Timeless Craftsmanship Captured in Every Piece

Me. My Tools. My Process. My Barn.

Me. Always remember growing up with a crayon, pencil, pen, marker or paint brush in my hand. Just creating Art. It was my escape as a kid. From coloring books to sketch books to models, I was always working with my hands and being creative. So when I first discovered duck decoys in the 1980s, I was fascinated. The colors, the detail and how life-like they were, I was drawn in.

I had to learn how to carve wood.

My first lesson was at Prospect HS in Saratoga, CA, 1988, where I met the local Wood Carving Club. They handed me a piece of wood, a knife, and told me to carve a bear.


Hours later…this

This is my first wood-carving, which I’ve not touched since.

It’s a visual reminder of my roots.

And then this, my 3rd carving, “Pete”, the pintail duck decoy.

I've been carving since. It wasn't until I walked into a gallery in Aspen, Co and saw wood carvings like I've never seen before, it was inspiring. I was rejuvenated. I knew exactly what I wanted to aspire to be.

My Tools. My Process. 

  • First Phase: Cutting Out the Block.

    • Main Objective - Cut out the general shape of the subject.

    • Tools - Chain saw or Band-Saw.

  • Second Phase: Roughing Out the Block.

    • Main objective - Remove a lot of material!

    • Tools - 3 High-speed Rotary Driven tools with bits designed for rapid stock removal, series of hand chisels. 

  • Third Phase: Initial Shaping.

    • Main Objective - Identify the key high and low points of the carving, being mindful of the center mark and "roundness" of the cuts. Key is to be thoughtful of the 360 nature of the carving, staying away from looking "flat". 

    • Tools - 3 High-speed Rotary driven tools with bits designed for smooth shaping, series of hand chisels and calipers.

  • Fourth Phase: Final Shaping & Sanding (ugh)​

    • Main Objective: Finalize shape, make sure all of the "planes" make sense, MUST look 3D, not 2D. And then Sand...and Sand....and Sand...

    • Tools - Same as the Third Phase + Sandpaper...LOTS of Sandpaper (150 to 400 Grit)

  • Fifth Phase: Final Detailing (this is the FUN part)​

    • Main Objective - Make the carving come to life!​

    • Tools - High Speed Rotary Tool with various diamond and ceramic stone bits, wood burning tool.

  • Sixth Phase: Finishing (and actually Finishing the Carving!)

    • Main Objective: Apply the final finish on the carving, make it look as real as possible, give it texture and movement​.

    • Tools - Wood Stains, Airbrush, Acrylics, Oils, Alkyds are my usual choices to pick from.

My two favorite kinds of wood are Tupelo and Basswood. Tupelo is known for its ability to hold detail, whether using a hand or power tool. Basswood is softer, with little grain and highly manipulative. If requested, I will use other woods.

The Process can take anywhere from 40 to 250+ hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the subject matter. Once I'm locked in, I begin to see things in 3D. Time just fades away as I get lost in the process and the music that's always playing in the background. 

My Barn. How fortunate that I get to create my wood carvings in the W.H. Simms Barn, an amazing 100 year old structure in Historic Downtown McKinney, TX. It's one of only two of it's kind in Collin County. It's a calming and restorative Workshop & Studio. Everything I need to transform a piece of wood into a piece of art.

Sometimes I’ll just sit and listen to the sounds she makes, especially when rain hits the tin roof during a thunderstorm. I know she has endless stories to tell, I'm lucky to be the caretaker of it's history.  

Me. My Tools. My Process. My Barn.

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Timeless Craftsmanship Captured in Every Piece
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516 W Hunt Street * McKinney, TX 75069




Copyright© 2020 Bob Bruu Wood Carver. All Rights Reserved.