Thursday, June 24, 2010

WIP: Nothing Like An "Ax In The Stump" (Part 1 of 2)

WIP="Work in Progress"

This is one of those projects that has always amazed me, from the first time that I saw one and to the point when I knew that I had to try carving it  for myself. An ax in the stump is one of those carving projects that is sort of like a ball-in-the-cage... it's just interesting to admire, discuss, and most of all it's fun to carve.

On the other hand I'd also say that it isn't amazingly hard to carve, nor is it a simple project. I would class this one as "moderate" in skill level and also it can be cut out with a bandsaw or by hand using a coping saw. Be sure to read the cautions below if you choose to use the bandsaw.

Looking at the pictures to the left you can see that I've carved this project in several sizes, from the smallest one which was taken from a Jenga block which measures a mere 3" X 1" X 1/2" and that is very tiny. The larger one I carved from a basswood limb that had a 3" diameter. The wood used for my latest ax-in-the-stump (the blue ax) and the focus of this posting was a  seasoned piece of maple limb with a 2-1/4" diameter stump. This medium sized project or the larger one would be good choices for trying your hand at this interesting conversation piece.

As indicated in the picture to the right first you'll need to find a tree branch with an attached limb at about a 45 degree angle. Most limbs grow at this approximate angle so you shouldn't have much trouble finding one unless you live in Antarctica.

Since you're cutting round wood this will require adequate bandsaw experience as this type of cutting can create an unsafe situation. Bandsaws are made for cutting wood that has a firm squared grip on the cutting table so when cutting something "round" you greatly increase the potential for bending an expensive blade AND increasing the chance for bodily injury. Exercise extreme caution when cutting round wood with a bandsaw and don't do it if you have any reservation about your ability to control the cut. A safe and effective alternative would be to clamp your limb down securely then cut it out by hand using a coping saw.

After prepping the limb I then use a straight edge to sketch out the handle of the ax, as seen in the picture directly above.
I then proceed to sketch out the entire ax with the handle extending outward with the limb of the tree and the ax head in the body of the branch. Next I then begin cutting out the shape of the ax while keeping in mind that the head of ax needs to end up near the center of the stump.

I will conclude the carving of my ax-in-the-stump with a final posting as soon as I can grab a few minutes to do so. Thanks for taking a look at a project which is fun, moderate in skill level, and a nice challenge if you're looking for something that will generate a lot of inquisitive conversation.


  1. Hi Dave,
    Great post, really looking forward to part two.

  2. Looks like fun. I will have to carve one.

  3. wonderful , dave, can't wait for part #2

  4. Maestro David,

    I like this axe in the stump. I will have to attempt it and let you know how it goes. Now that I'm back to NC, I plan to sharpen my hand carving tools and get back to learning from you.


  5. Hi Dave,

    What a nice little project! Not too difficult and easy enough to find suitable raw materials. Great stuff.