carving "Thunderbolt" #8: a Tail at last!

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 02-05-2011 07:45 AM 1113 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Heads Up! Part 8 of carving "Thunderbolt" series Part 9: Mechanics completed ! »

We got a little snow in Arkansas today, so I finally had an opportunity to get a bit more done. He does look better with a tail, just like a few of you suggested! I was able to use an 1/8” dowel for joining it to the body and I feel better about it being more solid. Rather than just butting it together with the dowel as a tenon of sorts, I outlined the base of the tail on the rump and then carved a hole for it to fit into. A little carving and sanding after the glue dried made this joint look very nice and smooth.

I turned the tail slightly to the side to give it more the appearance of a bucking horse, trying to unseat the unfortunate fool on his back. I’ll seal it and put a couple of coats of gesso on it in a few days. Just as I enjoy different styles and forms of wood carving, I also like to use different styles of painting. I do a lot of carvings by dipping them in water and then using acrylic paints directly on the damp wood, for a more washed out effect that lets the wood grain show through. On other things, I use gesso as an undercoat to make the colors brighter and truer, by having the white as the base, rather than the color of the wood. It also can help joint lines completely disappear. Some bird carvers use a similar process.

I have did a few sketches and I did a little test run with the design of the mechanisms that will move the horse and rider. I am thinking about leaving them exposed since kids of all ages seem to be fascinated but how they move. I am planning on using a couple of wooden gears in an appropriate ratio to give several turns of the crankshaft to one rotation of the handle. The gears were from Matthias Wandel’s template generator. The smaller gear will be the driving gear for the crankshaft, but I will make the crankshaft wheels a little bigger than shown to get a wider range of motion from the shaft. The shaft will go through a base and will probably be guled directly to the belly of the horse. I may use some other idea though, that will make it more servicable, in case probelms arise or something wears out.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

4 comments so far

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3102 days

#1 posted 02-05-2011 09:41 AM

Yea i agree, leave it so you can see it. I think it means more when you can see just how it works. And yes sooooo much better looking with the tail on !

-- Theresa,

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3122 days

#2 posted 02-06-2011 01:59 AM

Really admire your carving skills Mike I carve letters in some of my projects by computer printing a stencil & transferring it with carbon paper but although I can sharpen my bevel chisels & plane irons I can never seem to get my gouges & vee tools sharp enough I always wrestle with curves
Good job Mike

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

View mpounders's profile


877 posts in 2947 days

#3 posted 02-06-2011 05:35 AM

Sharpening is a learning process that takes time and practice with whatever method you choose (if you ever choose only one!). I have gotten better, but a major help for me was starting with tools that are already sharp and then just keeping them sharp by honing on leather with an abrasive compound. I seldom sharpen unless I have a nick in the edge or I need to reshape. Pfeil and Flexcut tools come already sharp, as do custom carving tools like Drake, Helvie, or Mike Shipley’s. And I use a utility knife a lot, so it is easy to get a brand new blade that is already razor sharp and can be honed to be even sharper. And it doesn’t cost much to pay someone else to sharpen them, at least for the initial sharpening. Drake and some others provide free lifetime sharpening when they sell you a knife or gouge.
I haven’t did much lettering, but you might look at the way chipcarvers do letters. like using a knfe for the curved portions. But that may not be as possible with the wood you are using?

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3386 days

#4 posted 02-06-2011 06:26 PM

That’s a beautiful carving Mike, and the movement will really make it extra special.

Trevor Many carvers here in Norway use felt powered wheels charged with abrasives. Another method that I’ve heard good things about is to use shop-made MDF wheels. They are easy tp shape for the inside profiles of specific gouges, so you might need a few. These would also require some abrasive rouge. I still do mine by hand on my diamond stone, but I’ve been thinking about trying out the MDF. I don’t do much carving, so that’s the main reason I haven’t tried it already. If you use wheels, you have to have the wheel rotating away from you for safety’s sake. I haven’t tried any of the wheel methods myself, but my wife’s uncle is a very good carver with a huge collection of carving tools and he uses the felt ones very successfully.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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