Getting started:Many people started woodcarving years ago in Scouts or 4-H clubs by carving soap. Some followed up, others didnít. Today, our club has many seasoned pros whose work we can all admire, and we have many rookies who are trying grab onto everything the club has to offer. Many of our teachers take classes to learn techniques outside their specialty.

There is a debate about whether what we do is carving or whittling. Some feel that carving (some call it sculpture) is done only with a mallet and chisels; things done with a knife are whittled. Some say woodcarvers start out with a purpose, while whittlers just start whittling and wait to see what appears. We say wood carving is creating things of beauty using sharp tools including gouges, knives and chisels. Most people think wood carving sounds more important than whittling. We call ourselves a woodcarving club. Whatever you call it, itís a great way to spend casual time, and the results impress our friends.

What is carving?

Wood carving is not a single activity or pastime, but rather an enormous group of types and things. We donít have the time or space to cover all types of carving, but letís take a brief look at a few of the woodcarving types that our members are involved with.

There is carving in the round, which includes everything from little critters and shapes to totem poles and life size statues. Subjects include anything and everything you look at or can imagine. Birds and animals are common, as are people, fish, and many geometric shapes.

Relief carving has many great scenes. Some are religious themes. Many are views of covered bridges, barns, old buildings and rural landscapes. Some are quite flat while others are more than an inch deep and present 3D images. Relief carving is done mostly with gouges, and many patterns are available.

Chip carving is cutting out triangles. Chip carving adorns many wooden religious crosses, and decorates many basswood eggs. Chip carving decorates furniture, and many boxes, plates, and bowls. It looks incredibly difficult, but isnít. Chip carving does require patience and practice to master. We have several members who win prizes with their chip carving.

Caricature carving is another carving specialty. Caricatures can be any size, but most seem to fit into the bottle-topper category. We have a member who carves and paints incredible caricatures, and heíll be glad to teach you how to do it. There is a class at every meeting.

Wood burning (pyrography) is used to finish and decorate many carvings, such as animal fur, bird feathers and fish scales. It is also an art unto† itself where creations are portraits and a wide† variety of scenes. We have wood burning equipment you can use to get started, and a highly skilled teacher who is always willing to help.

Want to carve geometric shapes? We can teach you to carve two or three interlocking rings or a chain from a single piece of basswood. We can also teach you to carve 8-pointed or 12-pointed stars as a Christmas ornament. One member is currently working on carving 6 interlocking rings. He says it make take him a year.

Or you can indulge your whimsy to carve gnome or troll houses from cottonwood bark, or gnome huts or gnome churches from basswood. One of our members carves little wooden tops for kids, another carves crosses with doves. The prospects are limitless.

Getting Started

To get started you need a knife and some wood. You can carve found wood or you can buy pieces rather cheaply. One of our members says he brings home more than he takes to the dump. Or you can go for a walk and find some wood scraps. Many people cut or trim trees and leave branches for pickup. They are free for the taking. Much is available through carving catalogs and the internet.

As for knives you can buy a good woodcarving knife and a detail knife as a set for about $30. Or you can start with an X-acto knife for a couple of bucks. One of our members will loan you one of his or her knives to get you started.

For some members, collecting carving knives, gouges and other tools is an obsession.† They just canít seem to get enough equipment. They may have duplicates of tools they have owned for ten years and never used. On the other hand, some of our best carvers use only a few knives and gouges and produce great results. Go whichever way you want.





What Is It?