Stefangs Woodcarving - Practice Session #2: -

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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-09-2011 10:17 PM 6634 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: - Part 2 of Stefangs Woodcarving - Practice Session series Part 3: - »

Well folks here is today’s practice carving. It’s amazing how quick you can learn this stuff! This ambar is done with the relief technique and the pattern is acanthus.

OK, OK, I’M JUST KIDDING!! My real practice stuff follows below.

Right after breakfast today I rushed out to the workshop to get some carving wood for practice session today. After that I photocopied a pattern from my carving book, transferred it to my wood with carbon paper. At the same time my wife pulled out a long todo list. Shopping and helping our son. Home at 2pm. Lunch, the wife is writing a new list. Things to do in the garden. Assistance demanded. Mutiny on the terrace. Negotiations. Agreement providing limited assistance reached. Started carving eventually. Here are the results:

Just the one knife as pictured

Chip carving, and free style.

I enjoyed doing this one a lot. I used some of my Juniper wood which is softer than the Sycamore I used yesterday. It is quite pleasant to carve with. I didn’t have time to clean it up much, but I feel it gave me some good practice.

The main problem encountered was try to understand the pattern. Some areas were a bit of a mystery to me and I made some errors. If your eye tells you that something is not quite right or just looks strange, then you are probably looking at one of those places.

Positive experience
I feel that the sharp pointed blade on my knife gives me a lot more control than my normal chip carving knife. It is particularly good in tight spots and for doing curved cuts. These rounded cuts are probably the most difficult to do because it is very easy to leave flat spots in carved curves and it really ruins the appearance of a carving. That is not to say that the curves in this carving are anywhere near perfect, because they’re not.

Another positive thing is that after a couple weeks practice, I’m not have a problem cutting with the grain. I seem to have just gotten used to cutting in the right directions without even thinking about it. There are loads of grain changes and therefore cut directions, especially on acanthus patterns.

Thanks much for looking in and joining me on my carving trip. Your comments and/or advice/criticism are welcome.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

11 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


31340 posts in 2888 days

#1 posted 05-09-2011 10:35 PM

Mike, I like your carvings. They are clean looking. I could only get two carvings done this weekend but after I put some money in a Mother’s Day card but didn’t give her a gift I felt bad so after my coffee yesterday I went into the shop and chipped carved a relief pattern of two love birds and gave it to her. I still think of it as a practice board but she liked it and I guess that is what counts. I did have fun carving it though.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3376 days

#2 posted 05-09-2011 11:11 PM

You are improving no end…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

494 posts in 3152 days

#3 posted 05-10-2011 12:56 AM

Your getting bretter.

-- Dale, Ohio

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2862 days

#4 posted 05-10-2011 03:54 AM

mike you had me. I read practice I thought if that is practice what does his finished pieces look like;) I found myself staring then I noticed the crease in the picture. Alan Funt had a TV show like that. But anyway that is a great real practice board. And i do like that knife.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#5 posted 05-10-2011 12:05 PM

Thanks for your comments and positive remarks guys. My real motive for showing the carved ambar was to show you some real Norwegian carving. To reach that skill level it is necessary to go to school for some years, or be a natural genius at it. At school they learn a lot about wood, composing/designing patterns, different carving styles and techniques, tool preparation/maintenance and a host of other things I am unaware of.

I took a closer look at yesterday’s work and found out where I made so many errors caused by misunderstanding the cuts necessary to do this pattern nicely. I decided to have another go at it for my next session to see if I can do it better. Comparing the two should also give a good measure of progress.

Even though this carving was poorly done, I did experience an increase in my confidence level while doing it, and I do believe I will do it a lot better the 2nd time. It will be interesting to see what effect practice has on results. One of my main reasons for taking up carving again is to prepare for a couple of special projects I have in mind. I might quit again after that, or just do it in the summers when I have a little time on the terrace.

My compulsion to learn about so many facets of woodworking, at least in the context of small projects, is preventing me from getting really good at any one thing. Frustrating, but I just can’t seem to do it any other way. Sometimes I wish it weren’t so, but I just can’t escape the thoughts that motivate me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2917 days

#6 posted 05-10-2011 05:46 PM

Looks like you’re having fun! I read your previous post and you might consider some different knives and wood.,... I have found that longer and larger handles can be a lot more comfortable. One of my favorite knives is an old Stanley utility knife, a boxcutter. You want the kind that just uses a fixed blade, no retractable, snap-off, lock-back contraptions. I think mine is a model 299. It has a large handle, the blades are sharp and can be honed even sharper. You might try a little buffing compound on apiece of leather or cardboard to hone your knife every 10 minutes, rather than the diamond stone. you might look at my cheap carving kives. It shows the Stanley and some of the larger handles I prefer at the moment. A protective glove can be handy if you hold your piece with one hand. I started out carving oak and walnut, but it is easy to get discouraged if you start out on really hardwood. Northern basswood is preferred (southern is harder and poplar is not too bad for carving. I bet you would love some softer wood! You are definitely getting the techniques and types of cuts figured out!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3483 days

#7 posted 05-10-2011 09:23 PM

Mike, Your day sounds a lot like many of mine. Ready to do something in the shop and be left alone and end up doing for everyone else and barely getting to do anything for yourself. So it goes. I admire your taking on the carving challenge. I have always loved it and wondered with amazement how it the world carvers (wood and stone) do what they do. I simply have too many things I want to make and I’ve been bitten by the turning bug bad enough to want a better (and bigger) lathe. Oh Ohh. I hear the grass is needing to be cut and we need some horse fencing repaired….. maybe I’ll have to sneak out to the shop in the middle of the night.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#8 posted 05-11-2011 11:07 AM

Mike Thanks so much for your comments. All good advice on every subject you broached. I do in fact have a Stanley fixed blade utility knife and I will certainly give it a try. The glove suggestion is also very sensible. I work a lot with sharp edged tools, but I do get a lot of small cuts which can hinder working comfortably while they heal. So far I’ve only cut myself once while carving (a couple of weeks ago), but it’s very easy to do. As for sharpening, yes the rouge would be good, but I don’t like the mess. I do have a leather strop which I will give a try.

As for softer wood, I have my Juniper which is mid range, and my freshly cut Sycamore which is a bug bear, but is nice and white. We have Basswood here (we call it Linden), but it’s almost impossible to get where I live. I am a little skeptical about using Poplar as most of it has color streaks that are hard to avoid, but I will give it a try if I find some that is clear. Working with the hard wood is difficult, but since I’m not sticking to strict chip carving rules, it isn’t too bad while taking thinner shavings. It just takes a lot longer, but that’s ok since I enjoy every minute of it.

Traditionally, the preferred carving wood in Norway was pine believe it or not. Quarter cut old growth heartwood was the standard. Great stuff, but almost all of it was gone by the turn of the century. However, some folks get hold of a piece of it occasionally. The growth rings would have to have less than about 1/16” between them.

Doc If I had your workshop, I doubt my wife could ever get me out of there for any reason. Turning is a lot of fun, especially if you have a really good lathe. Fortunately there are many good ones on the market, so choosing one will be a luxury problem, and I bet you already have picked one anyway. I’ll look forward to seeing some of your turning projects!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#9 posted 05-13-2011 12:30 AM

Looking good and making me laugh thank you Mike!
I acually belived you at that first picture, so you got me.
But the result after is fine also, I have no doubt that you are going to be relly good fast even the wife is keeping the list full.
Big smile my friend,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#10 posted 05-13-2011 09:32 AM

Thanks for that Mads. I am now working on the same pattern again. I have it roughed out, but I haven’t had much free time for this work the past couple of days. Still helping my son to get his place ready for sale. The apartment and garden are in great shape, so it’s mainly just hauling away the things they won’t keep with my trailer and packing as much stuff as possible into moving boxes to store at our house. I have to go to the dentist and visit my MIL later today, but I hope to finish the 3rd practice carving too. It’s raining so I don’t have to work in the garden. Hooray!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#11 posted 05-13-2011 09:45 AM

Jubiii rain finally! Its funny how we can like different weather at different times.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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