Wood Carving & Man Crafting

The Art & Craft of Being a 21st Century Renaissance Man


Wood Carving

Vintage Carved Titanic Bookends

Often, I’ll pick a project based on the materials I already have available.

After I finished the set of vintage whale bookends, I still had two angle brackets left over. And because I was pretty happy with how the whale turned out, I decided to take a crack at a set modeled after the Titanic for my nephew.

The first step was looking at pictures and schematics of the ship so I could get a basic idea of what I wanted to shape. I wanted to make my piece stylized and not hyper-realistic (a) because I’m not that talented, and (b) because it was a gift meant for a five-year old, and if it happened to get knocked over or dropped accidentally, I wanted to make sure some hair-thin piece of railing or something wouldn’t shoot off of it, leaving it impossible to fix. So the goal was to make it solid, while still recognizable, with a bit of vintage charm.

There were a lot of pictures I used at different times while working on it, but this picture was my go-to reference.


Continue reading “Vintage Carved Titanic Bookends”


Vintage Carved Whale Bookends

Handmade gifts can be tricky. If the finished product isn’t gift-worthy, not only will you embarrass yourself, but you’ll also put the recipient in the awkward position of feeling obligated to accept it, whether they want it or not. Handing someone an ugly handmade present is kind of like giving them a beta fish. This is your responsibility now. Deal with it.

So this is the mindset I had when I started carving my first (unrequested) gift.

A couple of months back, my wife and I were invited to a friend’s birthday get-together. A fundamental rule of being a gentleman is that you should never show up to a party empty-handed, so instead of a bottle of wine, I brought a whale.

When I first started carving, I did a lot of faces and busts. They look cool, but they don’t have a lot of utility; they just kind of sit on the shelf as a conversation piece. So for my gift, I decided I wanted to make something that was a little more functional.

Knowing that my friend decorated her place in a nautical theme, I started combing Pinterest for some ideas and happened across this vintage whale bookend.

Continue reading “Vintage Carved Whale Bookends”

Carving a Norse Antiquity

While I wait for my Christmas tree to dry out, I thought I would post one of my earliest projects.

This Viking is the first completed carving that I’m actually proud of. Not because it’s aesthetically all that great, but because it’s evidence of a huge improvement from my first carving. This is actually the third piece I completed (my second piece is further down in this post). I learned a lot from making this piece, so that makes it inherently valuable, too.

But it also means a lot because it was a request from a couple of good friends, and the first carving I gave as a gift. Continue reading “Carving a Norse Antiquity”

Oh, Christmas Tree

If you live in the US, you might be familiar with the annual Christmas tree dumpster haul that happens in late December or early January. In years past, I’ve pruned my tree, usually a Douglas fir or Fraser fir, down to the trunk, and used a hatchet to cut it into logs for my fire pit. This year, though, I can’t bring myself to just burn what could be some decent carving material.

Looking at my tree, it’s really difficult not to daydream about being able to carve a walking stick out of it. There’s also this Instructable  I found about turning your Christmas tree into a didgeridoo.  Seriously cool.

So, if you’re thinking about picking up a new hobby, ‘tis the season. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, now is the perfect time to get your hands on some wood (ha). Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, a discarded tree should be relatively easy to find on the curb in your neighborhood. Continue reading “Oh, Christmas Tree”

On Aquatic Frogs, Supportive Spouses, and the Nightmares of Children

First and foremost, I am a family man. I am a proud father of two beautiful daughters and husband to an equally stunning and wonderful woman. My wife is incredibly patient and supportive of my hobbies and hair-brained schemes, of which there have been quite a few.

Now, here’s a story.

One Saturday, about a year after we got married, my wife woke up to find me pacing in the living room. I told her that she needed to get dressed, because I had been reading some articles online and, by God, we were going to the pet store to buy a fish tank and some African dwarf frogs. She groggily rubbed her eyes and said, Okay, before trudging back upstairs.  That afternoon, I sat at our kitchen breakfast bar, feeding bloodworms to two aquatic frogs with a turkey baster.

Those frogs eventually died. Continue reading “On Aquatic Frogs, Supportive Spouses, and the Nightmares of Children”

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