Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


The Hoosier Hobo was Whittle-Carved using only knives to shape a six-inch-tall by inch and half square block of basswood. A series of photos will show the progressive steps supplemented with verbal descriptions of these progressive steps. Keep in mind that between initial opening cuts with a slicing knife there are more cuts to follow to refine the carved surface into it finished state. As if often said, “One cut is not a cut to end all cuts being rather the beginning cut with more cuts to follow,” so the reader of this blog posting will need to use imagination to read between the lines, fill in the gaps and mentally carve what  in-between the stages.

The first cuts to open up the block of wood is to make a notch cut a quarter of inch up from the bottom of block on all four sides to establish the base.  The next step is to draw a center line across the top of the block to indicate the direction the face will be looking. (photo 1) This is followed by slicing off the four corners to begin rounding the top into a dowel shape. Continue to slice off corners until the round dowel is established.  This is the beginning of carving the hat as the hat is the first part to be established since it is the head that goes up into the hat.  Draw a pencil line representing the hat brim around the round dowel shape. Lay the front end of the cutting edge of the knife blade on the line and make a slicing cut along the line at the same time as slicing forward roll the slicing cut up to make a “slice and roll” cut. This “slice and roll” cut will begin to shape to top of the brim and the crown of the hat at the same time. (photo 2) Repeat this process several times until the crown of hat is shaped symmetrical using the center line as a guide. Make sure that the width of the hat brim is equal symmetrically all the way the side of the crown. (photo 3) Next step is to establish where the top of the walking stick will be with “slice and roll” cuts. (photo 4) In this photo note that the top of brim is established as well as the crown of the hat.  The opposite corner from the knife and center line is where the cigar will come out of the corner of the mouth so that portion of wood will be saved in the next step.



The bottom of the brim and the sides of the head are shaped next by making a slicing stop cut underneath the line drawn for the brim.  It is a stop cut across the grain which means that there will be a second angled cut up to the stop cut (slow and gentle) that will form a notch all around the bottom of the brim.  The second cut is slow and gentle to the stop cut so as not the cut through the brim.  Notice in the photo below that the sides of the head are in line with the crown of the hat to illustrate that the head goes up into the hat.  The front of the face with the center line and the extra wood for the cigar still remain at this stage to be shaped later in the process.  Right now, the process is simply carving to the basic form with more carving to follow. At this stage in the photo the forms of the hat and head and the top of walking stick have to established ready for guidelines for the body parts of the carving.


Once the hat and head have been carved to basic form, then the Rule of Three for Body Proportions can be indicated: Shoulder to Waist; Waist to Mid Knees; Mid Knees to Bottom of Feet are indicated with horizonal lines drawn to divide the body into thirds.  With these guidelines established then the various parts of the body can be drawn to give direction during the carving to form process. The next four photos show the drawn guidelines.



The next four photos reveal the progress of carving to shape the basic form that provides a good foundation for carving in the details to make the hobo come to life. Notice that patches have been added to elbow, knee, tears at elbow, knee, shoulder seams and shirt tail in hanging out while coat front lapel tail is blowing in the wind.  The walking stick has been carved crooked to add visual effect and because it is easier to carve crooked than to carve a straight stick.  It just looks more interesting.



The next four photos give a picture of the final details that have made the carving come alive.  Note that the cigar is carved in the corner of the mouth and has been soaked with super glue along with the eye lids to strengthen the weak cross-grained areas.  When painted with artist oil and boiled linseed oil the glued areas will be less obvious while being strengthened against breakage.  The gunny sack has been carved to have a lumpy look to give it a character of movement in a relaxed form and it also has a patch on the bottom corner.  The fingers have been detailed as they hold the stick and the gunny sack.  Whiskers have been detailed by pushing the point of the blade into the face in random fashion and when the oil paint is thinly applied the whiskers will show up in a subtle manner.



The final series of photos are of the hobo having received his colors of artist oil paint and boiled linseed oil which give a soft finish to the carving with a warm glow.





Hoosier Hobo is ready to sing his theme song, “On the Road Again” as he journeys down the road of memories made and memories relived the Hobo Way.








This entry was posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2021 at 12:11 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.

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