The craft of wood carving is a wonderful way to spend your time doing something constructive with your hands and building something beautiful that you'd like to keep around the home. The process involves cutting wood in a particular shape or form to give it a kind of finish or shape. Depending on the size of the piece of the wood, this can be a double-handed process or a single-handed process, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits.
Wood carving is normally used as a form of sculpting wherein pieces of wood are carefully converted into statues and other shapes, similar to sculpting with stone or even clay. Although wood carving isn't as popular as clay sculpting, it is still a more manageable hobby as compared to something like stone or marble sculpting. That gives it a bigger following as compared to those two formats. The only issue with wood carving or sculpting is the final products need to be cared for well because wood has a tendency to get affected by the elements that it is placed in.
Kicking Things Off
Whether you join a course for wood carving or decided to buy a book or scour the Internet for information, you cannot get into wood carving without really getting into it. That means, you need to take a block of wood and start carving - without that, there's no progress. Theoretical elements of wood carving are beneficial when it comes to knowing the different properties of the wood that you can work with as well as the basic properties or rules of wood carving that ensure a simpler process.
However, when it comes to creating the actual sculpture, you have no choice but to go out there and get your hands on a piece of wood, get some tools and start work. The most basic tool you will need is a carving knife, which is like a paring knife - short, sharp and extremely manoeuvrable. This allows you to get those fine cuts and chips off of the piece of wood you are working with. The next tool you need is a gouge, which, as the name suggests, is used to create hollow or round curves into the wood by gouging out the wood. This is quite similar to a melon-baller, only sharper!
The coping saw is also an essential part of every basic wood carving toolkit. It allows you to cut of chunks of wood at once, without having to worry too much about precision. This is especially helpful when you are cutting off the excess wood around your piece. The chisel, another frequently used tool, comes in a variety of sizes and does a job similar to the carving knife, however it is mainly used to create lines or clean out flat surfaces and make them level.
Using a V-tool is also quite common as they are needed to separate the wood an keep them separate when working on certain pieces, especially the flat variety, and can be used for emphasising the lines on the piece. You have something called the viener, which helps create deep gouges in a "U" shape and the last thing you'll need is a sharpening stone to keep all your instruments in perfect shape. You can buy a complete wood carving kit from a hardware or hobby store or buy each element individually. As you grow more accustomed to working with wood, your own style of wood carving may even lead you to create your own tools, the kinds that help you make certain specific cuts that are unique to your own style.
The basic wood carving Technique
The idea of taking a piece of wood and cutting out chips or pieces requires you to understand the composition of the wood as well as the way you need to go about the carving process. The first thing you need to remember is that the wood is not equally strong all over, which means that you will need to understand the importance of the grain of the wood. Along the grain, the wood will always be the hardest and that means, it will be the hardest to carve along that line.
However, that also means that cutting along the grain or putting your delicate designs along the grain of the wood will make your work last longer. If you want your hard work to last long, you will need to keep the shape and structure of the wood in mind, when working on it. This will ensure that your wood carving technique and design is constantly in harmony with the material and will be the strongest possible material that it can be.
Choose the kind of wood you want, very carefully, and speak to people who are teaching or experienced at wood carving to get the hang of things. Practice with basic shapes to begin with and slowly work your way into more complex designs and pieces because that will give you the skill and knowledge you need to make your wood carving work stand out!