were carved using only one knife with a two inch long Scimitar blade as pictured in the photographs.
The pirate was carved out of an inch and a half square by six inches tall basswood block using only the one Ralph E. Long knife pictured in the photos. Ralph made excellent carving knives until his death in April, 2015 and his knives are prized by those carvers who have carved with a Ralph E. Long Knife.