Carver Kings Review Part II


A.J. Kilpatrick

 Today’s chainsaw blog post is another review of HGTV’s Carver Kings.  This post reviews episodes 2,3, and 4.

Carver Kings Review

Dean Ross and Ken Sheen from Carver Kings’ “Tree of Life” episode.  Here we see dean pulling a salmon from the log under Ken’s guidance.

Pain of Thrones

In this episode we see Paul Frenette and Ryan Cook teaming up to create a massive dining room table for a U.S. senator.  The massive table is a thanksgiving rush job and has to be able to seat twenty.  Because Paul is a dreamer, he also adds two massive thrones into the mix to comply with the clients’ wishes for a “King Arthur” feel.  Poor Ryan is once again thrust into the role of the talented rookie as he is shut out of the design process when Paul arrives to their morning meeting with the design already completed.  Apparently, Paul couldn’t sleep until he had finalized the design.

This episode contains the same memes and reality TV machinations detailed in the previous review.  We don’t need to keep going over this as it is pretty much the nature of the beast.  Let’s just accept it and focus on what this, and future episodes, have to offer.  This episode does not have a secondary sub plot like other episodes as the scale of the project more than fills the brief twenty two minutes available.  The sheer massive scale of this table is mind boggling for us mere regular Joes in TV land.  My university summer job as a mover many years ago has me wondering how many homes would even accommodate these massive thrones and table through their humble entrance ways.

This time around, we see Paul making the “big” mistake as he, in his haste to speed up the carving, cuts off a sword pommel that is integral to his throne design.  Back to the wood shop for another throne.  In addition to Paul’s costly mistake, we also get a bit of dramatic friction as Paul allows Ryan to carve the dragons on one throne with the stern direction not to make them too “cartoony”.  Ryan digs in with zeal and carves two impressive dragons only to be told by Paul that his dragoons are now too “angry” and will be too aggressive for a family centered dining room.  Sometimes you just can’t win, Ryan, (and for the record, I kinda preferred your original dragoons over the softened final version.)  Ryan dutifully re-carves the scales and makes the dragons more suitable for Paul’s design.

This episode also has the team bringing Dean on board to help speed up the carving process.  Dean does a great job carving the Celtic crosses on the back of the thrones, and, in the process, wins Paul’s respect.  Dean even has Paul admitting that Dean did a great job, and he did it faster than Paul could have- high praise from a veteran like Paul.

In the end, this episode chronicles the creation of an amazing piece of custom carved furniture that is more than worthy of its place in the largest log home in North America.  This episode also introduces us to some new tools and techniques of the carving game.  In particular we see a crazy bar attachment known as a power gouge.  The fast textures  this attachment is capable of are impressive.  All in all, this is a very memorable episode that gives us a massive piece of furniture.  The banter and interactions between our carvers is also entertaining and memorable.  Another great episode showcasing some of the finest carvers operating in Canada.

P.S. Ryan Cook has his own website found here: and he is on facebook:

Paul Frenette is also on the interwebs: (check out the crazy Loch Ness Bar on the homepage).


Chip Off the Old Block

In this episode, we see Ken and Ryan teaming up to make a large garden trellis for one of Pioneer’s clients.  Once again, Dean is brought in to help out.  This is another massive piece, but that is why they are devoting a show to it.  This episode also revisits the father-son dynamic as Paul brings his son Jacob out to the Pioneer site to aid in a zombie carving commission.  Jacob is suitably impressed by the size and scope of the pioneer operation, and his comment on the size and amount of wood on site is met with Paul’s assertion, “That’s what we call carver porn.”

Once again, Ryan is left out of the planning stage as Ken comes in with the plan already drawn after a sleepless night.  When will Ryan earn his stripes and join them at the design table?  Time will tell.  This is the first episode where we get to see a bit of Ken’s leadership style.  When Ryan’s saw hits  some rot and is pulled through the side of the trellis during the hollowing out phase, Ken shows his adaptability and tells Ryan not to worry about it as they will just put in a window to cover the mistake.  Ken even admits later that he feels the design was probably made stronger from the inclusion of the windows.  Ken’s ability to roll with the punches and not berate the other carvers is quite admirable and displays some excellent leadership qualities.

The father and son subplot gives us some father-son friction as Paul shows Jacob some tough love by breaking Jacob’s first attempt at roughing in a zombie’s arm.  Jacob had not listened closely enough to Paul’s warning to pay attention to the grain of the piece in order to ensure its strength in the final carve.  Jacob is of course not very happy with his father’s teaching style, but it is a valuable lesson learned.

This episode also gives us some more Peter humour as he gives Ken a mild heart-attack when he tells Ken that he messed up his part of the trellis carving: namely two impressive carvings, one of a deer and the other of a bobcat, for the trellis’ benches.  Of course, Peter did a great job on his carvings as he states, “I know they’re fine, I’m a professional.”  He also told us that, “Carving critters is what I do best.”

Yet again we close the show with two more incredible pieces of carving work.  The trellis is on a scale beyond most of our means, but vicarious living is a huge part of the shows appeal.  Paul and Jacob’s zombie carving would please any Walking Dead fan, and is a remarkable piece showcasing why Paul is so highly regarded in the carving world as a fantasy carver.  In conclusion, we are given another entertaining glimpse into the  world of Pioneer’s clients and the wonderful products they purchase.


Carver Kings Tree of Life illustration

Dean Ross pulling a salmon from the log.

Tree of Life

Paul and Ryan are once again teamed up to create a memorial to a beloved grandmother.  Bryan Reid III and Jacob Frenette are brought in to assist, but their overzealous zeal to prove themselves to their fathers leads to them being removed from the project after they glue their hollowed log together before Paul can install the shelves he had incorporated into the design.  I guess that, like in life, the father-son dynamic doesn’t always lead to a happy ending on Carver Kings.

It is this episode’s subplot team-up with Ken and Dean that I found the most interesting.  Here we see a seasoned veteran guiding and really helping his young apprentice.  On a trip to learn more about Dean’s native roots, Ken and Dean snag a commission for a salmon carving for a reserve’s visitor information center.  This is a great story arc where we see two carvers, one a master, the other an apprentice, showing their mutual respect for each other.  It is great to see both men speak about how each is learning from the other.  The end carving is not on the grand scale of the main story arc’s carving, but it is a magnificent blending of the modern realistic style with Dean’s take on traditional native design.

This episode ends on a now familiar note: another truly epic carving has been completed and shipped to its new home at a magnificent Pioneer cabin.  Once again, we gain access to a finished Pioneer home, and we get to see how this episode’s masterpiece looks on display.  Of course, the finished product is superb, and everyone is happy.  Another entertaining twenty minute sojourn into the world of carving has been completed.

Carver Kings airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.





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