Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


Rich and Holli Smithson, owners and operators of HELVIE KNIVES commissioned the WOOD BEE CARVER to carve a World War I era airplane pilot.  Research was made of several historic photographs and images with a few chosen to be a visual and inspirational guide while the block of basswood was being shaped into a pilot figure.  The main image chosen wore a leather flight coat, white scarf and a leather helmet with googles.  The pilot was carved in a basswood block nine inches tall, three inches wide and two and a quarter inch thick.

The photos below are a panoramic tour of various angles and a close up of the pilot’s face and the hand holding a cigarette.



The next series of photographs show the progressive stages of the carving of the pilot using several of the Wood Bee Carver’s designs of Signature Series knives made by HELVIE KNIVES.

The first photo shows two basswood blocks.  The left block is the beginning stage before any shaping has taken place.  The right block shows the beginning stage of shaping the head area and top of shoulders using the TURNIP BEE knife on left and the BUZZARD 2 knife on the right that are being used in the shaping process.

The second photo shows the five knives used in the shaping stage of bringing the pilot to basic form. The five knives used [top to bottom] are the SIDE KICK, ZIG ZAG, BUZZARD 2, BUZZARD and the TURNIP BEE.

The first photo below shows the progress of the basic form of the helmet, head and shoulders established.  Once the head is established, the rest of the block is divided proportionally into three sections using the Rule of Three for body proportions [indicated by the red lines] ~ Shoulder to Waist, Waist to Mid Knees, and Mid Knees to Bottom of Feet.  Within these red guidelines the arms, legs and clothing outfit are drawn as a further guide for the continuation of the shaping process.

The second photo shows the three knives being used at this stage ~ (left to right) BUZZARD, TURNIP, and ZIG ZAG.


The series of photo that follow will show some of these knives being used in shaping various area of the pilot as it is being shaped. The first two photos show the ZIG ZAG being used in its two positions of the slicing cutting edge.


The next three photos show the SIDE KICK making cuts in its various positions of the slicing cutting edge.


The next three photos show the BUZZARD 2 in the first photo and the BUZZARD in the middle and third photo making various slicing cuts.


The TURNIP knife is being used to shape the lens of the googles in the first photo below.  The second photo shows a bridge support that was glue/tacked under the carved cigarette so that it would not be broken during the continued shaping process.  During the detail carving stage, the bridge support was carefully whittled away and the cigarette soaked with super glue to strengthen it. The third photo is the detailed cigarette and hand portion of the carving.

The five Signature Series knives featured in this posting did ninety five percent of the carving on this project while the BUSY BEE 2, the BUZZ BEE and the GREEN HORNET 2 (these knives not pictured here) completed the detail portion of the carving.  Artist oil paint mixed with boiled linseed oil colored the pilot and sealed with an application of the brushing lacquer DEFT.

The completed HOOSIER PILOT is now at home in the private collection of HELVIE KNIVES. Rich, Hollie and daughter Skylar Smithson are the friendly and helpful people who are HELVIE KNIVES. 


This entry was posted on Thursday, March 14th, 2019 at 12:07 pm and is filed under Carving Projects. 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.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.