Here in central New England, willow trees are plentiful. Many were planted because they grow quickly and can dry up excess water on your property. The trouble is after 30 years or so, the roots start to chew up driveways and cause all kinds of trouble. They also seem to have a difficult time with tough storms. The happy result is that if you've got a chainsaw, there's plenty of willow available for nothing except the sweat of bucking the logs sawing the billets.

Of the attention getters in my home, I'd have to put my critters in glass houses near the top of the list. These cute little fellows spend all their time perched on the inside of a glass or cup watching all that goes on around them, well, at least in front of them anyway.

Woodcarvers love to create; we carve to give our ideas physical form. Along with this love to create comes a need to follow our own path. Unfortunately, the available tools often don't fit our needs, hands, or budget. While there are high-quality custom toolmakers out there, the tools can be expensive. Wouldn't it be great to have a quality tool that fits your hand and carving needs without breaking the bank?

Forging hand-carving tools can be done by anyone with a little practice and time. You don't even need a full blacksmith shop, although it does help. As you begin forging your own tools, you will want to read a bit on blacksmithing and how to temper different steels. There are many well-written books that go more in depth than I am able to in this article, as well as a growing body of information on the Internet, but the following will get you carving with your own tools in no time. It is a good idea to practice the steps on chilled modeling clay, as it moves like hot metal and you can re-form it into a rod to start over if you make a mistake.

Chip carving a unique ornament is a long-standing tradition for me. Friends and family have their trees decorated with the ornaments that I've carved for them over the years. They expect a new design every year and I’m not about to disappoint them in 2013. I've provided you with two patterns to choose from. The skill level varies between the two patterns, so choose one that appeals to you and your chip carving skills.

For this ornament, I am carving on a 3/8" thick piece of basswood. Always prepare your wood surface before you begin carving your project. You can use a cabinet scraper or sandpaper to create a smooth surface. I am preparing my surface with 220-grit sandpaper.

Welcome to the second part of my article. In the last article in Carving Magazine I covered mallets, drawknives, bench knives, detail knives, chip carving knives, chisels, firmers, background stamps, and thumb guards. In this issue I will cover lap boards, a chest protector, holding devices, a carver’s arm, strops, handles, and one of my spare time activities — “junkin’."