Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wood Carving For Beginners

‘Wood carving for beginners’ a term that can start, and lead to, so many different practices, ideas and methods.
The term is not even a question. It holds no real value. What do you want to actually learn, what is there to learn?
Let us create some questions, for which you can then, sub-categorise yourself, and go down the path you wish to follow.

Are you one to think:

“I’m not a massive TV fan and books are for bedtime! I need something to do with my hands to keep me occupied; I want a feeling of accomplishment, but at low cost and simple.
An equivalent to knitting in a sense.”
If this is you, you may enjoy the path of the ‘whittler’.


For this, you need only one knife (specialist detail knives can come later if desired).
If like me, in my early days, you dread the thought of having to buy, and learn how to use, sharpening equipment. Simply get yourself a Stanley Knife or Box Cutter. These require no sharpening and the blade can simply be replaced when it dulls.

What can you whittle?


Find any stick, any scrap of wood, I’ve even heard of people carving chalk!
I’m not quite sure how that turns out though?

What objects can you whittle?


Click here for a video I made a while back, on how to whittle a spoon!

YouTube and Google are wonderful places for free information, and how to’s, so have a good look around!
I have a few How To’s on my YouTube channel but I will soon be uploading more to here, so keep checking back!

Below are a few whittling products. Just click the pictures to check pricing, related items and see what you like!



Are you one to think:

“I love the floral leaves and wood carved scenery I find on antique furniture and in churches.”
If this is you, you will want to go down the road to ‘surface decoration’ and ‘relief’ work.
This, in my opinion, is probably the most fun styles of carving. You generally don’t have to do too much wood removal, simply take down the background to your desired depth, and you can start shaping and finessing in seconds! Some surface decoration takes only a series of strategic cuts to the surface, to create beautiful patterning.
You can apply these skills to your existing furniture if you’re brave enough!


A sub category to this…. sub category, is both ‘lettering’ and ‘chip carving’

These are both carved in the surface, as with the rest, but generally you use a different method. Essentially with these practices, you cut down into the wood at angles from one side to the other, to create a chip that falls out, leaving you with various lines and shapes that, altogether, create letters and exquisite patterning.
To letter carve you will need gouges and straight chisels as with carving. But with chip carving, you need only one specific, angled, chip carving knife. Excellent if your budget is low

Below is a small selection of tools and educational material. Just click the pictures to view pricing and related items!



Finally, if you’re one to think:

“I love sculptures, shapes and empowering works of art!”
You will want to go down the road of, ‘in the round’ carving.
This is, by far, my favorite type of carving, looks wise, but it comes with a price! It creates a lot of waste wood, so you are paying for a large percentage of wood that’s actually going in the bin! Plus, the time it takes to remove this waste wood, to get down to your rough shape, can be very slow and tedious! But with the right patience, the results can be very impressive and very rewarding! 


If you haven’t the patience, but you have a lot of space and no neighbours, you can try ‘chainsaw carving’

This is a common, and well enjoyed form of carving, due to the speed of the chainsaw at ripping through wood, but if you don’t want your neighbours yelling at you, and your garden caked in sawdust, I’m afraid you will have to give this one a miss!

Below is a small selection of tools and educational material. Just click the pictures to view pricing and related items!


Wood carving practices are very different, and although the medium (wood) is the same in each, how you use tools is the same, and an understanding of how wood and grain acts and flows is essential. 
To carve a round, perfectly proportioned head is a very, very different skill to creating an almost flat, squashed, image of a head, that looks like it has more depth than it really has.
I would advise all carvers to dabble in all the disciplines, but even the experts often have a preferred style to which they concentrate on.

Armed with this knowledge, think about your budget, time and space.

What can you realistically start? 

What style inspires you most? 

Starting anything new can be very frustrating, so use those key words I have made bold, and search the internet to keep your inspiration up and pushing your carving skills forward!

I wish to, soon, go in depth on each of these disciplines, so please follow me and share my posts to show your support.

With the exception of chip carving, chainsaw carving and whittling. 
Carving uses the same sets of tools to remove and sculpt the wood. Click Here to read my article on wood carving tools, to understand what you need to change your life into that of a wood carver's!

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