Carved cherry fish

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 06-03-2021 12:55 AM 804 views 0 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a scrap of cherry. While looking at it trying to decide how to carve it, there was no way I could figure to make it into a bird, so it ended up being a fish. I thought about an orca, but the tail goes the wrong way for a mammal, so that’s right out.

There was a big knot on the right hand (starboard?) side that fell out once I started carving around it. Between that and the crazy grain from that bit of branch, carving this was an exercise in patience.

Finish was a coat of shellac to fill the pores, sanded back with 400 grit wet-dry, and re-shellacked, then two coats of BLO, with a few wipes of shellac in between to add a little sheen.

In the end, I think it came out okay, and it feels great in the hand. Total length is about 3½ inches or 9cm.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

29 comments so far

View pottz's profile


20737 posts in 2232 days

#1 posted 06-03-2021 01:03 AM

looks like someones taking a bowl break ? me too.looks great, time to start adding more detail ?

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View crowie's profile


5035 posts in 3199 days

#2 posted 06-03-2021 01:23 AM

You’ve done well Dave, I like seeing imperfections in timber as they add, for me, real character and interest.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View oldrivers's profile


2735 posts in 2815 days

#3 posted 06-03-2021 01:35 AM

Looks good Dave, that what artist do just go with the flow let the wood dictate what will work the best. Good job.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Eric's profile


1982 posts in 1121 days

#4 posted 06-03-2021 01:41 AM

Looking very nice Dave, and I agree the knot adds to the look. Great job.

-- Eric, building the dream

View doubleDD's profile


10717 posts in 3291 days

#5 posted 06-03-2021 01:54 AM

It’s a darn good job Dave, something fishy about it but still nice work and recognizable. The eye resembles the eye of a whale in my opinion. Definitely a thumbs up.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8476 posts in 1830 days

#6 posted 06-03-2021 02:09 AM

Pottz, turned a bowl yesterday, but it was Russian olive that really wanted to crack on me, so I just finished gluing it and turning it today. Tomorrow I’ll probably be posting that.

Thanks, Peter! Plus it’s fun figuring out how to work around them.

Thanks, Oldrivers! There wasn’t much choice with this chunk of wood.

Thanks, Eric!

Thanks, Dave! The whole wave in the fish’s body was just what the grain wanted to do.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View robscastle's profile


8280 posts in 3452 days

#7 posted 06-03-2021 02:37 AM

OMG Dave that’s going to make the birbs frisky!

I will get the pan ready!

-- Regards Rob

View recycle1943's profile


5869 posts in 2870 days

#8 posted 06-03-2021 10:39 AM

now I feel bad about pitching those pesky little chunks of wood – on second thought, I can’t make a cutoff look that good no matter how I handle it.
Another great job Dave

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Oldtool's profile


3326 posts in 3439 days

#9 posted 06-03-2021 10:49 AM

This looks to be a good exercise in finishing, the treatment you applied gives the natural beauty in the wood to show and display it’s individual uniqueness. Nice work.
Did you notice any difference when applying the BLO after two coats of shellac? I’m wondering if the shellac sealed the wood sufficiently enough to prevent BLO soaking in.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8476 posts in 1830 days

#10 posted 06-03-2021 11:32 AM

Thanks, Rob! They seem okay so far, but they’re all sitting in bowls, so maybe they haven’t noticed the fish yet.

Thanks, Dick!

Thanks, Tom! After the first coat of shellac, I sanded back with the wet-dry paper, and I think I only left shellac, along with the sanding dust in the pores. The second coat went on pretty quickly, and then for the first coat of BLO, I just dipped the fish in my salsa jar of BLO and then wiped it off, and it seemed to soak in pretty well, but the shellac may not have been completely dry yet, so it was a shellac / BLO mix (like a friction finish on the lathe, or like French polishing) that dried as I rubbed it in and removed the excess. At least that was my goal. And I’m not certain, but I think I was dipping my rag in shellac so it probably softened the existing layers a bit,

The second coat of oil happened after about 12 hours, and I was aiming to cover a few spots where the finish looked a little “flat” and I wiped it with shellac again while the BLO was still wet, so I suspect the finish is an amalgam of the two, probably all the way through. And based on the color change of the wood, I would say the oil penetrated at least a little.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View BigMig's profile


655 posts in 3861 days

#11 posted 06-03-2021 02:17 PM

Looks like a cool carving of a whale to me

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8476 posts in 1830 days

#12 posted 06-03-2021 03:04 PM

Yeah, Mike. I suspect my brain was thinking whale, but the tail is wrong, so it’s definitely a fish. ;-)

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View therealSteveN's profile


8906 posts in 1822 days

#13 posted 06-03-2021 03:34 PM

Nice fish Dave. Is it’s name Wanda by any chance?

-- Think safe, be safe

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8476 posts in 1830 days

#14 posted 06-03-2021 04:21 PM

Thanks, SteveN! When I don’t know the name of something I tend to call it “Bob.” Works fine for the bobcats in the neighborhood. ;-)

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View EarlS's profile


4762 posts in 3596 days

#15 posted 06-03-2021 04:48 PM

What’s next? There are plenty of interesting woods out there waiting to be carved (zebrawood??)

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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