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!