For the ‘maker’ in us all, we selected 5 easy, fun and practical power carving projects that pretty much anyone can do. From woodworker, DIYer, craftsperson or creative, these projects don’t take too long and don’t require too many tools. You can follow the step by step instructions for individual projects if you want guidance or inspiration, otherwise dream big and let your creativity lead the way.
Remember the most important thing is having a go (even if it turns out a bit different than planned) and enjoy tapping into your creativity.
Feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of the project pages and if you complete a project, post it on social media and use the following hashtag #arbortechdiy
Easy to make dinner party utensils that every home needs. Create any shape or style of spoons and add your own touch to suit your home and decor.
This cute little bowl was made from a tree branch we found. It’s the traditional wooden bowl with a few interesting twists, like a textured and burnt band to give it character.
Add a personalised touch to a nursery or children’s playroom with a custom clock design. This project is ideal as a gift or present and easy to adjust to suit any taste.
This project is incredibly versatile as there are so many alternatives to chiselling you can explore. From lettering to kitchen art this will be the start of a whole lot of fun.
Power carve your own laptop stand, with beautiful curves and long lines. You can use almost any type of timber planks for this project, including recycled floorboards.
There is nothing more rewarding than creating something special for the home that you use regularly.
Salad servers are a must-have for every kitchen so these popular utensils will appeal to most. If not for your own kitchen, this simple project makes it an easy and thoughtful gift idea. Best of all, there are so many ways that you can really personalize the ‘spoons’ to suit your taste, from the style of the spoons head and handles to the bright coloured thread you use to wrap the handles. Great fun to make and the perfect gift idea too.
Look online (Pinterest is a great resource) or select and draw the outline of your favourite servers. Then find the wood you want to work with. The size will depend on the style of Salad Servers you want to create For our spoons we used timber that was at least 1.5 inches (4cm) thick and 1 foot (30 cm) long.
Once you have your wood and design ready, go ahead and draw or transfer your design onto your timber (top to tail is best to not waste wood). Mark out the bowl of the head of the spoon and separate the spoons (using hand saw) so you are only working on one at a time.
When selecting wood, consider selecting one that has naturally occurring antibacterial properties as you’ll be making utensils designed to serve food. We used Camphor Laurel, but Olive wood is also another good option. You can try your local lumber yard to find the suitable timber.
Clamp and carve
With the Mini Pro Blade, cut the outside of your outline. From there, start to gently carve the excess wood in an outward motion. Do the same evenly all around the spoon. We know it’s fun (especially with the Mini Pro melting the wood away like butter), but don’t worry about shaping the curves of the spoon just yet. That comes in later!
Rough shaping of the handle
Mark out the side profiles. You can either use a side profile template or hand draw it just like we did. It’s easiest to start on the handles as they will be the most consistent part. Gently start on the top side of the handle and carve away the wood until you reach the top of the side profile outline you drew. Then you can start shaping the rounded form of the handle. Turn over and do the same on the back.
The top and the bottom of the spoon is not necessarily flat so you need to consider curves of the spoons from the sides.
Rough shaping the head of the spoon
Gently blend the neck to meet the marked out dish of the spoon. Then hollow out the dish of the spoon which creates a subtle peak where the neck and the bowl meet. Turn over and blend the handle of the spoon into the convex back of the spoon. Slow and steady here is key!
Compare the two spoons and make minor adjustments until you are happy.
Rough sanding / gentle shaping
Sand to further refine the curves of the spoon and remove any rough patches. Start with a coarse grit, then move to finer, until the spoons are ready for final sanding and a completely smooth finish. Your servers should be taking shape at this point with only a few finishing touches to go.
Reduce the speed of the Mini Carver to 3 for controlled fine shaping and sanding, this also avoids burning the wood.
Turn one of the servers into a fork server
With the Mini Pro Blade, carve out a slot in the middle of one of the servers to create a fork server. Switch to a medium grit sanding disc to achieve a smooth finish.
Recessing the handle
Decide how big you want the handle grips to be and mark them out. Clamp the head and carefully recess the marked areas with medium-grit sanding disc and consider the thickness of the thread while you’re doing this.
Final sanding and oiling
You can use any fine grit sandpaper for this, but we used the Contour Sander because it’s a lot easier and faster, giving it a smooth polished finish.
Sand the spoon avoiding the recessed part. A rough handle provides additional friction for the thread to grip to. Now You are ready to oil!
When selecting an oil, select a food-grade oil or as an example, if you use olive oil don’t use cold-pressed.
Add finishing touches
You’re almost there. All you need to do now is to tie up a thread around the handles of the servers to give them a more colourful pop. There are so many thread wrapping techniques, simply find one you like and give it a go!
When selecting thread, consider a synthetic material as it will increase durability.
The kids cloud clock is a fun, easy project that looks great in any nursery or kids playroom and makes a great personalized gift idea. You can get really creative with your own spin on the shape of the clock and colors, giving it a bright happy finish or a funny moody cloud look.
Look for inspiration for your clock shape. We were inspired by a cloud design we found on Pinterest for a nursery and made a few changes to make it our own. We created the rough shape of the cloud and raindrops on the computer then printed it. We simply cut out the cloud and drops, and traced around the outside straight onto the piece of wood. You can download our design here. If you have your own ideas in mind simply sketch straight onto the wood. Make sure you sketch in the sections of the cloud that you want raised to give you a 3D effect and the fluffy cloud-like feel.
Start cutting out the clock
You are ready to start carving. Firmly clamp the timber to a bench and using the Mini Carver with the Mini Pro Blade begin cutting away the outline of the cloud design. Don’t worry about shaping the fluffiness of the clouds yet, this step is all about getting the outline right
Shape the curves giving it 3D elements
When you are happy with the rough outline of the clock it’s time to give it 3D contours and rounded edges. We penciled in the areas that we wanted to carve away to give the cloud a fluffy feel, which we had to redo from time to time as the carving process removed the pencil markings. How aggressively you chose to shape the cloud at this stage really is a matter of taste. We just added gentle contours and relied on the painting to further enhance depth and the shape.
Remember that you want the clock face (the circle with the numbers) to be on a relatively flat surface, so keep the majority of the shaping to the outside.
Shape the back of the clock
Turn the cloud over and continue shaping the outer contours and curves. As the back is where the clock mechanism will be placed it doesn’t really need much 3D shaping. A flat section where clock mechanism will be located will also ensure it fits up against the wall nicely when it is hung.
Rough sanding/ fine shaping
Once you are happy with the general shape of the clock it is time to sand. Attach a relatively coarse sandpaper grit to the flexible sanding pad and then onto the Mini Carver. It is important to adjust the speed of the tool to around 3, to ensure you don’t over do the shaping or burn the wood. Play with the setting to see what works best for you.
Drilling the hole for the clock mechanism shaft
Mark out where you want the numbers on the face of the clock to sit and where the centre is. This is where the shaft of the clock mechanism will come through and where you need to drill a hole. Make sure your drill bit is wider than the diameter of the clock shaft, so it fits through easily.
Carve out the timber to fit the clock mechanism
On the back of the cloud you will need to hollow out the wood to allow for the clock mechanism to be positioned. Mark out the side of the mechanism (ours was square) and start to carefully carve using theMini Pro with the Mini Turbo Blade. (You can also use the TURBO Shaft).
Just keep an eye on the depth of the hole as you carve. You want to ensure the clock shaft comes out on the front side of the clock, and allows enough space to fit the hands.
The depth of the void is crucial to making the mechanism sit properly out the front. This may require multiple test fits and adjustments. Be patient and trust in the process!
Sand some more
Using the Mini Carver sanding attachment, use a finer grit sandpaper this time and sand the entire clock to achieve a smooth finish. You can then use the Contour Sander to further smooth out the surfaces or hand sand with fine-grit sandpaper to finish.
Time to shape the raindrops
Shape the raindrops using the Mini Carver and the Mini Pro by carefully clamping each raindrop to a table and gently shaping the curves.
This part can be a bit tricky depending on the side of the rain drops. When clamping smaller items, sometimes small scrap piece of wood help to hold it in place.
Make the back of the raindrops flat so they sit straight against the wall.
Sand the raindrops
Go back to the Mini Carver Sanding attachment, start with the coarse grit and make your way to the finer sandpaper. By the time you are finished that should feel relatively smooth.
Make sure you sand the back of the raindrops flat just like you carved them.
This part is really up to you but as we weren’t very aggressive in shaping the cloud so we used the paint to give the clock additional depth.
We covered the cloud with a white base and feathered out the blue paint to accentuate the curves and the fluffiness of the cloud. We also chose 4 different colours for each raindrop and used poster paint with a pearl additive to achieve a shimmery look.
We also gave the clock face a cute little smile with sleepy eyes. Perfect for the nursery.
Fit the mechanism
Fit the clock mechanism and the numbers (You can also chisel out the numbers if you wish)
Hang it up!
Set the clock the time, put batteries in it and hang on the wall. Voilla! P.S. We won’t blame you if you spend the entire afternoon admiring your clock.
Every now and then, you might find yourself bored with a space and just want to add that little bit of oomph! Well, a chiseled sign could be the perfect thing to spruce up your home and give it more character. With just a little wood and paint, you can create something that can change the way a space looks and feels. The best thing about these signs is that they’re super easy to make and you can choose any design that your heart desires!
Need a dose of DIY signs in your life? Read more to learn how you can make one super fast!
Find inspiration for your design from anywhere you like
Get inspiration from the most creative part of your brain or…. Pinterest, otherwise use our template. We created a simple little design on the computer. Then before printing, we flipped the design so that it becomes a mirror image and printed it the exact size we wanted the project to be.
Transfer onto the wood using acetone (nail polish remover)
Lay the image face down on the wood, and using a rag soaked with nail polish remover rub the liquid over all the printed parts of the design. The acetone should soak the paper, which will transfer the ink onto the wood, giving you a perfect design template to follow. Make sure you take your time and apply firm pressure.
If you’re confident, you can freehand draw your own design onto the panel instead of transferring it.
Chisel out the outline
Secure the wood on a solid surface using clamps. We used the Power Chisel, for the whole project as it’s easy and fun. To ensure the ‘coffee’ lettering had sharp edges we used the 60 degree deep V (8mm) that comes with the Power Chisel. First horizontally across the grain, then vertically along the grain. As a ‘Rule of Thumb’, Chisel the outline, outermost ink line of the letter or image first, then remove wood inside the outline.
Chisel out the rest
We used a combination of the 60 degree deep V (8mm) and the 90 degree deep V (18mm) to chisel out the rest of the lettering. For larger areas where you need a smoother chiselled area, use the 20mm shallow gouge chisel. You can also use the 7mm deep and shallow gouges for detailed carving. All these chisel profiles come with the Power Chisel.
When cutting a curve, always cut away from the grain instead of carving into the grain to avoid the wood splitting.
Once we are finished with all the lettering and chiselling, we decided to add another design feature and chisel out a recessed border. For this, we used the 90 Degree deep V (18mm). So get creative! You can chisel any kind of frame that suits your design. The sky is your limit!
Paint your masterpiece!
Use a thick water-based acrylic paint (poster paint) to paint the chiselled out areas. Be mindful of the type of paint you use as some types of water based paint will soak into the wood and give is a slightly blurred look.
Apply a generous amount of paint and don’t be afraid of spreading the paint around and going out of the carved out edges. We know, it’ll look hideous, but don’t worry, we’ll get rid off the excess paint soon!
Once the paint is dry, sand off the excess paint using any type of sander you have handy (we used the Contour Sander). You can even hand sand if you wish! Use a medium-fine sanding paper to get rid of excess paint. Then use a fine grit to finish the surface of the timber. To remove and additional wood chips and dust, use a clean, dry brush.
Apply a clear finish of your desire.
You can use oil or wax to finish off your sign. If you’re planning on hanging this project indoors, use a non-toxic finish, and be mindful of fumes.
Add sign hangers
Drill a small hole with a fine drill bit to avoid splitting the wood from the screw. Be sure not to drill out to the other side.
Hang it up
Find a rope or a sturdy twine and tie it to the sign hangers to hang up the sign.
Every home has at least one laptop or iPad these days and what better way to add a real personal touch by creating your very own stand. This project is pretty easy for anyone that loves DIY.
It does involve some basic blocking together of the wood, so you will need to be patient overnight while the glue dries, but the cutting of the planks, carving, sanding and oiling doesn’t take long at all. Perfect for those looking for instant gratification.
Timber is not always easy to source, that’s why this project is great. You can generally find planks of wood in most hardware stores, use old floorboards or other recycled timber.
Choose a laptop stand design, we combined a number of designs we found to create our own that we hand sketched.
Cutting the planks
Cut the planks into desired depth of the stand.
We used 2x planks of Wood (240mm length and 120mm wide) – cut down to 300mm rectangles.
If parts of your planks are very warped (like ours were) exclude those rectangles from the gluing process.
Ensure to apply glue to both surfaces, using a scraper smooth the glue evenly to cover the full surface both planks. Do this with each piece until you have reached the desired width for your stand.
Lay out a sheet of baking paper so your project doesn’t stick to the work bench.
We used 4 G clamps, make sure they are big enough to fit all the glued sections together giving you the width of your laptop stand. When applying the clamps make sure to tighten them gradually and evenly so they bond with even pressure. We used PVA glue for internal and external use. Drying time for the glue is at least 24 hours.
If glue starts leaking out of the sides when applying the clamps, don’t worry about cleaning them up as you will be carving the surface later.
Wait – 24 hrs later
Cut out the side profile of the design you have chosen and outline it on the side of the blocked together wood.
Clamp and carve
Using the TURBO Plane, gently carve the curves, starting with the underside of your block of wood until you get to the outline of the side profile on the sides. Continue to work your way across the bottom of the stand from side to side until you have an even surface which is aligned with the side profiles. Once you are happy with the rough shape of the bottom it’s time to start on the front. Turn your project over and work on the top in the same way you were carving the underside.
The top design is slightly different as it has a little lip to support the bottom of the laptop or iPad, so make sure to keep that in mind as you shape the top.
Once you are happy with the shape of your laptop/iPad stand, it’s time to start sanding. We used a 100mm flexible sanding pad, but you can use any type of sanding paper that you have. For the finer finishing touches we also use the Contour Sander which again you could replace with a finer grit of sandpaper, but as we have the tools we thought we would make light work of the sanding stage.
Once you are happy with the shape and smoothness of your project it’s time to oil. Depending on the finish that you want, you can seal it with a varnish, making it super glossy or dull wax for a matte finish.
Keys, snacks, fruits. What do they all have in common? You probably have bowls for them around the house. There’s definitely something magical in carving a bowl that you can actually use, and surprisingly, they’re super easy to create and take less time than you may think. So get your creative juices flowing, find some scrap wood and follow us on a journey from log to bowl.
We found a tree branch (6”, 150mm in diameter) which dictated the size of the bowl and ended up as a small decorative bowl. We wanted something a little less conventional so we decided to go with an oval shape for the bowl… also because it worked well with the shape of the branch. Finally we decided to add a few little extra design elements so opted for a black textured band and little feet.
Using the TURBO Plane, plane the top and bottom level to create two flat surfaces, it’s pretty straight forward.
Mark the oval shape for the outline of the top of the bowl to suit the width of the log or branch. With the TUBRO Plane shape the outline of the bowl creating an elliptical cylinder. This requires a bit of patience and a light touch. Gentle gentle here are you don’t want to cut any large chunks that will impact the symmetry of the bowl.
Don’t worry about shaping the rounded curves at the bottom just yet.
Mark the inside of the bowl that you intend to hollow out.
Make sure to leave the wall thick enough for additional shaping from the outside to later create the 3D textured band.
Using the Ball Gouge on a 45 degree angle to start, hollow out the inside of the bowl, being careful not to be too aggressive as you need to leave room for adding the feet at the bottom as well as recessing on the outside of the bowl to create the raised black band.
When you are happy with the general shape of the bowl, it’s time for the first sand. Sand the inside as well as around the outside of the bowl. We used the Contour Sander, because it’s really quick at sanding curves but you can use any type of sander.
Don’t worry about being too thorough as the most important part at this stage to sand is where you wish to position the textured band.
Creating the textured band
It’s time to create your textured band. Once you know what pattern you want, mark out the width of the band around the outside of the bowl. Using the Ball Gouge lightly create a ripple texture making sure to cover the entire area where you marked the band as well as on the lines, as they will be cut back later.
Before you start texturing your bowl make sure you have a little practice on a scrap piece of wood until you perfect your pattern.
Add fire to your Bowl!
We used a propane torch (or you could use a Creme Brulee kitchen torch) to give the ripple texture a nice charcoal colour which really brought out the pattern the Ball Gouge made.
This part was a lot of fun!
Creating the raised band
Lightly pencil the the width of the band. Then using the TURBO Plane carefully and lightly start start removing above and below the pencilled marks. This bit can be a bit tricky. You will eventually have a complete raised textured band.
Don’t worry if it’s not even, it all adds to the character of the bowl.
Curving the bottom of the bowl
Once you are happy with the band turn the bowl over and lightly curve the edges to round the bottom leaving enough wood to carve the feet.
Giving your bowl little feet
We gave our bowl 4 little feet. We started using the Ball Gouge to run down the middle of the feet length ways, and then crossways. This should give you the rough shape for the feet. We tidied them up a little, very carefully with the TURBO Plane.
Sanding and oiling
Last steps, which really brings out the beautiful grain and colour of the wood. Gently sand the bowl being careful with the little feet and avoiding the band. Dust off your creation and it’s ready to oil.
Every year at Arbortech, we are enthusiastically encouraged to participate in the annual Staff Power Carving Competition.
The rules are simple:
Dream up any type of woodworking project
Use at least 1 Arbortech tool
Finish it in 3 months
At the end of the 3 months, we create a pop-up art exhibition held for one afternoon filled with laughter, music, delicious food and prizes.
It’s an interesting ‘mixed bag’ of people that work at Arbortech, from super competitive enthusiasts to more reserved humble creators. Every one of them is respected and appreciated for their contribution to the competition and of course, the part they play in the company.
Some people didn’t start their projects until a few days before the deadline (typical student style), others started on day one and chipped away at their projects every day. A few hadn’t ever picked up a power tool in their life, so needed a little guidance and a practice piece of wood to work on before they found their groove.
Regardless of their skill level or style, everyone contributed something pretty cool by the time of the exhibition. As creators of truly unique quality tools, understanding how easy it is to ‘create’ something from a scrap piece of wood feels pretty good.
All in all, it’s incredible to see the beautiful finished pieces, some of which look like they belong in an art gallery, created by people who are relatively new to the world of power carving.
Name: Melting Clock – Running Out of Time
Inspiration: Salvador Dali and the alarming rate of global warming
Wood: Camphor Laurel
Tools Used: Mini Carver with Mini Pro and Sander, Power Chisel, Contour Sander, TURBO Shaft, TURBO Plane, Sanding Pad on Power Carving Unit
Name: Octo Beer Caddy Pus
Inspiration: Being recycled boat timber, I decided to make a nautical themed item. I also wanted something practical to use
Wood: Puon Pine – Recycled Boat Timber
Tools Used: Mini Carver, Power Chisel, Mini Pro
Name: Console Table
Inspiration: I needed a table for my hallway at home and thought this console table would work well
Wood: Jarrah – Recycled picket fence
Tools Used: Power Carving Unit, Levelling Guide, Chip Catcher, TURBO Plane, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander
Name: Bunny Stool
Inspiration: I wanted to make my nieces a cute little stool they can sit on and play with
Wood: White Gum
Tools Used: Bandsaw, TURBO Plane, Sanding Pad, Power Carving Unit
Name: Don Gato
Inspiration: My Beautiful cat and how annoying my toilet’s door is
Wood: Olive Wood
Tools Used: Mini Carver, Mini Industrial, Mini Pro, Power Carving Unit, TURBO Plane, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander
Name: Treasure Chest
Inspiration: A jewellery box for my daughter. The piece of wood reminded me of a pirate treasure chest, which is why I chose it
Tools Used: TURBO Plane, Ball Gouge, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit, Bandsaw
Name: My Favourite Three
Inspiration: Three of my favourite coffee mugs
Wood: Olive Wood
Tools Used: Mini Carver, Ball Gouge, TURBO Shaft, Mini TURBO, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit
Name: Wok Trivet
Inspiration: Asian Wok has curved bottom which will not sit well on a normal trivet so I made one specifically for my work
Tools Used: Mini Pro, TURBO Plane, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit
Name: Tired Mama
Inspiration: As a busy mum of an energetic toddler, I wanted an easy project
Wood: White Gum
Tools Used: TURBO Shaft, Power Carving Unit, Sanding Pad
Name: Turbo Plane
Inspiration: A chunky cartoon appearance which also makes it resistant to the crashes and bumpy life of a toy
Inspiration: To use up wood left over from my renovation
Wood: Offcut Plywood
Tools Used: Power Carving Unit, Sanding Pad, Mini TURBO, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander
Name: Lovin’ Spoonful
Inspiration: Whilst on retreat at Jhana Grove I was doing a lot of walking through the forest, flowers and fallen timber. This piece of wood caught my attention on a possible ladle, to ladle loving kindness or metta
Tools Used: Mini TURBO, Contour Sander
Name: Layered Flower Dish
Inspiration: I really wanted to do something with Plywood as it has those lovely layers. Wasn’t really sure what I was doing so just made something simple
Wood: Marine Plywood
Tools Used: TURBO Plane, Mini Carver, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit
Inspiration: People and Diversity
Inspiration: I always wanted to sculpt a piece inspired by nature. This was my first attempt and I really enjoyed it
Wood: Recycled Australian Red Gum
Tools Used: Power Carving Unit, TURBO Plane, Mini Carver, Power Chisel, Contour Sander
Name: Round Stool
Inspiration: Created using a “poor man’s lathe”. I wanted to make something freehand but round at the same time
Wood: Recycled Spotted Gum / Lemon Scented Gum
Tools Used: Power Carving Unit, TURBO Plane, Sanding Pad, Industrial Woodcarver, Ball Gouge, Contour Sander
Name: Bench Seat
Inspiration: I needed a bench in the bedroom to put my shoes/socks on while sitting as my bed is too high
Wood: Red Gum (furniture grade)
Tools Used: TURBO Plane, Power Carving Unit, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander
Name: Vessel Collection
Inspiration: I wanted to showcase the scope of Arbortech woodwroking tools
Wood: Jarrah, Karri and Desert Bark
Tools Used: Ball Gouge, Mini Carver, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit
Name: Mallee Skull
Inspiration: To create a usable piece and to make it look as natural as possible
Wood: Mallee Root
Tools Used: Ball Gouge, Mini Carver, Industrial Blade, Mini Ball Gouge, Contour Sander, TURBO Shaft, Power Carving Unit
Name: ‘Hoot’ The long eared Owl
Inspiration: Saw a Postcard in St Albans Cathederal, England that had an owl photo. I purchased it and then used it as a plan for my carving
Tools Used: TURBO Plane, Power Chisel, TURBO Shaft, Contour Sander, Mini Carver
Name: Lady of the Lake
Inspiration: What I saw in the wood
Tools Used: Every Arbortech tool!
Wood: Offcut pine
Tools Used: Industrial Blade, Power Carving Unit, Mini TURBO, Ball Gouge, Sanding Pad, Contour Sander
Name: Less is more
Inspiration: I needed a soap dish for the newly renovated bathroom. I decided to create minimalistic soap dish that combines square and round geometric forms, and textured, tactile surfaces
Tools Used: Mini TURBO, Ball Gouge, Power Chisel
Name: Olive Wood Baguette Natter
Inspiration: Friends used a ceramic version at a dinner party recently
Tools Used: TURBO Plane, Ball Gouge, Contour Sander, Power Carving Unit
As Arbortech turns 30 this month we are reminded of the humble beginnings, innovation and perseverance of founders Kevin & Kristine Inkster.
A lot has happened in the last 30 years. For a start, the company has grown from a 2 person operation to requiring 30+ staff spread across 3 different countries. One product has multiplied to 10, and distribution retailers are now in the hundreds. There have been struggles, near bankruptcies and of course the challenges that came with weathering the GFC back in 2007. But Arbortech still stands strong today and continues to grow and dominate the categories it has redefined. The company is set to continue challenging the norm with clever engineering, but for now let’s take a walk down memory lane…
Arbortech Head Office, Perth
From a very young age, it was evident that Kevin had an intuitive, inventive flair. At the age of 18, he came up with the design concept of self-lighting cigarettes which was pursued by unscrupulous investors who told him the idea was unpatentable. However, this didn’t stop the ideas flowing as inventing has always been a love of Kevin’s and he spends much of his spare time experimenting with all sorts of design and concepts.
He is a mad keen follower of all things science and technology related. He strives to stay on top of all the latest news in medical and space research, but enjoys getting the latest Apple product and is truly in love with his Tesla which he has had for 2 years. Since Kevin bought his Tesla, more than 16% of Arbortech staff has bought Electric vehicles which they can charge while at work.
He is also an avid musician who currently plays the ukulele for fun and takes it with him while traveling as it fits easily into his carry-on bag. He has managed to start up an Arbortech band with the General Manager, an R & D technician and some factory supervisors who play regularly at company functions. All of Arbortech’s products are a result of his ideas and his passion for following through until his vision works. “Inventing has always been a love of mine and most of our tools are a result of experimentation. When we formed Arbortech in 1988 to commercialize our first successful product the “Woodcarver Blade” we promised ourselves that we would continue with this philosophy and make sure that the people who work at Arbortech also enjoy their work.” – Kevin Inkster.
The Arbortech Band
Enter the Original Woodcarver Blade
In 1984 Kevin and Kristine were joint cafe owners with another business couple. The building required complete renovation and it was decided the cafe would go through a fit-out. With limited funds to hire a professional to do the work, Kevin became hands on with the entire fit-out. This project fueled Kevin’s interest for invention and woodworking as he felt there was a distinct lack of tools on the market for woodworking.
Kevin continued with his passion for woodworking and making a bit of extra income from making wooden chairs, in partnership with another craftsperson, Peter Godden who was making tables with wood sourced from the forest floor.
Kevin became frustrated by the lack of woodworking tools to freehand shape the seat bases he was working on. That was when he decided to try his hand at making a tool to suit his needs. A new contraption made from wrapping a piece of chainsaw chain around part of an old Volkswagen cover he found in his workshop. The idea was to mount this attachment to a grinder to provide an efficient carving option for his wooden seat bases. This was the very first prototype of the Woodcarver Blade and the start of a completely new woodworking category termed “Power Carving”, a revolution was brewing.
Between the years 1984-1987, Kevin experimented with many prototypes and eventually the design evolved through a series of improvements and testing.
In 1988 Kevin decided to enter his creation of a Sculpted Reclining Chair (made using a Woodcarver prototype) into a woodworking competition which won the South West Arts Festival’s woodworking prize of $3,000. From here on the decision arose as to whether Kevin would continue with his love for woodworking or venture into manufacturing of woodworking tools. The choice was to commercialize the Woodcarver Blade after receiving a $5,000 government grant in June of that year, with an office being set up out of Kevin and Kristine’s home to run their business.
Kevin Inkster with an original Woodcarver Blade Prototype
As such, Arbortech was officially incorporated. In October 1988, Arbortech attended its first “Timber & Working with Wood Show” in Melbourne. The Woodcarver made its debut appearance; the live demonstration intrigued the masses and generated much interest from the woodworking enthusiasts who attended and had never seen anything like it before. The Woodcarver was sold for $50.00 a piece and completely sold out by the end of the show weekend. Having netted sales of $14,000 from the Woodcarver sales, it was a big achievement for Kevin and Kristine, and it was clear the teamwork between the humble couple paid off.
The following year, an office was set up in the main street of Nannup. Further success followed when the Woodcarver Blade was awarded the BHP Steel Award.
In 1990, Kevin and Kristine were able to move from their home office to a building in a popular industrial zone at number 50 Westchester Road in Malaga, Western Australia. That same year, the demand for the Woodcarver grew and Arbortech received an order of 50,000 Woodcarver Blade’s from Ryobi in the United States.
Kristine, Kevin and their son preparing the 50,000 unit Ryobi order
This drastic increase in demand meant there was now a need for a larger office to facilitate the business operations and activities. In 1993, a purpose built corporate office and manufacturing facility at 67 Westchester Road, Malaga was built. Business activity went from strength to strength from here, as Kevin continued his passion for woodworking and developing woodworking tools out of his love for design and experimentation. In 1996 the woodworking range expanded to include more Power Carving tools which have translated to the preferred tools for many woodworkers today.
Venturing into International Markets
Whilst Arbortech had always included the rest of the world in its sales territories and established distributors throughout North America and the UK, the appreciation for Arbortech products was growing. The increased demand for woodworking tools beyond the Australian market together with new demand for the AS170 Restoration Mortar Saw, saw Arbortech expand business operations and open a USA office in 2007 and European office in 2011.
Udo Aren, Sales Representative in Germany attending a Trade Show
Arbortech Team USA: Joe, David, Troy, Larry
Whilst woodworking tools are a big part of Arbortech’s product portfolio, Arbortech’s name has been associated with engineering excellence and innovation for the award winning Brick and Mortar Saw, which today is known as the AS170.
A renewed focus on woodworking products saw the release of the TURBO Plane in 2012 and following its success, the release of the Mini TURBO to the Australian market in May 2013 at the Maleny Wood Show. The Mini TURBO was released to the international market in September 2013.
Arbortech Today and into the Future
Today, Arbortech is an internationally recognized brand that is renowned for pushing the status quo. At our core, we are makers and innovators with a drive for creating unrivalled products that allow better, easier and more enjoyable work and leisure in both the woodworking and masonry restoration markets.
We all strive for a common purpose which is to make tools that are a joy to use with marked improvements in performance and safety over existing tools. Our company culture and brand is very much based on innovation. We are open to new ideas at all times, because it is only with new ideas and new ways of thinking, that change can start to come about. We believe that everyone has a creative spirit and we continually get enjoyment and inspiration for new product development from seeing our customers creativity come to life from using our tools.
When asked about his vision for the future of Arbortech Kevin says, “We still have a long way to go but we believe we can completely transform all that is “known” or thought to be of “cutting” as a dangerous activity. We plan to continue challenging this with our woodworking cutting tools, masonry cutting tools and even concrete cutting tools to bring about a new generation of safer, efficient cutting tools and methods.”
Of course we would not be here today without our loyal customers who we must celebrate as well. Some of customer still send us photo’s of their original Woodcarver Blades that they purchased 25 years ago and everyday we still receive photo’s and stories from Arbortech customers that we try share on our social media pages to help share and celebrate their creativity. We are often in awe of our customers creations and we are proud of what they are able to achieve. So we invite you, our customers, to please leave a comment about what creativity you have achieved in the last 30 years and what you hope to achieve in the years to come!
Our staff competition was held again recently and once again we were blown away by the level of creativity and imagination from everyone. It was a bit of gamble when we first started this competition to get everyone involved in power carving. We wanted all of our staff to build an understanding of how the Arbortech tools work and how to use them, but we didn’t expect such a high level of creativity, from the accounts department through to production! Of course they are all very lucky to have the complete range of Arbortech tools available for their use!
Drum Roll, and the winners are………
made by Matt Cormack, a designer from our Research & Development office
Matt wanted to make a wooden “groovy monitor stand” by using Glulam off-cut (glued laminated timber). The power carving tools of choice included the Industrial Woodcarver and TURBO Plane to get the rough shape. Matt then he used the Mini Grinder and TURBO Shaft to create the hollow section of the project and get into those tight curves before finishing off. He used an orbital sander on the flat surfaces and the Arbortech Contour Sander on the internal curves before adding the decorative detail of the small chrome nuts, a great feature.
made by “Junior” George Linke, Blade Production Supervisor
Junior has a great love of nature and found this lovely old piece of “Jarrah” tree branch. Juniors inspiration for this piece stems from his appreciation for the timbers journey from seed in the earth to falling rotten wood, and he wanted to bring the piece of Jarrah back to life. He decided to make a sculpture for his garden that highlighted the natural elements of the wood and also expressed his love for nature. The first thing he did was trace the outline his arm and hand with a carpenters pencil to guide his free form carving before using the Mini Grinder and TURBO Shaft – his power carving tools of choice to shape the wood and form the “Tree Hug” image. He then used the TURBO Plane and Mini Grinder on the inside of the log to smooth out the wood where necessary, before reaching the sanding stage where he used the Contour Sander and Decking Oil to finish the piece. Junior opted for Decking Oil due to it’s ability to withstand harsh outdoor conditions as the piece would be installed permanently in his garden. He finally used the Power Chisel to rebate some rectangles for attaching the metal plates for mounting rods.
made by Sven Blicks, General Manager
Sven loves to surf and was always talking about doing this piece, so it was great to finally see his vision come to life. He used a nice piece of Camphor wood and penciled in the horizon with the Power Chisel to get the proportions right before shaping the wave with the ultimate power tool due – the Mini Grinder and Power Chisel. He then used the Contour Sander to shape and sand down all the surfaces before adding the final detail with the Power Chisel. Although Sven is not a beginner anymore this would be a perfect power carving project for beginners.
made by Steve Marsh, Special Projects Accountant
Steve always has some great ideas for the competition and this was another one of those winning ideas. He was inspired by another staff member who has a real love of Dachshunds or “Sausage Dogs”. He used a piece of Eucalyptus found on a road verge and started shaping the basic shape in the top 2/3rds of the log before working more of the head features with the Mini Grinder and TURBO Shaft. Once he had the basic head and tail shapes he could flatten and plane the tray with the TURBO Plane and carve the legs into the base. He first left the legs as two long platforms on either end and then decided to make them into 4 basic feet. We re-created this project and filmed a short How-To video: watch the How To Power Carve a Sausage Dog Tray Video.
We don’t have a high turnover of staff at Arbortech, so those who were beginners when we started running the competition 6 years ago are now considered experienced power carving experts and everyone starts planning their project months in advance. Some start looking for wood by the side of the road, others draw up ideas or start practicing their wood shaping techniques with the latest tools. We love that everyone at Arbortech has embraced the competition which really works for everyone as our customers get great customer service from real users of the tools.
Arbortech power carving tools are designed to inspire and enable people’s creative ideas for woodwork to come to life, efficiently! We hope these projects inspire you to turn any vision you may have for a piece of wood into a reality. Whether you have a question for one of the artists about their project or a query about one of our tools, please leave a comment.
We have combined a few independent Ball Gouge Reviews in this blog post. So you can read, watch and hear what industry professionals have to say about it – in one place! We are hoping to add additional reviews as the Ball Gouge becomes more widely available but for now please enjoy reading a Ball Gouge review from the Australian Wood Smith, Australian Wood Review, or watch Paul Jenkins (aka The Wood Knight‘s) first impressions video.