Thursday, October 29, 2009


Well I am at last at it. Starting my knife making process. And yes I do mean process. There are several steps I take in making my carving knives and I will write about them on this blog as I proceed though the process.

(I just want to make a side comment here as I know that there are a
number of those reading this that are doing so on Facebook. And I want those of face book to know that what you are reading is being
imported from my blog therefore you are not seeing this in the same format that is in the blog. So if you want to see this post as I had intended it to be please take the time and go to my blog which is located at

Today is Phase One.
This means that I go to where I keep my knife templates and select which ones I want to make. As you can see I keep them all in one place so I can easily access them.

Next I go to my raw steel stock and with a trusty Sharpie I layout the shape of the knives on the appropriate knife blanks. I will layout all the knives which
I intend to make during this session of knife making, this is the first step of the knife making process. Today I will be doing
the layout for some eight different knives. Six of these are for carving or crafts, one is a kitchen/do everything knife, and the last is a mini dagger or cleavage knife which is warn from a chain or lanyard as a neckless and usually by some Harley gals (yes the knives are in a scaber).

After I finish a knife blank layout, I put the blank into a bin where they wait for the next step in the process.
As you can see, there is not too much I can say about Phase One. Perhaps tomorrow I will start Phase Two.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Just got back from spending some catch-up time at Wired Cafe to find that I received some knife orders today. So I went to the cupboard to fetch some knives and the cupboard was depleted. Now I am going to have to play catch-up on some knife making.

The next thing I did was to make sure that I had enough steel to make some more knives and I do. So I will be busy this week making a batch of my standard 1" Magic Knives and maybe some mid size Magic Knives also. I am going to use up some of the knife blanks I made and then as I deplete my stock of blanks I will start discontinuing some of the various sizes I have been offering. I also plan on making a couple of batches of Detailing Knives as well. Both the Curved and Straight cutting edge blades but I am thinking of discontinuing the French Curve Detailing Knife but I will make that decision as I work my way through the up coming knife making process.

The reason I decided to write this is because once I post it to the world, I will have to get started making these knives.

The Magic Knife is used in my one knife carving technique. I will touch more about this in a future posting. I will also talk more about how the Magic Knife is made and why it has that name also in some future posting.

For more information about my Magic Knives and my Detail Knives please visit Shop Taos where you can read more about them.

Well enough blogging for today.

Terry R. Wolff

Friday, October 16, 2009


One of the thinks that I really enjoy carving are symbols. I have always enjoyed type fonts so it only seems natural to me that symbols would follow. Symbols can be carved either into the wood (incised) or they can be carved as relief.

The carvings shown to the right are part of a commission I did for a Colorado client. She also ordered a sign and only one of the two carvings shown here. I did the second one for Linda and myself.

I find Chinese calligraphy also makes for interesting incised carvings. I first realized that I was able to correctly imitate their calligraphy was at a Chinese restaurant in Bellingham WA. Their menu had a number followed by the calligraphy which was for the kitchen staff. The waitress had left her pad with the menus so we could put the number of what we wanted. I decided that I would insert the calligraphy instead and before I knew it, the staff was talking to me in Chinese (this later happened to me in a remote village in China as well). That is when I knew that I could write the unknown language and have it understood. Over the years I have done several calligraphy commissions which are now here in the US as well as in Japan and China.

Here is my thoughts about carving anything. First is to perfect your very basic skill level and secondly look for the basic shapes in all your subjects. I look at each subject or project in basic shapes which will later be refined as the carving progresses toward completion. For example when I teach a new student to carve I have them do some extremely basic incised exercises. I then advance them to using those initial exercises into an abstract design. From there I move them into carving a "Welcome" sign (Letter Carving). I use this word because it includes all the previously learned exercises. Do I want them to become sign carvers is not the point. The point is that by perfecting their carving skills in small increments they can easily and effortlessly move into whatever carving style they may choose.

I will carve a welcome sign just to warm up before tackling a much more complicated commissioned carving. The commission may not even include any lettering at all. The point is that in less than twenty minutes I have warmed up carving something so basic I can practically carve them in my sleep and maybe I do. I have started more winter fires with welcome signs than most people have carved anything (that is because, they don't all appeal to me or there is an earlier carving on the other side). This is like doing stretches before heading to the lift to start a day of skiing (I wonder if I will be able to write blogs and ski too?).

Although most of the symbols I carved have been incised carvings, I have done carvings such as Celtic designs in relief as well. The important thing to remember is whatever you choose to carve, identify its basic shapes and go from there. Once you do that, even if you are carving a letter, you can carve them backwards and upside down because they become geometric shapes and not letters. the same goes for carving a face, a horse, or whatever you choose to carve.

Anyway I am done rambling so if you are a carver just find yourself an interesting design and have at it. You may be surprised at what you may accomplish.

Terry R. Wolff