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TylerS

Any carvers out there?

102 posts in this topic

Just poppin in after doing a bit of snooping. Took me a long time to find this forum. It's kind of burried! I notice a lot of guys like using purchased dekes, but is there anyone out there that enjoys carving their own? I just started carving (actually, I'm on my very first decoy) and enjoy it. I'm having a heck of a time figuring out all the ins and outs of proper decoy carving, but its fun trial and error. My biggest concern will be weighting the decoy. I've read somewhere that its good to melt down lead fill a cavity, but I don't have the tools to do so. I was thinking along the lines of using buckshot or splitshot and hot glue. Any ideas? I'm also having a bit of trouble with the fins. I was going to cut out seperate fins, but couldn't figure out how to attach them (tried pushing them in and sliced up my hands pretty good...rookie mistake, I know). Now my idea is to have two fins cut out of one piece and just screw it to the base. One more question and I'm done. How do you cut your sheet metal? I used tin snips and got a nasty lip around the edge that didn't file down very well. I'm thinking band saw...

Thanks for any help grin.gif

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Carveing your own decoys is a great thing to do,I used to do it with my Dad years ago! Now my Dad is gone and so is my eyesight so I dont dare try carveing anymore.Melting lead is easy,BUT BE CAREFULL!!All you have to do is steal a old iron not alum.pan (small)from the kitchen,get yourself a propane torch and your set.The lead will melt at a much lower temp. than the pan,put some sinkers in the pan,heat it with the torch and pour into predrilled hole in your decoy!When I put fins on my decoys I would use the screws like you said,my Dad used to carve the fins but mine always broke off!For makeing the fins try a dremel tool, they work great!Be Safe! Take your time and enjoy!

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Thanks for the reply Pikeslayer. I see you're from Da range...where abouts? My dad's side of the family is from Chisholm. Love that part of Minnesota, just wish I could make it up more often.

That's a great idea with the old cast iron. I don't have any small ones, but I know where I can pick one up cheap. I was out at a local sporting goods store the other day and browsed the decoy selection to see how they attached their fins. Saw may different ways.

The funny thing about this whole process is I haven't been spear fishing since I was probably 6 years old. I have not clue what I'm going to do when I get this thing finished. Could make a good christmas decoration I suppose!

grin.gif

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I live about 5 miles west of hibbing. You should try to find someone around your area to go with and try out your new decoy! Theres always someone around who needs a hand setting up there fish house,look around!!

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Welcome to Fishing Minnesota. This is a awesome place to hand out and talk fishing.

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For lead I use old wheel weights, I hold them with a needlenose and melt them with a torch.

For the fins I use aluminum(I think .025) you can get small sheets at Menards. I cut my fins seperately and use a utility knife to scribe a slot for the fins, then push them in.

I use scissors to cut the aluminun, it leaves a smoother edge than the snips.

Just keep at it. Most of my first ones were pretty rough looking and didn't swim very well. I am getting better, but still a long ways from some of the carvers out there. I am going to start making a few pretty soon, this year I am going to play around with an airbrush.

Here are some that I made last year.

DSCF1331-1.jpg

DSCF1332-1.jpg

DSCF1349.jpg

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Wow! Nice Job.. I particularly like the pike and the musky.. Very Cool.

I have a drawing of a decoy I want to make, but I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I'm not really set up for it here.

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awesome decoys.

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Those are awesome. I think I found a fatal flaw in my decoy carving already...it might be a tad too big. From the looks of yours as well as what I've seen, I'm at about 10 inches...without the tail. Maybe its time to downsize a bit...

Oh and by the way, what kind of wood do you all use? I carved mine out of balsam (because I've used it to carve before and its a nice soft wood) but I heard that even with a good topcoat it will still suck in moisture. Somewhere I read that White Spruce was a good wood to use...but I'll be darned if I can find that anywhere.

Any suggestions? confused.gif

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you could look at woodcraft they have some stores in mn and online they usually have small peices of wood that you can get to carve them. I have used various types of wood usually what I had around. You might want to take off more wood because it might be hard to get it balanced that might be your biggest challenge to get it to glide around the hole. I have some larger ones that require more weight but they kind of loose the guide effect!!

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I use scrap pieces of 2x4's. I don't actually "carve" them. I cut out the basic shape with the bandsaw then use a belt sander, then sand by hand.

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Tyler, I use #8 bird shot. Take your dremel tool and cut out the belly side and fill with birdshot, then fill the hole with a waterproof wood puddy.

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huntingmaxima-

That's what I was thinking. How do you test for the correct ammount? Do you scoop the putty out if you need to add more or take some out? Also I heard Bondo was good to use to fill in the cavity.

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Hey Shamalex72, I like the way you decoys look, are you planning on making any this year again. If so let me know i might have you make me one. I like the lasted one but i want the body to be red and white cool.gif

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I am going to start making a few pretty soon. I need to get my stove hooked up in the garage first. I was actually planning on making a red and white one like that.

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My first attempt at painting a northern with an airbrush.

DSCF2069.jpg

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That is a nice decoy shamalex72!!!

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Here is a good article on how to get your decoys to swim.

[Note from admin: Please read forum policy before posting again. Thank you.]

My brother will be at the Get to gator on Feb 3 too.

He has been carving for a couple of years.

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Sweet Decoy Shamalex!

Merkman, can you drop me a link to that article at : tony.stifter@yahoo.com? Thanks much.

I can't make the Get - to - Gator this year, but I think it would be fun to meet you guys.

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 Quote:

Weighing your fish to swim By Mike Holmes

One half of producing a working fish decoy is the carving and painting. The other half, which is equally, if not more important, is the weighing of the decoy so it will swim properly. Basically, a working fish decoy must sink in a relatively slow to moderate speed. It must sink in a horizontal position while at the same time moving in a forward direction. To accomplish the “sinking” part of the equation, the proper amount of lead must be added to the belly of the fish decoy. The way I do this is to first complete your fish decoy carving and seal the wood with a clear finish, I use Krylon Matt finish. This includes inserting the metal fins, temporality. I burn the slots in the side of the decoy for the metal fins using a knife blade tip on my wood burning tool. Do not paint the decoy and add the lead later. The heat from the hot lead will “bubble” the paint. The bare wood fish decoy, with fins on, is now ready to be weighted properly. I take the fish carving and try to find the center of balance, by setting the decoy belly on a sharp edge, like a ruler or even the side of your finger. The decoy should “rock” back and forth, head to tail. Move the sharp edge along the belly, forward or backwards so that the “center of balance” can be found. It usually is not in the center of the decoy. The size and weight of the fins and tail will vary the “center of balance” from fish carving to fish carving. When you feel you have found the “center of balance” on the decoy, mark the belly with a pencil. This will be the rear end (tail end) of the “slot” that will be drilled out to accommodate the liquid lead. The forward end of the slot will vary from decoy to decoy. But as a rule, I like to end the forward slot near the rear of the gills. This extra wood area, forward of the gills, can be used to drill a hole for some lead if it is needed later. Some times in longer fish, I drill a hole between the chin and the gills to give the decoy a little extra forward/downward movement. Now, how do we remove the wood to create the slot for the lead? I have used a hand held drill with bit and I have used my Foredom drill with a Forstner bit. I like the latter, as the Forstner bit leaves a cleaner hole. It can also be used in the hand-held drill. Draw a centerline from the rear pencil mark on the belly of the decoy, to the line near the rear of the gills. Start drilling holes, using the centerline as a guide, overlapping each hole with the next hole. I drill the holes in depth (very important) about 1/3 the height of the decoy. So if the measurement between the belly and the back of the decoy is, say, 3”, then the slot will be 1” deep along the length of the belly of the decoy. The width of the slot is usually ½ distance of the widest part of the belly. Make sure there is equal wood left on either side of the slot. Also, make sure you drill straight into the interior of the decoy. If you angle the drill, the decoy will list to one side or the other. It is important at this point to mention the size of the fins on the decoy and their importance. As I stated at the beginning, the working fish decoy must sink at whatever speed the carver wishes, while at the same time moving downward and forward. The “forward” part of the equation is created by the resistance of the water on the underside of the fins. If the fins are to small, and the decoy is to heavy, there will be no forward movement of the decoy. So, experiment with fin size before they are glued to the decoy.

Holding the fish decoy with the belly slot “up”, we can now add the hot liquid lead. I only add enough lead to fill 1/3 of the cavity, at this point. Keep the decoy horizontal until the lead hardens, making sure equal thickness of lead lays in the bottom of the cavity. Wait until the liquid lead hardens before moving the decoy. Caution! It is still hot, but will not “flow” out of the cavity. At this juncture, the working fish decoy is now ready to be placed into a water tank of some sort. I have a 30 gallon fish tank for this purpose. I can see how it swims when I release the decoy. A bath tub full of water can also be used. I have done it, and it works fine. The working fish decoy is placed into the tank head or tail first, up side down, making sure the air space in the belly fills with water, removing the air bubble. Holding the decoy underwater, turn it right-side up. Now, with the decoy being held between your thumb and forefinger, and in a horizontal position, release the decoy. It should sink at a reasonable speed and “swim” forward.

If the decoy sinks slowly, but does not “swim” forward, place a small amount of lead, a few drops, in the forward (head end) end of the cavity. Repeat with one or two drops of liquid lead until it does. The tail can be bent to have the decoy swim in a small or large circle. If the decoy does not sink, add more lead evenly in the cavity, but not much. Make sure all the water has been removed from the cavity before you add more lead, otherwise the lead will “spatter” and burn you. Repeat the process until the decoy swims. This is a tricky process, but after a few decoys, it becomes easy. A point to note here about fish decoys with wood tails, especially on larger decoys. When weighing decoys with wood tails, you will sometimes have to drill one or two holes near the base of the tail, just before the "flare" of the tail fin. The extra wood in the tail sometimes gives the decoy extra buoyancy and will create a "rocking" motion in the decoy as it swims. The holes should be drilled 1/2 the depth of the tail. One or more holes may need to be drilled and leaded, but only drill and fill, one at a time. Sometimes too much lead is added, and a small amount must be removed; a real pain in the butt. Just drill the excess out with a regular drill bit, and retest it. Do not use the Forstner bit to do this.

When the swimming of the decoy is done, let the decoy dry overnight. A light sanding of the decoy the next day, and seal the decoy again with a finish. The lead cavity is now filled with a filler. I use Bondo. It is used by body shops to repair dents, etc. It can be found at most stores like Shopko or Wallmart and at any auto supply store. It is easy to use and does not shrink, but you must work fast for it hardens quickly. Shortly after it hardens, I cut the excess Bondo off with a knife. The longer you wait to do this, the harder the Bondo gets. Let it set for about an hour before sanding the Bondo smooth.

Finally, when the working fish decoy is completed, but not painted, put the decoy back in the tank and, holding again between the thumb and forefinger, find the center again while it is underwater. Move your “grasp” forward or backward and find the location where the decoy is laying horizontal, under the water. That point on the back where your fingers intersect, is the approximate location of where the “line tie” eye will be placed. I use an easier method. I tie a fish line to a “push-pin” and after locating the center spot where I think the decoy will lay level in the water, push the pin in. As it hangs in the water from the push-pin and line, look to see if it is hanging level. You may have to move the pin forward or backward, but at that spot where the pin is attached, is where the screw-eye goes. A true working fish decoy, when held on a line, out of water, will always hang head-up/tail-down. If is doesn’t, chances are it is not a true working fish decoy, just a nice fish carving that the maker is trying to pass off as a working fish decoy. Hope this helps.

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those are NICE looking dekes. id be interested in buying the sunfish looking one if interested. id say your art work rates up there with the best of them. dont knock yourself. i had a friend make me one of a slamander.

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its all in the hands and mind

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If anyone is up and about this morning you might want to turn quickly to KARE 11. They are doing a piece on Bob Johnson from Baxter MN who is regarded as one of the very best decoy carvers out there right now. Ron Schara did the story for his TV program and 11 is featuring it on their news program "extra." Bob is also an active spearfishman, teacher of HS decoy carving class, and active member of MDAA.

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Very good story that will be repeated Sunday night at 10:30 on Ron Schara's TV program for those interested in decoys, carving and spearing.

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I also saw the story last night, he does amazing work.

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