Humpback Whale Carving/Sculpture

Just finished this whale carving. The whale is mesquite wood and the base is western red cedar. It is about 14 inches long.

I took the image under Tungston lighting which gives it a strong Yellow/Orange cast.


That is absolutely amazing. What techniques are you using? Is that all hand carving, drimmell tool, etc.? I would guess a combination. I knew a guy who used to do wood carvings and all of his were hand carved with knives, smoothed with sand paper. Never used mechanical tools on his carvings. I couldn’t get over his accuracy and perfect symmetry. I wish I could see some of your work in person. Your images blow me away. Great work. Keep feeding us examples.


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Oh. My. Goodness. How in the world?!
Beautiful whale carving!

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Thank you both very much.

I use every tool available to me.
Table Saw, Mitre Saw, Band Saw,
Dremel tool, large Moto tool, Die Grinder, Drill Press,
Various sanders, Hand sanding, various hand knives, planes, etc.
Quite a bit is hand work but I use power tools at every opportunity.


This is simply incredible, Dale! I am in awe!

I have a friend who works in wood, and I am constantly amazed at what he turns out. (no pun intended) LOL!


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Thank you
That is one tool I don’t have…a lathe for turned objects. It is on my to get list

That is amazing work! How long does this take? I’m in awe

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Hi junenez, Thank you.
Like all art you can put in as much time as you want. I think this one took maybe 30 hours over a 5 month period…not sure as I don’t track time. I am comfortably retired and have little interest in selling anything so I work on it till I am tired of it. :slight_smile: I see a lot I could have added to this but didn’t. A lot I could have done better but didn’t. Total realism isn’t of interest to me and the more I do the less I want to do pure realism and the more I want to attempt (poorly so far) to simply capture the essence). Somewhat like Sumi-e or Chinese ink art attempts.

I am almost more interested in the material than the piece. :-)_

Another beautiful piece, I love how shiny he is! :star2: :whale2: Is that shininess from sanding or polish (or both?) OH the grains are so beautiful, though, really!

Thank you,
Complicated subject…finishes.
I have not settled on a finish for the wood or stone pieces I do so they do differ from piece to piece. I am still experimenting. For wood pieces I tend to sand to about 280 or 320 sandpaper grit if the wood will take it. Above that the sandpaper clogs and becomes mostly ineffective. Above 320 or so sandpaper needs to be a water/wet sandpaper and water doesn’t work well for wood but does for stone. However, if you are using most modern spray finishes sanding wood to above 220 is mostly a waste of time and effort as it is the finish itself that provides the slickness or shine. Finishes choices can be dull, matt or high gloss and the best choice depends on your preferences or what you want to achieve. There are hundreds of finishes from beeswax to modern poly chemical finishes. For wood it also depends on the wood, if it is a tight or open grain wood. Some use oil such as tung oil and some use shellac an old finish. For wood I tend to like several wipe on polyurethane coats with a final polyurethane spray finish and after that cures then a paste wax rub. For stone and depending on the stone I might start at 40 or 80 grit and gradually work it up to as high as 5,000 grit sandpaper but usually not.

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Just a note on the mesquite.

The most common types of mesquite trees are the honey mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulosa, velvet mesquite tree, Prosopis velutina, and screwbean mesquite tree, Prosopis pubescens.

Mesquite beans, of the appropriate variety and proper preparation were a US indigenous people’s food and often sold at many South Texas general stores till at least 1910. You can still buy Mesquite bean flour on amazon.

I believe this piece is a piece of honey mesquite.

PS do not eat mesquite beans or flour on my say so !!! :slight_smile:

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Wow, that’s cool! Thank you for sharing! :smile: Definitely a lot to think about after the sculpting is done, your expertise on the subject is truly amazing! :sparkles:

Fascinating info on mesquite, Dale. I think my mother told me the beans were poisonous, probably just to keep me from trying them as a child. She’s also responsible for my fear of water (to swim in). But that’s another story.

Are there still as many mesquites in the panhandle as there were when I was living there? I know they were really a problem for farmers. My dad loved it for his BBQ pit.


I think there are more mesquite than ever
I generally don’t have access to the wood though
Today I will get a couple pieces of pecan

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Brenda, I’m originally from West Texas, El Paso area. Mesquite thrives in that area, actually I think I’ve seen them maybe from Midland all the way to El Paso and beyond. Back then, in my childhood years, looooooooong ago, I was a tomboy who wandered all over the place. My friends and I would gather mesquite vines and chew on them. They are really good when ripe, even when dry. They’re fibrous so you can only swallow what comes from chewing on seeds and vine. Those were the days… haha