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He carved out a ribbon-winning hobby

Although he was good with a pocketknife as a child, David Tabor began carving wood less than 10 years ago. Now he's a featured artist at the upcoming Calusa Wood Carvers show.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 27, 2001

NEW PORT RICHEY -- David Tabor, 66, will be a featured artist at the Calusa Wood Carvers annual show and sale this weekend.

He is relatively new to wood carving but says he grew up with a pocket knife in his pocket and made his own toys as a kid in Decatur, Ill.

"I have the scars to prove it," he adds.

He became interested in wood carving in 1992 after seeing well-known wood carver Rick Butz on a television show, but it wasn't until a year later that he attended the Calusa show. He has been hooked on wood carving ever since. He took classes with excellent teachers and has advanced to the teaching level himself.

Several years ago, he took nine ribbons for the nine carvings he entered in the Florida State Fair.

Tabor says he believes that research is the secret to successful carving, and he strives for precision down to the smallest details. To help visualize his subject, if he has no reference photograph, he develops a clay model before the carving begins. Tabor uses several kinds of wood, but prefers Tupelo because it holds the details and is a softer wood than most bass.

"Bass fuzzes a lot when using a power tool," he says, "but Tupelo doesn't." He enhances his work by painting, either with an air brush or brushes.

Tabor began his career in the U.S. Army in the Guided Missile Program, serving from 1954-57, and was one of the youngest warrant officers in the branch at the time. Later he worked for IBM on a military program. He now is employed by the Hillsborough Planning Commission, developing maps of the Hillsborough area. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Safety Harbor. He has three children, and she has two, none of whom are living at home.

Wood Carvers Show hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the New Port Richey Recreation Complex, 6640 Van Buren. For information, call Kenneth Slayden, show chairman, at (727) 869-9900. The admission charge of $2 includes door prizes. There will be carving demonstrations both days. Vendors will have tools, supplies and books for sale.

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