carving "Thunderbolt" #3: Feets Finished!

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 01-21-2011 07:04 AM 1199 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Starting the Horse Part 3 of carving "Thunderbolt" series Part 4: finishing muscle groups and starting the saddle »

I have spent several days working on the feet and legs and finally have the body ready for glue-up. As mentioned in the previous installment, the body is made of two separate pieces to make it easier to carve certain portions and to orient the grain for strength. It is definitely easier to carve and shape the interior portions of the legs and the legs are one of the more difficult elements to carve. They are somewhat delicate because of the thin-ness and you have to support them carefully when carving to avoid mishaps. There are certain delicate areas, especially the thin section between the fetlock and the hoof. The grain is so short there… is easy to pop the entire hoof off with relative ease! Certain details are necessary to make it look right, whether it is a caricature, stylized, or realistic carving. Legs and hooves and other areas need certain porportions and details. I spent some time researching and gathering different anatomical drawings and photos, even though this will be representing a fiberglass mechanical horse. I have always had a tendency to prefer a lot of details in my work, a hold-over from when I used to draw. I want this horse to have some realistic elements, to represent the realism and excitement that a child’s imagination brings to things when they play. Maybe also to represent how beautiful and magical things can appear, before our maturity demands more sophisticated wonders. In some ways, I am not sure that I want to be a “serious” woodworker…..I have fun with my carvings, and many of them make me smile. I guess we all have some of the children we used to be still inside us, that helps us not always be so serious, that helps us through tougher times.

I’ll be finishing up some of the outside muscle groups when the glue dries and then will be working on the saddle. Thanks for looking!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

11 comments so far

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 3002 days

#1 posted 01-21-2011 08:22 AM

I am told ,as a child, I had a spring mounted plastic horse I named Thunderbolt and would watch cowboy movies and ride along with them
Great work so far, a horse is a challenge to draw let alone carve

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3153 days

#2 posted 01-21-2011 09:02 AM

Love the feet and legs! Okay gimme more.


View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4106 days

#3 posted 01-21-2011 09:14 AM

“Serious is as serious does” ???
Ever watched a child at play – how serious they are, even if just about having fun!
Looks very good!
Again thanks for the time spent recording this for our benefit.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3078 days

#4 posted 01-21-2011 09:58 AM

I dont know how you manage to finish one bit before tackling the other.
My way would be to do it ALL roughly, then do the finer details. As I cant manage to ‘see’ what I would be doing.
But those legs ….look great.

-- Theresa,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4189 days

#5 posted 01-21-2011 11:23 AM

I was holding my breath as you talked about the delicate process of carving the feet!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3099 days

#6 posted 01-21-2011 12:53 PM

You’re very talented Mike

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View JimArnoldChess's profile


209 posts in 3023 days

#7 posted 01-21-2011 01:43 PM

Looks beautiful Mike!



View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4434 days

#8 posted 01-21-2011 03:55 PM

Some of the prettiest legs I’ve seen. You have a real eye for catching the right proportions and details to make a carving look great….I wish I had more of what you have.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View wizzardofwood's profile


229 posts in 2898 days

#9 posted 01-21-2011 04:09 PM

your doing a great job and looks like a super project

-- wizzardofwood..... "ITS MY JOB TO AMAZE YOU"

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3332 days

#10 posted 01-21-2011 05:02 PM

your horse is going to be have a great start.i have not carved anything before and i think its one of the best parts of wood working…cant wait to see more of this take shape…and i ditto what mark said….thank you mike…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2924 days

#11 posted 01-21-2011 09:21 PM

Theresa, you are correct in that it is better to rough out the general forms before getting to the details! That way you don’t waste a lot of time on something intricate and then have to carve it away because of changes needed elsewhere. It takes a bit of courage to completely do away with something that is perfectly detailed…..and it no longer fits or is in the wrong place because of a chip out or mistake in size or placement! I did detail these legs a little more than I would normally because I will not be able to get into certain areas as well now that the two halves are glued up. I have found that, and this may just be a personal quirk, sometimes if I start sanding a bit, I can see the “finished” effect….see areas that need to be worked on or smoothed more. There always remains quite a bit more hand sanding, but I can sometimes get a better feel for where something is going. I think it is kinda interesting that most people would probably recognize this as a horse just by looking at the feet….such a tiny part of the carving! There’s really nothing so detailed about the rest of it so far, but just the shape of those small bits makes your brain identify it as a horse. So, it was important to me that I try my best to get those areas right before moving on. I really think the rest of the horse will be easy compared to the feet and legs (crossing my fingers).

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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