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Tiki Central Forums Creating Tiki Tiki Carving Worth starting out on a Pine log?
Worth starting out on a Pine log?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2002
Posts: 170
Posted: 2008-12-01 12:01 am   Permalink

I've been preparing to carve my first tiki for quite awhile now. I've got the tools and am ready to go. The problem is that the only logs I can secure are Pine. From the research I've done here, I understand Pine to be a hard wood to carve.......and being a first timer, I'm wondering if starting off with Pine is a bad idea. I've tried a few cuts and find the wood to be pretty uncooperative...although it could be the result of dull chisels. I've been searching for basswood logs for months with no luck and as a result, I've been putting my carving on hold. So the question is, do I dive into the Pine and muscle through it and risk my first experience becoming a nightmare, or am I better off continuing my search for a better "starter" log? Thanks all!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 21, 2008
Posts: 174
From: Netherlands
Posted: 2008-12-01 12:22 am   Permalink

Hey Tonga,
I have never carved pine, but being a beginner myself i am happy with any log i can get my hands on. I have learned that any experience is good experience as it teaches you things you didn't know. So i would say give it a try. But do make sure your tools are as sharp as you can get them. A search on sharpening tools here should come up with some helpful tips. Now get to it and have fun.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 06, 2007
Posts: 39
From: Colorado, USA
Posted: 2008-12-01 08:36 am   Permalink

Most of my carvings have been done in Pine, but I am using power tools. Not sure about power vs chisel issues. I say go for it, what 'cha got to loose?

"In the dark, mysterious, pagan womb of the tiki bar, Organizational Man could escape the spectre of the A-bomb and the 30-year mortgage." (Grog Log - J Berry, A Kaye - 1998)


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2008
Posts: 504
From: Tucson
Posted: 2008-12-01 08:54 am   Permalink

I've also just started out (a few months ago) carving.....I got lucky and found a couple of nice palm logs, but after that, I'm in the same boat, scrounging for logs. I understand, Pine is not the best because of the grain. I plan to try it myself, cause Mesquite is the only wood I can get easily, being in Tucson. And its hard as a rock, nice looking though. Sharp tools are a must, though. I bought a stone etc. and it seems to help keeping the chisels sharp but need to keep sharpening them often, even with Palm, which is pretty soft.
Good luck and keep posting, there are alot of really talented carvers around here,
Tucson Tiki, Benzart, Surfintiki, Jungle trader, Meiko and others. They are generous with their advice and knowledge.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 21, 2008
Posts: 174
From: Netherlands
Posted: 2008-12-01 10:21 am   Permalink

Since we are all starters in this threat so far, and we all seem to have the same problem finding decent logs. I will try and give some tips that worked for me and might help others.
1. Tell everyone you know, you are carving wood. and if they know of any logs or trees that are gonna be
removed or trimmed to contact you.
2. If you see someone cutting down a tree, don't be afraid to ask them for a piece or offer them to take
care of removing what they consider waste.
3. Contact landscapers and tell them what you do and want. They often have to pay to make waste of the trees
they remove and are often happy to give it away for free or trade for a six pack.
4. Smaller logs, branches and pieces of wood are easier to find and make great practice. Smaller pieces also
help you find your own style or at least determine what you like to carve before getting stuck in a
six foot log.
I found some of these tips here on TC others just happened in daily life.
Hope this helps anyone struggling to get some decent logs.

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big daddy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 02, 2008
Posts: 325
From: houston
Posted: 2008-12-01 10:36 am   Permalink

i started on pecan wood and found that it wore down my chisels. after hurricane ike i found lots of pine and discovered that it was like carving butter compared to the pecan. just let the chip fly, keep your chisels sharp and post some photos. good luck!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2004
Posts: 2396
From: So FL
Posted: 2008-12-01 12:41 pm   Permalink

Don't be intimidated to contact any local wood carvers or wood craft stores. Everyone has to start somewhere and you will find lots of people that carve are willing to share knowledge. Your first tiki may suck, buts its still your first! If your looking for wood - contact your local tree trimmers - it costs them less to give it away than send it to the dump.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 27, 2006
Posts: 1644
From: Fabulous Houston
Posted: 2008-12-03 07:33 am   Permalink

Go ahead and start on the pine if that's all you have. I think the experience will be valuable. If you wait for the perfect piece of wood, you may never start. Always keep the chisels sharp!

Good luck, post some pics!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 16, 2008
Posts: 190
From: Neptune Beach, Florida
Posted: 2008-12-03 8:36 pm   Permalink


Carve what you got.
Carve it deep.
Make mistakes, but learn from them.
If it dont look right, it aint done yet.
If you can find carvers of ANY skill level - talk to them.
Call nurseries & tree surgeons & tell them what you want.
They WILL help if they can.

Have fun - let's see pics no matter what!


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 09, 2004
Posts: 10397
From: Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Posted: 2008-12-04 05:36 am   Permalink

Definitely go for it. Your first carve can be in Any kind of log you have, they will ALL offer up Excellent experience. Actually pine is a fairly soft wood but the grain is wide and interspersed with hard and soft layers which is where the difficulty comes in. Just use Sharp chisels and once you get familiar with the grain you should be fine. Roughing out will give you that familiarity so that when you get to the final detail you'll see where to be extra careful.
As always, if you run into trouble or have issues you need help with, just post it here before continuing and I think you will receive all the help you need to continue safely.
Hope this helps along with all the other posts.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2002
Posts: 170
Posted: 2008-12-04 11:47 pm   Permalink

Thanks for all the encouragement! I'll be diving back into it this weekend and will post pics of the progress. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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blindy the pirate
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 21, 2008
Posts: 160
From: Tallahassee FL
Posted: 2008-12-11 06:31 am   Permalink

Benzart is right about the pine with its hard and soft layers. But it is a fairly easy wood to work with, just look at how much pine is sold in the Home Depot.

For me, finding pine or oak is easy, I just keep an eye out for wood piles in front of peoples houses waiting for the city claw trucks to pick up. Neither is ideal for carving (the oak is super hard) but I have learned the tricks from carving them. You might want to look on Craigslist for logs too. I know on mine a lot of people try to give away logs so they don't have to pay to dispose of them.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 28, 2005
Posts: 1689
From: Mission Beach, CA
Posted: 2008-12-16 10:02 am   Permalink

I'll carve anything non-poisonous and i'm so close to the ocean I can't really wait for bone dry logs either. If it cracks or gets weird on me I just incorporate or even emphasize the fissures into the design. I did that with a recent tang and, suprise, the funkiest side is everyone's unanimous favorite!

Have some moist mask backs that I'm going to fill with rocksalt or dry rice to drain. I'll share the results.

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