First Steps In Wood Carving
As you take your first steps in wood carving, you will quickly realise that the craft has a delicate balance of technique and creativity that come together with the right use of the right tools. There is no limit to what you can achieve in this hobby and the fact that people from around the world still pursue this age-old tradition is a sign that wood carving is still as popular as it ever was. Your first steps in wood carving will always determine how well it will treat you and how much fun you will have in it.
Here is what you need to remember when starting off in the hobby of wood carving:
It is easy to get tempted by what you see and start with something that you think you can achieve. However, the most important thing to remember is that if you take on something too complicated or don't get the initial results that you want, you might lose all confidence to go for the next one. Pick something simple, like a relief carving or maybe a small paper-weight, and then you can think about moving on to bigger things.
Plan the Design:
Every hobbyist, no matter how experienced, always makes out a design on paper first, before starting the carving process. Planning out your design involves putting it out on paper and, therefore, drawing it out on paper is the best way to go forward. Make sure that your design is completely to scale, because it is this design that will play a direct role in the carving process. This design has to show your final shape from all angles, so make sure you cover the top, bottom and side views for the piece you are making
Cut out the Wood:
Take your block of wood and cut out a piece of it that's bigger than the shape that you have planned out and this is one of the first steps in wood carving where you actually start working with wood. You pick up a piece of lime-wood or something that is soft, like American walnut wood, and cut out the size of the block that you are going to start with.
Trace your Design:
You need to get your design onto the wood by tracing it out on a piece of tracing paper and, then, pasting that piece onto the block of wood. Then, you can see what you need to do directly on the block, without having to refer to another piece of paper or getting the scale wrong. All you need to ensure is that they are pasted properly, at the same place, on each side.
Clamp your Piece:
Amongst the first steps in wood carving, this is when you need to bring out the carver's screw and bore a hole into your design. You need to put that hole in a place where the piece is likely to have the greatest amount of projection. If your piece is going to be glued onto the bench, you can use the screw anywhere you like.
Grounding the Wood:
Now begins the process of cutting away the wood everywhere around the piece you are going to make. Amongst the first steps in wood carving, this is the first instance where you will be actually involved in carving out the shape in a broad or general scope. You are not going to aim for any refinement or detail here, just cut out the wood that is not going to be a part of your design. This is also the process where your block of wood becomes as tall and wide as the design you are making. You can use a flat cutting knife and gently move it through the wood with the gentle taps from the mallet
Formation of the Design:
This is always the most important & enjoyable part amongst the first steps in wood carving when you actually start giving shape to your piece. You take your carving knives and slowly start adding detail to the entire piece. Work slowly because making a mistake at this point will completely ruin all the work you've put in so far.
The only things you need to remember, to cut out the possibility of accidents and mistakes, is that you need to use both your hands to hold the tools at all times, except when you are using a mallet. In every case, the supporting hand must hold the tool just below the centre of the tool while the active hand needs to hold onto the tool at the back, in the middle of the palm of your hand. While you may rest your support hand's wrist on your piece, when working, your main hand will be the sole guiding force in your carving motions and actions. Stick to these principles and the chances of accidents will drop to almost zero.
When you get through these steps, you are ready with your first piece in wood carving and will have everything you need to begin with the finishing bits. From paint to varnish, you can use any form of finish that you desire to mark your first steps in wood carving.