carving tools for a beginner

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Forum topic by Buddy posted 07-25-2012 05:41 PM 1548 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 2602 days

07-25-2012 05:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: carving tool carving

Hi all,

I’m new to the site, as well as to woodworking. My original plan had been to leave the woodcarving until I’d had more experience with building things, but that’s changed somewhat now.

My stepdad asked me to make a sign for his and my mom’s camper. He wants something similar to the signs that one sees at any campground, but I wanted to make it unique. My design is that the background is a fleur-de-lis with the text standing out in front of it (I believe this is a relief carving).

Here’s my question: What carving tools should I get to complete this project? Money is rather tight right now; I’ve been too busy buying handplanes and such. :-) It’s going to be about a 12” x 14” sign, and the text is going to be big enough to be easily read from several feet away, so there won’t be a lot of very small work.

Also, I was thinking of making the sign out of cherry. Does cherry carve well? Additionally, what would be the best way to finish a sign like this so that it can be hung outside?

Thanks a lot!


4 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2687 posts in 3123 days

#1 posted 07-25-2012 08:49 PM

If I were to make that sign I would cut out the letters on my scroll saw and glue them in place. Finish for a sign? I vote for none. I know of nothing that will last very long in the weather.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3505 days

#2 posted 07-29-2012 01:21 AM

You probably already own the tools you need for a sign in a carvable (?) wood. Rulers/straight edge, a sample font – made on the computer and shrunk/expanded to the precise size you want for the wood you have. Pocket knife, any bench chisel—both are rummage sale finds. Found wood can be used—- it makes great signs, when selling, the word “Rustic” lets you double the price. Transfer the design to your board. Run a line around the board at the depth you want the background to be. Remove the waste starting 1/8” away from the letter edge. Remove all the wood before fiddling with the letters. Do a stab cut outlining the letters and cut back the waste with knife or chisel. There are many ways to execute this carving. Just one that has worked for me. Wiith a gouge texturing the background is a breeze. And the wood—two very good carving woods are basswood and Butternut. More grain in the butternut. I use resin oil soak three times. Then cover it with more than one layer of poly with UV inhibitor (anything in the sun will lose color and contrast without stopping the UV. Or paint. Check out letter carving projects and chip carving—many great ideas.
Good Luck.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2488 days

#3 posted 07-29-2012 01:49 AM

Find a sign shop and get some sign foam. Carves like wood, but holds up outside like forever. And you can paint it with any outdoor paint whether it’s house paint or Krylon. For beginning relief carving get a starter set of flexcut carving tools. They’ll work great for relief carving. Cherry probably isn’t the best choice for a first project. Butternut would be more suited to a beginner as it’s very forgiving. DO NOT use aspen. :)

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3483 days

#4 posted 07-29-2012 02:32 AM

You might want to watch Kari Hultman’s video:

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