An Invitation to Join Me


I invite your comments and your participation in this site.


If you wish to leave a comment, please do so below.  All submissions will be reviewed before they are published.


You are also invited to submit a guest article of your own related to wood carving.  Due to size constraints, your article should not exceed 800 words.  If used, I will credit the article to you and provide a link to your own site and/or your e-mail address.  I do reserve the right to review for appropriateness; and, if necessary, make minor modifications.

Submit articles to:


  1. Michael, your beautiful work is the reason wood carving has become interesting to me. You add another dimension and for lack of understanding what that is, I would call it celebration of detail, flow, and spirit.

    I went to your blog as a friend and found it delightful. I loved what I learned. You have a way of making it fun and easy.

    Thank you for growing my world… Jeanne

  2. Michael, CONGRATULATIONS! Your Woodcarving Site will continue your GIFT to the Carving Family. Every new creation, be it from wood or from words, will be the result of your creative mind and passionate heart for Woodcarving. THANK YOU! Carvefully yours, Don Mertz

  3. Michael, Thank you for the outstanding articles, great advice, and beautiful carvings. Your website is a wealth of knowledge especially for a beginner like myself. You make learning easy and the techniques you offer are just outstanding. I would also like to thank you for the detailed emails you sent me outlining all the necessary tools that are needed based on your years of experience. You are a true professional, exceptional artist, and one heck of a nice person. Keep those articles coming and continue to offer your recommendations/experiences in your writings. Thank you again. Dan W

  4. Michael, I just want to say how much I enjoyed your gallery of work, outstanding works of art sir…What a pleasure to see!
    I am new to the world of wood carving /whittling,I took up the knife about a year ago and have been scouring the web looking for carvings I must say these are some of the best I’ve seen! Thank you for sharing…

  5. Michael, thank you for your blog and web site.
    I have recently found your site and I am in the process of reading through, starting with your first blog back in march 09.
    I feel that I will find many helpfull tips and advice.
    Again thank you


  6. Michael–

    It was great catching up yesterday and your website and work is truly AMAZING…you should be very proud, as your carvings are unbelievable.


  7. I was looking for Vancouver carvers and your site was the first one I found. I love your work and your generous information.


  8. Any chance you want to sell some wood work at the Emerson Farmer’s Market? We would love to have your beautiful work at the table with Glass work, Poetry , painting, etc. Just asking no pressure from us.
    You, of course, would be a great draw for all of us. Your work is so beautiful.
    Take care,

    • Thanks for the compliments Ann. I look forward to participating. Should be fun!

  9. Mike and I have been friends since the early 80s and share a common ancestry in Utah. Mike reawakened my interest in carving when we worked together in the energy industry. I continue to carry that passion. Mike is a superb teacher and inspires his students with a gentle but demanding passion for the spirit of the wood. If you are a serious artist or just a simple country whittler, Mike is the guy to take your craft to the next level.

  10. I have in my collection some 20 carvings by
    Emil Janel. Could you give me an idea of what they are worth? Thank
    you Sam Cooke

    • Emil Janel was a prolific carver and lots of folks have inquired of me about the value of Janel carvings that they own. I really have no idea. I suggest monitoring auction sites who occasionally broker Janel carvings.

  11. Greetings,
    I have an eye on some oak trees that have falled near by.
    But I am concerned with bugs/termites, ect.
    Do you have suggestions as to fumigate?

    Thank you, Richard. So. Calif.
    I have turned a few things on an old Craftsman lathe, And enjoy your website.

    • Hi Richard:

      First, there is probably no safe way to fumigate around the house. It is probably best to simply take it to a lumber treating yard and have them do it for you… or a professional fumigator. However, a method I have used with success is to, out in fresh air, place my wood in a large plastic garbage bag; I take a fresh can of a good insecticide and place it inside the bag; close the bag tightly and then, through the plastic, I push the spray button releasing roughly a quarter to half a can of spray into the closed bag. I then leave the bag for 48 hours or more before opening it. When I do open it, I hold my breath and then get clear away from it so as to not breath any fumes until it has safely cleared. Of course, it is important to keep the bag and spray away from children or pets or anyone who may open the bag for the fun of it. And, the wood will now covered with spray and should be washed carefully. The used bag, then should be disposed of in a proper manner. Remember insecticide is dangerous and may even be carcinogenic. It is imperative that you wear a proper mask and protective clothing while dealing with the spray and wood. Another thing to consider is that the less wood you are fumigating, the better chance you will have of killing any bugs in the wood. So, it may be a good idea to rough-out your piece before fumigating it. If your piece will ever be used as a bowl for food or the like, insecticide is not a viable option… nothing is. Good luck with it all.

  12. Hi Michael,
    Firstly I am really enjoying your blog, it’s so inspiring. I am only new to the carving world and have been teaching myself as I go along. There is now an interest in my work here in my small town and have been asked to do a job for the local council, (I live in Victoria, Australia). They have asked me to carve a large stump into a statue for the local park. However, the stump, which is River red gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, extremely hard wood is around 4 meters high, 2 meters wide and will be left in the ground they want me to carve it where it is. At the moment it is still a tree that they will be chopping down due to Eucalytpts dropping their branches without warning it has become a safety issue.
    What can I do to stop the stump from cracking while it is drying?
    Can I start carving while it is still green? As it is a hard wood, would this make it easier to carve?
    Should it be covered while it is drying, to limit the amount of sun exposure?
    I should also tell you that the stump has twin trunks, each trunk will be carved into a different statue and they are around 1 meter wide each. This tree is roughly 200 years old and I’m afraid of ruining it.
    The council want it to remain in the ground to become a visually pleasing aspect to the park lands but I am worried about rotting and creepy crawlies eating it away. Michael I really need some advice on this one, it’s starting to do my head in.
    Regards Michelle. Vic. Aus

    • Hi Michelle:

      Thank you for writing and for your kind words.

      It sounds like you are taking on a serious project… one that would make a seasoned carver a bit nervous. I am sure you will do fine.

      Unless the tree is separated from the ground, it will be subject to insects and rot… it will anyway but leaving it in the ground will increase the rate of rot of infestation 1000 fold. I really do not know anything about Eucalyptus but, as with any wood, there may be some surprises inside. Imperfections are quite common in trunks of trees. You won’t know until you cut into it. I do believe you can carve it green… and probably should. It will likely do some splitting. Some splitting is a given. You can slow/reduce splitting by keeping the exposed wood from heat and sun if that is possible. You could also try keeping the wood treated as you carve it helping to protect it as you go. I do suggest that you treat the ends of the stump, the minute it is cut.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help. You might find a local chainsaw carver and pick their brain.

      Best of luck,


  13. Great site, but the advice to remove heartwood on green wood gives me problems because I want to carve a bowl (or 2) from some freshly cut cherry wood I’ve been given. Do you replace the centre/base with another section of wood? I’m sure I’ve seen one piece bowls but I don’t know if they were carved from green or seasoned wood!

    • Graeme, I can only relate to my own experiences but I find that splitting a limb or trunk down the center, giving you two halves, will provide the probability of greater success. You can then carve a bowl in each half. But, even then, you must work quickly to remove the center stock to help prevent splitting. If you can not get the wood thinned out adequately at the end grain in one sitting, then be sure to add moisture or food grade oil and wrap it up well until you can get back to it. Cherry is dang hard which adds to the challenge. Even when you get all of the bowl thinned out, be sure to slather it with food grade oil. If you live anywhere around the Pacific Northwest, I suggest red alder over cherry… it is much easier to work, it is attractive and it is readily available in large diameter pieces. To be honest, I even have trouble carving a green cherry spoon without it cracking. Good luck with your project.

  14. Liked your website. Question: I need to know how to make small eyeglasses for my caricature carvings, hope you can help. Thanks

    • Paul, there are a few options for you. If your carving is one piece, then simply leaving a blocked out area where the eyes would normally be and carve the glasses as part of your carving. If you intending for the glasses to be separate, you could use small copper wire or other craft wire and make the glasses and add them to your carving. Or, you could actually carve them separately and add them. With the latter approach, split off a thin piece of bass wood… draw the glasses to the proper proportion and carve them out with a fine detail knife. Making the glasses face and ear pieces separately will simplify things… then glue them on your caricature’s face with a micro dot of cyanoacrylate glue such as Super T instant glue.
      Good Luck!

  15. Hi Mike,

    My name is Iggy,
    I am brand new to the carving world, a little over a month now and absolutely love it! I was surfing the web a little over a month ago and came across a very intersting article on whittling. By the time I finished the article I was hooked!

    The next day I had mentioned the article to a friend and told him I want to try my hand at it and he laughed and said ill be right back, when he returned he handed me a pocket knife and said his father who was a whittler gave it to him and he had bunch of them, he said it was at least 20 years old.

    As soon as we parted ways I went to clean it up, it was old, rusty, the wood had lost its luster, the blade couldn’t even cut butter! Within an hour I had that baby shining, cleaned it all except for the patina of the bolsters. The next day I brought it to the shoe maker to start an edge of some sort on it for me. I then purchased some stones and a stop and after a few good sharpening sessions the blade is razor sharp and haven’t stopped cutting Since!

    I pretty much look through carving sites at least an hour a night and good sites are far and few inbetween.
    I wanted to let you know that I think your site is one of the best that I’ve come across.
    It is chock full of great information, information, information that can only come from first hand knowledge and experience. it is evident in the way you write that you love what you do and you love to share all that knowledge and experience. It is going to be a pleasure picking up tips and leaning from someone of your Caliber!
    If you have any peers whom you respect and would share their website info it would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance

    • Thank you so much for your gracious comments. Two sites that I highly recommend are and The first, Don Mertz is one heck of an instructor and has bunches of wonderful tips. The second, Ian Norbury is a world class carver that provides strong motivation for perfection. Good luck with your carving adventures.

      All my best,


  16. First thanks for taking time to read this. I’m not a trible member but my linage is suquamish. I’m proud of this. I recently got my first tattoo. It is a native theme with peaces of who I Im mixed in. Dillon the artist who created it and did the work used a totem pole and some native fish art. I’ve found information on the fish but not really anything on the totem pole. This is permanently their and I’d like to know what kinda totem pole it is? And what its meaning is? The more I’ve read or researched it the more lost and clue less I’ve become. All I know for sure is its coastal indain, and its a Thunderbird on top. Thank u for your time and I do hope maybe you could shed some light. Anything is better than what I got. If interested bi can email picture use as reference. Thank u

  17. Hello there,
    I also have a number of these tools and I agree with everything you said about them. I wasn’t quite able to complete my set before they disappeared. I haunt eBay but have yet to find one.
    The reason for the post was just to mention that Japan Woodworker has some incannula gouges of this type in their clearance section.
    Thanks for posting,
    Dan Slater

    • Hi Dan… Thank you for your comment. I have seen those… pickings are pretty slim. Howard Core carries some good tools but they are even more “spendy” than others have been and even their offerings are down from where they used to be. I feel so fortunate that I started picking them up when they were available.





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