View Full Version : Carving Wood Spirits

Johnm Chase
01-05-2009, 2:36 PM
I was browsing the local bookshops Sunday and came across a text about carving Wood spirits and Green Men .. wow that got my attention.Does anyone else lean toward these objects i would like to hear from them and whatever books or guides for tutorials.:)

Mike Henderson
01-05-2009, 3:11 PM
I don't do that kind of carving but there's lots of books on it. If you go to Amazon and search on "carving wood spirits" you'll find a whole bunch.


Zahid Naqvi
01-05-2009, 4:55 PM
I love woodspirit carvings, although I am still a novice at carving and have never attempted one yet. But it's in my carving "to do" list :D

Jeff Riddle
06-14-2009, 10:00 PM
Hey John, I love the mountain man or wood spirit. I personally to like the name wood spirit. I use to work as a firefighter for the Calif Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection. I came across a lot of these "Wood Spirit" guys. There are several of them that are just grumpy old men living in the middle of the forest way back in the hills but most of them are rather nice once you get to know them.

Now I have only done two and am working on my third. The all are taking form in hiking canes of various sorts. The one I am working on now is for myself. Long story short, I have a bad back causing trouble with my leg and need a little help getting around. Anyway, I will try to attach a picture of the last one I did. Oh. I didn't have a book to go by. Just did it of the cuff. He turned out good. At least the customer liked it and that's what really matters.
I look forward to seeing your progress. I have another cane I did but it was a little different than this one. A lot more detail. If you like, I will try to post it so you can see some of the work.


nancy barry
06-14-2009, 10:15 PM
HI! I am nancyB and visiting from the engravers forum. I sell glass at renaissance Faires. Walking sticks, canes and such with carved faces , spirit animals and other images are quite popular . You have a really great Ren Faire in Wisconsin and one close by in MN. Perhaps they have guest vendor booths if you are interested in selling at some point down the road.

Now, a finishing question::: We cut down some sapling trees from our backyard hill. These are just the right size for either a walking stick or a cane. Each had honeysuckle vine wrapped around the trunk. The vine has left a twisted spiral impression which I want to preserve. At present , they are horizontal in the gargage out of the weather. The bark is still on them.. do I leave it on or how do I remove it? Do I seal the stick with anything or?? I would love to create a walking stick for personal use and want to use one of these pieces . Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

thanks and good luck with the spirit canes.

Phillip Bogle
06-15-2009, 12:28 AM
I have done wood spirits with some success. I don't have photos since the kids grab them up pretty fast. What I have done is carve the face on one side and the back side I drill a 3/8" hole running with the length of the stick. Only drill 5 or 6" deep. Do not go through the end of the stick. You just want a hole. Then up towards the top about 3/4" in from the end where the hole starts, cut a 90 x 45 degree slice, insert a one half dowel and you have a whistle. I was working on the idea for a walking stick that had the survival whistle built in. I had to take a radiation/chemo break and that sort of got in the way. If anyone is really interested I might do one with a whistle and show a photo progression. I just have to fit it in when I am moving around.

It sounds like a really nice stick. I would leave the bark on if it is smoother type bark. Some of the coarse bark leaves lots of slivers. It will take awhile to dry completely so I would seal the ends with sealer. It may take a year per inch of thickness (though some of the other members know more about this than I do). After it is dry you can spray coat it with lacquer or shellac or ???? Looks nice, and the coating will bring out the rich colors. If you are going to carve it you may want to do that while it is still green. Some wood when it dries you will need C4 or call a stone mason instead of a wood worker.:D

I like rawhide wetted, wrapped, dried and lacquered. I think it really adds to the rough or natural look. I am a little different in my tastes, so take my opinion for what they are -- my opinion.

phil harold
06-15-2009, 7:43 AM
I like woodspirits

this is my first one in cottonwood bark

Bark is so easy to carve


Jeff Riddle
06-15-2009, 6:48 PM
I agree Nancy, Leaving the bark on does give the project a lot of character. There are so many things you can do with hiking sticks and canes. Using root wood or saplings are great. Branches with a lot of character and even combining wood to create a wonderful and whimsical work that is not only eye appealing but functional as well. I believe the best thing you can do is to try things. I don't know how many things I have attempted and later had to say, "WOW. That was not a good idea." That's how we learn. Use your imagination and skills you know to try new things. This web site is great because it is filled with a lot of people who are a lot smarter and have more experience that myself.

Phillip, your a great resource of information and talent. Thank you for taking the time to share you knowledge and experience with us. Your totally rock dude. (WOW, there's the California surfer in me coming out)

I put a leather grip on the last two hiking sticks with lanyard I make myself. I think its called an 8 plat diamond braid. Its kind of cool.

Here are some pictures of the last Hiking stick I made. Its not a wood spirit but I had a lot of fun making it and the customer loved it so much she gave me more than I asked for it. :D That really makes me happy when someone gets that much enjoyment out of my carvings. Yes I like the money but seeing the excitement and joy that it brings someone is...... I guess what I'm trying to say is you can't buy that kind of joy with money. True heart felt happiness that turns a grown adult into a little kid. What a wonderful feeling it is to make someone so happy that they become as giddy and a child in a toy store.



Phillip Bogle
06-15-2009, 8:16 PM
That is really cool dude! (Or how ever you surfer dudes say it) Funny I live on the bay about 1 mile from the ocean, and I have NEVER (in my almost 60 years) surfed. That water here is COLD!

I really like your carving and think you have a talent for this. You should get more. If the customer tells you that your work is worth more then it is time to raise your starting price.

Do not forget about marketing to scout masters. I was one for 10 years, and many spent a TON of cash on outdoor trinkets. I had a fellow scout master that had a carved wooden ball in a cage all from the one piece of his walking stick. I have forgotten the pattern but we tied balls of rawhide that dangled from tethers. We hung wooden brain teaser puzzles and about most anything you could imagine, from eagle feathers to bear claw, or shark teeth. We were a major collection of magpies. If it swung, dangled, sparkled, clanged, spun or any other whizzy, we found a way to put it on our walking sticks.

Good Job!

Jeff Riddle
06-16-2009, 12:48 PM
Thanks Phillip, I love carving and feel I still have so much to learn. Thank you for your advice as well. I will check into that. I have been looking at all my woodworking and it appears that it is time to raise my shop rates. I have been told by several people that I to cheap. They say I make quality furniture and carvings and charge way to little for it. I guess my hobby is becoming a really big hobby with benefits. Its not always about the money though. I just love working with wood. I have even thought about mixing metal and wood buy bringing a coal forge into the shop scene. It would add an interesting twist to not only furniture but my carvings as well. I have been approached by one area shop owner for a commissioned art work for her chocolate shop. I will see if I can find a picture to share with you all.

Well. I am off to work on some carvings. Here is one of my regular carvings. See ya all

phil harold
06-16-2009, 1:03 PM
I like woodspirits

this is my first one in cottonwood bark

Bark is so easy to carve

why dont my in-lne pictures work?
oh well,
here is my wood spirit

Jeff Riddle
06-16-2009, 1:30 PM
I have never attempted carving bark. Guess that would be because I never picked up any to carve. :p So where do you get bark to carve on? Do you kiln dry it to get rid of unwanted guest like bugs and in laws? OOPS! Did I say that out loud? :D

Yes I know. I'm bad. But seriously that is some very nice work Phil. I love how it looks in bark. I have several pieces of wood that I am just waiting to get down and start working. Nice work. Thanks for sharing.

By the way. Don't know much about adding pictures. I just started pushing buttons and clicking on stuff. This would be the reason my wife doesn't like me working on the computer. HAHAHA I keep messing things up. :eek:

See ya,

phil harold
06-16-2009, 2:14 PM
I have never attempted carving bark. Guess that would be because I never picked up any to carve. :p So where do you get bark to carve on? Do you kiln dry it to get rid of unwanted guest like bugs and in laws?

See ya,

Cotton wood bark is best harvested from dead fallen trees 2 or 3 years old
I have been blessed by getting some as gifts from a local
The farther north you are the better, I am told canada has some nice stuff!

You do know the difference between in-laws and outlaws, right?

outlaws are wanted

Phillip Bogle
06-17-2009, 1:57 AM
Jeff & Phil:
Really nice looking work. I am glad the kids all took mine. Your work is so much better than mine. I am glad we have talented carvers like you.
Keep up the inspiration, it makes us try harder, which is always a good thing.