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You know that old joke about carving an elephant? About how you just cut away everything that isn’t an elephant? It endures, I think, because it’s basically true.

To an extent, then, these bone-carving instructional videos from lifetime fisherman, professional fishing guide, surfer, and renowned craftsman Louie the Fish don’t contain too many surprises. From a practical perspective, probably the most useful tip comes right at the beginning: If you’re looking for a source of cheap, clean bone to carve, try PetCo. They sell pristine cattle leg bones for dogs to chew on, and these also make great material for carving.

Louie’s videos are, nonetheless, tremendously enjoyable because Louie himself is so charming, and so good with his tools. In the first, he teaches basic methods and techniques for carving by making a traditional-style Hawaiian bone hook (although not, clearly, using traditional methods). In the second, he shows how to use the same basic processes to make a more complex animal form. Both are recommended.

Louie the Fish

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.n.barb.blackhawk Steve

    Cool videos. Iv’e been carving bone for about 20 years and all the tips are good.I don’t like the petco bones so much because they are very dry..I buy beef shank bones at the grocers for my mastiff.he gets a treat, after he is done with his treat, I slice the bone on a bandsaw, then do the cleanup with dawn dish soap/white vinegar and then white gas. (2 seperate processes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharkseatmore Sharky Carter

    If you do use power tools be prepared for the stench of cutting bone. Hand cutting isn’t so bad tho

  • Shotgunner

    He should wear a dust mask. The bone powder is very harsh to lungs.

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