digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

Carved wooden cranes
Finely carved wooden door in the Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia.

Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object. The phrase may also refer to the finished product, from individual sculptures to hand-worked mouldings composing part of a tracery.

The making of sculpture in wood has been extremely widely practiced but survives much less well than the other main materials such as stone and bronze, as it is vulnerable to decay, insect damage, and fire. It therefore forms 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 that we have little idea how the totem pole tradition developed. Many of the most important sculptures of China and Japan in particular are in wood, and the great majority of African sculpture and that of Oceania and other regions. Wood is light and can take very fine detail so it is highly suitable for masks and other sculpture intended to be worn or carried. It is also much easier to work than stone.

Some of the finest extant examples of early European wood carving are from the Middle Ages in Germany, Russia, Italy and France, where the typical themes of that era were Christian iconography. In England, many complete examples remain from the 16th and 17th century, where oak was the preferred medium.

Methods and styles[edit]

Techniques[edit]

Tools[edit]

A selection of woodcarving hand tools: 3 fishtail gouges, a v-parting tool, 4 straight gouges, 3 spoon gouges, and a carvers mallet
Desay Madu Jhya (window) in Kathmandu, Nepal is a specimen of traditional Nepalese wood carving.
Detail of the Last Supper from Tilman Riemenschneider's Altar of the Holy Blood, 1501-05, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria

Basic tool set[edit]

  • the carving knife: a specialized knife used to pare, cut, and smooth wood.
  • the gouge: a tool with a curved cutting edge used in a variety of forms and sizes for carving hollows, rounds and sweeping curves.
  • the coping saw: a small saw that is used to cut off chunks of wood at once.
  • the chisel: large and small, whose straight cutting edge is used for lines and cleaning up flat surfaces.
  • the V-tool: used for parting, and in certain classes of flat work for emphasizing lines.
  • the veiner: a specialized deep gouge with a U-shaped cutting edge.
  • sharpening equipment, such as various stones and a strop: necessary for maintaining edges.

A special screw for fixing work to the workbench, and a mallet, complete the carvers kit, though other tools, both specialized and adapted, are often used, such as a router for bringing grounds to a uniform level, bent gouges and bent chisels for cutting hollows too deep for the ordinary tool.

Terminology
Term Definition
Gouge Carving tool with a curved cutting edge. The most used category of carving tools.
Sweep The curvature of the cutting edge of a carving gouge. A lower number (like #3) indicates a shallow, flat sweep while a high number (like #9) is used for a deeply curved gouge.
Veiner A small deep gouge with a U-shaped cutting edge. Usually #11 sweep.
Fluter A larger #11 sweep gouge with a U-shaped cutting edge.
Sloyd knife A whittling knife having a strong, blade slightly shorter than the handle (around 5 inches), suitable for marking or carving.
Chisel A carving tool with a straight cutting edge (usually termed #1 sweep) at right angles (or square to) the sides of the blade.
Skew chisel A chisel with the edge at a "skew" or angle relative the sides of the blade. Often termed #2 sweep in the Sheffield list or #1s in continental lists.
V-tool A carving tool with a V-shaped cutting edge.[2] Used for outlining and decorative cuts. Referred to as 'the carvers pencil' by old time professional carvers.
Parting tool
Long bent A gouge, chisel or V tool where the blade is curved along its entire length. Handy for deep work.
Short bent A gouge, chisel or V tool where the blade is straight with a curve at the end, like a spoon. Use for work in deep or inaccessible areas. Spoon gouges were often referred to as 'tracery tools' which indicates their use in the type of decorative carving found in churches
Spoon
Fishtail A gouge or chisel with a straight, narrow shank that flares out at the end to form a "fishtail" shaped tool. The narrow shaft of the tool allows for clearance in tight areas.
Back bent A spoon gouge with a reverse bent end. Used for undercuts and reeding work.
Palm tools Short (5"), stubby tools used with one hand while the work is held in the other. Great for detail and small carving.
Full-size tools 10" to 11" tools used with two hands or a mallet.
Tang The tapered part of the blade that is driven into the handle.
Bolster A flared section of the blade near the tang that keeps the blade from being driven further into the handle.
Ferrule A metal collar on the handle that keeps the wood from splitting when the tool is used with a mallet. Some tools have an external, visible ferrule while others have an internal ferrule.Some old, small detail tools have neither bolster nor ferrule as their light use makes them unnecessary.
Rockwell hardness A scale that indicates the hardness of steel. A Rockwell range of 58 to 61 is considered optimum for fine woodworking edge tools.

Wood[edit]

Selection[edit]

The nature of the wood being carved limits the scope of the carver in that wood is not equally strong in all directions: it is an anisotropic material. The direction in which wood is strongest is called "grain" (grain may be straight, interlocked, wavy or fiddleback, etc.). It is smart to arrange the more delicate parts of a design along the grain instead of across it, and the more slender stalks or leaf-points should not be too much separated from their adjacent surroundings. The failure to appreciate these primary rules may constantly be seen in damaged work, when it will be noticed that, whereas tendrils, tips of birds beaks, etc., arranged across the grain have been broken away, similar details designed more in harmony with the growth of the wood and not too deeply undercut remain intact.

Probably the two most common woods used for carving are basswood (aka 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; while for fine work Italian walnut, sycamore maple, apple, pear, box or plum, are usually chosen. Decoration that is to be painted and of not too delicate a nature is as a rule carved in pine.

Sculpture[edit]

Mambila figure, Nigeria

A wood carver begins a new carving by selecting a chunk of wood the approximate size and shape of the figure he or she wishes to create or, if the carving is to be large, several pieces of wood may be laminated together to create the required size. The type of wood is important. Hardwoods are more difficult to shape but have greater luster and longevity. Softer woods may be easier to carve but are more prone to damage. Any wood can be carved but they all have different qualities and characteristics. The choice will depend on the requirements of carving being done: for example a detailed figure would need a wood with a fine grain and very little figure as strong figure can interfere with 'reading' fine detail.

Once the sculptor has selected their wood, he or she begins a general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. The gouge is a curved blade that can remove large portions of wood smoothly. For harder woods, the sculptor may use gouges sharpened with stronger bevels, about 35 degrees, and a mallet similar to a stone carver's. The terms gouge and chisel are open to confusion. Correctly, a gouge is a tool with a curved cross section and a chisel is a tool with a flat cross section. However, professional carvers tend to refer to them all as 'chisels'. Smaller sculptures may require the wood carver to use a knife, and larger pieces might require the use of a saw. No matter what wood is selected or tool used, the wood sculptor must always carve either across or with the grain of the wood, never against the grain.

Once the general shape is made, the carver may use a variety of tools for creating details. For example, a “veiner” or 'fluter' can be used to make deep gouges into the surface, or a “v-tool” for making 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 surface finish. The texture left by shallow gouges gives 'life' to the carving's surface and many carvers prefer this 'tooled' finish. If a completely smooth surface is required general smoothing can be done with tools such as “rasps,” which are flat-bladed tools with a surface of pointed teeth. “Rifflers” are similar to rasps, but smaller, usually double ended, and of various shapes for working in folds or crevasses. The finer polishing is done with abrasive paper. Large grained paper with a rougher surface is used first, with the sculptor then using finer grained paper that can make the surface of the sculpture slick to the touch.

After the carving and finishing is completed, the artist may seal & color the wood with a variety of natural oils, such as walnut or linseed oil which protects the wood from dirt and moisture. Oil also imparts a sheen to the wood which, by reflecting light, helps the observer 'read' the form. Carvers seldom use gloss varnish as it creates too shiny a surface, which reflects so much light it can confuse the form; carvers refer to this as 'the toffee apple effect'. Objects made of wood are frequently finished with a layer of wax, which protects the wood and gives a soft lustrous sheen. A wax finish is comparatively fragile though and only suitable for indoor carvings.

Traditions[edit]

The making of decoys and fish carving are two of the artistic traditions that use wood carvings.

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See for example Martin Robertson, A shorter history of Greek art, p. 9, Cambridge University Press, 1981, ISBN 0-521-28084-2, ISBN 978-0-521-28084-6 Google books
  2. ^ "12 top tips for using a V-tool". WoodworkersInstitute.com. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 


External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_carving — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

1068 news items

 
WICS-TV
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:44:09 -0700

Over the weekend, the 24th annual Sangamon Valley Wood Carving Show was held at the state fairgrounds. They call it the artistry of woodcarving and woodburning. The work of carvers from across the country was on display. Organizers say the show ...
 
Chippewa Herald
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 06:18:45 -0700

Dell Braunberger carves a wolf's head onto the handle of a wooden cane he's making to give to the Wisconsin Veteran's Home in Chippewa Falls. 2014-08-17T08:15:00Z Chippewa Falls man enjoys wood carving for vetsCALEB BROWN ...

KOMO News

KOMO News
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:43:30 -0700

The Maple Valley artist sculpts animals, totem poles, and even the busts of famous people from discarded wood in his large outdoor 'studio' - tucked away behind a barn, beyond the free-roaming horses, piles of large timber, and a persistent Border ...
 
Reno Gazette Journal
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 21:05:31 -0700

For both men, wood carving is a pastime, not a commercial enterprise. Neither sell their work. But they enjoy the creativity and fun the work inspires. "My dad was a shop teacher at Billinghurst (now a middle school). Naturally, we made a lot of ...
 
Creative Loafing Tampa
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

You know all those ironically hip "howl at the moon" designs on T-shirts nowadays. You can re-create one of your own with — more specifically, carve one in wood — with the help artist Glenn Fry of Tampa. (No, not Glenn Frey from the Eagles; this one ...
 
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 01:26:15 -0700

Travelers on the eastbound lanes of U.S. Route 19/460 in the Cliffield area of Tazewell County have been slowing down, honking their horns and waving at an 8-foot-tall image of Jack Howery's wood carving of Big Foot, the legendary Yeti of fame and fable.
 
Somerset Guardian
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 21:52:30 -0700

A beautiful sculpture, created by Compton Dando artist, Spencer Sands, captured the essence of World War One, as it sat on a display at the recent World War One commemoration at St Mary's Church in Compton Dando. It also had an amazing story to tell of ...
 
Business Standard
Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:00:46 -0700

The wood carving industry has deep roots in Saharanpur and family-owned small units have coexisted with bigger and organised units. There are an some 10,000 micro units in the district, and about 100 organised factories, which largely cater to the ...
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Wood carving

You can talk about Wood carving with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!