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It was my dad who started me off with using tools of all kinds. Very early on, he taught me how to sharpen woodworking tools to an extremely keen edge, using an India stone. The idea was that if I wanted to use his tools, I had to keep them as sharp as he did, which was sharp enough to shave with.

We moved into an old Victorian house around my fifth birthday, and it needed a lot of repair.  Dad was always using tools, fixing things and building things.  There were drafty windows to repair and replace, floors that needed refinishing, a porch that was ready to collapse, and on and on.  I just thought this was what men did, not realizing that we just couldn't afford to have anyone come in to do that sort of thing.

In his relaxation, he still had a tool in his hand: a pocket knife. His father had whittled for recreation before him, and his father before him. Dad had started whittling when he was in scouts after receiving an official Boy Scout knife for his birthday.

When he was in the Navy toward the end of WWII, he whittled small animals and other things aboard the USS Prairie, and mailed them to his then fiancé, my mother. Dick Burrowes around 1944
Below are some salad servers he made while still in the Navy in aboard the USS Prairie in San Diego.
Salad servers1
Dad denies this being a self portrait, but I've always thought of it as him.
 front view   left side view   back view   right side view
This is an example of several three-link pieces, all carved from a single piece, without separating or gluing. three links folded3
three links arranged open
And here's one
to show
how these are made.
three links incomplete4
three links5
This is essentially the same thing, but with thick links. The sphere is two inches in diameter.
three links with sphere
foot locker with carved eagle on lid6
This is the footlocker I went off to summer camp with when I was nine years old. I was hazed mercilessly for this because everyone else had just an ordinary army surplus footlocker. Now, of course, it's one of my most treasured possessions.
Detail of the carving on the lid.
This was shipped back and forth each summer from Boston to Rutland, Vermont by Railway Express, which explains some of the wear on the outside. you can see four screw holes where a piece of Masonite was fastened for protection of the carving during shipping. 
Carved relief light house, waves, seagull, and rocks7
This was intended to house a clock mechanism. A small light was to be placed in the light house. As with many things, it was never finished, but then, it's recreational purpose had been served. I've debated painting it and installing the clock and light, but I also enjoy looking at the tool marks. 
faces carved on two sides of a log8
These were whittled while on a family camping trip in Groton State Park in Vermont. Firewood was supplied to the state park from various sources, in this case the cut-offs from a fence company. The piece above and the one below are about four inches in diameter. The photos were taken with a mirror. 
another humorous face9

The size of the above is about an inch and a half wide.

The piece below is carved from a hardwood drapery ring, about three inches in diameter. What's unique it is that it's a single strand of wood, making four complete turns around the circle. 

two thick chain links12

Above, the idea was to separate two chain links, with as little "daylight" as possible.  The links are a little over 1.7" outside diameter. 

Below, the arrow is separated from the hearts, although this was whittled entirely from one piece.

Three dimensional heart, with arrow pierced through13
carved columns14

These are survivors of a set of four shelf supports, these two having been salvaged when the shelf set became obsolete. They're made from 2x2 pine. These are survivors of a set of four shelf supports, these two having been salvaged when the shelf set became obsolete. 

Below is a "marble game" kinetic sculpture. As with all the novelties having moving parts, the whittling was done from a single piece of wood, without separating the parts.

whittled kinetic sculpture in my dad's hand15
Dad was always fascinated by whittlings and carvings with moving parts:
And here's another example:
Even when he didn't create any moving parts per se, he still conveyed motion, as in this set below, showing two triangles passing through each other:

This is a pocket knife Dad used for probably 40 years, made by PAL Cutlery. Most of the carvings here, and many, many more, were done with this knife, with a few exceptions. For the footlocker carving, the salad servers, and a few other things he used a set of Acorn chisels. These blades have never seen a grinder, and were worn down like this just through constant hand sharpening with a combination India stone. The deep texture of the horn handle has been almost completely worn away. The only reason I have it is that he finally moved on to another pocket knife. 
worn out pocket knife

My dad, Dick Burrowes

October 14th 1924 - November 23rd 2016

Thanks Dad, for everything, but maybe most of all for steering me somehow toward a rewarding career of creativity and building.

Dick Burrowes in January 2010
  Dad Reading Damon Runyon Stories
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