Mexican Fan Palm Warning
Carving Crafts by Eucalyptus Ike
Advanced Carving
Because Eucalyptus is a very heavy wood,  
a large tree must be cut into sections
before it can be moved or handled for
carving. The sections can then be
reassembled and held in position by
drilling holes and inserting a peg made out
of an old broomstick handle or a large nail
(see Fig. 1). Next the basic design of the
carving is cut into the wood with a chain
saw. Extreme care must be taken
whenever this tool is employed, and one
should have several hours of experience
using such saws before employing one for
carving purposes. Only the tip of the chain
saw is used during this stage of the
process. And eucalyptus wood is carved
while it is still wet, because once it dries it
becomes too hard and tough. For practical
reasons then, carving should begin within
a few weeks of the time the tree is cut
down; otherwise, you will spend a lot of
time sharpening your tools...
Fig. 2 The Basic Design Cut by Chainsaw
Notice (Fig. 3) that the basic design is
next opened out, by clearing away the
wood below and above the chain saw cut.
A straight edge chisel is used with a
mallet in this stage. The objective is to
clarify the basic design by indenting it
more deeply into the wood. Obvious
irregularities in the design can also be
corrected for at this point. The relative
positions of the eyes and the nose are, of
course, also being defined. A side view
shows this progress from another
perspective. Notice that the pattern is
being cut deeper into the wood and the
nose is being defined because of the
removal process underway. Partly this is
because the lighter colored wood is in
sharp contrast to the darker surface color
of the stump. Eventually, all of the darker
color will be removed.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3.1       A Side View
At this point (Fig, 4)  notice that
the wood that will become the
forehead of the carving is now
defined. To eliminate the flat top,
some decorative hair can be cut
into this crown of wood above the
eyes. This will also help to define
the forehead. To further define
the forehead, notice that the
bridge of the nose has been cut
more deeply into the wood . This
will be clear if you compare Fig. 4
with  Fig. 3. Also, the basic
outline of the cheeks has now
been added to the carving. It is
important to realize that at each of
these stages more and more
wood is being removed to indent
the basic design into the wood.
For example, look at Fig. 5 and
judge how deep the cuts are.
Fig. 5
Fig. 4
Figure 6 presents a view of the stump from the opposite side. This view will
give you some idea of what the stump looked like before carving was begun.
There was a 'Y' in the tree trunk. And a cut was made at the base of the 'Y' and
one arm of the 'Y' was cut off shorter than the other. The short cut arm of the 'Y'
is where the mouth of the carving has been placed. The hair piece shown
below could be cut into the carving at any time from Figure 3 on. But it takes
time to do this kind of detail work, so I usually wait until most of the basic
carving is completed. Notice that the mouth is now cut into the short arm of the
'Y' in Figure 6. Also more of the dark outer layer has been removed and an
inner red layer of wood has been exposed in the nose.
The Hair Piece
Fig, 6
In Figure 7, you can see the red layer of wood in the nose. It should be
pointed out that this was not planned or anticipated. As the rough surface of
the nose was smoothed down, this red layer gradually appeared. Wood has
a way of surprising you like this. Something unexpected is discovered during
the carving process (like a crack or a knot) and you must decide what to do
about it. Do you accept it, ignore it, change it or try to use it? You could just
accept it. Look at the carving at Figure 7. It's unusual; all it needs is the dark
outer layer removed and the surface below it smoothed down with a power
sander. The eyes must still be cut in and the hair piece added. But the basic
carving could be considered done at this point. Trying something radical (like
trying to remove the red layer) could lead to even more extensive revisions,
and would require more time and energy. Still, an experienced carver knows
that nothing ventured, nothing gained; and that vein of red, unexpected as it
was, had enticing possibilities. Every once in a while you just have to go with
your instincts and take a chance. So I tried to cut off the nose or shorten it to
the point just above the red, and the final stage of the carving shows the
result. This big red tongue was right there waiting for me to discover it just
below the nose...
Fig. 7
The completed carving is displayed here in a gray scale rendering without
its final coat of paint. As you can see, all the dark bark has been removed
and the under wood has been rough sanded to smooth out the finish.  At
this point the carving is ready to be finished with a stain or painted with a
varnish to protect the wood.  In Eucalyptus, the entire carving weighs about
130 pounds, each section being about 60 pounds. Any husky fellow could
move it. I estimate it took about four days, at three to four hours a day, to get
to the stage you see here.  Of course, you don't need to try it in Eucalyptus
and it could be scaled down in size as long as you have a limb, for
example, with a Y fork in it.   
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Midnight in the Land of tongue
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