Woodcarving is a form of woodworking that is capable of transforming an ordinary block of wood to a sculpture or any ornamental object. It appears that woodcarving has long been used as a means of expression as well. The Ancient Egyptians, for instance, carved sculptures to signify various objects and phenomena. Other ancient societies manufacture and even trade wooden sculptures for a variety of goods. These examples also indicate that woodcarving has evolved for centuries, which could have brought about various woodcarving techniques that are currently being utilized by wood-carvers, artisans and hobbyists. Nowadays, woodcarving is utilized to create striking designs of ornaments and even furniture. Just like other forms of art, masterpieces made out of carved wood are considered an embodiment of culture and expression.
- University of Colorado Boulder: Woodcarving
- Woodcarver�۪s FAQ Page
- Center for Southeast Asian Studies: The Exquisite Art of Woodcarving
- Heritage of Hawk Ridge Woodworking Club: Woodcarving
- Michigan Technological University: Woodcarving
- Artisans of the Valley: Furniture Carving
- Victoria and Albert Museum: Woodcarving
Woodcarving is not entirely easy, especially for beginners. However, there is always a good place to start. As for woodcarving, it is advisable to start with the basics and the terms that are commonly used with it. The following links should help you with the most common technical terms in woodcarving:
- Agrell Architectural Carving Ltd.: Glossary of Architectural and Woodcarving Terms
- The Woodcarving Glossary
- Ferdinand Stuflesser: The Woodcarving Glossary
In woodcarving, it would be wise for any beginner to familiarize himself/herself with the uses and importance of the several tools before actually starting with it. The carving knife and the gouge are considered the most basic tools in woodcarving. The former is capable of paring, cutting and smoothing wood, while the latter is capable of carving out hollow areas. Eventually, the carver could then move on by using chisels, which could come in various sizes. Chisels are used to cut the edges of lines and they can be used to clear flat surfaces. The v-tool, on the other hand, can emphasize lines better than chisels, while the veiner is the specialized version of the gouge. When carving also, it would be great if there�۪s a coping saw and sharpening equipment that are readily available. Coping saws would be useful when cutting large chunks of wood. Sharpening equipment, on the other hand, would be useful in maintaining the condition of the carving tools.
There are various styles associated with woodcarving. The most basic woodcarving style is known as whittling. Although woodcarving utilizes various tools like gouges, chisels and mallets, whittling only requires a knife when carving out shapes. Some carvers could even work with pocket knives when whittling.
There is also a woodcarving style commonly known as relief carving. A relief carver usually starts by conceptualizing designs and sketching them on a piece of paper or wood. When satisfied with his/her concepts, he/she would then carve the shapes out. When done smoothly, the relief carving could show 2D images of the desired concept. Since the image would be carved in 2D, the lights and shadows that could be formed in the sculpture could play a vital part in the final presentation of the finished product.
Treen, on the other hand, is a style often associated with small objects. Carved wooden objects that are classified as domestic and agricultural tools are made under the treen style. Treen objects were designed and made not just to create ornamentation but functional objects as well. Utensils, plates and bowls are just few examples of these objects.
Chip carving is another type of woodcarving that could create geometrical sculptures. Chip carving can only be done by gradually removing small triangular wooden chips from the wood�۪s flat surface. The triangular shape may appear limiting to carving beginners, but many carvers have successfully created highly detailed and stylish patterns from chip carving.
For more information on the styles and methods used in woodcarving, please consult the following links:
- Woodcarving for the Beginner: Forms of Woodcarving
- Cultural China: Woodcarving
- Grand Valley State University: Carving a Noggin
- WoodTreks: How to Rough Carve Twists and Spirals
- How to Carve a Philadelphia Style Ball and Claw Foot
- Woodcarving Tips and Techniques
- Wood Books & Resource Material (PDF)
- Woodcarving for Artists
- Wilson Woodcarvers: Wood Chain Tutorial
- Rijks Museum: Woodcarving Techniques
by: Bruce Tucker