Spooky carvings will haunt you
October 22, 2021 | 11:31 am CDT
Josh Carte "Keeper" carving

Josh Carte carved “Keeper” out of a 9-inch-high chunk of dogwood.

If you like your wood carving to be hauntingly inventive then Ohio-based woodcarver Josh Carte is your man.

Carte started out carving with a chainsaw and then refined his work by going with smaller subjects and more delicate tools. Today his specialty is wood spirit carvings that take natural wood and add faces and personalities. He especially likes to take advantage of natural shapes in the wood.

“It has taken me several years to figure out how to carve faces that I find pleasing, as I am very particular. Maybe even a bit nutty,” he says.

He spends a lot of time looking for unusual pieces of wood to use in his art.

“Venturing through the woods, searching for found- woods really tickles my soul,” he says. “Nature has such beauty to offer if only our eyes will see it. Gathering Pine knots, walking sticks and searching for burls has become a favorite past time for me.”

Some of the faces tend to the macabre, with ghoulish features, scary faces, and dangerous-looking teeth. He used a 9-inch high chunk of dogwood to make “Keeper,” a skull-based carving with beady eyes, jutting teeth, and long tongue.

“I used several different tools to make this piece,” he explains. “I began with a small chainsaw and worked my way down to a rotary bit that’s as thin as a needle. I finished this carving with spray urethane and thinned, oil paint.”

Josh Carte "Monkey Business" carving
“Monkey Business” started out as a spruce nodule that Josh carte transformed into an ape-like creature.


A bit more on the humorous side is “Monkey Business,” a toothy ape made from a gnarly spruce nodule. The creature’s pointy teeth are juxtaposed by his leering sidelong glancing eyes.

“This is a one-of-a-kind sculpture in a very unique piece of wood,” Carte says. “There will never be another creature just like this one!”

Josh Carte "Igleador" carving
Taking full advantage of the Big Leaf Maple Burl’s attributes, Josh Carte created “Igleador.”


He transformed a piece of Big Leaf Maple Burl into “Igleador, a sharp-toothed, bulging eyed monster. It takes full advantage of the characteristics of the maple burl.

“This is a very unique wood, in that it has many pins and projections coming from it,” Carte says. “I love the crustacean-like look of this wood.”

You can see lots more of his creations in his Etsy store.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.