Introduction: 5 Super-easy Branch Carving Projects

About: The name says it all. And Sea Shanties. I like those too.

So, I originally thought it'd be wasteful to make a bunch of separate I'dibles, so I decided to slap them together to make one, awesome ultra-cool showcase of projects I've done over the years (particularly the last year). Yeah, not exactly what you'd expect on Thanksgiving weekend, but hey, why not? Some of us have free time.

Step 1: The Players.

So, I'd like to introduce two new players. One of them is mean and the other sleek.

Introducing (drumroll, please)

Sharktooth (my Japanese Pull Saw)

Razorback (a very helpful drawknife that cuts things quickly.

Other people you'll meet pocketknife (I call him Guppy), and my Dad's Axe. Axes, on small projects, are really only good for shortcuts or removing lots and lots of access wood from a log. Point is, you don't particularly need an axe, unless your making a sword (there's already an I'dible by Morfimir on that, so I won't repeat an already-fine I'dible).

If you're uninterested in what you're reading, just scroll down, because this has a lot of little I'dibles in it.

Step 2: Okay, So I'm Afraid I've Got to Rain on Your Parade.

Disclaimer (yeah, I know, but I got hurt, so it's worth mentioning).

Among my many harrowing tales, is this more recent one, When Sharktooth finally Bit.

I really wasn't expecting this, but I was getting frustrated because the wood for my projects was drying, so I started to get fresh wood to carve. As I was introducing Sharktooth to the branch, right there in the middle of the diplomacy, my saw completely slipped off the branch and cut right into my arm. That's the big-long scar you see in the photo, which runs (almost) from my wrist to my elbow. About a foot long.

The gist is, don't work when you're frustrating. If you're getting tired, preoccupied, or frustrated, stop working. I've gotten cut three times in the making of this instructable, from stupid, silly mistakes I could've avoided. (also, it really hurts to spray saw-cuts with hydrogen peroxide, so don't get cut in the first place.)

End of rant.

Step 3: Rune Pendants.

So this is an easy project that is a perfect example of creative knife-work.

Cut it to size, (depends on the length of your pendant), and rest your knife on the branch horizontally. Hit it with something heavy (a branch or an axe-handle), and you'll whack right through the log, cutting it in halves. Flatten the other side (fourth pic) which you can actually just do with another knife-axe combo.

I then rounded both ends, making it actually look like a pendant (I decided to leave the bark, which you could take off, if you wanted.)

Step 4: Finishing the Pendants.

I love woodburners; the lovely smell of burning wood in the morning. (inhales deeply)

So, you could engrave this with your knife (you might split your project, btw), but the woodburners kinda does that, so I just started. The second picture's upside down, sorry, but the runes mean this;

The triangle means Strength

The backwards Z means Stability

The Y-Shape means Protection for those you Love.

I used Nordic Runes because I'm a weirdo, but I'd like to point out these are vague translations; pretty much every rune has a second meaning.

Step 5: Lil' Treasure Chests.

These little chests are great for RPG games, tabletop games, theatrical set-ups, or any other little thing you've got going on.

I de-barked the part of the branch I'd be using, sawed it into a cube-shape, and started with the combo cuts. Unlike a dice (see my other I'dible), you're only making three cuts, not four. You want a round top, no?

Make the cuts, round the top a little more if you feel like it, and taa-da, treasure chest! Give it a brush-over with sandpaper, and stain it if you want to.

Step 6: Olympian Crowns.

So, I have no idea why the pictures are upside-down, but if you crane your head a little, you can see I'm making a wreath. Make them into ornaments, make them into rings, or twist them into a chain, to where around your neck: the possibilities are endless.

Gather some boughs from a weeping willow tree. I've tried using normal willow boughs for this, but they don't turn out as well. You could use vines or other bendy trees, just don't use poison ivy, you'll regret it.

Bend it into a circle with either end, making a weird Q.

Twist that branch around into itself, still holding the circle closed. Push the extra branch into the circle, and keep doing that until you get a wreath! When you run out of branch, put the end of the branch into the wreath and cut off the access. I think the pictures explain it much better.

Step 7: Mushrooms!

So, I gotta admit, I love carving mushrooms. I've never seen anyone else do these before, so I might've started a thing. I dunno.

I started a short-cut on my branch a little more than an inch down the branch, then cut off what'll be the 'stem' (second picture).

At the third picture, I used a short-cut for the stem, removing lots of wood quickly and cleanly. After rounding out the stem a little, I started carving the 'cap'. Depending on whether you want your mushroom to be round or pointed, you'll need more or less wood.

I opted for pointed.

Step 8: Have I Mentioned I Love Woodburners?

Then I pointed the top (I decided to make it bent, because I'm weird like that), and then sanded it a little. After woodburning an awesome elderly gentlemen onto the stem, I decided that, in the future, I'd start a mushroom army. (I'm considering making an epic poem, focusing on the trials and tribulations of the Mushroom Folk).

These are wonderful for garden decorations, and I can imagine them being used for chess and checkers. And, if I stretch my mind a little and squint my eyes, I can also remember a much younger self wishing he could play with the mushrooms in the big field.

*sigh* that poor child...

Step 9: Nine Pins! AKA, Bowling.

So what happens when you're thoroughly bored and lost in the jungle? Why, you make nine pins, of course!

I'm actually not the creater of this design, I learned about this from master wood carver, Chris Lubkemann. I've read several of his books, and he's got a website as well. If you're a beginner carver looking for inspiration, I'd recommend his books. Heck, if you're an old geezer, I'd recommend reading his books (all respect granted, of course).

Point is, let's go bowling.

I'll hardly bother with instructions, I'm sure you can figure it out from the pictures.

Step 10: Lovely Shots, Showcasing Hard Work.

So there you go. Five short projects for wood carvers. You can pair these with my other I'dibles, and I've seen several great carving instructables, if you're looking for inspiration.

Whether you're making a board game or, like me, you've got lots of free time (or you live in a forest and are VERY bored--or you're just very unsocial) I'd highly recommend giving yourself the time to sit down and turn a beautiful piece of wood into something better.

P.S (I'm really hoping to see those I-Made-It buttons appear down in the comments)