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Chip off the Old Block


By: Tom Fisher

I am an avid reader of your magazine and its great carving articles, many of which I have used for my carvings. I recently had an interesting thing happen to me that I thought your readers might enjoy hearing about.

I am a member of the Capitol Area Carvers in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin River Woodcarvers. When I participated in the Wisconsin River show in Sevens Point last September a gentleman approached my display area with a story and a request. He had a block of wood with a duck head roughly carved on it. He explained that, as a youth, his family had a wooden chopping block in their home. Later in life, he saved the block as a cherished memory of his family and childhood. He had envisioned carving a decoy from it for his current home. He had worked on the block but realized he had gone as far with the carving as he could. His question to me was, would I help him achieve his dream of a primitive decoy that he could display, made from the chopping block?

We took a few minutes and talked about the old chopping block, with its splits, cracks, heavy grain, and water stains acquired over many years. It would be a challenge, to say the least, but I said yes.

After many hours with hammer and chisel and a lot of “chip” carving, a primitive woodie emerged from that old chopping block. All the rough character, the splits and stains and grain from the block, actually became enhancements in the final work. This is the only carving I have done mostly with wood chisels. It will remain one of my most memorable carvings.

It was the gentleman’s dream come true and it will remain as a cherished memory of his youth and his family as it now rests in splendor on his fireplace hearth.

Tom Fisher
Pardeeville, Wisconsin


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