"Methods to My Madness: Designing and Carving a Cane" #4: Laying out and carving the leaves

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 11-12-2010 05:58 PM 5346 reads 3 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Shaping the handle Part 4 of "Methods to My Madness: Designing and Carving a Cane" series Part 5: Smoothing the background »

I like some of the beautiful gunstocks that I have seen and I like incorporating some of those carved elements in some canes that I do. These designs seem to work well in canes for both men and women, depending on how they are done. You can get patterns from leather working books and I have seen some canes carved using a pattern for a belt that was simply spiraled around the cane. You can trace leaves from your backyard and then use a copier to resize them to fit your cane, but I just draw mine out freehand. You could draw them directly on the cane. Drawing the leaves on paper adds a few extra steps, but you can cut them out and use them as templates. This allows you to refine your design by taping them in different spots along the shaft, to see what you like best. It helps to have different leaf shapes, but these can be resized and used in different combinations of leaves without having to recreate a uniques design for each individual leaf. You just overlap them and position them in different combinations. I use graphite paper to transfer the patterns and then go back over it with a pencil or marker. I have used small pounce wheels and pin pricks on designs where I will be able to carve away the little dots it leaves. And some people use a really hard pencil that will indent the wood thru the pattern without using graphite paper. This can be useful for delicate detailing on bird feathers, but I have trouble seeing the lines using this method. Here are a few pictures illustrating what I’ve been talking about.

Here is another video detailing the process of carving the pattern. I will be using a #11 gouge and a carving knife for the relief carving, followed by some power carving to five it some flow.

I have to warn you and apologize in advance…......the video is about 13 minutes long, so brace yourself!

Thanks for looking! Next up will be some woodburning and texturing techniques.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

7 comments so far

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3812 days

#1 posted 11-12-2010 07:04 PM

Thanks for the video.
Any tips or tricks we can learn is a feather in our carving caps.
I look forward to the next one in the series.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4104 days

#2 posted 11-12-2010 08:01 PM

If I can handle sitting through a 2 hour ””chick flick” with my wife I can easily handle 15 minutes of instruction on carving! More excellent tips! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 3954 days

#3 posted 11-12-2010 11:45 PM

Thanks again Mike!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4187 days

#4 posted 11-13-2010 01:32 AM

that is so amazing to see the leaf appear in the wood…...

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2922 days

#5 posted 11-13-2010 05:18 AM

If you carve leaves, you get a lot of practice opportunities! Nobody ever says ” and I want just a single leaf on the cane….”. You would find it pretty easy after carving a shoe! Some people will take a thin piece of basswood, trace a maple leaf on it and carve it and paint it and then make a pin out of it, by gluing one of those little claspy-thinies on the back. could make one for your hat!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3912 days

#6 posted 11-13-2010 08:48 PM

Nice video, THANKS.
How wide is the No. 11 gouge that you are using?

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2922 days

#7 posted 11-14-2010 02:48 AM

It is a 2mm gouge, about 1/16”. I use #11s a lot, in various sizes. I got a thumbnail grind put on most of my gouges and I have really liked that. Let’s me undercut things more.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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