Wood Carving Fundamentals
At first, carving wood looks to be daunting, but as technique, style, and method is learned it becomes a learned skill. You may not think you have the abilities to carve, but after learning where your natural ability lay, you will be able to enhance them through technique. Thoughts on Woodcarving Fundamentals
Perhaps more than any other craft, the ability to visualize is what we need in wood carving. Visualization can be practiced and one can become quite good at it. People do it in meditation all the time. In fact, I have meditated with pretty good success on specific carving projects before I start them and I have little doubt that it has helped greatly. With experience and practice one can continually improve with visualization skills – so the more one does, the better you will become at doing it. You can also improve your sense of the project by simply giving it some thought. I mean concentrated thought, not just passing thought. Make some sketches. Collect pictures that reflect your subject. All of this will help with the success of your carving. To the extent that you can see what you want to carve, the easier and the more successful you carving project will be.
I went through this web site and saw all the beautiful pictures of such prize woodcarvings and thought to myself, “I will never be able to carve like this”. Woodcarving just may be an unattainable dream. First I had to learn all about the tools and how to make and keep them sharp. Okay I had that part down. But now look at all of these beautiful carvings, some on priceless pieces of furniture. Could I carve like this? First there were the magazine articles by other artists who were carving this shell or that leaf. “Now set your caliper to 3/16 of an inch and then…”. The there were the books, “The scroll unwinds using the mathematical equation of y as a function of…” or “The magic art of proportion relies on the use of pi and divisions or multiples there of…”. And then there were the architectural styles one had to adhere to like Rocco, Art Deco, and Neapolitan or is that last one an ice cream favor?
So the interest in a carving as this is created not in the depth of the carving but in the changing textures that are used. The sky shows the round gouge marks implying clouds, the trees are v-gouged to give just a slight impression of leaves, and the barn roof boards are cut with a bench knife. Every area of the barn design has a different textural line or feeling. Landscape relief designs are excellent subjects for the beginning carver. You do not need to spend hours creating deep overlapping layers of work to achieve a fascinating finished project. And as you work you enjoy the chance to discover a number of techniques and strokes that can be made with your carving tools. Old barns are very forgiving to the new carver since few of the lines in the barn structure need to be precise or absolutely straight.
For our first installment I’m going to talk about some basic things you’ll want to have handy to get started woodcarving. Some of these are things you already know and some of them you may not have thought of but I have found them all to be very handy. I bet you already had this one figured out. If you didn’t know you needed wood to be a woodcarver you may need to find a friend to help you along. What kind of wood? That’s a great question. Most folks start out with basswood. It’s tight-grained but it’s not too hard. It also paints well. Another wood similar to basswood is jelutong. If you want a wood with a nice grain for a natural finish then pick butternut. If you plan on doing a lot of power carving then tupelo is nice for that.
If you are talented and can produce quality pieces, you can make a good living or just pick up some extra income. To be able to sell your woodworking products, in addition to high quality, they should appeal to many people including useful items such as chairs, tables, beds and other household furniture. It commonly takes considerable time to become really skilled in woodworking, but everyone has to start somewhere in order to become successful. You're never too old to start learning woodworking projects. It's a fun hobby to practice that can be done any time of year, so there's no reason to put off that new project.
Anyone can grab a pocketknife and whittle a stick into a campfire cooking spear. But with woodcarving, the difference is in the details and the supplies. More intricate designs require more knives, chisels and gouges. But beginners need just two tools and a good teacher, advises Bob Marek, who has been carving for 60-plus years and instructing for more than 30 in Pinellas County, Florida. "Don't take off and do it on your own," he says, "... because you don't know how to sharpen tools."