Are you feeling a little lost while learning what you thought would be easier than it is? Well, you are not the only one. Wood carving can turn out to be way harder than it looks.
Although some of us will disagree but trust me, the majority of us will tell you how it’s not a piece of cake.
Learning a skill like wood whittling can prove to be super stressful and back-breaking sometimes.
Especially when you can’t find the right guide to do it or when you literally have no idea of where you stand or how you do it(happened to me). But with a little guidance, help, and practice. Is nothing impossible, right?
So, today I will be guiding you through some brief steps on how to crave your wood (rightly), and as a bonus to this, I will also mention the tools you will need to do your wood carving.
So that you don’t miss out on anything, neither would you feel lost or down at any point in between.
Like I said, carving wood is not easy, but it CAN BE if you do it in the right way or if you are interested in it. P.s you should start your first wood carving project with someone close to you (friends or family). It would be more fun and helpful that way.
Anyway, now that we know all about wood carvings and how you can carve wood designs and styles of your desire with enough practice. Let’s start with the list of tools that you will need in this DIY project.
Carving Wood for Beginners: Tools you will need
I do know that most of the DIY projects end up costing you more than the actual price of the item that you are making at home.
But trust me, wood carving isn’t one of them. You will need no extra expensive or out of the way tools for wood carving, all the tools that I will be mentioning below are super easy to buy, or you can borrow them from a woodcarver if you don’t intend on carving every other day.
So, if you came here to see some long shiny and expensive list of tools and accessories to start up your DIY project, well, you are wrong. I, for one, am never the one to spend money on things you can get for cheap, like some fancy carved wood that you can easily make at home!
So let’s get on with our project!
1. Wood carving knives
These knives are one of the most dominant and important tools when carving wood. Most of the work in wood carving is done with these knives; most of these knives have ergonomic designs that allow you to work comfortably with them for long periods of time.
Their shapes and sizes determine how fine the details will be.
Consisting of sharp cutting edges attached with proper handles, like knives, chisels also come in various shapes and sizes.
They further come in 3 different styles. Wood carver’s use chisel’s with mallets. Because of having specific functions in carving, chisels are not used much.
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The only slight difference between gouges and chisels are the shapes of their blades. The cutting shape of the blade of a gouge looks like a scoop.
Woodcarvers often use gouges to carve out hollows and deep curves. Gouges are particularly used to reach areas a chisel cannot.
They are mostly used on abnormal shaped hard to reach carving. Woodcarvers use rifflers to smoothen out an area. Rifflers are double-ended wood carving tools that make the carving of small and precise areas very serene.
Like knives, mallets also are an essential tool in wood carving. They are used for nailing the ends of knives, chisels, gouges, etc., deep into the surface of the wood.
6. Leather thumb guard
Better safe than sorry, right? Always put your safety first when doing projects like this. Putting on a leather thumb guard will help you secure your thumbs from the heavy and dangerous tools. They are a good safety precaution, especially for beginners.
Types of Beginner Wood carving
Whittling is one of the eldest forms of wood carvings. Whittling has a specific shape, that is, stroke type. Whittling is mostly done by using whittling knives.
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2. Relief carving
Leaving the backside of the wood plate flat, you carve figures on the front side of the wooden panel. This process is called relief carving. You should remember that in relief carving, figures are carved into the wood, not out of it.
3. Carving in the round
This style of carving is the complete opposite of relief carving. In round carving, figures and angles are carved in smooth and rounded styles, totally the opposite of round carving.
4. Chip carving
You can already guess what this style of carving does, chips away from the wood—little by little with the help of a mallet and knives.
Types of wood for Beginner Wood Carving
Once you have come to your favorite carving style, it’s time for you to choose the wood which best suits you to work on.
Easy to work on for beginner’s this wood is super soft, thus carving is easy and comes out neat. It has a light beige color and is best for whittling.
This one is easy to work with, too, with a light brown color and a unique wood design; this is also the best choice to work on for newbies.
3. White pine
White pine has a soft cream color with a medium grain, super easy to carve out!
Tips for wood carving
- Use high-quality tools
- Put your safety first
- Draw lines/shapes on your wood for precise carving
- Keep versatility of the tools in mind
- Keep sharpening your tools
Read Also: Homemade or DIY Wooden Signs
How to Carve Wood for Beginners : Step by step guide
Here comes the main part of the article. How to carve wood rightly. In this step by step guide, I will cover all the steps of the carving in detail, so you can learn how to carve a masterpiece with proper hand tools.
1. Clean the wood
The first step is to take your wood on which you are about to work on and clean it thoroughly with a cloth or clean, dry brush before that. Make sure that the wood you have chosen is of the right shape and size. If not, you should probably get your woodcut by a professional.
2. Set up the table/wood
Before you start carving your wood, you need to have a proper workspace to work in. you possibly cant work with your wooden plate on the floor or simply upon the table. Trust me; it will not make carving hard but also impossible.
To secure your wood, you should set it on the workbench in a vertical position so that it may be easier for you to work on.
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3. Correctly handle the gouge/knife
This is an important step, one that you should do carefully. Whenever you are working with a knife, always hold it with your dominant hand and put the other one behind the wood that you are working on.
Another thing is that you should always keep your hand behind the blade of a knife. In this case, if the knife accidentally slips, it won’t cut your hand.
Also, remember to assist the movements of the knife with the power of your wrist, not your elbow or your shoulder.
4. Trace the pattern
Before you pick up your tools and start working on the wood, make sure to trace out what you are willing to carve into the wood.
It will help you in carving with a clear mind and more neatly. This method also gives you space for making mistakes, but if you right away start to carve, there will be no going back.
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5. Carve along the grain
Suppose you don’t follow this step and choose to ignore it. I can assure you your carving will be so hard to do, and in the end, it won’t even be neat.
Carving along the grain will make great cuts and strokes in the wood easily; when you want to create an arc, slightly rotate the handle of your tool while pushing it into the wood.
6. Remove excess
After you reach the point where you can see the basic shape of the wooden carving, start removing the excess from all over the piece.
Start with defining larger details rather than working on the smaller ones.
7. Work on details
Once you are done with removing the excess, start working on the details, it will not only help you save time, but you can also see where your wooden carving is heading.
Start with completing one area at a time, don’t carve nicks and bits here and there; it will only confuse you afterward.
(p.s keep sharpening your tools every now and then so that your carving remains neat)
8. Seal your masterpiece
After you are done with the fine details and all, and you see the final results. Moreover, if you plan on keeping your carved masterpiece, make sure to protect it with a wood finisher, and once you do that, try not to touch it a lot as it will add to the durability of the finish.