"Methods to My Madness: Designing and Carving a Cane" #6: Woodburning the leaves

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 11-14-2010 08:29 AM 5204 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Smoothing the background Part 6 of "Methods to My Madness: Designing and Carving a Cane" series Part 7: Finishing Up »

Once I have the main forms roughed in, the fun begins with doing the details. This is my favorite part, since things really start to look good, to come into focus. Ususally, this part also goes pretty quick, in part because I think I get so involved with it that I ignore everything else and just zoom right through it. And since it is the fun part, sometimes carvers like to get right to this part instead of doing all of the important things that lead up to it.

It is real important to block out all the main shapes and forms before doing any detailed carving.

If you remember nothing else, this may be the most important thing to help you with your carving. It really doesn’t matter how well you can carve an eye or a nose if it is not placed properly with all of the elements of the head or face you are carving. Do not start working on the details until after you have everything blocked in. I force myself to draw all my leaves and limbs before I start outlining the first one. I force myself to outline and relieve all the leaves and vines and clean up the background before I allow myself to start doing the details. Following the steps will allow you to make changes or corrections or fix mistakes or change the whole design. So after sanding the stick with a drum and by hand, it is now ready to some details, some finer points to really make the carving pop. I want people to see this cane and want to hold it, to look closer at the details. And I am still using my sample piece, to make sure I have the temperature correct and to see how I like the look. It also functions to warm me up, to get my fingers doing what I want them to, no matter if it’s carving, burning, or painting. I guess it’s kinda like stretching for a runner. So, flame on! Let’s burn something!

Thanks for looking!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

6 comments so far

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 11-14-2010 11:07 AM

Ooooh now you have done it! It looks as tho the pockets will be getting a little lighter.
I think I need a proper woodburning tool and not like the cheap one I have already.
Also thanks for another great video

-- Theresa,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#2 posted 11-14-2010 12:12 PM

it is so wonderful to see these techniques being done in video – so helpful!
Thank you

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 11-14-2010 06:45 PM

I have had several single temperature burners and I wasted time and money trying to reshape the tips and using dimmer switches to try and control the temp and still having a clunky piece of equipment. You will be amazed at the difference in how you can use a better model pyrographic pen! You can do fine temperature adjustments to avoid charring the wood and you can do really delicate cross-hatching, shading, etc. Have a look at this site for some examples and tips from greats like Sue Walters and Susan Irish and others.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4102 days

#4 posted 11-14-2010 08:25 PM

Coming along nicely! You have a good eye for detail. Thanks for the tutorial!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3075 days

#5 posted 11-17-2010 08:06 AM

Thanks for the info about problems with your single temp burners and the pyrographic link. I didn’t know there was a forum on the subject!

-- Theresa,

View pepsiman's profile


3 posts in 2569 days

#6 posted 06-08-2011 04:31 PM

I realy like your cars in the display. where can I get the patterns . just got started woodworking and I do not know a lot about it. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

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