DIY wood carving: where to start

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It is not difficult to master the skill of wood carving. Real mastery comes both with experience and with the acquisition of an increasingly high-quality instrument. Today we will tell you about where to start and what basic skills you need to master in order to seriously try yourself as a carver..

DIY wood carving: where to start

Simplest tools and workbench

The work of a cutter always begins with the production of blanks. Therefore, the first thing you need to acquire is a basic set of tools for woodworking. Well, since artistic carving requires a sufficiently high precision and quality of processing, the arsenal should be expanded..

There should be several hacksaws at your disposal: for longitudinal and transverse cuts, as well as a fitting one and with a fine tooth for metal. Cut marks are removed using rasps, round and flat, preferably with different grain sizes. Finer processing is carried out with different types of sandpaper. You should keep on hand two wooden blocks: a round and a rectangular profile, which are convenient to use as a basis for sandpaper.

Wood cutting tools 1 – a hacksaw for wood; 2 – hacksaw (obuskovaya); 3 – hacksaw for metal; 4 – a set of wood rasps; 5 – a block for sanding paper

For preliminary design of blanks, planes and sherhebel are used. It is convenient to choose large pieces of wood with the help of a sharply honed carpenter’s hatchet, on the rim of which a hammer casting is made, as well as chisels of different widths and edge profiles.

Wood cutting tools 1 – various planers; 2 – a hatchet with a hammer on the butt; 3 – a set of chisels

And yet the most important thing for the novice carver is a properly designed and comfortable workbench. It must be equipped in accordance with the regulations for the organization of carpentry workplaces, taking into account individual requirements, such as height or arm length. The table must be equipped with a mechanism that allows you to quickly fix and detach the workpiece being processed. This includes both joinery vices and clamps, as well as adjustable (repositionable) thrust blocks of various shapes..

Joiner's workbench Joiner’s workbench

Special devices, power tools

Having everything you need to prepare parts for carving, you must individually assemble a set of tools for fine work. The basis of such a set is a set of high-quality finishing chisels and cutters of various shapes and sizes. You can go in two ways: buy a medium-sized set of 8-12 items, or buy one or two copies of a quality tool that are missing for mastering a certain technique or carving pattern.

A set of cutters and chisels for wood A set of cutters and chisels for wood

Also, a good carpenter is distinguished by a correctly selected marking tool: rulers, squares, planers, protractors, calipers, vernier calipers, pencils of different densities. Wood carving is always carried out according to a previously thought out scheme, in accordance with which a template is made for each individual product. So get in the habit of not throwing away cardboard boxes and scraps of thin sheet materials like plastic or LMDF..

Wood Cutting Measuring Tool 1 – combined square; 2 – marking gauge; 3 – protractor with a ruler; 4 – calipers; 5 – construction pencils; 6 – vernier caliper

To work out small details, several knives of different sizes should be available, one or two shavings, a circular knife, punches of different shapes and sizes. To speed up the process and increase the accuracy of processing, it is possible to use electric engravers, chisels and renovators. Up to a dozen trigger clamps will find their application, especially when assembling composite products on a glued joint.

Wood cutting tools 1 – knives for wood carving; 2 – punches; 3 – electric mesh; 4 – quick-clamping clamp; 5 – shavings; 6 – renovator

Finally, in the arsenal of every self-respecting cutter there should be a good mains drill and at least the simplest vibration grinder with replaceable soles. As for the jigsaw, it must be at least semi-professional grade, otherwise you will have to make large machining allowances, and the quality of the through thread will inevitably suffer. If you are thoroughly interested in working with wood, do not forget to think over a system for removing dust and shavings in time.

Woodworking power tools 1 – power drill; 2 – vibration grinder; 3 – jigsaw

Start with small crafts

The complete list of the essentials is a little overwhelming. But it always makes sense to first try the work “on the knee” in order to assess the level of dedication and understand the true meaning of buying an expensive and high-quality tool in the future.

It is possible to make small crafts, even if there are only two or three basic cutters, a table and a set of sandpaper of different grain sizes. As the first work, it is recommended to choose cutting kitchen boards or decorative figures up to 200×200 mm in size: animals, plants, miniature houses and similar little things.

DIY cutting board

Such products contain all the basic elements of wood carving: a framing raised edge, an internal through thread and a raised plane carving. The bottom line is that it is not necessary to adhere to strict dimensions and tolerances in crafts, it is much more important to feel the reaction of the tree to the cutting tool, its plasticity, the difference in density in adjacent fibers and other characteristic features.

DIY wood carving

When muscle memory is developed for certain methods of work, move on to more complex products. At this stage, you should be puzzled by the manufacture of frames for photographs, chests, boxes. The next level of difficulty is composite products and wooden mechanics. Starting from the well-known composition “The Man and the Bear” and ending with wooden three-dimensional puzzles or mechanisms with an abundance of gears.

Carved casket

Performing work of this complexity, you will develop and maintain the skill of accurate woodcarving, and this is not neglected even by the hardened pros.

Through and blind threads: how to work

Before starting cutting, the outer shape is first marked on the workpiece (board, board), after which everything unnecessary is removed with a jigsaw. The surface for the threads must be perfectly flat, smooth and free from defects. The template (stencil) is transferred to the cleaned surface of the tree with distinct thin lines.

DIY wood carving

Threads are classified into two groups: through and blind flat-relief. First, closed contours are cut out in the center of the parts: a hole is drilled in each of them, then the figure is cut out along the line with a jigsaw. It is necessary to orient the cut 1–1.5 mm inside the contour, leaving a small layer of wood for further processing. When the figure is cut, its edges are smoothed until the cut marks are removed and a rectangular edge is obtained that exactly matches the marking pattern..

DIY wood carving

The relief of the edges is given either with a hand mill or with chisels and chisels. The edge can be beveled with a regular straight chamfer, inner or outer edge of a rounded profile. With this, everything is simple: choose a tool of the appropriate size and profile, start with a gouge and, removing wood with chips 0.5-1 mm thick, go around the shape along the contour.

DIY wood carving

It is more difficult to work with edges that require cascade cuts in several tiers. First, you need to mark with a thickness gauge the width of the entry of the widest part of the thread and remove the first tier, then consistently mark and remove all subsequent ones. Please note that the design of the outer edges of the product also belongs to the through thread..

DIY wood carving

The technique of blind relief carving is more diverse. It can be as all kinds of grooves and grooves cut along a pre-drawn contour, or a series of grooves or notches of different sizes and geometric shapes. Moving from simple shapes to more complex ones, you develop spatial representation, learn how to shoot wood layer by layer, and eventually move on to making sculptures and bas-reliefs. In this vein, practice is crucial – the more there is, the less real difficulty the work causes..

DIY wood carving

DIY wood carving

DIY wood carving

Common mistakes

As a conclusion, here are the common mistakes that prevent novice carvers from fully mastering the instrument or moving to a new level of skill:

  1. Working with raw wood: all timber must be of low moisture content (12-13%) and good quality.
  2. Too much deepening of the tool: woodcarving does not accept haste, you need to remove excess in fragments that are extremely small, but at the same time commensurate with the scale of the figure.
  3. The heterogeneity of wood is not taken into account: when cutting out rounded ornaments, you direct the cutting edge along, then across the fibers, overcoming areas with different densities. The pressure of the tool and the size of the deleted fragments must be changed accordingly.
  4. Lack of consistency: each shape or pattern must be carefully worked out, tried out on rough drafts and broken down into several sequential steps.
  5. Finally, the desire to cover everything at once: do not forget that some skills are acquired only with time and provided that the carver is constantly practiced. Improve your skills all the time, prioritize the quality of processing, and over time, even obviously complex tasks will become easy for you in their organized and thoughtful implementation..
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