This is not a tutorial blog My woodcarving skills are very limited (a nice word for non-existent). I thought it might be fun for others to see a wannabe woodcarver struggling to learn the basics. I plan to show you the results of each practice session to illustrate my progression of skill (if there is any) and to discuss problems encountered/solved, tools, wood types, and anything else that is related to the subject.
If you want an excellent tutorial on chip carving then I suggest you join Chip’s class. I’m not intending to practice only chip carving. At some point I will eventually be trying other types of carving such as; relief carving (acanthus for example) and maybe even figure carving eventually. I will never be very good at any of these, but I like to explore and so I hope you will look in on occasion with some constructive/destructive criticism, or any comments you might have.
I’ve been practicing for a week or so. I have done some chip carving, but nothing very interesting. Today’s practice session was fun. I had a pattern from a carving book which was a bit more interesting than the usual stars and triangles I’ve done in the past. Here’s a photo of the result together with my shop made carving knife. I have one other chip carving knife made by Pfeil, a Swiss company. It is good, but this one with a sharp point is better for small details, at least for myself.
As you see, I couldn’t get the whole pattern on the board I was using. I’m not too worried about that because this just practice. My knife is made from an old hacksaw blade and some Birch. The handle is hollowed to accept the blade shaft and just glued together with epoxy glue. I made it in 2006. This is the only tool I used for this session.
Wood of the day
The wood is Sycamore which is a kind of Maple. It is fairly hard and dense wood, but I wanted to try it out. It comes from one of the logs I bandsawed recently. My hand is still swollen and hurts, so I’ll be using my Juniper wood for the next session.
The pattern is actually a chip carving pattern, but the wood was too hard to use Chip’s technique, so Instead of taking chips out I had to carve down to a 90 degree cut between the ornament lines dfrom each side in stages, ergo, the reason why the carving lacks the beautiful cuts that Chip does. It is also pretty obvious that the two halves are not altogether symmetrical. This is mainly due to my bad left eye which resulted carving the pattern slightly different from one side to the other and mistakes.
How I practice
Right now I am recuperating from dental surgery done on Friday, so I have plenty of time on my hands. The weather has been real nice so I’ve been doing my carving while sitting on the terrace with my wife (social woodworking). When I get better I will be working for my wife doing a lot of other things, but I will then practice during my rest breaks. Very relaxing work.
If you want to do your carving the same way, but if you or your wife are worried about messy wood chips/shavings, then you might consider taking a dustbuster vacuum with you. I just let them collect on my shirt and I brush them off over a flower bed occasionally.
While carving, I have my diamond honing stone, a water spray bottle to wet the stone, some tissue to dry/clean the stone, which I use every 10-15 minutes just to keep a sharp edge on my carving knife. I also have some other stuff like a steel rule, pencil, eraser, etc. I keep all this in a wooden box (my wife’s idea) so I can take everything I need with me without doing a juggling act.
Thanks for reading this and please don’t hesitate to come with advice or criticism. I have no ego problems with either.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.