Live Oak carving of an Acorn

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Project by jlchrls posted 10-05-2017 01:58 PM 661 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometimes, as a carpenter you end up making something “against the grain” because that is what the customer wants, but when you design from the spirit it becomes a refinement of what it already is!
This is my first foray into sculpting in a long time. This is a sculpted acorn, carved from a branch of a Live Oak cut down 2 years ago. As the wood was lying outside curing, I designed several pieces that I wanted to carve. This was not the first design, but it came about rather spontaneously and so it has become the first to be executed. I have no lathe and besides I preferred to carve it. I had no knowledge of Live Oak prior to this endeavor, but as soon as I tried to put a knife to it, I realized the challenge it would present. It is very dense, more so than other oaks I have used (reds and whites) and the grain seems to be even shorter than those others. I wanted the piece to be carved just as if it were turned on a lathe and so the hollow is carved into the grain, making it even more challenging. The cap of the acorn is a contiguous part of the branch. I used a myriad of tools to achieve the outcome, bow saw, hatchet, band saw, compound miter saw, angle grinder, Dremel with multiple accessories, drill press, Forstner bits, belt sander, and some I had to design.
I learned discernment from someone I knew years ago who could spot an 1/8” difference in length, balance, whatever and so I began to look more closely at discernment. It took a lot of constant refinement to get the shape balanced in regularity, vertical, proportional (the dimensions are based on the golden ratio) and delicate (the top rim of the bowl is less than 1/16” thick, I was amazed at how strong the wood was at that thinness) It was much like trimming your mustache, taking too much from this side means you have to take from the other. “How do you keep that in balance?”, is the process..
The knarlyness of the acorn cap was the most difficult to accomplish. The knobs are in a distinct pattern that I found hard to duplicate and so for the sake of time, I made some random grooves, trying at least to simulate the look.

-- jlchrls, FL,

13 comments so far

View PaulDoug's profile


1486 posts in 1633 days

#1 posted 10-05-2017 02:43 PM

WOW, that is stunning! Would be difficult even on a lathe, but hand carved,, looks impossible to me!

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View DMiller's profile


334 posts in 403 days

#2 posted 10-05-2017 03:32 PM

Very Cool!

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View BurlyBob's profile


5299 posts in 2195 days

#3 posted 10-05-2017 03:43 PM

That is totally awesome. Everything about it is perfect.

View doubleDD's profile


7214 posts in 1973 days

#4 posted 10-05-2017 04:42 PM

That is by far an amazing looking acorn. To carve it by hand is even a bigger accomplishment. Well done.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View oldnovice's profile


6664 posts in 3298 days

#5 posted 10-05-2017 05:43 PM

The oak that dropped that must be gigantic as it looks very real!
Nice carving, cool project.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View majuvla's profile


11863 posts in 2797 days

#6 posted 10-06-2017 10:57 AM

So realistic and authentic, beautiful carving.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


30470 posts in 2796 days

#7 posted 10-06-2017 12:58 PM

You have done a beautiful job on this acorn.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Randy_ATX's profile


875 posts in 2372 days

#8 posted 10-06-2017 01:00 PM

Beautiful! I live in Central Texas and we have a lot of live Oak around here – I know what you mean about the hardness and density. I am trying to gain perspective of the dimensions of your acorn. What is the approximate height and width?

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View jlchrls's profile


11 posts in 3750 days

#9 posted 10-06-2017 01:28 PM

Randy, the width of the bowl is approx. 5” and its height is 4”. The overall height with the cap is 7 1/2”. Thanks for your interest!!

-- jlchrls, FL,

View GR8HUNTER's profile


3406 posts in 642 days

#10 posted 10-06-2017 02:33 PM

very neat acorn dish ….GREAT JOB :<))


View peteg's profile


4250 posts in 2753 days

#11 posted 10-06-2017 10:00 PM

Nice job, I thought it was turned till I read your script, has a natural look about it

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12758 posts in 3087 days

#12 posted 10-07-2017 02:09 AM

great work on this piece, looks like a lot of hard work put in on this one.

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View jlchrls's profile


11 posts in 3750 days

#13 posted 10-07-2017 01:57 PM

Thanks Wisty, but after 50 odd years of woodworking the only hard part of making things is long past. This was a labor of love and regardless of the nicks in my skin or the ache in my joints, it was a very pleasant process! Thanks for your interest!

-- jlchrls, FL,

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