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Things You Need To Do Woodcarving

Written by: Editorial Staff

January 31, 2014
Filed Under Hobbies 


Wood Carving openingContributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn

Wood carving is one of the oldest art forms and one that is still popular today.

General hobby shops have entire sections devoted to the essentials of wood carving and specialty shops stock a wide variety of wood and tools and are great places to meet fellow carvers. While it’s a hobby for all ages, those under the age of 12 should start under an adult’s supervision. Other than that, these ten basic things you need to do wood carving will get you started and keep you sharp in this fun hobby.

10. Imagination

clock parts and kits

Like all art, woodcarving begins with something that looks nothing like the finished product. There are many patterns, models and guides for the beginning woodcarver, but creating new pieces from scratch makes them your own. Explore specialty wood working catalogs for products like clock kits and parts, to stir your imagination and inspire your next project.

9. Style


Choosing a wood carving style will determine the things you need. There are four basic styles: whittling uses a carving knife to create a rough figure that shows the knife strokes; carving in the round creates a smooth and life-like figure; relief carvings are 3-dimensional carvings on flat back suitable for hanging; have flat backs and three-dimensional; chip carving is done on a flat board and is popular for signs

8. Wood


Basswood is a soft wood that’s popular for beginners. Other soft woods are aspen, which is white like basswood, and butternut, which is brown. For harder woods, it’s best to consult with another carver or hobby shop clerk for the best woods for your style of carving.

7. Carving Tools

Carving Tools

To start with relief carving – the easiest and most popular form – all that’s required is a basic X-Acto knife and a package of #11 blades. Replace the blades when dull. Other good basic woodcarving tools are a 45 degree “V” tool, a 1/2 inch gouge and a 1/4 inch gouge. Once you get some experience, you may want to move up to a more specialized carving knife. Avoid buying sets until you are a serious carving practitioner.

6. Eye protection

Eye protection

Wood chips and sawdust will irritate your eyes and can possibly cause injuries. Always wear quality comfortable eye goggles when working and when cleaning up your space.

5. Vacuum


With wood, carving and chipping comes dust, so a good vacuum cleaner is essential for your workroom. A vacuum is better than a broom and dustpan because it can be used on tables and in hard-to-reach corners. Any size or model vacuum or dust collector will do as long as it keeps your space dust-free, especially when you are painting or applying finish.

4. Patterns


Even experienced carvers use project patterns and plans and they’re essential for relief carving and chip carving. It’s best to transfer your pattern to the wood using graphite paper so the lines can be erased easily without smudging the wood. If you’re good at drawing, you can move on to create your own patterns.

3. Sandpaper


The best sandpaper for carvers sanding bare wood is a fine grit, #200 or finer. Relief and carving in the round looks best with a smooth finish. As you become better at carving, the need for sanding will be lessened.

2. Stain and Finish

Stain and Finish

One you’re finished carving and sanding, it’s time for the finish. Staining the wood will bring out the nuances in the grain and in your carving, while paint can add character to figurines Varnish or a glossy sealer will give your artwork a professional look.

1. Patience


Wood carving is a craft that requires patience. Take your time in carving and you will learn faster, create finer pieces and avoid injuries.


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