Decoy Carving

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Decoy Carving

Postby duckmann » Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:07 pm

If I was interested in starting to carve a few of my own decoys this winter how would I get started? What I mean is what type of wood should I use for head and body? Hardwood? Softwood? How big a block do I need to start with? 2x4? 4x4?

Does anyone do much carving?
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Postby Dogman » Tue Dec 07, 2004 6:01 pm

White Cedar is the wood most guys I know recommend,haven't carved any myself though.Hard woods would most likely be too heavy to be practical.
Ever thought about cork?Makes a nice Deke also.
My lab is still the best hunting partner there is.
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Postby DUKHTR » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:32 am

duckman.....I got into carving a short while back and cannot figure out why I didn't do it many years ago

here's a couple of excellent resources:
the duck blind (web site run by Willie McDonald and his wife...they are excellent, have tutorials on line that are available plus videos and materials)

Tom Mattus has a great book out, you can order it at Borders...$14...I learned alot from that book and incorporated the concepts into shaping foamers and cork

I would suggest that starting out with foam is the best medium, rather than wood. Foam is cheap, the shaping tools are very basic and cheap, and you get an easy to shapable medium that really works. I have made a few dozen, some I burlapped, which adds durability (I can stand on it) and some I seal and then use as is...just like a Herters. I'd be glad to help you on the details of getting started if you are interested.

I also have made cork dekes and that is another medium that is easy to work with, but not cheap.

It's easy to learn the shaping of the body....heads for me have been difficult to get real good symetry. Symetry is important and is easy to get ahold on when working with the 'softer' mediums such as foam. The most important point I can make is.....there are no points or square or lines on a duck...everything is rounded! I originally got the heads through Herters, but they are all the same pose, so now I get them from Autumn Wings or from Lou Tish at Lock, Stock & Barrel. (That's another good source and if you want to start with the painting....check out his EAllen decoys!)

Then, after all the shaping there are keels and of course paint. I use 1x2's in 9" sections for the keels angled at 22.5*. On the foamers I hollow out the keel with the drill press and pour lead so they are self righting. The corks don't need to be weighted and I learned that on the first one I made...it is very heavy. Paint I use are acrylics...you can get on line or at Michaels or even Walmart. I actually like the cheap walmart paints, but Golden or JoSonya are excellent paints....but about $8 per whereas the walmart stuff is less than a buck a bottle and it mixes well.....for irredencent colors I did go with the interference colors from Golden....you can also add texture with first coating the decoy in gesso and then sponge on texture paste.....then comb for vermiculation and for feather vanes I use a serrated plastic picnic knife. Another way to add texture is to use cork dust in a paste form with epoxy.... on the plain foamers I sealed them with DriLoc which forms a light protective shell and texture all in one.

As said, I can help on any questions or details....just let me know!

The wood is difficult to have all the real tools - for example a fordham tool is expensive in itself and is pretty much a neccessity for any quantity work and for all the details. Even a spoke shave is expensive these days.
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Duck Carving

Postby duckmann » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:55 am

DUKHTR,

Thanks a ton for the informative reply!!

I will make sure to take a look at the resources you listed. Carving will make for a great winter hobby to conduct while the winter winds are blowing! I started this year by making 6 Eider silhouettes out of scrap wood and found out that hunting over your own decoys is really very rewarding. I am now interested in building a few Oldsquaw and Eider Y boards and carving 6 buffleheads in preparation for next season. Was thinking (after reading your post) I would use white cedar and accomplish the rough cuts with a band saw and then carve the rest by hand and finish off with sander. I am not in a big hurry so thought the carving would be fun to do while watching TV at night. Will tell you if this holds true after I complete the first one! :)

On the foam decoys is the head also made of foam?

Have a feeling that once I get started I will have a ton of additional questions.
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Postby DUKHTR » Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:33 pm

duckman....you are very ambitious to start with wood! Good for you!! I am too analytical and take little steps....a little bit cheap too. Seriously, I started with the foam because of what I said above, but also because I wanted to build a large set quickly...once I had a couple dozen blacks in burlap I was then hooked on a great way to pass time and to add fulfillment to my hunts.

Do go to Willy's site and do get the book before you start. Maybe balsa would be a good medium, again, it is softer and easier to shape with minimal 'exotic' tools. In the Matus book (and btw....he has a site too but I can't recall the name - try a search ubder Tom Matus), there are patterns and color schemes, a section on tools, how to choose a wood (tupelo, basswood, cedar, pine) setting the template to wood, the initial cuts to the block, roughing out the shape (head and body) and finally even adding major feather groups. Then the real fun starts with adding all the details and eventually the painting with texture. Basically it covers the process a to z.

On my foamers I started with the Heerters heads from Cabellas....unpainted they are about $10 per six. Then I got a couple from Mighty Layout Boys, and some more from Lock Stock & Barrel. They are getting more expensve, but I am getting alot more poses. I even cut a plastic deke I had and made a custom head position.

One of these days I may go to the extra step of carving the heads myself....but I was more into quantity when I started this project (that will probably never end).

There is an excellent carver down in Newburyport named Hank Garvey...a great guy and very good with wood. He also makes the same pattern I have for all my eider silo sleds, although he has modified his sleds to have the front brace angled instead of flat to ride the waves even better. My next set will have that feature. Anyway, every now and then he posts about a workshop....I'll keep you in mind....Hank is active on Duck Hunter's Boat Page.

Another outstanding resource for me was the decoy forum at the Refuge. I learned almost everything about the foamers from the stickies in that forum as well as from input in threads. I hate to spam other forums, but there are some excellent resources out there! In addition, Mighty Layout Boys has a site with resources including reference pics, carving tips, etc.

I was thinking about putting togetyher a mini clinic with/for a couple friends in early spring on making the foamers....I'll let you know. I even have thought out a 'lesson' plan with pre-cut and ready models already in various stages of production for reference as we go.

I think everyone would have alot of fun...and I am sure we could grill up some of our favorite game meat!

Please feel free to ask...anything! I may not know the answer, but I may know how we can track it down!

D-
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Decoys

Postby duckmann » Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:27 pm

Since I was only thinking about making 6 "basic" decoys before the start of next season I don't mind going slow and making a few mistakes. I actually dug out my old carving kit and chisels that I had as a kid last night and started checking them over. I figure as soon as the holidays are over I should have the time to start working on a few heads in the evenings.

Will certainly check out Willy's site before I begin and take a look at the library for the other books you mentioned. Interesting on the modified sled design. I made my braces from 2x2s and wrapped with foam PVC insulating material and secured with zip ties. Fairly durable and make the decoys "ride high". . . didn't know if you had heard of that approach before. I have 6 currently completed Eider sleds and would like to make 6 Y boards next w/ eiders and 6 with old squaws.

Please keep me posted on the workshop.

Sounds like a great idea for the Spring I will bring the deer steaks! I also have a skeet launcher and would be glad to offer instruction on how NOT to shoot.

Duck Mann
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Postby DUKHTR » Thu Dec 09, 2004 5:55 pm

will do Duck! I'll probably just make a post when I can determine a time and see who might be interested....as said, I am am no expert, just kniduv got into it and liked it..... I am fortunate that I can put in a half hour here an hour o there...that way I am only down in my "fort" for awhile on any one evening

like last night, I poured six 3 lb anchors...took about an hour and then was with the 'boss' the rest of the evening,...,....,, win/win!!!!!
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