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Carving Wood & Materials

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Old 01-14-2008, 12:14 AM
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Default Holly wood

Hi all,
I've heard about holly wood that has been used for carving, but I've never tried it. However, my employer is pulling up/cutting off a large 20 year old holly bush that's pretty big and I've asked for some of the largest parts of the wood for my "wood stash."

How long should I let it dry before trying to carve it? Is it the right kind of holly to carve (I assume it Burford or Buford (?) since that's the most likely type used for shrubs around here.) What should I know about carving it--what kinds of carvings work best for Holly? What do I need to know about it.

Donna T
Donna Thomas has been carving in SW Missouri since 1988...
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Im not sure how long to cure it, but be sure you coat the ends, or if you can use Pentacryl, because it will absolutely crack. It is a beautiful wood, and I love it, but you wont carve it in a hurry.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

I've never carved Burford Holly, or heard of anyone who has. We do grow a lot of it in Georgia. You may be a first. About drying, my rule of thumb is for normal air drying, one year for every inch of diameter. "Course, most of the time I stick wood behind my wood stove and it drys out much faster! Paint the ends will help ir from dying out to fast.
Good luck!
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

I always coat the ends with parafin...........some of the smaller limbs might make good walking sticks or canes? I have never carved holly...so don't know what I am talking about lol
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:48 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

I carved a walking stick out of a Holly tree limb. Very hard wood, but holds detail well. Also very white with no grain pattern, at least until the oils from my hands got on it, lol.

I've been using anchorseal to coat the ends of my carving stock. It works pretty good.

Mike G. in SC
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Holly is a nice carving wood, I've only done small stuff with it, and bought it ready cured and cut in strips. Does a great job on detail for ships.

I did purchase some bulk wood this summer, and have a board of it drying down stairs now. Another six months should do it. I'm curious to see how it works out.

Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, I'd like to pipe: "Up Spirits" or "Splice the Main Brace" .....................one more time.

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Old 01-16-2008, 09:12 AM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Donna, about 20 years ago I was searching for some holly. I brought some carvings back from Africa that I had purchased during my Peace Corps time. Some pieces had ivory that had broken and I was told that holly matures out to look like "old ivory". Very true. But, I was also told that it was hard to find. Also very true back then. The reason being that it was difficult to dry without it losing the ivory look. The drying process had to be started within hours of the time the tree was cut. Don't know how much of this was true. But, if I were given your opportunity I would give it a try. I would follow Hi Ho's procedure of painting the ends, throw it up in the rafters of the barn, and forget about it for a few years.
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Plan old house paint will work on the ends also. Just ensure they are coated good.
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:01 PM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Burford or Burfori Holly is a shrub they sell in landscaping nurseries around here and they do get large. The wood may be the same to carve as regular holly which is what I think of when we talk about holly for carving.

You know, the traditional, prickly leafed holly. They get huge in the smokeys if allowed to grow. I have seen logs of holly 20 feet long and about 8" by 8" trimmed up. (before I was a carver, of course. Now that I want holly, stuff that size is really hard to come by.) But the Ilex family is huge with lots of subspecies out there. I would certainly grab it and try the burford holly.
Any thick coating you can apply to seal the ends will work. I have melted house hold candles and painted the wax on with an old paint brush. If it is very thick, the wood should dry for several years, but hey, your young, right? I have wood I've been holding on to for close to 10 years.
susieq: older but no wiser....
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: Holly wood

Wow, guys,
Thanks for all the input. I love this place!!!

I haven't seen the holly bush but I hear it's over 6 feet tall and only that because it's been pruned back several times. It is the prickly/sticky leaf kind. So I'm hoping there will be lots of good pieces of wood. I plan to take a little saw with me so I can cut it up and keep only the good pieces...and maybe some of the root if they pull it instead of just cutting it off.

I don't know if 62 is young enough to have lots of patience for it to cure, but I do know I'm good at putting things "up" and forgetting about them. It's the remembering "where something is" that gives me trouble.

I've used plain ole yellow shallac (don't know if that's spelled right) on wood before so I assume it will work to seal the ends of the holly. I've heard that it cures out very white. I may try carving a small piece while it's green just to see how it dries. You know how I love a challenge!

Thanks for the helpl
Donna T
Donna Thomas has been carving in SW Missouri since 1988...
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