#19: Sycamore

Bird number: 42
Date: February 10, 2012
Wood: American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Source: Central Texas

The back exit from our subdivision has a low water crossing over Brushy Creek. One day on my way to work I had to stop to move a branch that had fallen from one of the trees. The wood looked interesting, so I threw the branch in the back of the truck. I knew which tree it came from, but didn’t know what kind of tree that was. A few minutes of research on the Internet identified the tree as an American Sycamore.

I’ve since carved a few things from sycamore, including a small spoon, a little bear and a snowman. Last summer I found a much larger piece of sycamore down by the creek, and put it aside for carving later.

I enjoy carving sycamore. I carved this bird with a knife while I was at my wood carving club meeting on Thursday night. The wood is pretty easy to carve with a sharp knife. It’s harder than basswood or butternut, but not nearly as hard as the fruit woods I’ve carved. And it finishes up beautifully. I’m surprised that I don’t find more people carving sycamore.

I made a little mistake when I cut out this bird. There is some nice color variation on the bottom of the bird.

Had I been paying better attention when I cut out the blank, I would have put that on the top where people could see it. Live and learn, I suppose. That said, I’m still very happy with the way the figure turned out. Like the basswood bird (#16), this figure has an understated elegance that is enhanced by the simple grain pattern of the sycamore.

People do carve sycamore, although it’s more often used for turning and for furniture or interior finish in houses. The few sycamore carvings I’ve seen are beautiful. I don’t think I have any more left here, but I know where I can get all I want; I just need to take a walk down by the creek.

6 thoughts on “#19: Sycamore

  1. Jim, these are amazing and beautiful. I especially enjoyed the description of finding the wood. This is a great project. I’m looking forward to reading about each one, and the big installation when all 100 are finished.//Bill

  2. I love the grain patterning of sycamore wood, and the simple shape really works well with it. This might be my favorite of your bird carvings.

  3. Pingback: #84: Lacewood | The Hundred Birds Project

  4. these look very nice. it makes me think about using sandpaper again.
    My favorite wood is sycamore/london plane!
    London Plane looks almost exactly like sycamore (it’s a hybrid). If you see a ‘sycamore’ in the city, it’s a london plane.

  5. Just gorgeous. This one and the Basswood are my favourites, and I usually prefer darker coloured woods. You have nailed the form of the bird, and all I want to do is touch them. An inspirational project, ive just been looking on the net for wood suppliers and I am not a wood turner!

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