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Grand Poobah's Oasis Update

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I am new member to the site although I have been viewing it for awhile. I recently caught the bug on a trip to Disney with my family. I always love the Polynesian and when I retuned I thought I would bring a little of it to my backyard. (Sorry we couldn’t afford Hawaii so I hope I don’t offend any purists) I had no idea where to start. I found a few pictures on line and thought I would use them as a model for mine. I make a lot of cabinetry, furniture etc. I thought that this project would fit right in with my other hobbies and my power tools would make it a snap. Boy was I wrong. I ended up putting the power tools away and have been using a hammer and chisel since. The first tiki was done, in oak, and I had a heck of time. The one you see here was actually recarved from an earlier version done with power tools. The second was an Easter Island head in Maple. The next two I am unsure of what they are made from. They were great therapy as I am a Philadelphia sports fan and I would work on them as I was watching the Phillies hoping they wouldn’t collapse! The last one is more of break from what I have seen online. I used a picture as some inspiration. I sorry I can’t recall the artist. I hope to add arms that extend from the guy with the turtle so that he will hold towels. I am carving the arms and I will eventually attach them. Although I am a little unsure of how I will do this. I know some of you take the carving very seriously so I hope that my work doesn’t offend anyone. Any advice would be appreciated

[ Edited by: Grand Poobah 2008-12-14 07:32 ]

[ Edited by: Grand Poobah 2008-12-14 07:34 ]

[ Edited by: Grand Poobah 2009-05-23 11:12 ]

Aloha Grand Poohba,
And welcome to the forum. First I would like to compliment you on your carves, you are doing great.
And don't worry about the purists jumpin on your neck. Ones own style and a bit of originality is more appreciated by most people here. Not to mention that most critics are non carvers and to me it always seems kind of lame if people who have no idea about making something are telling others how to do it.
The masters around here (I'm not one of them for a long time but I will get there) will most likely encourage you and give helpful advice about tools and technique as well as answer any question. But use the search function before posting questions already answered.
So keep posting your work and have lots of fun carving.

Hey Poob, very nice set of carves, especially when you're using hardwoods like Oak and maple! I like the pointed teeth look, my first large log was toothy like yours

but it was out of Mexican fan palm which is much softer and made it easier to carve.

I usually carve much smaller stuff and have used Oak before but its so damned hard I end up with hand cramps afterwards and cuss at the hardwoods! Be sure to post pics after you get your finish on them, should look sharp!


Why are you a little green? Did you eat something bad? Some poi that was past its expiration date maybe?

Maybe he's been sent here to study us. Is there a link between Tiki and ....."them"? I have always wondered.

Welcome to our planet! please don't eat us. (Those sharp teeth kinda scare me. um.... seriously)

Your carving certainly not green.... nice work !! (except 4 the teeth of course)

[ Edited by: Bohemiann 2008-12-14 15:22 ]


Nice work! you are doing some great pieces from the
go get. Looks like your hooked.


nice work! keep it up. i started with pecan and tried hickory, then i had to have my chisels sharpened, then i found basswood and won't (well i lie) use hardwoods again. good luck with the arms

big daddy

"good artists borrow ideas, great artists steal them"

On 2008-12-14 08:12, Grapa-RuHa wrote:...most critics are non carvers and to me it always seems kind of lame if people who have no idea about making something are telling others how to do it.

Grapa-RuHa, please clarify. Are you saying that people that don't know how to carve Tikis don't know what kind of Tikis they like?

On 2008-12-14 23:28, Hakalugi wrote:

On 2008-12-14 08:12, Grapa-RuHa wrote:...most critics are non carvers and to me it always seems kind of lame if people who have no idea about making something are telling others how to do it.

Grapa-RuHa, please clarify. Are you saying that people that don't know how to carve Tikis don't know what kind of Tikis they like?

No that's not what i'm saying. Everyone has his/her own taste, what i tried to say is that non carvers should not tell someone who is carving 'HOW' they should carve their stuff. So an objective comment about what you like or dislike should never be a problem as long as it's constructive and about what you know.


On 2008-12-15 00:27, Grapa-RuHa wrote:

On 2008-12-14 23:28, Hakalugi wrote:

On 2008-12-14 08:12, Grapa-RuHa wrote:...most critics are non carvers and to me it always seems kind of lame if people who have no idea about making something are telling others how to do it.

Grapa-RuHa, please clarify. Are you saying that people that don't know how to carve Tikis don't know what kind of Tikis they like?

No that's not what i'm saying. Everyone has his/her own taste, what i tried to say is that non carvers should not tell someone who is carving 'HOW' they should carve their stuff. So an objective comment about what you like or dislike should never be a problem as long as it's constructive and about what you know.

Oh, good. Thanks for explaining.

Thanks Seeksurf, Grapa RuHa and Bohemian, for the nice comments. I see some other stuff on here with so much detail. It can be inspiring and demoralizing at the same time!

Also thanks for the encouragement T Bird and Big Daddy. The oak is a real pain. I have to take what I can get find. I also found a nice case of poison oak!! I am getting a real education here. It is nice to know that there is a site like this. I am also happy to see that there are so many people who share the same likes. I thought maybe I was a little nuts. Maybe I still am but will enjoy the company! I hope to work some more on these guys over the holidays. Any suggestion on stain or urethane? I have used water based polyurethanes, and oil based urethanes as finish on furniture. I was thinking that a spar urethane, used on exterior doors, might be best. I also use gel stains as they are nice to wipe on wood and work into the grain instead of using brushes. Will this work for these types of projects? Are there better alternatives? One of my fears is ruining something that took so long to make in a matter of minutes because of poor finishing choices.


Hey good stuff there! Yep, looks like you have a bit of finishing work to do. :)

As far as stains, you sound very experienced already with stains and finishes and so forth. I bet that part will come pretty easy for you. One thing I would say is make sure not to use any stains with sealers until you have the color you like. I learned that one the hard way. :wink:


hey grand poobah

whose to say you're not the sane one and the rest of the world is a little nuts? that's the way i look at the world. keep on chipping and cutting.


Good point big daddy,

do crazy people sit around and realize they are actually crazy?

For just starting out, you do NICE work. Nice shop too. Alot of good carvers here who are generous with their experience & advice..ie Seeksurf, Tucson Tiki just to name two. Disneyland is a great place to get the bug.

Thanks for looking. I thought I would give it another go. I had seen a thread where some master carvers had given some advice when carving. One person mentioned to attempt what you thought might be impossible (sorry if I misquote). I thought the advice was fantastic. I saw a picture of a tiki. I knew it would be difficult but I really wanted to challenge myself. I began to carve it and was well along. I am sure that many of you will recognize it is by Crazy Al. I then saw a thread where Al had mentioned that people had begun to copy his work and sell it. I felt really bad, and didn’t know if I should share it. I work with an art teacher who had told me that an artist will mimic the work of someone they admire and begin to adapt features that they like into their own designs. I hope that Al Evans or any other experienced carvers will excuse my lack of creativity in the design. I intend to only place in my backyard and create my own summer paradise. I thought I might change the design a bit so that it would at least attempt to infuse something different. The attempt was the use of scales. I had seen another carver use them in his work and I thought that they were amazing. I had drawn the scales on and began to rethink my ambitions. I remembered the advice and forged ahead. He is made out of pine. There are some rough parts that wished were smoother but I feel that I am learning a lot as I go. It has taken almost three months of my time. I have had to find time here and there between work, running my kids everywhere and remodeling a bathroom. It has been a great escape. Any advice, including designing, would be appreciated and again I hope that I have crossed any lines.

now on to the stain

I intend to darken up that shark and highlight the waves on the crest of the head.

hewey posted on Sun, Mar 15, 2009 7:06 PM

Wow mate, you're doing some really good work for someone just getting into it! :D

That latest tiki is great. The C'Al influence is obvious, but there's definitely some other style coming into it as well. I agree, take inspiration from other artists and experiment with different styles and techniques, but all the time also work on adding your own style, ideas and flourishes into your work. Generally if you acknowledge your influences and treat the original artists with respect (like you have done with this piece), and add in your own style you're sweet :D :D

Moooooooooore tikis! :D

Wow! talk about major improvement in a short amount of time! Don't get me wrong - your early works are very strong and I can definitely see the tiki vibe in them. HOWEVER, this new one is fantastic! By challenging yourself, you found out that you probably could have carved one like this all along! I'm curious to see the next one that "challenge" yourself with!

Like Hewey said (and like you so eloquently wrote), when you are starting out you are going to take direct inspiration from other artists work. You gave credit where credit was due and you're not selling it. That was the right thing to do. The more you carve, the more your own style begins to emerge. Just keep at it, carve some more and before you know it, we'll be talking about your own style!

I have to say that the fish scales turned out REALLY well and looks great with the waves and the shark it totally cool too. This is a nice lookin' tiki! you should be proud!
as far as design is concerned, I think overall he turned out well. Making sure everything is even and in line with all the other body parts is the hardest part of carving (IMHO), and you pretty much nailed it. The only thing I would have done (and maybe it's the angle of the pictures) was to have carved the right hand a little more away from the leg. It kind of blends in with the leg and is hard to see, and isn't as deep a carving as the rest of the tiki. But that's minor, the overall tiki looks really good!!!!

How tall is he?
Have you started another one yet? (it looks to me like you caught the carving bug!!!)

Polynesiac - putting the "F" back in "ART"

[ Edited by: Polynesiac 2009-03-15 22:17 ]

Thanks for the replies and advice. I must admit I was pretty bummed when I saw that post and thought maybe I shouldn't share my efforts. I appreciate the feedback. He is about 4 feet tall. I am planning on buidling a pondless waterfall in my backyard. I also plan to add a couple of tropical plants to my backyard. There is a nursery down the road that sells yucca trees. They are hardy enough to survive the harsh winters up here. I am also hearing rumors that Lowes will begin to sell some sort of cold hardy windmill or needle palms as well as banana plants. Anyone else know of this? I plan on putting him and the others in the yard. I think I might add some bodies to the headless guys. The oak tiki was my first and I not as thrilled with him, especially the torso. I thought my wife my think I am crazy but she hasn't said anything negative and she mentions that she has seen tiki items elsewhere. So I think she be digging it. I also carved the back of this guy. I had some staining issues that I have fix before I post his fanny.

Gotta say again, you're work is GOOD. Lots of detail that takes alot of work & patience. You're there!



Great carve I'm glad you got exited and carved this sucker.
We all take from the past.


Man I wish My first tikis were that "Green" Awesome job, I think you've done this before. COOL!

Thanks for all of the kinds words. They actually pushed me to go a little further. I work with gel stain quite a bit with cabinetry. I assumed that it would also work well here. Well you know what they say about assumptions! The stain gelled in the scales and made them look worse. I decided to go back and sand the whole thing back down. I also took the advice Polynesiac and carved the hand area a little deeper. (Thanks for that) The stain appears darker than it does in the picture. Going back and re-sanding, and re-carving the scales made it look a lot smoother. A couple of coats of spar urethane and he will be done!

The pine has been a real pain as there is a lot of tearout when I have to carve deep into it. I read an earlier post about carving with the grain, which I get, but is that possible when the cut calls for going deep against the grain? Any suggestions? I have since gotten a sharpener so I am hopeful that sharper chisels would help solve some of the problem. I wish I knew what wood the heads I had carved earlier were made of (The guys with the sharp teeth). That wood was soft and easier to carve. Unfortunately I have to grab what I can find.

[ Edited by: Grand Poobah 2009-03-29 06:32 ]

your tiki looks GREAT! You are your toughest critic (this will come in handy, because you will keep challenging yourself as an artist), but from my POV I think it looks really nice. I didn't think you'd go back and re carve the hand (because it looked fine before), but I'm glad that you did - it really made the whole piece come together. Something about symmetry that just makes the whole piece POP!
The multi colored stain looks real nice too - I like the darkened waves.

As far as carving pine, I have not carved any fresh pine (I have carved 4x4's) and I do carve redwood 4x4's too, the one thing I learned about redwood is that your chisels have to be sharp, if they are not sharp enough, then the wood "crumbles" when you carve. I saw that with the pine 4x4 too. The other thing I noticed is that if you are going against the grain, go slow with sharp chisels and don't provide more pressure than is needed. Don't just bang away on it, be gentle. Going against the grain is tough (in carving, in life it seems pretty easy most times :) ) but it can be done. Still, move the piece around a little and see if there is a way to go with the grain, it is much easier.

Good luck! and nice job!

Keep carvin!


Nice carve, beautiful finishing! even if this wood are not the best for make that, you're well done...

Going against the grain is tough (in carving, in life it seems pretty easy most times

Takes a long time to sharpen your tools, then going against the grain becomes fun....

I got around to sanding, cleaning up, and staining this guy. I spent most of the day in search of a new hook and loop pad for my ridgid sander and sandpaper for porter cable profile sander. The sandpaper comes in a 2 1/2 rolls with adhesive on the back. I actually don't use the sander, but the profiles have been great for the small details. Unfortunately the sandpaper is suddenly impossible to find. The good news is my wife suggested I work on the carving while she took the kids shopping for shoes! This is unprecedented. I think she really likes them! She mentioned buying some summer palms to place around them in the yard. I plan on finishing up his brother (the other head with the pointy teeth) as I get a few minutes here and there during the work week.

the stain came out a little darker than I wanted. I hope this guy breathes a little deeply and soaks some in.


great job on the guy outside of your garage. the details on the headdress is outstanding. damn good carving! keep it up>


thanks big daddy. I like him too. In fact I concentrated on him so much that I neglected all of the ones I did earlier. I thought it might be time to finish what I had started. I am also tripping over all these tikis I haven't finished so it is time to clear out the garage. I have a new one in my head that I want carve to but I am fighting the urge to start until I get these guys done


Looks like there are a lot of masterpieces here!

I love the first one.



Good looking work keep them coming!


On 2009-03-29 17:51, Grand Poobah wrote:

the stain came out a little darker than I wanted. I hope this guy breathes a little deeply and soaks some in.

I think it's fine just like that. Not too much contrast or too little. It's just right!


Your are off to a great start. Don't worry about negative comments that may come. Just have FUN !!!! Hopefully the positive comments and constructive criticism will help make your art your own. BUFFBAD

Nice starting tiki's! You have some nice depth and great detail. I really like the shark head tiki with the scales. I did one with scales about two years ago and what a pain to carve and sand. You have some serious starting talent to do that much detail. Can't wait to see what's next. Keep up the nice work and happy carving.

If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything

[ Edited by: Tikilizard 2009-04-14 09:01 ]

Thank you Bowana, Seeksurf, Buffbad, Tikilizard & benella for the nice comments. The feedback here is fantastic. I can’t recall seeing a negative comment anywhere. The guy with the dark stain came out too dark. The flash from the camera is a little deceptive. I went back and sanded him down, leaving the dark stain in the recessed areas. I ended up leaving the pointy teeth unstained. It looks a bit more cartoonish, but I was happier with the color. Had I left it alone I would have always picked at it wishing the stain wasn’t as dark. I also stained his brother the same way.

This other guy (turtle) had been close to being done, but I wanted to clean up a few details before I put some stain to him. I just saw another post where a carver had torched his tiki for the first time. The wood grain really popped and it looked nice. I wanted some grain to show as well, but I tried to sand it as much as possible, but the grain would still not pop the way was hoping. I tried to use the torch and I was glad I did. (although I got a little too close to the turtle and he actually caught fire! ) Luckily no turtle soup was made.

The weather is getting a bit warmer up here. I have been building a pondess waterfall for my backyard. Eventually I hope to begin to place these guys outside in the yard. I have been spending the time on the waterfall. It is almost done. I have to put some landscaping around it to help it blend in a bit.

Right on jumping right in. I like the turtle and the body on this guy.

WOW, there has been such great stuff posted. I haven't been able to get much done up until recently; baseball games, communions, yard work, oh and a little inconvenience called work. I was finally able to complete these guys and put them outside. The happy tiki had an arm added so that could make it appear as if he is holding a tiki torch (the torches are solar, pretty cool as they flicker at night.) I have placed them all around the back yard, added a cold hardy yucca tree and the transformation of my back yard has slowly begun. I intend to plant some other hardy tropical looking stuff, little by little. An aside note: Although I may still may be green I can't hide under the guise of a being a new member. I have been looking for info on how to change the title of my post. I know it can be done, in fact I think I remember reading somewhere; however I can't remember where I found the info. any help would be appreciated and I apologize for not paying attention.

the two heads on the deck

my easter island head, hiding in the plants

my happy tiki holding a torch

this guy along side of the yucca tree

putting it altogether!


Congrat! Nice place to take some drink! :D
To change the title of your topic you must get back on your first post and click on "edit".

Good continuation!


Grand Poobah, you are creating a Super nice, relaxing space out there in the desert, Your tikis have some Nice crisp detail with great original ideas. Keep the good stuff coming.

Thanks for the posting tip Laojia, it looks as if me can lurn! It really has turned into a nice place to wind down at night and have a few. Hearing the waterfall and justing sitting there is very relaxing. My wife loves it too ( iwasn't sure how she would feel when I started this project) I intend to spread out and take over the yard eventually. Right now I have to contend with a few little people who may protest so I will have to take what I can get.

Thanks for the kind words Bezart and laojia there are much appreciated.

The pond-less waterfall looks great. Your tikis are coming along nicely, and are bigger than what the individual images made them appear. You can really see their size in their new home.

I had spent the early part of the summer working on the landscaping in the yard. I was able to find a few tropical plants that will (hopefully) last through the winter. After a while I wanted to update an old sign I had made several years ago. Here is the yard and the sign.

I then carved this guy. Sanding sure is a drag. I had again stained it and was immediately unhappy as I could not see any grain but could see a lot of imperfections. I sanded him down and torched him. The grain really popped.

I had started working on the next one when a neighbor asked if she could buy one! She was interested in the oak tiki I had carved (the first one I made). My wife said the others were off limits. I could make a new one or sell one that hadn't made it to the yard. The oak tiki was not my favorite. In fact I have never completed it as I was unhappy with his body. I told my neighbor that I would have to work on him a bit more. I cleaned him a good deal and then torched him. The grain came through nicely. I sold him for $100. I wasn't sure what to charge as I never really gave a whole lot of thought to selling these guys. My wife thinks I could have charged more as she said I had worked so hard on it, but I didn't’t want to overcharge either. I must admit it felt really good to have someone appreciate something I created to the point where they actually paid money to have it. This brings me to a question: How do those of you who sell your work arrive at a price?

Here is the next guy I am working on. I am really happy with the fingers and toes as they seem to resemble hands and feet this time. You can see that he developed a nice check right through the eye! I am really growing frustrated with the sanding part. My goal is to sand him as smooth as possible. I I will sand and sand, file, sand again while working up the grits, but it seems like I make little progress. I ended up throwing in the towel on the sanding. I began to burn him and immediately panicked as all of the imperfections jumped right out. I calmed down and began to stain him. As I did the grain started to pop out and the imperfections started to fade. I feel like I am chasing the white whale!

Finally my wife and I are hoping to get away for a week. We were sucked into a time share (I can hear some of laughing!) several years ago. We were looking to exchange into the Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. It looks very nice from what I can see from the web site. There is also a tiki bar called Tahiti Joes. If anyone has any goods on the place your advice would be appreciated. Thanks for looking.

Your latest creations are really great! Leaps and bounds I tell ya...


That last tiki is excellent

Thanks Nomolos and Tiki Mango for the nice comments. I let the stain dry for a day and I was still not happy with the finish. So once again I decided to sand the damn thing back down as I knew I would not be happy and would pick at it. I really worked back the grain this time, probably should have done it before. This time I took it down to 220. The stain does not suck in as much and so the grain seemed to stand out much better. (Most of you I am sure are saying "well duh") I must start filing away this information and putting it to use in the future. But I will miss the Christmas cards from the sandpaper company as I might be single handedly keeping them in business!

close up look at the grain and his fingers and toes

Thanks again for looking


Awesome grain pattern


Well you Keep right on sanding those tikis , they are coming out Really Excellent. I'm Loving the details you are giving them too, Way nice cuts.
Really cool stuff.

Here is the Marquesan tiki all finished. I added some tattoos as well.

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