John Merritt, neat wood-carving guy (video)

This video of John Merritt, woodcarver, starts out slow, and then gets awfully interesting.


If you can get beyond the comment about “the ladies” (hey, this is middle, and older, America, folks – I still get called sweetie and honey by every woman my age or older working in the service industry when I go back to visit my parents in the Chicago area), he’s really good.

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  • You’re very kind to say so. Tung oil is made from the tung nut and is often used when you want to impart a rich color but also have good durability after it dries. By itself, the color tends to be somewhat golden, although in all of my test pieces with this particular redwood, it always went towards red.

    I decided to add the boiled linseed oil because I’d heard that it has a reputation for bringing out depth in wood and I figured it might have a moderating effect on the tung. What you’re looking at is many multiple layers. First tung + linseed thinned with naptha to fill the pores and seal them up. Then several treatments with tung & linseed, applied heavily, allowed to sit for about 20 minutes, then wiped off and allowed to dry for several days. Then I’d say about 8 layers (I lost count) of tung + linseed + poly, each allowed to dry for several days. Finally, I buffed it clear with ultra-fine sandpaper, steel wool, and finally with automotive-grade buffing materials and an orbital buffer. And lastly, a coat of paste wax just because it seemed like a good idea.

  • d3clark

    It’s really sharp looking. Reminds me of polished marble, almost. I thought it might be redwood. I’m familiar with routers, sanding, etc, but what is Tung?

  • Thanks. It’s old-growth redwood from a single slab, so it has lots of pretty flame patterns and burl in it. Shaped using a custom-made router slabbing rig (this was the part my wifey made). Then planed and sanded. Then treated with Tung and boiled linseed oil, then layers of those same oils mixed with polyurethane for durability and hardness. it’s the oils that lend the appearance of depth.

  • d3clark

    That desk is beautiful. It looks like I can see INTO it.

  • Buford

    All very impressive, but for some reason that chain out of the toothpick is the on that blew my mind. The talent is strong in that one.

  • Any time I want to feel utterly incompetent in a woodshop, I just watch my wife work in hers.

    On the other hand, she did help me with this redwood desk project and it turned out pretty well:

  • I can appreciate how much work this is because Pappa Bear’s a wood butcher too (although not in his class). He does it as a form of meditation. A rather messy form, I might add…

  • Wow, he’s really talented. And obviously incredibly patient and focused.

  • now-a-days kids only carve pipes out of toilet paper tubes

  • Very, very good.

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