Maple Log Totem

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Project by Justin Gordon posted 01-19-2018 05:23 PM 1789 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey Jocks,
Here’s a new project I’m on. It’s for a woman who took down a big maple in her yard and wanted to preserve some of it with memories she holds fondly of family and friends. The totem was designed by my client. I just had to make rough sketches of her descriptions. The maple limb started out 8 feet long and 10 inches diameter. The client wanted lots of elements from Moon flowers, to bearded iris’s, to a Ganesh figure, a Great Horned Owl on top, two nuthatch birds, hydrangea flowers, a Striped Bass, and a few other elements, all representing memories of family or friends.

I used an Arbortech MiniGrinder to rough out the big elements. Hand tools (big chisels and a big mallet) to do most of the finish roughing and much of the detailing. I’m now at the fine details so I’m using two foredom flex shafts with two different bits. The hydrangea buds were hard to figure out. But once I saw the original square shape of each individual bud within the overall large buds, it was just a matter of carving out a bunch of overlapping squares then detailing them with depth and details. I’m also doing a fair amount of wood burning for some of the fine details on the birds and fish and such. Typhoon bits also surprised me with some nice finish textures.

I’ve had the piece in my shop for over 2 years now. The client has been very understanding about my other annual job commitments. A completion date is now visible, though, and she wants a one color Danish oil finish. Then we make a stand for it on a 24” lazy susan so she can rotate it to view each side. Working on maple has been a lesson for me. I knew it would be hard but it turned out a factor of 3X longer than say carving in my usual basswood.

The client has also gotten deeply involved in using the rest of her maple tree trunk which she had sawn into 2 inch planks to air dry in her 2 bay garage. She’s joined a wood workers guild within a community arts and crafts society and is taking classes in woodworking on planers, joiners, table saws, you name it. I’m quite impressed with this gal, especially since she’s older than me by a few years. If she takes up wood carving, I may be out of a job. : )


-- [email protected]

7 comments so far

View htl's profile


5168 posts in 1964 days

#1 posted 01-19-2018 05:59 PM

Great start to a fine finish!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View ralbuck's profile


6553 posts in 3071 days

#2 posted 01-19-2018 06:14 PM

Very impressive!

Waaaaaaaaay past my skills; and my patience levels too

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Texcaster's profile


1292 posts in 2479 days

#3 posted 01-19-2018 09:32 PM

Very Excellent!

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1447 posts in 3469 days

#4 posted 01-20-2018 04:04 AM

Very nice work, great piece, I will be looking forward to the finished piece. Thanks for sharing.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View hunter71's profile


3528 posts in 3992 days

#5 posted 01-20-2018 01:24 PM

Wow, great job.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3672 days

#6 posted 01-20-2018 02:00 PM

Justin, you have done a wonderful job on carving this piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bushmaster's profile


3940 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 01-21-2018 02:38 AM

Amazing work, very valuable project considering the time it would take to finish it,

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

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