Saber Tooth Lion Skull

I’ve always wanted a Saber Tooth Lion skull. I don’t know why, maybe I’m a little weird, but the first time I saw one in a museum (I think in the Natural History museum in DC) I’ve wanted one. Real skulls are rare and extremely expensive, but there are companies that make high quality casts from the originals. Trouble is these aren’t cheap either. One of these skulls has been on my list of carving projects.

Now I don’t have to go to the trouble. During a recent trip to Mexico I happened across a very high quality reproduction at a Mayan ruin. Among the cheap crap being sold by the countless pests that follow you where ever you go in Mexico, with the annoying, “Senior, you buy. Cheaper than Walmart. Almost free. How much you pay?” was this beautiful reminder of the times when humans were not at the top of the food chain. After some haggling, I managed to talk the young Mayan entrepreneur into accepting $50–a great buy. Here is what it looked like when I bought it.

The skull I first saw in the museum was found at the La Brea tar pits in California. Spending thousands of years immersed in asphalt created a beautiful patina and rich color. I used a combination of dyes and linseed oil to create a look that is very close to the real thing. I had a scrap piece of birdseye maple laying around that was just the right size for a base. I used a water based finish so the color wouldn’t change. I like the contrast.

Now I have a good model should I ever want to carve one.


Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 5)

I’ve finally finished up with a bunch of customer work and had some time to work on my in-the-round eagle. I was planning on carving feathers on the back of the wings and body. But I visited an exhibition of John Bellamy’s carvings in Massachusetts over the summer and liked what he did to the back of one of his large eagles. The photo below is my interpretation of his technique. It was quick and easy to do, but I like the effect.

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Turning a Cremation Urn

After a busy summer carving for other people I was looking forward to taking a vacation and coming home to work on some of my own projects. My Mexican vacation was great. I left the cold Connecticut weather behind and bathed in the tropical sun and ocean. Unfortunately, while I was away, my father died. He had been sick in the hospital for about six months, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

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How to fix Air Arms TX200 Cocking Problem

If you own an Air Arms TX200 MKIII and are having a problem cocking it completely, for example, the auto safety is not engaging or the anti bear trap device isn’t releasing, there is probably an easy fix. I bought a new TX200 recently and immediately began having problems. Once cocked, I could not get the anti bear trap device to unlock the cocking handle. I would have to hold the cocking lever as far as I could push it an then release the beartrap device and let up on the cocking handle. Also the auto safety wasn’t engaging. I searched online and found a lot of similar complaints but only one solution that didn’t involve sending the rifle back for repairs. The one solution I found involved taking the trigger assy completely apart and soldering a piece of metal onto one of the trigger parts. That’s a job too difficult for all but the most daring do-it-yourselfer. And after looking closely at the rifle and its superb quality and engineering I found it implausible that the Air Arms Trigger would need such altering.

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Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 4)

To those who have been following this project, I apologize for taking so long to add more photos of the progress. I have been busy with customer (paying) work and have had little time to work on this eagle. When I had some spare time, or when I was in need of a change I did a little carving but failed to take many photos. So here are the photos I did manage to take. Feathering can be very time consuming depending on the level of detail you go for. The original eagle had very little detail. I wanted a different look so I carved lots of feathers. I’ve managed to finish rouging out the feathers on the front of the eagle and have just started adding quills and vanes. I’m back to customer work so it will be a while before I can post any more photos.

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Carving an Eagle in the Round (part 3)

I started shaping the back of the wings and body, and as you can see, I have roughed out the ball the eagle is standing on. Carving a ball is normally fairly easy. But with an eagle standing on the ball, the job gets much harder. The eagle gets in the way and makes it difficult to both see the outline carve around the feet and tail. The only way to get it right is to work all sides of the ball together, little by little, until it looks right. At the point I don’t want to get too fussy with the ball because the feet need to be carved before the ball is finalized.

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Carving an Eagle In the Round

I recently restored an antique eagle for an antiques dealer. It is a Pilot House style eagle. Unlike most of the carvings I deal with that hang on the wall–what we call a relief carving–this eagle is carved “in the round” or in full 3 dimensions. This eagle is more folk art than a realistic type of carving.

My wife fell in love with this eagle once it was restored so, obviously, that means I have to carve a replica for her. Because carving in the round presents many difficulties not experienced with relief carving, I decided to post an ongoing tutorial during the carving process. It will probably be many posts over the course of a month or two. Be sure to subscribe to this page to be notified of updates.

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Trend Airshield Pro: Build Your Own Battery

I do a lot of woodturning, so eventually it was necessary for me to buy an air supplied shield. After hours of research I decided the Trend Airshield Pro was the best choice for me. It was expensive, but with some more research I found one online for less than $300. It works great. I’m really happy with it.

After about a year the battery refused to hold a charge. No big deal–rechargeable batteries wear out, won’t hold a charge and need to replaced occasionally. I went online to buy a new battery and was shocked at the price. They cost $70. I thought that was crazy. I took the battery out of the helmet and noticed that it was just a plastic container holding a battery pack. The battery pack is marked 3.6 volts, 3600 mah. I took the plastic container apart, which was really easy. It just snaps together. Inside was an unlabeled, shrink wrapped group of three batteries. I scoured the internet looking for a replacement but could find nothing. You can’t buy a 3.6 volt, 3600 mah battery pack. It looks like Trend had this battery specially manufactured just for them, forcing you to pay three times what the battery should cost to keep your AirShield Pro running once the battery wore out. Things like this really piss me off. I have no problem with companies making money, but when they design products that require purchasers to continually pay for that product by forcing their customers to buy overpriced, proprietary consumables, I refuse to play that game. Had I known I would only get a year out of a $70 battery, I could only buy from Trend, I would have bought something else.

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More Decorative Carving: Samuel McIntire’s Fruit Basket

Samuel McIntire is one this country’s most famous wood carvers. The homes in Salem Massachusetts are filled with furniture decorated with his carvings, many buildings feature some decorative carvings of his and, in fact, many of the buildings in and around Salem were designed by him. During the late 18th and early 19th century McIntire carved hundreds, maybe thousands, of ornaments for builders, cabinet makers and government buildings. Perhaps his most famous design is the fruit basket. These were usually carved in shallow relief from thin mahogany and then attached to furniture. I’ve wanted to carve one for years and finally took the time to do it. My carving is about 12″ wide and carved from mahogany. I mounted it to  a piece of maple for contrast and then framed the entire piece with mahogany moldings.

If you want to try to carve one yourself, I have a pattern available.

A link to purchase the pattern is below. If you’re interested in buying the Carving,  visit my store for other carvings.



Samuel McIntire Fruit Basket: Pattern


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Samuel McIntire is one this country’s most famous wood carvers. The homes in Salem Massachusetts are filled with furniture decorated with his carvings, many buildings feature some decorative carvings of his and, in fact, many of the buildings in and around Salem were designed by him. During the late 18th and early 19th century McIntire carved hundreds, maybe thousands, of ornaments for builders, cabinet makers and government buildings. Perhaps his most famous design is the fruit basket. These were usually carved in shallow relief from thin mahogany and then attached to furniture. The pattern is available in three sizes: 6″,12″, and 24″.

Additional information


12", 24", 6"


Some Decorative Carving

I spend a lot of time looking for interesting things to carve. One of my favorite subjects is traditional decorative carving. The acanthus has been one of the most popular motifs for hundreds of years. While searching internet for images of acanthus leaf designs I found a drawing for the carving in the photo below. Instead of the typical relief carving I carved this almost in the round out of basswood and mounted it to a scrap piece of walnut I had. It is about 10″ tall and a full 1 1/2″ thick.

Another Boston Carving Co. Eagle

After carving the recent Boston Carving Co. eagle for a customer,  I decided to do another one more to my liking. This one has full depth wings, a shorter banner and a different finish.

I reshaped the banner a bit, and instead of an aged gold finish, I dyed the wood and finished it with linseed oil. The paint is acrylic.

The overall width is 60″ with a 51″ wingspan. This eagle is for sale and ready for immediate delivery.


Eagle Standing on Flags

This is a recent commission I just finished. It is a copy of an old eagle I found a picture of online many years ago. The photo was of very poor quality and it was small, so creating the pattern required some guess work. I have no idea how big the original was, but the customer wanted his 40″ wide, which made it only 10″ high. When finished it seemed rather small, but the customer had a specific space he wanted to hang it. Here is the carving completed in raw wood.

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Here it is after being dyed. The customer requested an aged finish. When wearing down the finish you need a dark base so you don’t end up with new looking wood under an older finish.

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And here is the finished product, lightly aged.

Life Sized, Anatomically Correct Human Skull

Well, almost anatomically correct. This was just a practice piece and isn’t perfect. But is is close. I used basswood and finished it to look like it was dug up out of the ground. I finished it in amber shellac and still have to kill some of the shine. I mounted it on a piece of maple into which I turned a bunch of disks to mimic vertebrae in a spine. Then I carved it into an “S” shape so it has a curve like a real spine.

I’ve wanted to carve one of these for a long time. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a real human skull as a model, which helped a lot.  Now I am trying to find a suitable block of burl to carve a keeper.

Carving an Eagle Designed by Artist John Ruthven

John Ruthven is a well known wildlife artist who has been compared to John Audubon. So when he inquired about having an eagle made, I encouraged him to draw up the design himself. It gave me the opportunity to work on something a little different.

John Ruthven and his late wife, Judy, bought and restored the boyhood home of Ulysses S Grant. They then donated the home to the state of Ohio where it is now a museum. The eagle  will be mounted above the front door as a tribute to Judy Ruthven who died recently.

Here is the artist’s drawing that I used to created a pattern.

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Jaguar Sculpture

This piece is more of a sculpture than a wood carving. Though I carved it out of wood, no tool marks are visible. I spent a lot of time filing and sanding them all away. The result is a smooth finish. It is carved out of a solid block of mahogany and mounted to a figured maple base. The piece is about 12 inches long. It is a close interpretation of the hood ornament on a Jaguar automobile.