Fifty years ago, my father and I cut a simple whale out of an old pine board and hung it above our garage door; a curved tail, an open mouth, and a carefully positioned knot for the eye. A quick once-over with a wood rasp to round over the edges and it was finished. No stain. My father wanted it to turn gray with age. I still have that whale (inset).
A few recent sign projects had me using a power-carving disc attached to an angle grinder to round over much larger edges to make domed shapes; the tool plows through wood quickly with exacting precision. It really is a thrill to use. Lightbulb moment! Time to make another whale. Classic sperm whale carvings are much like what you’d see mounted atop a weathervane or in century-old illustrations; a static side profile. I wanted this whale to have as much life-like movement as possible. I researched photos of swimming sperm whales, got out the sketchbook, and the final results exceeded my expectations. This whale is 44” wide and made from 1 1/2” thick hardwood.