Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects, Knives

HAVE HOE – WILL PLANT is a commission carving of a lady gardener that is carved out of a seven inch tall, two inch by three inch block of basswood using a series of carving knives.  The simple verbal description included a gray hair lady with a braid draping over her right shoulder with length going to her waist.  She is wearing a light blue tee shirt, khaki shorts, red tennis shoes, and is holding a packet of seeds in one hand and the hoe leaning on her left shoulder.  A cat is rubbing against her right leg at the ankle.





The first stage of the development in carving a new project is to mentally use imagination to envision how the theme will look and how the various landmarks will fit together in an even flow of visual effect.  This mental image was then transferred onto paper as a rough drawing that would fit into the size of the block of wood. Next came drawing guideline onto the block of wood to proportionally lay out the design to correspond with the mental image. The actual carving began with choosing the knives that would be used to sculp towards the basic form by removing excess wood around the mental image.


The two knives that will be used in the roughing out sculpting stage are the SIDE KICK on the left in first photo and the BUZZARD BEE on the right in first photo.  The next photos are of the SIDE KICK knife showing how the multiple cutting edge approaches the wood to make slicing cuts.  The blade is designed with the cutting edge running along the bottom edge and around to the front edge so that it can make a variety of slicing and scooping cuts for rapid shaping of the wood.



The next series of photos show the BUZZARD BEE knife whose blade is designed with the cutting edge running along the bottom edge around the rounded tip that allows for making a variety of sculpting slicing cuts. Because the rounded front is a cutting edge it slices into the wood without making a tearing cut resulting in a scooping slice.

It is this mental image that guides the hands to use the knife to sculpt the basic form.  This partnership between imagination and the slicing away of wood chips becomes the “design by carving” where by the mental image of the design seems to be set free during the sculpting process of carving the basic form.  Once the basic form is carved, then the mental image will guide the refining of the overall form to lay a foundation for the details.  There are no short cuts in this process that must follow the steps beginning with imagination of image, sculping to basic form of image, refining the basic form and finally carving the details into the basic form.

The next two photos below show the progress in the shaping of the form using both the BUZZARD BEE and the TURNIP BEE knives. The TURNIP BEE means that the tip of the blade is turned up allowing it to have a curved slicing action at the tip end of the blade.  It fits in the category of the rough out sculpting blade but because of its size, it does so with a finer scooping action.  It can also do detail sculpting making it a versatile carving knife.  Each of these knives mentioned thus far are Helvie knives designed by the Wood Bee Carver.


The next two photos show more progress in opening up between the legs and the hoe handle using antique adjustable industrial knives.  Hyde Cutlery made these knives (although other knife makers made them primarily for the leather/shoe industry.)  The high carbon steel blade is about four inches long and fits into a unique chuck and slides into the wooden handle.  The Wood Bee Carver has reshaped these blades to fit his style of carving.


The next three photos show the front, side and back of the carved to basic form progress that is ready for the details to be carved into the form foundations. Ninety percent of any carving project is carving to “basic form” and ten percent is the “detail carving.” The knives in the photos are detail knives made by the Wood Bee Carver for his own personal use and are experimental in design and function.


Below, the photo on the left is the detail carved project with two fine detail knives made by the carver. The photo on the right is for comparison of the painted carving.


The Wood Bee Carver is primarily a knife carver who has experimented with trial and error in designing a variety of carving knife blades learning how to shape and sharpen the blades.  A curved cutting-edge blade design is the most efficient shape because of its slicing action no matter how it is used. It is highly recommended that any carver should take to time to learn how to hand sharpen and shape carving knives.  BEE SHARP and NEVER DULL is the mantra for a satisfactory carving experience.

Anyone interested in learning more about reshaping and sharpening knife blades or making your own knives, you are invited to read about my adventures by going to “Main Menu” and clicking on “Blog Index Map” ~ scroll down to the category “Knives” ~ read though titles that are on the subject of making knives, sharpening, shaping, stropping, and Other Knives and click on those postings for further research. Learn by doing is the best way to explore this rewarding activity.  And always remember, “The more you do, the better you do,” be it carving, sharpening, stropping, painting, drawing or imagining.  “If it can be imagined, it can be,” is one thing I have learned by trial and error. Never be afraid to try because the experience of trying will open the door of discovery and discovering is a serendipity experience. “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood,” is serendipity all over again and again.




This entry was posted on Friday, September 11th, 2020 at 2:27 pm and is filed under Carving Projects, Knives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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