Some carvings by Phil Palmer

Here are a selection of work carved by Phil Palmer, our long suffering treasurer and my goto for answers about the club website.    I hope that they will inspire some one to have a go at something new.   If you want your work to displayed on the website, please send me pictures, title and wood used to

The Wizard, carved in basswood, acrylic paints

tulip lovespoon, carved in basswood

The happy wood spirit, carved in cherry











The Dragon, carved in Lime by Phil Palmer

Lovespoon carved in Lime











Riding the wave by Phil Palmer

Sunflower carved in Lime























Daily Journeys by John Adamson

This is my 4th attempt at this project over the last 20 years or so.    I started it when I was studying for a BA in Sculpture in Preston about 1997.     It was my answer to a one day’s brief of “Do something in plaster”.   Any one who has seen me at Saturday club meetings, and shows will have seen my 3rd attempt.    The idea is that a group of people, take the same bus morning and afternoon.    The day has changed how they feel and how they sit on their seat.     The  seats face one way in the morning, and the other way in the afternoon.   For easy comparison of their states of mind each person sits by the side of their morning / afternoon self.    I hope that make sense.    If not you will have to come and see it next time we have a meeting, whenever that is.

Daily Journeys 3rd Attempt








It had started to go wrong some time last year and I patched up what I could, but now have come to the conclusion that some problems were just not  fixable.  The problems stemmed from mistakes at the design / planning stage.    Because the sculpture was long and thin, and I had some lime of the right shape, I went right ahead and used it.      The grain runs  from left to right and the necks became a weak point.   When leaning on a figure to carve the next, the inevitable occurred, and heads fell off.     Then there was a problem with the seats.   I tried to take short cuts, as they seemed to be so easy to do: a saw cut down the back. and a drill under the seats to allow me to get the waste out easily.   Did not work out and I had to patch, and some were impossible.   For my 4th attempt,  I have the grain running vertically, and am carving 6 pairs of separate figures rather than 2 rows of 6.     Seems to have worked out so far.   Nothing has broken and the seats have been easier as the back can be done on a bandsaw.   The 3rd attempt may seem like a waste of time and wood, but I learnt a lot, and thinking positively I don’t have to think up a new project for the foreseeable future.

As they will be in the finished sculpture

Before the Yoga / Pilates class

After the yoga / Pilates class

















This a woman who attends a Yoga / Pilates class and has suffered.   The last pilates class I attended, I left in an ambulance with a dislocated shoulder.   I am told by Richard Colbran, that this is not the universal experience and that he felt better after the class.   The work has to have a final finishing cuts and a coat of polish, but that will have to wait till I have all 12 figures finished so that they can all be brought to the same standard.

Details of the individual figures follow

Before class





















Before Class

















Before class

















After class















After class

















After class














If Boris can have his bus art, there is no reason why I cannot have mine

Boris Bus Art


Carving a small plywood rocking horse made from a design by Judy F. Fergusson.

The horse is made from one 4ft by 4ft sheet of 9mm First Grade Finnish/Russian Birch Ply.

Pieces were cut out using a powered fretsaw/scrollsaw and then glued together to form the two halves of the horse and then both halves glued together to form the whole.

The glue used was Cascamite, also sold as Extramite and Polymite.

Once the glue had cured, shaping and carving was done using a Proxon longnecked angle grinder, fitted with a miniature carbatec cutting wheel, then a Black and Decker power sander and finally hand sanded, sealed and varnished.

The rockers were simply cut out of the same 9mm ply, using the power fretsaw, glued, screwed and pinned together.

Mane, tail and tack were obtained from Anthony Dew, the Rocking Horse Shop, Fangfoss, Yorkshire.

Murray Taylor visited the club on Thursday 18th July and talked about Chip Carving

Murray Taylor covered 3 topics, Chip Carving, Sharpening Knives,  and Lettering with a Knife.   There are no British books on chip carving but Murray hopes to remedy this in the near future, building on his articles in the Woodcarving magazine

Murray was aware that many of our members consider chip carving to be boring, and set out to prove that it was not just a pattern of triangles; it can do lots of interesting designs, lettering, and pictorial work.

All the equipment needed is:-a Pfeil chip  carving knife, a stabbing knife (don’t be worried – the blade is only 1?inch long), an ordinary ruler preferably with black markings on a white background, a T square, a mechanical pencil with 2B leads, a bow compass, a sharpening stone, a  strop, and wood.   Murray mainly uses Lime wood from the original Hobbies  shop .   Murray showed us his way of chip carving.   Accurate marking out is most important and he has designed a tool that  marks 4mm dots from which a grid can easily be produced.   A pyramid of 4mm is easier on the wrist than 5mm!!  He showed us taking out the standard triangular pyramids.  He has very strong arms and wrists from a life time as a manufacturing jeweller, but he showed us a way to apply extra pressure should we need it.

This is Murray’s travelling work bench. The holes can be used to trap the work
















Some examples of various patterns that Murray uses.

Some examples of various patterns that Murray uses.
















For more adventurous work Murray uses a knife like a pen
















The chip carving knife lends itself to various alphabets











All this work needs a sharp knife, and Murray showed us his way of doing it.  Although some knives are sold as ready sharpened, that do not come to his standards.  He recommends ceramic stones that do not wear so are always flat!!
















Carvings by Nick Pantelides

Nick has been a stalwart of the club for as long as I can remember.   He is generous with his knowledge, giving talks on a wide range of subjects from bone carving to Scandinavian flat knife carvings.   He is also willing to give members help and advice.   To see more of Nick’s carvings go to Galleries, click on Members carvings, then click on Nick’s name.   There are lots of carving by other members to be seen on the same Members Carving Gallery



Holly carved in Lime, height 8 inches by Nick Pantelides

Horse by Nick Pantelides










Churchill by Nick Pantelides

Man of the wood, carved in Lime, Height 14 inches by Nick Pantelides
















Fruit bowl carved in cherry, 15 inches wide by Nick Pantelides









Dimitria carved in Lime, height 15 inches by Nick Pantelides
















Dante carved in lime, height 14 inches by Nick Pantelides



















Black Forest Animal Carving by Nick Pantelides













Bison carved in Lime, 8 inches long by Nick Pantelides













We continue to carve protective, and decorative post tops for marker posts on the footpath trails which are being developed round theBurnley area.     The subjects are chosen to be relevant to each particular site, and add interest for ramblers following the trails.     Traditional English hardwoods are used for improved durability in testing out-door weather conditions.        Now that lockdown is being eased, a walk along the Brun Valley and a visit to Towneley Hall might be just what the doctor ordered, the cafe may even be open!!!!


butterfly post















Kingfisher Post















Tawny Owl


























In March 2006, I was asked by the Friends of Openshaw Park, Manchester, UK, to design a sculpture for a poplar tree in the park.   The tree had lost one huge branch and another had been removed for safety reasons, but the tree was still some 30ft tall.   I submitted two designs; a cheaper bulb design and a more expensive one of two figures dancing.    I secretly hoped that the friends could find the extra money for the Dancing design as it fitted this unique tree much better.  It seems that the tree has been formed by two seeds within a single fruit which had given an unusual oval shape to the base of the tree and the decided slope to the left hand side of the trunk. ? The dancers would use the left hand slope of the trunk for the spread of the ball gown, and the lesser lean on the right for the bend in the male’s back

Bulb Design

Tree with some bark removed but before carving commenced












The Friends did find the extra money and work commenced four months later in July on the Dancers design.   By that time, the tree had had a spurt of growth brought on by the severe pruning of it’s main branches.  What had been a bare tree in March was covered in small new branches and a huge leaf cover.   Ideal working conditions for working in one of the hottest Julys but it would have to come down before the work could progress too far.  I am not qualified to do that sort of work and a professional team from Manchester council were booked for the work.   In the mean time I concentrated on the lowest part of the tree, removed the bark and started work on the legs and skirt areas.











The Manchester Council team of three turned up with a cherry picker, chipper and chainsaw with a bar twice as big as mine.    It took them two  hours to bring the tree down to the right size











Now all that height and weight had been removed, I could tackle the upper and middle of the design










I stacked up pallets needed so that I could reach higher.   Pallets are, in fact, easier to use than scaffolding.   The height can be adjusted within 6 inches and they can be moved round the sculpture easily.   They were stored over night in the shipping container that can be seen in the background of some pictures










The faces were carved with hand tools, 2 inch chisels and gouges.  Little finesse here.  The figures are 10 foot tall and the faces have to be bold enough to be seen from ground level.










On the final day, I used the chain saw to finished off the hair, put in the arms and detailed the clothes.




















Jillian Smith – Dolphins

Jill says  “In 2003 I glued together some pictures from a “Dolphin Calendar” to
make up a scene for a carving. I drew the outline on a piece of limewood
11.5 inches by 9 inches
 My teacher at the time, Vic Bentley, said it would be too difficult
for me to carve the part where the dolphin at the back appeared to be
moving forward out of the picture. I even made a plasticine model of
what I thought the final carving would be.  I then put it aside to do
other projects.  Years later, I picked it up again  and finally called
it finished 18 years later!
Other members suggested I should paint the carving. I was very tempted
but after 18 years I decided not to risk ruining it with poor painting.
Instead, I gave it several coats of Beeswax polish”


As I have run out of members current work, I thought that I would bring some of the work hidden in the back of the galleries out for an airing, and have chosen a carving Norman Jackson made on a carving holiday in Austria.    Norman attended a week long course at the Geisler- Moroder Schnitzschule in Elbigenalp in the midst of the Lechtaler and Allgäu mountains in Austria see    It sounds as if he had a great time and he thoroughly recommends it.

The school provided him with 16 chisels and gouges of various types but he only used 5 or 6 of them.  The course started with a some warm up exercises; a flower and a pair of lips, both in low relief and carved in Zirberkiefer – Swiss Mountain Pine, a very pleasing wood to work.

Before starting work on the main carving, Norman was advised that he would need to attend a life drawing class.  As the school had 9/10 very beautiful ladies and none were over 31, Norman was very disappointed to be presented with a block of wood and a yogurt carton as the subject.  Life Drawing seems to have been a translation of  Still Life Drawing.

After making a maquette, Norman started on the main carving of an Austrian man. The pictures below show his progress.   Some long days of hard work, sweat and tears produced a very satisfactory result.

Norman says a special thank you to Karen and Michael, and that he came home POWFECKED and very happy.

Model and drawing


Roughing out stage











Face defined


















More defined

















More features defined

















Finished work







John Adamson’s Angelfish

A client asked me to carve an angelfish.   At first she wanted it for outside, but was put off by the price of really decent plywood. I had suggested plywood, as some parts of the carving are very thin and might break and fall off along the line of the grain, and I thought that the colours of the different the ply as they were exposed during the carving process would simulate the colours of the fish. I was not unhappy with that decision as getting a smooth surface on ply is difficult.   Finally we settled on a 30cm ( to include the base) fish in ash with a pine base.     This is lockdown so I could only offer the wood I had in stock.   The next problem was deciding which angelfish.   Look at Google shows lots of varieties, and I chose a drawing, as it gave a very good side view, and lots of the decisions and simplifications had already been sorted.     The other problem was the front view.    Google gave me a whole screen full of side views but only 2 front views.    I made a decision about the shape : that it should be almost round at the bottom of the fish and slope up to a narrower edge at the top.

Front view











side view



















Back View


Drawing found on Google and used as a guide for the carving











I flipped the drawing on the computer, printed each side, stuck one print on the wood, and carefully cut round with a bandsaw.     I stuck the other print on the other side, carefully lining them up using the mouth and the end of the back fin for accuracy.

1st stage of carving











I had left a chunk of wood in front of the top fin and for the first stage of carving held the carving by this in a vice.     The vice is fixed on a revolving carvers clamp, allowing easy access to all sides.   At this stage I have only roughly carved the top and bottom fins.   I looked carefully at the grain and bent the fin to the grain to give the fin long grain strength.

2nd stage of carving










I have removed the “holding” chunk of wood as this had become a nuisance, and used the tail fin instead for clamping the wood.      The body of the fish has been carved roughly to shape, but leaving the side fins untouched so that I could use them to hold the wood when the tail was carved away.   The face has been carved and is almost finished.

3rd stage










Here I have carved the detail on to the top fin.     I carved a pattern rather than attempt to be realistic.

4th stage










The bottom fin has been carved in a similar pattern to the top.   The ventral fins are a problem.   In many angelfish they are so ridiculously thin that they would be guaranteed to brake in the post or when someone dusted them.   I had very carefully chosen a fish with thick ventral fins to copy.   I left as much wood on them as I could.   The ventral fins are the first fins on the lower side of the fish behind the face.

5th stage












A front view of the fish.  I had spent sometime getting the two sides of the face equal and opposite, and sanded it smooth.

6th stage











The back fin has been carved but the side fins still have their paper on them as that is where I was clamping them.      The sides of the fish have been chiselled to shape but need a final scrape with the side of a knife.   The side fins were carved later.