Stefangs Woodcarving - Practice Session #3: -

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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-14-2011 09:59 PM 2545 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: - Part 3 of Stefangs Woodcarving - Practice Session series no next part

The latest carving practice piece is done in Sycamore. Fairly hard wood for carving. I am continuing to enjoy carving with only one tool, my shop made knife. I plan to try out a utility knife, but I’ve grown rather fond of the one I’m using.

The advantage for me is that I can sit on the terrace and enjoy my wife’s company and the garden too.Normally chip carving means taking out chips one at a time to final depth. But due to the wood hardness I am for the most part making shallow cuts with thin shavings down to finished depth and many of the cuts are long and curved.

I would like to try my luck at relief carving too, but that will require a lot of different chisels (which I have) and working in the shop so I can secure the workpiece as relief carving requires both hands. For that reason I wait until Fall when I can be in the shop more often. The experience I’m getting now is reducing my fear of trying relief carving and also giving me an appreciation how helpful specialized tools vs a knife can be.

The following is the pattern transferred to the wood. I used carbon paper under the pattern for this job. This pattern is based on the acanthus plant and is used a lot by carvers all over the world, but it is usually carved in relief style. It offers a lot of complexity and therefore can be a great learning experience.

These are photos of the finished piece, first vertical and then horizontal to show more detail. I found the veins difficult to do. I have a veining chisel, and I intend to use it next time for this work. The veining gives a carving life, but I’m not very happy with the veining on this piece.

And lastly the 3 practice pieces I’ve carved as a progress comparison

If you are planning to take up carving I sure would recommend learning chip carving first. It’s a great way to carve and if you want to do other types of carving you will still be able to use a lot of what you learned. Another advantage is that a big investment in carving tools is not necessary, so if you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted your money.

That’s it for today. Thanks for looking in.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

10 comments so far

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

503 posts in 3609 days

#1 posted 05-14-2011 11:43 PM

Yourr getting there.

-- Dale, Ohio

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4267 posts in 3644 days

#2 posted 05-15-2011 12:29 AM

Doing well, and thanks for the tip re trying chip carving first. I chip carved in grade school I remember, and we just used razor blades. But I do remembere fighting the grain of the wood, getting a sore finger, etc…...(-:

Putting doors on my minibench this weekend, and doing trim work. I think the end is in sight…............

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3813 days

#3 posted 05-15-2011 10:58 AM

Thanks for the encouraging words Dale and Jim. I do think it is smart to try walking before running.

To learn grain direction It helps in the beginning to draw square or rectangle (perhaps on the back of your workpiece) showing clear grain lines and with cut lines drawn in with direction arrows. I have done this and it does help until you practice enough to just do it automatically without thinking.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3820 days

#4 posted 05-15-2011 12:42 PM

i do it without thinking too

but never a well as this
that you can do this on the porch
with a beautiful woman
to talk and laugh with

show’s that you are
the enlightened master

and i the empty headed
young zen monk

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1588 posts in 4044 days

#5 posted 05-15-2011 12:52 PM

Thanks for the update Mike, you are coming along quite nicely with this carving.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3813 days

#6 posted 05-15-2011 01:17 PM

Hi David. My secret lies in the old adage “Misery loves company”. My carving isn’t advancing much, but my social skills are getting better. My byline should read; ‘Jack of all trades, master of none, but at least I’m having a lot of fun’.

Thanks Tim for humoring me. I will keep at it though until it starts looking like something. I plan to actually make something with carving on it for my next session.

No new practice before Wednesday after Norway’s Independence Day celebration on May 17th. Our kids and their families will be first attending the local festivities and watching the ‘Barnet toget’, aka children’s parade composed of all the local school kids including my grandkids, and their marching bands, speeches, games, etc. Afterward the family will gather at our house for dinner. So instead of carving, I will be enjoying the company and trying out my newly improved social skills.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile


11432 posts in 3319 days

#7 posted 05-15-2011 02:30 PM

Good progress Mike. If you have a laser printer you can print the pattern and iron it on. And its all done with a knife you made. Have you been thinking of a project to apply your skill to? Keep on whittlin;) Great stuff!

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3346 days

#8 posted 05-15-2011 02:49 PM

Mike, your carving is good. I think you are way ahead of me.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3568 days

#9 posted 05-16-2011 01:04 AM

Hi Mike,
It’s looking good, you really get there fast.
I have to look into this also.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3813 days

#10 posted 05-16-2011 11:00 AM

Dave I like the laser printer idea, but unfortunately I don’t own one. If and when I have to buy a new one I will consider a laser printer, but the one I’ve got could well outlast me! I have found one advantage of tracing in that you become more familiar with the pattern before you start carving. Remember, there’s always some advantage in every disadvantage! I do intend to carve a simple project for my next practice session.

Charles I have been doing a little carving off and on over the years. Never been very good at it, but that is partly due to not sticking with it. My son carved a barometer plaque in the 7th grade that looks a lot better than my carving ever did, and it was the only piece he ever carved. I still have it and I will post a picture of it with my next blog.

Mads, I’m not really too worried about how fast I get better, as long as there is some progress. The strange thing is that a carving might not show any significant improvement, but I mostly come away feeling that I have learned something new or that the technical part (following the grain, etc.) is becoming more intuitive. So all practice is worthwhile even if the carving itself isn’t so hot.

Thanks everyone for you comments. I’m glad Marty (Chip) is bringing some light on carving to LJ. It’s a great way to enhance many projects, and it doesn’t take a lot of it either. However, It is important that carving is done well to look good , and Marty is setting a standard for us.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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