Wood Carving

realistic wood sculpture peter demetz 13 728x375 - Wood Carving


Wood carving is a form of woodworking with a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel with two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figure or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The expression can also refer to the finished product, from individual sculptures to handmade molded parts that form part of a tracery.

The making of wooden sculptures is widespread, but survives much less well than the other main materials like stone and bronze, as they are prone to decay, insect damage and fire. It is therefore an important hidden element in the art history of many cultures. [1] Outdoor wood sculptures do not last long in most parts of the world, so it is not yet known how the totem pole tradition developed. Many of China’s and Japan’s most important sculptures are made of wood, as is the vast majority of African sculptures and Oceania and other regions. Wood is light and can absorb very fine details. It is therefore ideal for masks and other sculptures that are to be worn or worn. It is also much easier to work with than stone.

Some of the best preserved examples of early European wood carving date from the Middle Ages in Germany, Russia, Italy and France, where the typical themes of that time were Christian iconography. In England there are many complete examples from the 16th and 17th centuries, where oak was the preferred medium.

Basic Tool Set

The carving knife: A special knife for cutting, cutting and smoothing wood.
The furrow: A tool with a curved cutting edge that is used in various shapes and sizes to carve recesses, rounds and curved curves.
The cross-cut saw: A small saw with which pieces of wood are cut off immediately.
the chisel: large and small, the straight edge of which is used to line and clean flat surfaces.
the V-tool: is used for separating and in certain classes of flat work for highlighting lines.
the U-Gauge: a specialized deep tube with a U-shaped cutting edge.
Sharpeners such as various stones and a strip: necessary for edge care.
A special screw to attach the work to the workbench and a hammer complete the carving kit, although other special and customized tools are often used, e.g. B. a milling cutter to bring the grounding to a uniform level, cut curved grooves and curved chisels for cavities too deep for the normal tool.

5a178a00325cf45873168f5c large - Wood Carving

Wood Carving Process


The type of carved wood limits the size of the carver, since the wood is not equally strong in all directions: it is an anisotropic material. The direction in which wood is strongest is called “grain” (grain can be straight, interlocking, wavy or violin back, etc.). It’s wise to arrange the more sensitive parts of a design along the grain instead of over it. [2] However, a “best fit line” is often used instead, as a construction may have multiple weak spots in different directions or aligning them along the grain would require carving details on the meninges (which is considerably more difficult). Sometimes carving blanks, like carousel horses, are assembled from many smaller boards, and in this way different areas of a carving can be aligned in the most logical way, both for the carving process and for durability. More rarely, the same principle is applied to solid pieces of wood, where the fork of two branches is used for their diverging grain or a branch of a larger tree trunk is carved into a beak (this was the technique used by traditional Welsh shepherds crooks and some adze- Native American Grips). Failure to understand these primary rules can constantly occur in damaged work, when it is found that tendrils, tips of bird’s beaks, etc., placed over the grain have been broken off, similar details more in line with the growth of the wood and not undercut too deep remain intact.

Probably the two most commonly used carvings in North America are linden (also known as tilia or lime) and tupelo. Both are hardwoods that are relatively easy to work with. Chestnut, butternut, oak, American walnut, mahogany and teak are also very good woods; Italian walnuts, sycamore maple, apple, pear, box or plum are usually chosen for fine work. Decorations that are to be painted and are not too delicate are often carved into pine, which is relatively soft and inexpensive.

16 animal wood sculpture by giuseppe rumerio - Wood Carving


A wood carver starts a new carving by choosing a piece of wood of the approximate size and shape of the figure he or she wants to create. If the carving is to be large, several pieces of wood can be laminated together to achieve the required size. The type of wood is important. Hardwoods are more difficult to shape, but have a higher gloss and a longer service life. Softer woods are easier to carve, but more prone to damage. Every wood can be carved, but all have different qualities and properties. The choice depends on the requirements of the carving: For example, a detailed figure would need a wood with a fine grain and very little figure, since a strong figure can impair the “reading” of fine details.

Once the sculptor has selected his wood, he or she begins a general shaping process with furrows of various sizes. The tube is a curved blade with which large parts of the wood can be easily removed. For harder woods, the sculptor can use grooves that are sharpened with greater bevels of around 35 degrees and a mallet that resembles a stonemason. The terms furrow and chisel are confusing. Right, a tube is a tool with a curved cross section and a chisel is a tool with a flat cross section. However, professional carvers call them all “chisels”. For smaller sculptures, the wood carver may need to use a knife, and for larger pieces, a saw may need to be used. Regardless of which wood is selected or which tool is used, the wood sculptor must always carve either crosswise or with the grain of the wood, never against the grain.

Once the general shape is created, the carver can use a variety of detail creation tools. For example, a “vein” or “floodlight” can be used to drill deep grooves in the surface, or a “V-tool” to make fine lines or decorative cuts. Once the finer details have been added, the wood carver finishes the surface. The method chosen depends on the required quality of the surface finish. The texture that flat grooves leave gives the surface of the carving “life”, and many carvers prefer this “edited” finish. If a completely smooth surface is required, general smoothing can be performed using tools such as “rasps”, which are tools with a flat blade and a surface made of pointed teeth. “Rifflers” are similar to rasps, but are smaller, usually double-ended and have different shapes for working with folds or crevasses. The finer polishing is done with sandpaper. First, large-grain paper with a rougher surface is used, then the sculptor uses finer-grain paper, which makes the surface of the sculpture feel smooth.

After the carving and finishing is complete, the artist can seal and color the wood with a variety of natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil, which protect the wood from dirt and moisture. Oil also gives the wood a shine that helps the viewer “read” the shape by reflecting the light. Schnitzer rarely use glossy lacquer because it creates a surface that is too shiny and reflects so much light that the shape can become confused. Schnitzer calls this the “toffee apple effect”. Wooden objects are often covered with a layer of wax that protects the wood and gives it a soft sheen. However, a wax finish (e.g. shoe polish) is comparatively fragile and only suitable for interior carvings.

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