Just for fun - Horned Owl

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 02-25-2011 04:13 PM 1531 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Recently, I read a blog by littlecope entitled Make Something!. Apparently Mike, on occasion, does something just for the spirit of it, just to have fun (whatever that is). It has been a hectic week and haven’t had much shop time, but I did find a few hours in the middle of the week in which I could do a little something. So I thought I might see what this “Fun” thing was all about.

I have a vast collection of scraps, parts of branches of trees, broken furniture, basically anything that has wood in it. The pile gets larger all the time, but for some curious reason, it never whittles down. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact I rarely make anything out of the mess. I found a piece of spalted birch that I cut from a tree I helped an uncle of mine take down a few years ago. Pretty much just a partial branch I thought might be useful. I tried awhile back to make a little owl out of another piece and thought I might just give it another go. Just for fun…

I have three rotary tools in my shop. One of these being a cordless version that you has a nice little T shaped grip that gives you a fair amount of control. Not bad for small work and I haven’t had much practice with it. I don’t have an extensive quantity of bits and I have been pretty ignorant over what most of them could do. I pulled out one of my steel cutters, a small diamond bit, and the smallest stone bit I had.

I didn’t have a good roughing burr, so I stuck with the steel cutter. They are not bad little bits on the small scale. Heavy handed, they can rough out a good deal of wood in a hurry. Lighten up on the cut, and it can leave a fairly smooth surface. The cutters are angled so they work much like a helical planer blade. It didn’t take long to rough out a shape of a horned owl. No patterns, just a picture I was looking at.

I hollowed out the area for the eyes and some of the area for the beak. Took a shop pencil and just laid out the position of the wing, where the feather textures will go and the area for the beak. No real detail in the markings, just scribbles where things will go

I took the small diamond bit and carved out some of the feathering and hollowed out the beak area. Worked on the eyes some and undercut the wing. I took the stoning bit and just roughed up some texture. No real formula, just looked at the pic and tried to make the texture look like feathers, as adverse to something hacked out by Freddy Krueger. I have a collwood wood burner that I have never used. I put a bent tip on the handle and burnt the areas that were textured to give it some color. I had some old pine stain and worked it over the piece and topped it with a clear matte coat. Not good by any means, but I kind of liked the little guy -

I got to hold on to the piece for approximately 15 minutes before it was scooped up. Not sure I understand my family. I have bowls that I spent hours on that I can’t give away to save my life. I make one simple little owl and I couldn’t keep it even long enough for the finish to dry ;)

So here it is, a project with no pretensions, concerns, or harsh judgments with the critical eye. Just something to teach me about a tool and give a go at some free hand power carving. Something to do just for fun. My thanks to Mike (littlecope) for his lesson on approaching a project without apprehensions, expectations, or worries.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

18 comments so far

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3810 days

#1 posted 02-25-2011 04:35 PM

Nice. Its got a modernistic quality to it.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#2 posted 02-25-2011 04:44 PM

I like him too!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4109 days

#3 posted 02-25-2011 04:48 PM

Excellent post!


View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3550 days

#4 posted 02-25-2011 05:08 PM

Darn good with the tool you were using.

The proportions are right on. You started with a nice shape and rendered a great little piece.
With more time, that’s the hard part, you could have continued till you were satisfied.

I had a art teacher that taught to. “work to finish”. He meant, work the piece so that at any time you could stop and the piece would be interesting. It was finished at all stages. The real finish was when you stopped working on it.

Cool project, always learning…....................

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View swirt's profile


2773 posts in 2995 days

#5 posted 02-25-2011 05:24 PM

You are good at trying new things. Good for you not falling into ruts, like I do. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3188 days

#6 posted 02-25-2011 06:12 PM

Sticking my head above the side of the rut I am in….....and spying your owl….......looks like fun. I hope to make a special downdraft project table top for machine carving. But that is down the list a ways. Used my palm sander (Colt) a bunch last weekend. I bought it a while back, and never got it out of the box (abandoned project that needed it). For DC, I just put DeDuster, my vacuum manifold, with its slot open about 4 inches away….......and you couldn’t even see the dust it got sucked up so fast. So I suspect that would work in a pinch for carving. I have a pretty good Dremel setup for carving, I just haven’t got there yet.

So give Hooty the Owl a mouse for me, for his birthday gift…...............(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3188 days

#7 posted 02-25-2011 06:13 PM

Hmmm…..LJ’s decided to duplicate my comment. Oh well…......give Hooty another mouse….........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3132 days

#8 posted 02-25-2011 06:31 PM

Thanks all for the kind comments so far. I took several writing courses in college years ago. I remember a prof in the poetry class telling us NOT to write a good poem. Of course he didn’t mean to deliberately write a crappy one either. The point was not to judge the work as you were working on it and to not distort the writing by trying to write something immortal. You do the work, you finish the work, and you save the judgment for a later day. Every piece would have its good points and its bad points that you learn from. This year, I have been trying to use a similar approach to woodworking.

Not finishing a piece, good, bad, or ugly will dishearten you. I know this because I got rid of a half dozen unfinished projects. If most of your projects are tossed, there is the feeling of failure before you even start the next one. Not good for the soul. So “Hooty” (Thanks Jim) was allowed to live in spite of (or because of) his many flaws. But I now have a base from which further carvings can be gauged and someone is happier because of it. :)

btw, the little guy is happy with the mice Jim.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4270 days

#9 posted 02-25-2011 07:18 PM

Trying to outdo the old teach huh? Kickin me to the curb so to speak. That’s ok, If my thumb gets better I’m going to try some carving myself. I know it won’t be that good, but I’m too judgemental of my work. I know when to through it in the fire, whereas you have the guts to”Get er Done”. You did pretty dang good. It even looks like an owl. Nice job on the feathers too. You might make Richard jealous, but not me, I know my limitations. You get that way when you hit 60. LOL. CU in the funnypapers. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3132 days

#10 posted 02-25-2011 07:34 PM

Thanks Mike. No carver should feel too much envy by my work so far :) I am a very harsh judge of my own work. Too harsh and part of the exercise is just loosening up. Besides, you were the one that taught me to work with the project, instead of pitching it, and working through the flaws :) Certain irony there my friend ;)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3357 days

#11 posted 02-25-2011 09:29 PM

Looked arty to me David. It looked like an owl from the start. I think you have uncovered some hidden talent there. Just trying to have fun can often bring out creative instincts. I think that’s what happened to you with this project. I’m a great believer in fun, as you can see from my byline. Of course, it doesn’t always work out. I said to the wife “let’s have some fun” She heard ‘gun’ and I’m still on the run. You should do some more of these projects.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3619 days

#12 posted 02-25-2011 09:41 PM

good effort

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#13 posted 02-25-2011 09:44 PM

who whoo again??? LOL very nice

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3132 days

#14 posted 02-25-2011 10:04 PM

Thanks Mike (stefang), I will continue to work on the carving form. I would eventually like to combine it with some turning and see what I can come up with. I had the same experience with a woman and the gun. When I told her I was asking for “fun” and didn’t say gun, she told me understood what I said perfectly. Woodworking has turned into a much safer preoccupation :)

Thanks for the comment Rick. Some day I might be able to one of my pieces next to yours without shame ;) Roger, I have Steve Miller’s Take the money and run going through my head due to that intro :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3525 days

#15 posted 02-26-2011 12:46 AM

Glad I could give you some inspiration David…
But I cannot tell a lie… the line “Make Something!!” was that other David’s (Brother Patron) sign-off to me in his last PM to me…
It seems his words moved more than just me… again…
You didn’t hold ownership of your Owl for very long… I’m not surprised!!
It’s clearly a labor that you enjoyed, without obsessing about, and it came out wonderfully…
Enjoy, my Friend, and don’t forget… If you’re not having fun, you’re working!! :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

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