Carved Three Carvings Saturday and Sunday

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Blog entry by helluvawreck posted 07-18-2011 05:17 PM 7385 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been trying to learn chip carving for about 3 months. I like to carve free form chip carvings. I’ve still not gotten to the point where I’m satisfied with my chip carvings but I can do it better than what I could three months ago. I also try to do relief carvings occasionally but I haven’t done very many. Anyways, for the first time in a good while I decided that I wanted to do a relief carving so I chose this simple flower since I’m a beginner.

I’m roughing it out here by removing the background.

This carving will be about a 1/4 inch deep. As time goes on I hope that I can become more efficient at this but everyone has to learn the hard way if they have no one to teach them and the act of doing it is the only way.

At this point I’ve done more chip carving than anything since I’ve been chip carving every weekend for about 3 months. Relief carving is a little different but I enjoy them both. Removing the wood from arond the center of the flower with a gouge is delicate. If you get too aggressive with it you will break it off.

At this point I’m starting to form the leaves and the pettles and this is really enjoyable because you just have some freedom to tweak the look of it here and there. You do a little here and a little there and your eye, mind, and soul just sort of help you in some sort of mysterious way that I don’t really understand very much. I suppose that part of it is that they all just sort of consider all of the different flowers that they have seen. It helps to have a picture and I had one of this but it’s not the same as looking at something that is three dimensional.

I don’t consider this very good but I enjoy it and I’m not going to throw it away. When I get through I always see soooo many flaws and I say I will try to do better next time. It comes slowly though. I wish I could afford to take some lessons from a professional because every trade has a way to handle every problem that comes up so learning the little ways that a professional does things can save you hours of hard work when teaching yourself.

After I got through with this flower I went out on the patio to think about what I had done and what I liked and didn’t like about it. This seems to help a little. Sometimes I get discouraged and impatient with myself but mostly I don’t. If carving was easy everyone would do it I suppose.

While on the patio I started thinking about carving a spoon. I never have done one so I thought about it so on the spur of the moment I said I’m going to give it a try and went in the house and got my wife to give me a spoon to look at.

I had bought a spoon gouge about 3 or 4 months earlier because I have wanted to do a spoon ever since someone had posted a post about making sppons a few months back but this past week Spootaneous put up parts of a tutorial about making spoons so it was on my mind.

I also had a #9×25mm gouge that look liked it could be helpful. I cut a piece of 3/4 in thick basswood and laid the table spoon on the board flat and simply traced around it. I then started to hollow out the spoon end but I found that the 9-25 gouged worked better for roughing it out. It was not that difficult to get the rough shape and I was reminded that the hardest part was sometimes just making up your mind to get started. I had put off carving a spoon for months. The spoon gouge came in handy for finishing the hollow part to shape.

Then I just band sawed it out a little bit oversized.

This was just going to be a little whittling exercise because I was just going to make a primitive spoon. I chose this carving knife as my weopon of choice and went out onto the patio to whittle it by eye.

So these are the three tools that I used to carve this spoon.

I enjoyed whittling it very much which was basically an exercise in keeping it all as symmetrical and as straight as possible. So you just turn it, look, and cut a little here and there as you go along and you are deciding on a shape of the handle at the same time.

After about and hour I had taken it as far as I wanted to because I was just making a primitive spoon maybe a lot like our great grandfathers used to do except for the fact that my tools were a whole lot better than theirs.

On Sunday I carved this apple plaque. I’ve tried to carve this apple a couple of times before. I’m not happy with it yet. The serrations in the edge of the leaves are a little difficult for me so I need to practice this. I wish that I could watch a good carver carve this apple from start to finish. I’m very observant when I want to be and would learn a lot. It would save me hours and hours of time to watch a good wood carver instead of learning most of it by trial and error.

I’m not saying this apple is a good carving but I should have set up the lighting a little different because some of the shadows disappeared and parts of it blended into the back ground so I may try to set up a better photograph and swap this one out.

So this is my production for the weekend. I surely won’t get rich doing this but I had a lot of fun and learned a little more about carving.

The middle plaque is 7-1/2 in x 11 in I think. The wood is basswood, the spoon is unfinished. The carvings and spoon are not sanded. The finish is satin polyurethane on the two plaques.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

19 comments so far

View mahadevwood's profile


415 posts in 3225 days

#1 posted 07-18-2011 05:22 PM

Wow, Great job.
Thanks for sharing with us.

View MyChipCarving's profile


631 posts in 3331 days

#2 posted 07-18-2011 05:27 PM

Charles, it’s clear you’re putting your carving talent to work!
how about adding some chip carving to the handle of your spoon?

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View lew's profile


12446 posts in 3961 days

#3 posted 07-18-2011 05:36 PM

Wow! You done good!!

When I look at the spoon, I see flowing, gentle curves. You see primitive, I see elegant. Sure wish I had your talents.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4303 days

#4 posted 07-18-2011 05:54 PM

Very nice. I am moving much slower. I’m still build my carving fixture (down to sanding and assembling). I need to get moving…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3033 days

#5 posted 07-18-2011 06:00 PM

You are really good at that I think you will refine your skills with a couple more carvings keep em coming.


View ellen35's profile


2739 posts in 3638 days

#6 posted 07-18-2011 06:31 PM

Really neat work. You certainly have a gift. The spoon is both rustic and interesting.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 07-18-2011 06:50 PM

Wayne, thanks for the compliment but I have a really long way to go. If you wanted to take more time on your fixture you could temporarily rig up the fixture that you see in these picture in less than 30 minutes. If you will look at the first picture and study the photo you will see how simple this is. I had a good stout piece of wood in the shop that was around 2 in x 3 in. If you had 2 pcs of 2×4’s that would be fine too. The carving surface is a piece of 3/4 plywood roughly 12×12. I have attached two simple fences at right angles to the carving surface and have fastened the carving surface with several screws to the 2×3. The 2×3 is long enough to go all the way across the top of the work table and also stick out from the front of the work table a foot or so. It raises the work piece up about the right height and you just clamp each end to the edge of the work table. This fixes it where you can easily walk around three sides. You can see the first clamp just beyond the work surface. It’s all very strong and stable and is built with almost no thought. You just carve against one fence or both and rotate the piece. it leans against the corner of the work shop when not in use. The one thing that I would do is counterink the screw heads lest I accidentally run one of my favorite tools into it. Don’t ask me why I’m so lazy but if I damage one of my edges I will have ruined my day and be very angry with myself.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4303 days

#8 posted 07-18-2011 07:43 PM

Mine is similar from a fence design perspective. It has risers to raise it to an approprate carving height. It has a series of dog holes for use with veritas wonder pups. I just have to sand and finish the surface, install the fence, drill some pocket screw holes in the riser and it will be done.

There is a lot to be said for something that is up and working quickly. I might have made mine too complex.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#9 posted 07-18-2011 07:55 PM

mahadevwood, Marty, lew, Wayne, rookie, and Ellen I really do appreciate all the kind words but I really do have a good ways to go. As you know a lot of flaws don’t show up in photographs. :)

Marty, I have some other spoons in mind and I have thought about chip carving the handle. Do you have any spoon patterns?

lew, what I meant about primitive is that I left the tool marks from my carving knife and made no effort to make it smooth and certainly not by sanding. It is close to symmetrical but not perfectly so. I should have also taken a side shot because there is another curve from the side that you can see. In in other words the handle is not symmetrical along the center axis like a dowel would be. I simply carved on it until i was pleased with it and went no further. I like it like it is and enjoyed it about as much as I have enjoyed anything that I have done.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#10 posted 07-18-2011 08:02 PM

Wayne, no I don’t think that you have made it too complex at all. I can visualize your fixture myself to a certain extent and also want one for myself. Maybe you are more patient and thorough than I am and it will definitely pay off for you. The one that I rigged up has served it’s purpose so far but it will soon show off it’s limitations and I will have to build a good one.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mpounders's profile


903 posts in 3101 days

#11 posted 07-18-2011 08:45 PM

Good work on all three pieces! I think the apple is great and off course your lettering on that looked good too! I was admiring your Pfeil and Two-Cherries gouges…how do you like the Helvie knife? I was just looking at some earlier and was wondering whether I needed to give one a try. I noticed that you had a piece of 1/4” plywood under your carving…..was this to help you judge when you had removed 1/4” from the background? I haven’t see n that before and I though it was pretty clever!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Rustic's profile


3254 posts in 3802 days

#12 posted 07-19-2011 12:57 AM

Nice work I need to get my ass in gear and carve more

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4303 days

#13 posted 07-19-2011 01:25 AM

Mine is intended to be a bridge to a dedicated carving bench. Someday anyway…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3126 days

#14 posted 07-19-2011 01:40 AM

I like all three pieces. The spoon is nice and has a good shape. I received a spoon as a gift from Erwin (Bearpie) and I love it. I use it to measure my coffee beans every day and it makes me think of how kind he is. :) Hand made things are like that. I am sure that even though you see the flaws in the projects, most would only see them for their beauty. You are looking at them from a more clinical point of view.

I know you said you weren’t happy with the apple, but I think it is really looking nice. The shape is good and you can see the depth in it very clearly. It is a very pleasing plaque.

You are quite an inspiration to many others. Thank you for taking the time to document your progress in doing this. It is very nice to see these pieces come together so nicely. I look forward to seeing more in the future.

:) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View gul's profile


400 posts in 3168 days

#15 posted 07-19-2011 08:08 AM

This is brilliant. I am gonna try spoon but ,will rout it :P.

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