Basswood

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Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:45 pm

Where can I get basswood for carving heads other than the Duck Blind? Also, white cedar for the bodies? Or can I use something else for the bodies (other than cork)? I am a new carver just gettng started. Thanks.

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Re: Basswood

Post  Capt. Larry M on Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:11 am

Scott Salzer wrote:Where can I get basswood for carving heads other than the Duck Blind? Also, white cedar for the bodies? Or can I use something else for the bodies (other than cork)? I am a new carver just gettng started. Thanks.

US Mahonganey sells basswood in Matawan, NJ. Cedar I would use kiln dried only for decoys. You probably want to start with cork for the bodies the learning curve is easier then after some practice you can move to cedar birds
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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:36 am

Thanks Larry. Do they sell the cedar also?

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Re: Basswood

Post  Capt. Larry M on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:10 am

Scott Salzer wrote:Thanks Larry. Do they sell the cedar also?

no, try Ray Norcross in Little Egg Harbor Twp he sells kiln dried stuff last time I saw him though he had slim pickings
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Re: Basswood

Post  Davey Welsh on Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:31 pm

I get my cedar from Steve Frazee in Forked River. 609-693-6522 He has a nice mill down there and his wood is pretty good. I've never had any issues with his dried stuff and his price is good too. He's at Tuckerton decoy show every year with the bed of his truck filled to the top each day with ready to carve dry cedar.

As for basswood, the only place I know of is the duck blind.

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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:24 pm

Thanks. Next question...Is it ok to carve hunting decoys out of basswood? (When you guys get sick of the questions just tell me to shut up!)

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Re: Basswood

Post  Davey Welsh on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:04 pm

Scott Salzer wrote:Thanks. Next question...Is it ok to carve hunting decoys out of basswood? (When you guys get sick of the questions just tell me to shut up!)

Don't worry about the questions Scott, the forum is a place for help!

You can carve decoys from basswood, but it is more expensive. My advice is to start with cork. I know Larry already mentioned it, but cork allows you to cut out a lot of labor that you incur with wood and more importantly, cork has a much easier learning curve. The best thing to do, is buy a cork cutout from Willy at the duck blind. He'll supply you with the carving tools you need to get started and also the basswood head cutout. Learn how to shape the decoy and carve the head, blending the head into the body. When you learn the basic idea behind shaping the bird, then you can go at some wood and you'll be much happier with the end result.

When you get to carving cedar, you'll find that it is a long process with a lot of added labor. You'll have to decide on how thick you need your block and how wide. You'll buy two pieces of cedar and then cut the boards to length for your blocks. Run each board through a surface planer and then mate the boards together to get your block. Then you square up the block on the bandsaw and then begin cutting out your pattern. After you rough carve the bird, you'll have to split the two boards to hollow them, then epoxy them back together. It is a much more time consuming process and when you're trying to "learn" how to shape a decoy, it is going to take you a looong time with cedar!

You can buy basswood blocks, but again, very expensive and after you carve the bird, you still need to cut the decoy in half to hollow it for a working bird. Some guys don't like cork, but they really don't have experience with carving cork or hunting over cork. HD tan cork is great stuff, it is not what you picture cork being at all. It is very dense, holds any detail you would need for a gunning bird and you could complete a cork carving in less than a day. This allows you to carve more decoys and get over the learning curve faster. You'll still need a bandsaw for cutting out your cork blocks, but you don't have to worry about surface planing or any of that stuff.

If you would like, you are welcome to come over my house sometime and I can help you get started. Granted I'm not a great carver, but its much easier to learn when you have someone to show you. It cuts out a lot of the common mistakes you would make on your first bird. I can also show you the process for cedar birds as well. The main reason I am switching to carving cork for gunning birds is because I can cut down on labor and make a decoy that is more affordable, yet still a nice gunner. I still have plenty of cedar and I will always carve cedar decoys because I love the tradition and I love the cedar, but sometimes it is nice to turn out a gunning rig in a week or two, as opposed to a few months!

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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:02 pm

Davey- I would really like to take you up on your offer. Are weekends good for you?
I hear what you are saying about the cost of basswood. Isn't cork more costly though? I was looking on the duck blind site and it seemed like it would be more expensive than cedar or basswood. What do you think about practicing on white pine?

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Re: Basswood

Post  Capt. Larry M on Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:33 pm

Scott Salzer wrote:Davey- I would really like to take you up on your offer. Are weekends good for you?
I hear what you are saying about the cost of basswood. Isn't cork more costly though? I was looking on the duck blind site and it seemed like it would be more expensive than cedar or basswood. What do you think about practicing on white pine?

cork is about as much as wood Scott, you can get about 10-11 decoys from a sheet of cork if you make a jig. so $200 to make over 20 decoys isnt too bad IMO. cedar isnt cheap either I am spending about $5 BF for kiln dried cedar. I would suggest not only a kit from Willy but that you purchase the DVD's as well, it knocks the learning curve down, I watch the DVD's all the time and always pickup something everytime I watch them. He takes you from the block of cork and wood to choosing a pattern to final paint and keeling them probably one of the best things I have bought next to my Foredom. Carving isnt cheap and if you think you are going to save money you are sadly mistaken however it is enjoyable and there isnt much better than shooting birds over your own rig! Maybe down the line it becomes cheaper but startup is fairly expensive.
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Re: Basswood

Post  Davey Welsh on Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:24 pm

Scott Salzer wrote:Davey- I would really like to take you up on your offer. Are weekends good for you?
I hear what you are saying about the cost of basswood. Isn't cork more costly though? I was looking on the duck blind site and it seemed like it would be more expensive than cedar or basswood. What do you think about practicing on white pine?

I don't have too many weekends off Scott, but when I do get a weekend, I'll let you know in advance and we can set something up.

As far as cost, well its all relative in my opinion. Cork may seem more expensive, but in reality its not. I can buy a sheet of cork and get 7 big ducks and 1 little duck. The same amount of money in cedar can get me 6-7 big ducks and 1 little duck as well. Time is money though and cork definitely saves you a lot of time. Also with cedar, there is always the chance that you'll have a knot in a place that doesn't work, and you end up with more scrap wood. Basswood is best for heads, but I use cedar for heads as well if I get real nice clear cedar stock. It also depends on what style of carving you want to do. If you're doing Jersey style (Tuckerton, Delaware river, Barnegat bay etc.) than your birds are much more narrow than more comptemporary birds, so instead of needing a 3x8 piece of cedar, you only need a 3x6, and so you save money.

Like Larry said, carving is not a cheap hobby. All of the decoys I carved my first year carving I ended up selling to buy more material to carve. The only reason I sell decoys is because the money pays for the carving that I do. I really don't take orders for decoys, although I have a couple of orders for this year. I mainly just end up selling what I have already carved to buy more wood or cork. Part of the reason why I don't have a full rig of my own decoys. Laughing

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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:30 pm

I don't have too many weekends off Scott, but when I do get a weekend, I'll let you know in advance and we can set something up
.
Sounds good Davey, let me know when you have some free time.

I'm not really concerned about the cost of the material once I get the hang of it. I just don't want to piss away alot of money on top notch carving material that's going to turn out less than ideal for my first few birds. I've heard of guys using white pine and I thought that would be more a more cost effective option (and easier to acquire) to learn on.
The thought of getting into carving to save money never crossed my mind. I alway liked working with wood and fell in love with some hand carved decoys that I've seen recently. So I thought "What better than to make my own?"

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Re: Basswood

Post  Capt. Larry M on Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:52 pm

Scott Salzer wrote:
I don't have too many weekends off Scott, but when I do get a weekend, I'll let you know in advance and we can set something up
.
Sounds good Davey, let me know when you have some free time.

I'm not really concerned about the cost of the material once I get the hang of it. I just don't want to piss away alot of money on top notch carving material that's going to turn out less than ideal for my first few birds. I've heard of guys using white pine and I thought that would be more a more cost effective option (and easier to acquire) to learn on.
The thought of getting into carving to save money never crossed my mind. I alway liked working with wood and fell in love with some hand carved decoys that I've seen recently. So I thought "What better than to make my own?"

Scott buy the Will kits with the DVD's it will improve the learning curve greatly
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Re: Basswood

Post  Luke Berkey on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:04 pm

Sorry to hijack your thread here Scott, but have any of you guys ever carved black cork. I have very little carving experience but I kinda like the look of some of the old black cork birds. Espeacially blacks and brant. I was thinking about getting a sheat of black cork from Willy when I get some time to sit down and carve. I'd like to have a small rig of black cork black ducks and brant.
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Re: Basswood

Post  Davey Welsh on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:13 pm

Scott Salzer wrote:
I don't have too many weekends off Scott, but when I do get a weekend, I'll let you know in advance and we can set something up
.
Sounds good Davey, let me know when you have some free time.

I'm not really concerned about the cost of the material once I get the hang of it. I just don't want to piss away alot of money on top notch carving material that's going to turn out less than ideal for my first few birds. I've heard of guys using white pine and I thought that would be more a more cost effective option (and easier to acquire) to learn on.
The thought of getting into carving to save money never crossed my mind. I alway liked working with wood and fell in love with some hand carved decoys that I've seen recently. So I thought "What better than to make my own?"

Where can you get white pine? I too have thought about other wood materials as well, but living in New Jersey we have access to some of the best cedar on the coast.

As far as tools, you'll need to get a good draw knife. Check out www.knottsknives.com I LOVE their knives. They are sharp as hell but the best part is they are so comfortable to carve with. A 5" #1 drawknife is the most common. I also have a collection of detail knives from them as well. You'll need these knives regardless of the material you choose to use. A spokeshave is a must for wood decoys unless you have a power carver, like a foredom tool. Prior to buying a foredom tool, I used the spoke shave to do a lot of shaping and the great thing about the spoke shave is you can get a real classic style and look to your decoys. For cork, you need a surform rasp (you could even get that at home depot).

I acquired my tools over time, I didn't drop all this money at once! The duck blind starter kit is how I got started. From there, I purchased the bandsaw, because that is a must. From the bandsaw, I spend a few hundred dollars on good knives from Knotts knives. Eventually I bought a foredom tool and most of my carving now is with the foredom. You just can't beat the speed and the capability of the foredom tool! Now I have a big collection of bits for the foredom too. From cylinder course, flame bits and detail cutters. Just last year I finally bought a Delta surface planer. Before I bought that, I used to have to take my wood to various people to borrow their planer. Having a planer is also a must for wood decoys. I picked mine up for a steal from an older guy selling it for $100 and the thing is like brand new. I could surface plane a 12" thick piece of wood up to 14" wide.

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Re: Basswood

Post  Davey Welsh on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:19 pm

Luke Berkey wrote:Sorry to hijack your thread here Scott, but have any of you guys ever carved black cork. I have very little carving experience but I kinda like the look of some of the old black cork birds. Espeacially blacks and brant. I was thinking about getting a sheat of black cork from Willy when I get some time to sit down and carve. I'd like to have a small rig of black cork black ducks and brant.

I did carve a black cork decoy once Luke and it was one hell of a mess. I don't like black cork for a few reasons. It falls apart when you carve it, so rather than "carve" you basically shape with a rasp and it shapes FAST. The other thing I don't like is the mess and the fact that they absorb a shitload of water. I have a rig of LL bean coastal corks that I don't use anymore (my Dad gave them to me) and the last time I had them out they were heavy.

That being said, I do understand your appeal to the black cork. For awhile black cork was a very popular material for decoys and it does have a nostalgic look to it. I say go for it if that is what you would really like for a working spread!

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Re: Basswood

Post  Luke Berkey on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:37 pm

Davey, I have heard some of the same things you are saying about the black cork. As far as it being messy and falling apart as you carve it. I wouls assume that there would have to be a way to seal it. Maybe more trouble then it's worth though. It will be a while before I have the time to start carving anyway.
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Re: Basswood

Post  Luke Berkey on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:40 pm

Scott, I forgot to mention that if you are still looking for basswood. Look at some of the wood working sites like rockler and woodcraft they usually offer basswod in smaller sizes. Stuff that would work for heads. Not sure how prices compare to anywhere else though. Also I have seen small basewood blocks at Micheals art supply stores. If they have anything big enough to be useful you can usually find a 40% off one item coupon in the weekend papers.
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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:19 pm

Thanks Luke, I will check into it.

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Re: Basswood

Post  Scott Salzer on Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:27 pm

My advice is to start with cork
I took everyone's advice and called up the duck blind and ordered a sheet of cork to get me going. I also got some basswood for heads, glass eyes, a Warren handle and blades and a draw knife.

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