DIY Tips: Wood Carving Basics

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When it concerns actual carving, there is no machine that would perfectly do it for you. There's no alternative for steadiness of hand and eye and long practice. Perhaps more tools have been made for wood carving than for any other mechanical operation. Each of the tools is, naturally, a sort of chisel, and the underlying requirement of wood carving is to be able to use a chisel skillfully and successfully.  Several chisels are made in 18 sizes, ranging from 1/32 to 1 inch, having straight, long-bend, or short-bend shanks. Veiners are designed as small as 1/64 inch. The other tools are made in six sizes between 1 inch and 2 inches,  Most of the small sizes are either spade or fishtail-shaped, and that enhances their usefulness in modeling. Greater clearance is given just in the back of the cutting edge.

To carve a design in low relief, trace an outline of it on the wood.  Go over the outline using a small gouge or paring tool and cut on the background side of the line. While doing this, keep an eye on the direction of the grain on the raised part. Set down the outline using a chisel or gouge that conforms with the curve of the design, while using a mallet or a soft-faced hammer for tapping.  Cut out the background with a fiat gouge.  Model the surface of the design so as to bear an even degree of finish. Complete the modeling by placing details and veining. Tidy up the edges and the background. Stamp the background when a stamped texture is desired. Try to prevent undercutting the outline, or causing the edges to be too sharp or the background too smooth.

A lot of beautiful yet simple designs on panels, cabinets, book racks, or chests can easily be created by just outlining with a small gouge or veiner. The effect could be enhanced by cutting or stamping down the background, and still further by gradually modeling the raised parts. The gouge lends itself to the forming of beautiful units and borders by merely combining gouge cuts. The skew chisel and the carving knife are especially adapted to the type of notching known as chip carving. Chip carving is effective if not overdone and could be as simple or ornate as the taste of the carver prescribes.

Wood carving is the type of thing that artists and hobbyists spend a lifetime doing; and is definitely among the great arts. There has been a great deal written about the subject, and anyone who wants to go into it deeply must, by all intents, go to the public library and find the necessary books on the subject. One would indeed be richly repaid for taking interest in it.

By Tip Writer