Adding texture with a gouge?

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Forum topic by Mitch Peacock posted 06-21-2015 04:13 PM 3994 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

06-21-2015 04:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: carving texture gouge how to tips oak

Anyone out there have any tips when it comes to adding texture to a wooden project with a gouge?
I’m making something out of English oak (Quercus robur), and want to create a texture contrast between the smooth planned surfaces and some chosen areas. The idea is to show the perfect emerging from the rough, or how nature reclaims man made perfection, that sort of thing.
So far I’ve made a fair start I think, but I’m not a carver, and I’m sure many of you will have ideas of how I can improve on the result.

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

11 replies so far

View ClaudeF's profile


1383 posts in 2954 days

#1 posted 06-21-2015 10:45 PM

The only suggestion I can come up with is to go to “flatter” gouge and shallower as you get close to the “perfection” part. As an example, if you are starting with a 10mm #9, then go to a 12mm #7, followed by a 12mm#5, a 20mm #3, as you get close to the perfect part – doesn’t have to be these exact gouges, but it should give you the idea.



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Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

#2 posted 06-22-2015 06:51 AM

Thanks Claude, I’ll give that a try. It makes sense the way you’ve explained it.

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 2461 days

#3 posted 06-22-2015 04:23 PM

I reccomend that you take your cue from nature. It helps me to get a picture of the thing I am trying to make and how it looks in nature. For instance when carving, say, a lotus blossom, having the picture helps me to distinguish if the petals overlap, if they alternate, or vary in size, if they are highly uniform or very unique, do they curl? Artistically I know what a lotus blossom looks like, but to render it I need to know all of the proportions. For your project it might be a good idea to determine what part of nature you are attempting to reach for aesthtically. Then study the variations and singularity of the element. Interpret it into the piece as you feel it, does it need a highly accurate “photo – real” feeling or a much less detialed “impression” feeling. Does it want to be highly organized and geometric? One thing I like to think of is how highly organized nature can be at times. For instance most trees grow the exact same number of leaves on a bud (palmative) while others have leaves with the exact same number of points. Ants march in a long single file line, birds fly in a crisp V shape, Moss grows on the north side of things, on and on. If you see it as an artist, order is part of the beauty, it’s less chaos and more harmony. Such is the same for capturing nature in man-made art, it’s less about chaos than you might first think. On your piece a valuable question might be, why has this part or place been chosen by nature to be textured and by what, while others are left untouched.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

#4 posted 06-22-2015 08:00 PM

Thank you HornedWoodwork. You may have hit upon why I’ve always struggled with carving, you see I studied as an engineer! I studied things at the quantum level most of the time, where chaos ‘seems’ the norm.
I’ll have to sharpen my carving chisels and start communing with nature.
Much appreciated.

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2733 days

#5 posted 06-22-2015 08:17 PM

A guy I know does hand scraping with rounded card scraper. It’s similar but the gouges are longer and shallower than what you have.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1381 posts in 2960 days

#6 posted 06-23-2015 10:06 AM

Not exactly done with a gouge, but in context of marking the contrast of planed wood and texture, have a look at this lovely video:
At about 3:15 the guy is planing the curved legs with a rounded plane and the effect looks great in contrast to the strict lines in the rest of the pieze. Also more in this video at about 5:20:
Hope this was usefull. Let us know how it ends!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

#7 posted 06-23-2015 09:30 PM

Thanks TheFridge and kaerlighedbamsen.
I’ll get my scrapers out, and check out those videos too.
Been keeping a record of the build, so might post it as a project.

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

View torpidihummer's profile


65 posts in 3100 days

#8 posted 06-25-2015 03:38 PM

Mitch, all I can add to all of the great suggestions made, is you are ‘wood carving’
be very careful because wood carving can become very addictive, many years back I
started out by simple trying shape the handles on the ‘Long Bows’ I made by
adding a little decorations on the bow handles. For me it became a total adventure
in wood carving as it has for so many wood carvers.

-- Torpidhummer

View Mitch Peacock's profile

Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

#9 posted 06-25-2015 07:54 PM

Torpidhummer, Thanks for the warning ☺

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

View PhillipRCW's profile


517 posts in 2511 days

#10 posted 06-25-2015 08:04 PM

Mitch, you could also look into a kutzall bit for a die grinder. Maybe just apply pressure with the bit and you can actually control how deep it cuts or the angle.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

View Mitch Peacock's profile

Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2981 days

#11 posted 07-03-2015 10:44 PM

Thank you all for your tips.
I’ve completed the carving work now, and I’m sure it’s better as a result of your input.
Of course, the recipient will be the judge, and that’s a little while off yet.

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

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