Friday, 28 November 2014

Wood For Carving

“What wood can you carve?”


“Yes, but what type? Where can I get some wood carving wood?”

Is this a common question that you ask, or have been asked?
It's one I've been asked many times by budding carvers.

It’s an odd concept and question for the established carver.

Wood’s wood. Carve anything?!

But for the newbie, especially someone from a town or city, it’s just something that one doesn't come across! No one ever talks about fine woodworking and elegantly carved antiques nowadays. People are sitting at computers in Ikea chairs, swigging down a beer, contemplating whether they should head down the pub.
Even if an individual was interested in such things, who is there to ask in a world like this? You can only know what you know, so commend those who are clearly a world away from working with wood, and who are pushing their knowledge, skills, and thinking outside the box, and outside the bubble of their community.

If you are said newbie, let’s take a look at what you can carve.

First off, wood is wood, and as such, a wood carver can carve any wood.
Budget’s tight, not an uncommon thing these days, but you want to start a hobby, something light on the wallet preferably.
Whittling is a common form of carving to start, and involves just one knife…. and a Kevlar glove, because let’s face it, no one likes clearing up their own blood!
I recommend a Kevlar glove and a Stanley knife (box cutter) such as these for beginners.


But the choice of knife is yours, so long as it’s sharp and manageable.

Next stop?

The park, woods, or even just roadsides where trees have been planted.
Look around the ground and find a stick. Any size is fine for practice, you can pick out specific sizes and shapes when you begin to learn, and know what you’re carving.
If sticks are hard to come by, or it’s the middle of the summer, just have a look around. A lot of things are made of wood, so you will find old scraps of wood in skips, around building sites, old furniture, chair legs etc. You might have an old wooden spoon or wooden rolling pin. Anything can be used, find it and try it, what have you got to lose?!

Best Wood For Carving

So what is the best wood for carving?

The short answer, there really isn't a “best wood”. All wood has different characteristics and as such, types of wood can be very personal to the carver, or very specific towards what you are carving.

Basswood or Limewood tends to be the wood of choice for most carvers. It’s very soft, easy to carve and holds detail well. Its uniform patterning results in a carving free from any distracting or off-putting grain patterns.
On the other hand, your carving may be bolder, less detailed, and needs that grain to pop and bring some character into the piece. So take into consideration what you are carving when choosing your wood, but be aware some woods can be very hard such as oak, some brittle like mahogany, and some prone to splitting along the grain such as pine.

Experiment, and remember.
·         All woods have up sides and downsides.
·         With difficult woods, just make sure your blade is sharp, take small cuts and take your time.
·         Grain, patterning and defects can play a big part in your design.
·         Light woods show shadows. Don’t use a dark coloured wood if you want details to really stand out.

If you want to carve MDF go for it! There’s no right or wrong here. If you can get your knife through it, you can carve what you like!

Enjoy yourselves but be safe out there!

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