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CJ's Tropical Tiki ....

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Good Morning!! What a great forum with some very talented Tiki carvers! I'm hoping some of the experts might help me with my next project.... I decided that I needed a couple Tikis to go around the pool so I found a dead Queen Palm and chopped it down ... I carved a couple quick Tikis out of it - at this point just faces on logs - but have been bitten by the Tiki bug ... so I found some downed fan palms and hauled them to the house ..... now it's time to get serious and make something a bit more detailed than the first two .... here are a couple pictures of the Queen palm Tiki's, it was very stringy and not the easiest to work with but I guess that was a good palm to learn from ..... (I had read that Queens weren't the best palms to work with but went with it any way)

The first one - just chisels - it's about 4 feet. I didn't do the back since it is placed up to a fence:

... and the second one - 2 feet - it has a bit of a headress down the back but not very elaborate ...

[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2010-05-01 09:23 ]

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[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2010-06-17 10:10 ]

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[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2012-08-02 15:07 ]

...so now I am on to the third project ... it is one of the fan palms and is about 6 feet with the root ball still on - I'm calling it Kramer!. I've removed the bark and am ready to draw on the design. The thing is - the log is a bit top heavy! It's like a carrot! The bottom is only about 6 inches across and although it does balance, if a good Santa Ana wind comes along it will do a nose dive!.... here it is:

I'm curious to know what you guys think I should do with the base. I can leave a couple feet uncarved in the event this guy can be placed in a hole and cemented in - or chop off some of it to get a bit wider base so it can stand on it's own ... I've even thought of chopping off the top of one of the wider logs I have and making a base, like the round peg in the hole .... I appreciate any ideas you might have. Here is another picture:

another question I have is in regard to the other logs that I hauled home .... It was four different trees so I came out with 8 logs.

I noticed that the cuts on some of them are splitting! Should I be concerned and try to stop it now? These won't be carved for a while but if something needs to be done I'd appreciate your thoughts ... here are a couple pics:

Thanks! I'm hoping to eventually carve some nice pieces like many of you have ...

Have a Great Day!!


Howdy Captain!
I'll impart my 2 cents. :D
Throw away all those logs that are splitting. Sorry for the blunt bad news, but those are junk. That tree was too young/short. But don't feel too bad, I learned the hard way, too. Except I went ahed and tried to carve them!

That one big rootball that's unstable. I would not cut it shorter, and I would not bury the end in concrete or anything else. I just hate to lose height from a nice piece, because larger pieces, especially with a rootball, are harder to find.
After it's carved, and you know where you want to place it, anchor it with either 4' steel construction stakes snugged up and screwed against it, or pipe (think post from a chainlink fence) used the same way.

You're off to a good start, have fun!

Thanks Bill ..... damn!! I about had a heart attack getting those big ones in the truck! I might just use them as practice logs or something .... Out of the four trees I am only seeing the splits on those two pieces. They were all laying on the ground together at a nursery and were not very tall. The one I'm getting ready to carve with the hair does not show evidence of splitting but was also short, a bit taller than the others, but still a youngster ...

Thanks for the advice on the base - I'm going to carve it and go with the construction stakes. It's 6 feet with the hair and I agree, I hate to lose any of the height!

Thanks again and Have a Great Day!!

Well now the one with the root ball has started to split at the base! And the insides where I have already carved are separating! I'm guessing this is why they are junk logs! I am going to finish this guy anyway and hide him in a corner somewhere - I could probably knock out a decent Tiki if the logs were good. I saw someone mention they got some good logs from the Lake Elsinore area, I don't want to move in on his stash but if anyone has any ideas of where I could get a decent chunk of wood I would appreciate the help .. I'm guessing Bill from your comments that I need to search for mature trees that are tall - probably follow around a local tree service and see what they are taking down.

Here is the base showing the splits:

...and here is the mouth I already carved - very pulpy, stringy and soft - again - I'm assuming the characteristics of a junk log!

Have a Great Day!!


No need to hide him in a corner, splits can help with that aged and weathered look!
Go ahead and finish him, just don't try to get too fancy with details.
My first tiki was from a young tree, and after carving, turned into what can best be described as loofah-like! But it hasn't fallen apart at all 10 years later.

Here's what you need to look for: a mex fan palm that is at least telephone pole height, then don't use the top third of the trunk.

Cool! Thanks - I'll keep carving it then ... I wanted to get some detail on this one but suppose I'll just keep it simple .... I'll keep an eye out for some better logs for the next one ...

Have a Great Day!

Well - I had to lose about a foot off the bottom of Kramer cause a few days after I cut the feet they split apart from the main log about an inch! Otherwise it's carving fairly well - much better than the first two I did ... he's starting to look an awful lot like TreeBeard from Lord of the Rings!


Excellent detail you are getting there Jack,,especially for an old palm log.

Just keep carving and doing your best and you will see vast improvements with every one you complete!


That is pretty damn cool for all the doubts u had

Thanks Ben! I'll keep chopping at em - I have 7 more logs from that batch of youngsters! (We just moved back to SoCal after 4 years in Palm Harbor - Tampa area. Hope that oil misses everybody over there!)

Thanks as well Tikigodz - I was a bit leery of taking a chance on these after finding out they aren't the best logs to carve. But it is turning out fairly decent. It will look good by the pool . Hell, None of my friends no any difference anyway!

Have a Great Day!!


Yes! he turned out GREAT! Nice nose and eyes.

Thanks Seeksurf! .....

.... one good thing about those Queen Palms is you get some extra canvas!!! I painted a couple quick masks from the fronds:

Kramer is now finished and on guard at the pool: Since I had to cut the bottom that was to be the body I went with the ALOHA thing ....

Starting to look tropical back here ..... time to start the next one! Thanks Bill for your advice and every else for the encouragement ..... I'm Hooked!!

I started chopping up another one .... I am trying to carve a body on this one .....

.... which means I get to carve my first butt!

Still have a bit of carving to do - I'd like the neck to be a bit thinner and have to blend it all together a bit more ... Here is the entire Tiki:

I've definitely learned one important factor - you can cut it away - but you can't put it back!

This is the original log for this one:


You're making some pretty quick progress on these guys. They're looking great.

Thanks BigT .... I went and bought a grinder and a torch today so will be trying those out tomorrow ... this guy is still very wet but it's a good log to practice on - Have a Great Day!!

Look'n good captain,your yards going to look like Hawaii in no time.Cheers Watango

Thanks Watango! .... it's becoming a fun hobby ... I changed the thread title from "rookie looking for advice" to "my carvings" as I intend to add quite a few more ...

Have a Great Day!!!


Way to step it up! Ya for sure you cant put it back. Look @ that sucker long and
hard before you cut. Looking Good. Love the pool.

Thanks Seeksurf! .... I'll get that pool set up like I want eventually!

Here is the final shots of the latest:

This one is the pre-stain after a couple of burns. I liked the contrast here, the burns really make it look - I don't know - what's a good word - rustic??

...and then I stained it! .... I'm second guessing this decision to go with a darker stain. I really liked it better with the natural color .... Oh well - lesson learned! On to the next one!

Have a Great Day!!


Pretty dmn cool Cap;n Looks like your on a roll!!!

Sweet! Looking great. Keep those progress shots coming.

Thanks tikigodz! on a roll is right - but man do my hands hurt! .... where's the advil?

thanks to you as well Tikilizard! ... I'll keep posting the shots as long as they let me ... and as long as someone looks at them! ... I'm going to try and swing away from the "face on a log" routine and try to learn- and carve - more of the traditional stuff .... I like the looks of that KU fella that Billy the Crud did and have a huge log back there that would be perfect for that ....

... but first I'm going to do a musical trio! - These are the culprits who will make up the band - a bongo dude and two uke dudes! Should get them cleaned up and start carving tomorrow ...

Have a Great Day!


[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2010-05-17 17:12 ]

Great work! I really like the look of them especially Kramer. Altough I can't take credit for the idea, I have seen someone suggest that you use flat iron (like angle iron with holes in fact angle iron might be even better as it is stronger) You would dig a post hole, fill it with concrete and then place the iron into the concrete leaving a good amount sticking out. In your case you might want to even angle the bar to match the angle of your tiki. Place your tiki on top of a flat stepping stone or paver. Secure yout tiki in the back by threading some lag bolts (galvanized) through the iron into the back of kramer. I hope this helps.


Right on! you are hooked. My hand hurt also. I think i could work smarter
but i get rapped up in it sometimes.

Thanks for the comments and suggestions Poobah! Since I had to chop a good 10 inches off the bottom of Kramer due to the splitting it gave me a nice 9 or 10 inch base. I set it up on a paver and just used a long stake at the back to set him up. Seems to be working so far ...

Yea seeksurf - I'm hooked! I actually heard a wood chipper grinding away off in the distance last Friday at 7 in the AM and hopped in the Jeep to go see if they were dropping some decent logs that I could take off their hands! Needless to say the wife thinks I've completely flipped my lid! ... unfortunately I never did find them! .... it's an obsession!! watched Survivor the other night and couldn't take my eyes off the logs laying around their camp!!

Your work and the work of many others here on TC give us rookies something to strive for .... it's fun!

Have a Great Day!

I cleaned up the Tiki Trio Band today and roughed in some of the faces ..... the challenging part will be the instruments and bodies on these guys .... what am I saying? ... everything about this Tiki carving thing is a challenge!!

Have a Great Day!

They look good so far. Is one of them going to look like he's singing a note? That might be one with bottom jaw down and one with the O shaped mouth? Just a thought. They almost look like they could be signing already......lol

THanks tikilizard .... This group will have to be instrumental only - I already cut the lips ...

Carved some more on the faces and since that Lono dude was also in charge of music in addition to the peace and fertility I am puttin a "Lono inspired" headdress on these guys .... tryin to stay within the rules of Tiki and get some of the traditional stuff going!

....I'm calling them the Coral Reefer Band!! .... (the Tiki Central rules say I can have a little Parrot Head crap mixed in with the Polynesian Pop! ... just a little!)

Have a Great Day!!

carved more of the drummer .... I wanted to try and keep all three of these on the same pace but went ahead and finished up this guy first. I'll stain him after the two uke players are finished ... can't decide whether to paint the teeth white or not .....


Great Idea!!


Man, Captain Jack I really think those guys are gonna be a Hit and I'll bet their first song will sell a million copies before the varnish even dries. Really cool design and details,, Excellent stuff!

Thanks tikigodz .... they have a nice place at the end of the outside bar just waiting for them!

Thanks Benzart! I learn a little more with each chop of the wood ......

I did notice in looking at that picture of the back that it looks like the drummer dude is taking a leak!

Have a Great Day!!

I decided to redo the outside bar so haven't carved for a week ... I did finish the drummer and hacked more on uke player #1 ... here is the drummer:

I bought a dremel yesterday and had to try it out! This Moai is a chunk of scrap left over from the new bar top - it's about 6 inches tall:

....so the drummer gets to wear it at his place at the end of the bar! ... needed a bit of bling!

Finished up the lefty ukulele player .... I'm anxious to get the right hander finished and start something else .... also had to do some writing in between carves, the readers are getting restless!

Here's lefty:

.... two down, one to go!


Nice work on the band members. You are going to have a great back yard.

Thanks Seeksurf .... it's getting there! ... and the pool is finally getting warm enough to get in!

Took a break from the "trio" and carved out a Ku for a friend in Huntington Beach .... this is the second to last of the junk logs so it's still wet. I'll let it dry a bit before burning, sanding and staining. Might add some more design to the lower lip too ...

[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2010-06-17 10:21 ]


Well done! He is looking strong. I love those root hair guys. Looks great.

Good shape on the root.

Thanks guys!!! Finally finished with this one ... he's on his way to live by the beach!

Finally finished the Tiki Trio Band ..... on to the next one!!

That tiki band is a very cool and original idea especially with the curve of the logs. Man, if you hung out and didn't feel buzzed, looking at those would do it. Nice work.

heheh, yeah I feel buzzed jus lookin at em. Good work Capin Jack!

Thanks for the comps Matt and Jungle Trader ....

Took a break to finish another book but had the itch to carve something!!! So I decided to make me a small bone carving tiki! It's about the size of a nickel - I need to get some cord to finish it off ... pretty fun carving this little guy, even with old man eyes!

... and the CJ logo for the back:

[ Edited by: Captain Jack 2010-08-08 13:24 ]

Carving that little bone tiki was so much fun that I went ahead and made a little eagle ray for my wife!

Finally got hold of some nice logs and of course, I'm too impatient to wait for them to dry .... I carved this Moai from the smallest log and was pleased that it carved very nicely. I'm not happy with the stain ... it is some kind of golden oak and made the whole thing look splotchy ... I like the unstained version better. Maybe the spar urethane will make it look better, or I might just stain the whole thing with the darker stain that is on the base. I'm going to let it dry out a bit before finishing it ..... it's nice to be carving again!

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