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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Howling Hound Dog

I just finished this bottle stopper, the Howling Hound Dog. No doubt he's howling cuz he's been into the wine. He's made of walnut, little less than 2 inches high, and I knew him when he was a tree. (see entry about found wood, last one I think). A friend called me up one day, said he knew a farmer who had dropped a walnut tree and wanted to sell it, as is where is. What the heck, I figured I'd take a look. We got there, out near nowhere, hiked out back around the pond and behind the barn through the hedgerow and on the edge of a field just planted with corn was a HUGE walnut tree, cut into two eight foot logs and a 6 footer, all knot and branch

free. He told us the price, we silently thanked God we brought the trailer and we loaded that thing up and drove like madmen before he could change his mind. There was over 400 bdft of lumber in that log, after buying the log and getting it sawn we had CLEAR walnut lumber for about $1.00 per board foot (current mkt price is 6 or so USD)

So I decided to practice my Flat Plane whittling some more, this little figure is one I've thought about whittling for many years, even when I wasn't whittling it was in the back of my mind to do.

The light color is the sap side of the tree- walnut does not darken up until it is a few years old in the tree. in this tree the outside 2 inches or so (the tree was easy 2' diameter) is lighter and tan. The first two pics show the beginning of the heartwood, the darker streaks at the bottom.

He's the second stopper I made, the first (frog) I finished with acrylic paints and water based urethane. I'm certain the frog will hold up for quite a long while, with care, but am also certain I'll eventually need to repair the finish. My wife has that one, so that's not really a problem. For the hound I tried something different, Minwax (not the only mfr) makes a product they call Wood Hardener, its a nasty cocktail of ketones and acetone and some sort of plastic or acrylic resin. It is supposed to penetrate pretty far, its intended to repair rotten or damaged wood so you can get a good solid base for filling and painting. I immersed doggie in a bottle, cover on, and still outside (one review I read suggested staying 7 miles from any open flame source) until the little air bubbles stopped coming out of him. That took about an hour, and another couple hours to dry enough to bring inside. Within a day I can't detect the scent of any solvents, even when I inhale the little guy, so I figure he's pretty well cured. I ran him under the faucet, water seems to bead up and not penetrate, so it looks like I got what I want, so far- a durable protective finish that enhances the grain of the piece without adding color, and will stand up to careful rinsing needed by a working- dog bottle stopper.

Ask me in a year how it worked out. On to the next __________. See you then, BfloBif


  1. I LIKE him... did you have a pattern to start with or did you get him out of your head?

    What do you use for the bottle stopper part?


  2. Hi Marcia, sorry I took so long to reply. I'll have to be more diligent about looking at comments.
    Design phase on this guy was typical of my process- I search the web for images, photos and artwork, both 2d and 3d, then I turn the puter off and start sketching. It usually takes several sketches before I'm happy. I actually have had this hound in the back of my mind since I was a kid, saw a whittling pattern in a book once and it stuck with me since.