Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the category “Missed A Spot”

Adding a Watchful Dog

I can’t seem to finish many carvings without adding a dog and this one isn’t going to be different.

This little dog will be watching the window washer with just about the same tilt to his head as that of the window washer.  I may even add in another dog along the way.

I started with a fairly straight forward clay model of the dog and then just traced the outline of the front and side view of the model on to a piece of paper.  Once I cut the pattern out on the bandsaw, I also cut the head of the dog off and with a wedge of basswood I glued everything back together again with what I thought looked like a nice tilt and sideways glance of the head.

I used Typhoon bits and a Foredom tool to do the initially roughing and followed that up with knives and a small gouge to make the fur along the body.


Don’t Let it Tip

As I’ve thought about how I’d go about building the base for the window washer, the thing uppermost in my mind has been how do I ensure that this thing won’t tip over or, at least, be easy to tip over.

A quick trip down to the local lumber mill and a search through their rack of short stock solved the problem.  I brought home a nice thick piece of hickory for the base.  Now, hickory has a number of things going for it…it’s hard, which doesn’t matter all that much to me;  it has a nice grain, which matters as I’m planning on a stain and urethane finish for the base; and, it’s heavy!…which really matters to me.   I don’t think that tipping is going to be a huge problem anymore.

With the bandsaw, I cut a square edge on the exterior side of the base and slightly curved the interior wall side.  With a router, I put a nice edge on the top and bottom of the base and then, again on the bandsaw, cut out a recess where the wall base will eventually be glued in place.

You can see from the pictures that I added a little bit of window framing at the top of the window.  I was actually watching a program on television where there happened to be old apartment buildings in the background and I saw this particular window treatment and liked it.

So, you can click on the pictures below to see how things are looking…




Some Masonry and Carpentry Work

Now for a bit of detail on the brickwork.  Remember, the idea here is to make it look like a 1930’s style high rise building…and, a little on the ritzy side.

I turned to my dremel tool for both the brick and masonry work ( on the outside ) and the carpentry work ( on the inside ).  Some time ago, I purchased a plunge router base for the dremel tool from Lee Valley.  It was a bit pricey but well worth the quality of the tool.

With a decorative bit, I outlined the masonry pieces to give them that finished look that you see in older, upper end buildings.  I wasn’t too particular that everything looked perfectly straight as I wanted it to come across as masonry and not milled wood.  I’ll add some roughness to these pieces before I paint them to make them look a bit porous.

I then drew in some mortar lines and, just by hand, used the dremel tool to follow those lines.  Again, I didn’t use a straight edge as a guide as I didn’t want it to look too perfectly square.  With a combination of banging on the brick surface with a couple of different size hammers and rasps, and finally poking it a million times with an awl ( looks like an ice pick ), I created what I think looks awfully close to a brick.  Once I put multiple colours on this surface, I think it’s going to really pop out.


For the inside, I set up the dremel tool so that I could pass the baseboard and window trim between two clamped edges and made my own little wood mill.  It was actually a lot of fun.

So, that’s where I’ll finish up on a very cold ( -23 C ) day.  If you’re reading this post from somewhere that doesn’t measure temperature in Celsius…that’s cold.

A 1930’s High Rise

Now, on to the high rise windows that need cleaning…

It’s a bit of an interesting challenge:  I want it to look high but not be too tall…I want a window and frame but not be so small that you can’t see the details of the caricature…I want both the interior and exterior of the building…and, I want enough brickwork around the window to make it look like a building, but I don’t want the whole carving to be brickwork.

So, here’s the start to that process.  I planed down a good sized piece of basswood to a little over an inch thick and then marked out the open window.  I actually cut the window opening on the bandsaw to ensure nice straight lines and then glued and clamped the single cut “into” the window opening to patch things up.

Once that was done, I used a dremel tool with a dado bit on it to route out the window jambs and then went back to the bandsaw to cut out some stone work for the top and bottom ledge.  I added a second “top” piece of stonework to add below the window to make it look like there are many other windows below.  With the stone work cut-outs, I marked them on the basswood above and below the window and channeled out that area so that I’d have a place to glue the pieces.



And…here’s what it looks like so far from the inside.  Lots of detailing to do.


A Hat and Some Detail

The window cleaner will be sitting on a rope held “chair”…actually a plank with a couple of holes in the ends to tie a rope.  Safety wasn’t a big thing in the 30’s for this particular fellow.

To get the right angle, I made up a bit of a jig so that I would be able to tell where the ropes would land against his body and where the flat portion of the seat of his pants needed to be to rest against the board.


Then it was on to the hat.  I followed my now usual way of creating the hat…modelled off of the way that Lynn Doughty creates his cowboy hats.  Basically, it’s cut a flat section off of the head and then carve the hat brow and crown in separate pieces by centering both on a dowel ( for locating ) and then using lead pencil to mark the high spots on mating surfaces…carve them away and then glue the hat together.

So, all together and with a bit of wood burning to make some seams and highlight some edges, here’s where we ended up.

So, that’s where we start in 2018.  Happy New Year to you all!

Some Slow Progress

It seems like we moved from the “rake leaves” mode to the “prep for Christmas” mode pretty quickly around here and, as a result, I haven’t spent all that great amount of time carving.  But, the snow is coming tonight apparently with a good sized storm, so maybe that will slow things down enough to sit in one spot for a while.

There…I knew you could look on the bright side of a snow storm!

With the body roughed in to some extent, it was time to start to shape the arms.  His right arm, which will be holding a cloth and cleaning a window, will be bent so I glued a couple of pieces of basswood together to keep the grain running along the length of the arm.  Now, you might question why I’m so concerned with the strength and direction of the grain when I’m putting a glued joint in the middle of things…but, actually, a tight fitting glued joint will be stronger than the surrounding wood.


With a bit of trimming and then a hand glued on ( again with the grain direction running in the “right” direction ), the arm started to take shape.


The left arm will be pretty straight with the hand holding a bucket of suds.  Because the grain is pretty much in a single direction, I was able to make the arm and hand in one piece.



Once these were glued into some drilled holes in the shoulder sections, I was able to do some light detailing of the rolled shirt cuffs, hands and fingers.


And now, I’m putting a bit of effort into the wrinkles on the shirt and pants.  Now, I’m not of the generation that enjoys “selfies”, but I have to admit that it was the only way that I could figure out how the wrinkles should turn out.  So, yes, I stood with my back to a mirror in my little window-washer’s posture and clicked away!


Placing the Head

I want to get that tilt to the head just right as that will give the body a good contorted look to it…like he’s hanging there on his rope and twisting around to get a good swipe on that dirty window.

I carved the head much the same way as I’ve done my previous carvings, which is very similar to the way that Lynn Doughty teaches on his videos.  Take a look at Lynne’s site ( and specifically his videos on carving the head…they’re very helpful.

I have to say, though, I’m disappointed in the quality of the basswood that I’m using.  I probably should have just stopped carving the head and started again on a less grainy piece of wood.  It seems that regardless of how often I’m sharpening my knife, the grain is occasionally tending to crush rather than slice.  If anyone has any advice about basswood selection, I’m all ears.

Paul is my hand model in the first shot and I’ve also included him as “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast!  Click on the photo to make it bigger.





Back to Mervin

Well, it’s back to my little window cleaner.  I can’t let that sound like I’m going to be completely dedicated to this little guy in the next while because it’s fall now and that means lots of clean-up around the house when you live in Ontario.  But it’s all fun.

I’ve taken the roughed-in version of the carving that I did with the Foredom tool and Typhoon bit and trimmed everything down a bit with knives and gouges.  Not a lot to tell you on this other than the fact that I used some simple callipers to take measurements from the clay sculpture that I did and transferred those dimensions to the carving.  I’m not all that particular when I do this…I’m just using the clay as a general model for what the carving might look like.  If it’s out a bit, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Now that I have it to this point, I’ll do a bit of work on the head before returning with more dimensioning and detail.


From Clay to Wood

Why is it that everytime I start a little fun project, a bunch of seemingly necessary projects come up to interfere?  I can remember as a kid always enjoying the fall period as it meant the start of a new winter project…usually a model airplane…and nothing seemed to get in the way of that.

But I did take a bit of time to rough in the basswood blank based on the clay sculpture.

I decided to do the head separately again just so that I could get the right sideways glance that I wanted.  I also decided to do the arms separately so that I would have a better chance at getting the wood grain going in the strongest direction.  My plan is to attach the arms just below the rolled sleeves.

So with a quick approximation on the bandsaw and them some callipers to transfer the dimensions from the clay to the wood, here’s where I ended up.  Note again that I used a Foredom tool with a typhoon bit to remove the wood quickly.  That’s what created the fuzzy appearance on the wood.  Now that it’s at this point, I’ll get to carving with a knife and gouges.   Still a lot of slimming down to do.


Mervin Moves Up

Well, Mervin of “Mervin the Mover” fame was so successful that he has decided to add another venture to his business empire.  Plus, his slogan of “One Haul…That’s All” is taking its toll on his back.  Time to move up, lean back and enjoy life.

Yup…window cleaning.

So, I dug out the old clay figure that I had created for Mervin the Mover and with a bit of bending and breaking away the dry clay from the copper armature that I made, I’ve twisted him into a posture for window cleaning.  Now, Mervin is vintage ’30s so don’t expect him to have the best safety harness as he’s cleaning downtown, high rise apartments….just a sling or rope that he’s leaning back against.


With a bit of clay added, you can see that he’s leaning back with his heels planted on the ledge of the high rise window.  He’ll have a rag in his right hand as he wipes away a spot and his left hand will be holding a bucket of suds and a squeegee.

I’m thinking that this one’s going to be called “Missed A Spot.”  And I’m pretty sure that it will somehow include a little dog.




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