Year: 2014

Twistie Stick Snake Carving by Lora Irish

Twistie Stick Snake Carving Free Project

Free Lora IRish Cane Carving ProjectHi Gang!

I thought I would share a walking stick carving.

Day 1 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 2 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 3 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 4 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 5 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving

Walking Stick Joinery
Walking Stick Wood Species – Harvesting Your Sticks
Walking Stick – Adding Extras
Walking Stick – How to Clamp Your Handle

Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern


Walking stick carving is often one of the first carving projects a new woodcarver tries.  This particular design – a snake wrapped around a Sassafras twistie stick – is a beginner’s level project, but I think that even the advanced carvers here may discover a few fun tricks and tips.

We will work, step by step, through creating the round, establishing the snake, marking and cutting the twist, texture the snake and bark, adding a frog on the top of the stick, and how to add a real honeysuckle vine into the twist.  The cane will be lightly coated with a finished with a linseed oil and turpentine mixture and then dry mounted to your walking staff.


These are the tools that I used, but you do not need these exact tools or exact sizes.  Use what you have.  If you are new, a bench knife, or large chip carving knife, and a basic Japanese set will get you started.  Because we will be creating the pattern directly to the basswood you can make this stick in any length!

Sassafra Twistie Cane and Snake by Lora Irish1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 12″ basswood blank
bench knife or large chip carving knife
3/8″ round gouge
1/8″ round gouge
u-gouge, also called a veining tool
several sizes of fine rasps or rifflers
220-grit sandpaper
1″ wide painter’s tape or masking tape
pencil, for marking the cane
old toothbrush for cleaning
carving gloves
thick terry-cloth towel
sharpening tools
cardboard center from a roll of toilet paper
linseed oil
all thread pipe
epoxy glue

walking stick staff – approx. 4′ to 5′ tall, x 1 1/4″ diameter

Sassafra Twistie Cane and Snake by Lora Irish

We will begin tomorrow by rounding-over the basswood stick, establishing the path of the snake, and rough carving the Sassafras twistie area low to reveal the snake’s body.So, go get your knives and carving tools, check them for sharpness, find a basswood cane blank, and join me tomorrow as we begin this fun project.  I’m off to start cropping photos for you.

I will also be posting  this Twistie Stick Snake Cane each day on my favorite carving forums.  Stop by, join up, so that you can post your questions and photos!!!!  Carving forums are like potato chips … just one is never enough … Grin! at Twistie Stick Snake Cane Thread at Twistie Stick Snake Cane Thread

And while you wait to get started, visit Roy’s relief Carving Class thread – See our widgets in the right hand nav bar and on both forums!!!!

Lora Irish carving patternswood carving bench knivesI had a question from one of the forums, and thought I would post the answer here too!

In the photo you can see five different bench knife styles – top to bottom – small chip carving knife, large chip carving knife, detailer, short-blade bench knife, and a long-blade bench knife.

I prefer a large chip carving knife as my main cutting knife whether for relief or for 3-d cane carving. My hand is small, much smaller than my husbands. Where the longer handles of the bench knives fit his hand, they are too cumbersome for me. Also, the short blade of the chip knife puts me hand right against the wood during the cut, a bench knife leaves my hand 1″ to 1 1/2″ away from the wood. The third advantage is that the chip knife serves two purposes – one for my regular carving and, of course, for chip carving.

chip carving knifeIf you haven’t gotten a bench knife yet, consider a large chip carving knife. While you are making your purchases also get some of the new self-adhering bandage wraps. You can cut a short – 5″ length – and wrap the handle of your knife to give added grip strength. Cut a longer piece – 12″ – and wrap your tool handles if you have arthritis. It will make the handles thicker for easier gripping as well as pad the handle to minimize the stress on your joints.

Lora S. Irish
is celebrating 17 months of being back on the web with a huge
Halloween Pattern Sale!
The Complete Pattern Collection
(every pattern and pack in our web store)

Only $149.95


NOW 2513 original L. S. Irish patterns at less than 6 cents each!
NOW 134 pattern packages at only $1.12 each!
18 new packages available nowhere else on the web!

399 new patterns
available nowhere else!

300 pyrography fill and texture patterns, available nowhere else!
All at a price too good to resist!

If you work just one pattern every day,
that’s only 6 3/4 years of daily fun!!!

L S Irish

Oct. 20, 2014

We wanted to share that Roy Millsaps, AKA Big Couger,
Whispering Woods International School for Fine Wood Working,

is sharing an online, step-by-step tutorial at
An online forum where you can indulge your love of carving

and at
A great online message board for woodworkers and wood carvers!

Look for the Carving Class by thread under Carving
both Message Boards. He is just beginning the
shaping steps to a realistic fish carving plaque.

Sign up for both forums today
Join in, Post your pictures and Comments

Roy Millsaps Carving Class
Posted with Permission by Roy Millsaps

Forums and Message Boards are like potato chips for
wood carvers – you can’t join Just One!

DIY Eclectic Primitive Pallet Dresser

DIY Pallet Wood DresserEclectic means to derive an idea, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. In this case, my primitive bureau is a conglomeration of some of the many ‘someday’ bits, pieces, boards, and hardware that have accumulated in the shop over the years. You probably have boxes of them, those little parts that you know someday you will need or want.

Over the many years of wood carving and wood working I have enjoyed trying my hand at a smattering of furniture projects. Our woodworking shop is well equipped with the basic power tools, as well as many fun specialty tools that are used to create precision cuts and glass smooth finishes. Unfortunately with my husband’s illness and my Mom’s advanced age I seldom can take the time away from the family to dedicate to the hours of work that it takes to produce a classic piece of furniture.

But I will admit that I have missed that part of wood working tremendously. So this weekend I decided to indulge myself in a little back porch wood butchery … grin!

This all began with a Friday afternoon yard sale purchase of a 24” wide, 36” high, 8” deep used, battered bookcase. It was painted wedgewood blue, with lots of scratches and dents, and had a broken kick board (toe board). I knew I didn’t need another bookcase when I bought it, but it is solid wood and priced at only $5.

DIY Pallet Wood DresserSunday morning came and I headed to the shop to grab a board to replace the kick board … that seemed a good place to start. Passing the tractor shed, which is an add-on to the workshop, I noticed a bunch of old pallets that I had picked up somewhere for one of those ‘someday’ projects. I stopped, looked the pallets over carefully, and made the decision that today was that someday! That yard sale bookcase did not have to stay a bookcase, it could become the carcass for a set of dresser drawers made out of the pallet wood.

Since I really couldn’t hide out in the wood shop this weekend I grabbed up the zaw-zaw, the jig saw, and the disc sander. With a few hand tools – dovetail saw, rough cut saw, screw drivers, that sort of thing – I turned the back porch into a weekend work area where I could be close at hand for the family while doing some fun wood butchering.

DIY Pallet Wood DresserThe first goal was to convert the bookcase into a chest of drawers without purchasing anything – I wanted to use the wood and hardware that I had on hand. My second goal was to accept that this would not be perfect – I knew that using the tools that I could carry to the porch I would not be making precise, accurate cuts or joints.   So this project started out as an eclectic primitive project.


  1. Using the zaw-zaw, hammer, and a crow bar, I cut the pallets apart. A nail set and hammer removed the cut nails from the boards. A light sanding with 80-grit paper removed the worst of the splinters and fuzz bunnies.
  2. I decided that I wanted a series of small drawers, so I used some ½” x 1” framing strips to make the drawer supports.   These strips were left-overs from a repair for a door frame. The bookcase has three shelves, so I divided each shelf area into space for two drawers. Some wood glue and a few screws secured the drawer supports to the inside of the bookcase.
  3. The drawers are just simple butt-joint boxes with ¼” plywood floors. I made each box ½” less wide than the inside width of the shelf and ½” shorter than the height of the drawer area. No two drawer areas turned out to be the same. The drawer sides were made out of pallet wood and the plywood was left-over from my pyrography projects.
  4. The drawer fronts were cut from pallet wood at the full width of the bookcase and tall enough to cover the ½” of the shelf support. I tried to allow about ¼” air space between each drawer. The fronts were attached with screws, working from the inside of the box.
  5. Because pallet boards are often cracked, split, or broken, I quickly realized I would not have enough boards to create six 24” wide drawer fronts. But going through the cut pieces left from the first several drawers I did have enough to turn one large drawer area into two small drawers.
  6. DIY Pallet Wood DresserI removed the broken kick board and replaced it with pallet wood.
  7. I needed drawer pulls, so while rooting through my someday boxes I came across five old glass knobs from Mike’s father’s woodworking days. Two ceramic knobs turned up in one of my Dad’s boxes.
  8. The top of the bookcase was in very bad condition, so I cut a new top from an old walnut table leaf. The table was long gone, but I had held onto the extension leaf for years. The top is held in place with screws working from the inside of the bookcase – dresser carcass.
  9. While looking for drawer knobs I stumbled across an old, discarded bathroom mirror and then found a pair of wrought iron shelf brackets. The brackets were so old the plastic packaging had turned yellow, and cracked. A simple butt-joint frame made from pallet wood scraps became the mirror support. Two long pallet boards were mounted to the back of the frame to attach the mirror to the back of the case. For a little added pizzazz I used the iron shelf brackets on the top of the dresser to also attach the mirror.

So … the photos show you where I am. The woodworking is done except to sand off a few really rough areas. I know that I am going to paint over the wedgewood blue with first a medium tan and then black. With sandpaper I will rough up the corners and edges to let all three paint colors show.

Pallet Wood Dresser Pineapple CrochetThe whole family has become involved in this project. Mom would like to see me paint lettering to the pallet boards – fragile, this side up, or even hazardous waste. I am thinking adding luggage stickers or packing slips to the boards, then roughing them up so it looks as if the dresser is made from antique shipping crates. Mike, my beloved hubby, wants me to remove the glass knobs and carve wood spirit faces as my drawer pulls and he wants it for his knife collection storage. All my son will say is, “Gee, that will look awfully good in the corner of my room!” I’ll let you know when we decide where this project goes from here.

I just may keep this one for me.  Whosits!  A gal needs some special place to store her doily crochet books, hooks, and pineapple work.

In the meantime, have some fun this coming weekend doing your own eclectic primitive pallet wood project! Oh, and the total cost of this project was $5 for the bookcase and a full day of absolute fun, plus the joy of putting some of those ‘someday’ bits and pieces to work.


walking stick joinery

Walking Stick and Cane Handle Joinery

Free e-project PDF alert!!!!!

Lora has posted a free, 16-page, PDF file
Walking Stick and Cane Joinery
our Wood Carving Walking Sticks, Introduction page.
Please drop over to this page and snatch a copy for your carving files.


We have added four new project pages to this free, online, wood carving walking sticks tutorial by Lora Irish, that focus on how to attach your cane topper to your walking stick.

Cane Wood Carving Project by Lora IrishHarvesting Walking Sticks – Learn how to harvest, store, and dry your tree saplings and branches for cane carving.

Common Tree Species – Take a look around your own backyard to discover which tree species you can use for walking stick and cane carving.

Adding Extras – Make your walking stick stand out by adding a small ‘What If’ bag to your staff.

newWood Carving Walking Sticks, Gluing Your Joint – A quick look at the basic steps in gluing a cane topper to your walking stick.

newWood Carving Walking Sticks, How to Join Your Cane Handle – Explore seven ways to join your cane topper to your stick

newWood Carving Walking Sticks, How to Clamp Your Cane Handle – Learn how you can use tape as a gluing clamp.

newWood Carving Walking Sticks, Working with Bamboo – Special technique for attaching your cane topper to your bamboo walking stick.

This free Irish project will be posted over the next several weeks, so please check back often to see what new techniques, patterns, and ideas Lora has posted.

free walking stick wood carving project

Wood Carving Walking Sticks

wood Carving Cane Toppers by Lora IrishWalking Sticks and canes are a favorite wood carving project for both beginning carvers to the most advanced woodworker.  This free, online project by Lora Irish will take you through the basic techniques used in choosing your wood staffs and sticks, wood carving cane toppers, cane construction, and finishing used for walking sticks.  Learn how to use wood burning in your cane carving to clean the joint lines of your carving and add fine details.  Explore the different steps you can use to add bright, bold painted coloring.

This free Irish project will be posted over the next several weeks, and will include how to carve the planes of the wood spirit face.  So please check back often to see what new techniques, patterns, and ideas Lora has posted.

Harvesting Walking Sticks – Learn how to harvest, store, and dry your tree saplings and branches for cane carving.

Common Tree Species – Take a look around your own backyard to discover which tree species you can use for walking stick and cane carving.

Adding Extras – Make your walking stick stand out by adding a small ‘What If’ bag to your staff.

Our next lessons will focus on Cane Construction Techniques!

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