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Mark Hammers on Carving and 21st Century Heroes - Schaaf Tools Community Spotlight

Schaaf Tools Community Spotlights feature a new wood carver every week. Learn about your carving community, pick up beginner wood carving tips, and get Inspired!

This week, read about Mark Hammers, and how wood carving has helped him heal. Learn more about your wood carving community today!

This Schaaf Tools Community Spotlight is particularly special to me because of what Mark has meant to our company. Mark introduced us to master carver Joe Dillett back in 2018, after participating in a carving class taught by Joe through the 21st Century Heroes program for combat veterans. Joe has gone on to play a huge role in the development of our business and our tools.

To this day, Schaaf Tools is proud to support the work that 21st Century Heroes does within the Veteran community, and Joe has continued to help us with product development, business decisions, and more.

We have been able to stay in touch with Mark, and follow his journey, and I feel lucky to call him a friend.

Mark has been generous enough to provide his contact information for anyone who would like to learn more about the 21st Century Heroes program. If you’re a veteran interested in carving, or you know someone who might benefit from the program, you can email Mark directly at You can also check out the website:

Here’s our Conversation with Mark Hammers, owner of Hammers & Chisels woodworking business.

Tell me a little bit about yourself – where are you from? How long have you been doing wood carving, and how did you get into it?

I’m originally from Missouri but have lived in North Carolina for going on 8 years. I am retired disabled combat veteran of 12 years. When I retired, I found a program called 21st Century Heroes, which helps combat veterans learn how to carve. This program is where I learned how to carve and I knew it was what I wanted to do. It allowed my mind to focus on something besides war and pain. I have been doing it for going on 3 years now.

What type of wood carving do you do?

I mostly carve relief carvings. But I do carve coffee scoops, guitar picks, and bowls on occasion. Most of what I do is custom work.

What are a few wood working tools that you couldn’t live without and why?

Chisels! If I didn’t have my sets of chisels, I wouldn’t be able to complete anything. But outside of that, a coping saw or band saw. Comes in handy when cutting out shapes, coffee scoops, etc.


There so many different opinions on what tools to start with. What were you first carving tools (or tool) and do you remember how you decided to start with them?

My first carving tools, where chisels, palm tools, and whittling knives. Those were what were provided for us during the 21st Century Heroes course. But really you can pick up a sharp whittling knife and whittle away! (Safely of course!)

Are there any projects you’ve done that you’re most proud? If so, why? (Do you have pictures of these to include?)

One of my favorite pieces I have carved is my first fireplace mantle. I had always wanted to carve one. It will be in the customers house forever and it is specifically made for them. It will last for generations to come which is something I am very proud of.

Are there any wood carvers that have inspired you? Who?

Joe Dillett. Joe is one of the instructors at 21st Century Heroes. He is also my mentor and a renowned Master Carver.

What was one carving challenge you’ve faced that stands out?

Depth control. Learning how to manage the depth of a carving took a while for me to achieve. A lot of practice pieces.

How did you learn how to sharpen your tools? How long did it take you to learn how to sharpen? What is your sharpening process today?

21st Century Heroes taught us everything needed to learn sharpening. It took the whole week to get the basics down. But just knowing the basics is the beginning. It is something that must be practiced and done to your tools. I still use the basic diamond stone and leather strop with compound. It may take longer than electric sharpening, but you can never go wrong with traditional.

Any you’d like to add?

21st Century Heroes is a program that has truly helped heal me. If it wasn’t for this program, I am not sure where I would have been at. Now I use the tools and knowledge provided to me from them, to help heal my mind. I want to thank 21st Century Heroes for everything they have done for me and will continue to do for other veterans!

Also, since I have been to that program, Schaaf Tools has donated all the chisels for veterans to learn how to carve. Thanks to them, veterans have an opportunity to heal and learn a new trade. Thank you, Schaaf Tools for everything!

You can check out more of Mark's work here:

Etsy Store Link

Facebook Page:

Inspired? Learn more about beginner wood carving tools here, and be sure to join the Schaaf Tools family for more inspiration, community spotlights and free educational material.

1 comment

  • Sitembile

    Love the Articles!
    Too bad My deceased Dad & Brothers
    ( ALL Veterans) didn’t have this to LEARN ! I am Middle Child(71) , The
    " Special"- CURIOUS Sibling and SELF TAUGHT Sewer / Designer!
    I work with TREE LIMBS also & Need to learn more about wood Carving! On Instagram as
    Are there other Females ,Muslims and Brown Skin folks doing this?


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