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  1. #1
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    Default Wood carving is hard

    I have made a couple of Shaker style side tables with little drawers and I thought I might try my hand at some wood carving. Instead of purchasing some handles I have decided to make my own by carving a little decorative base and attaching a turned knob. Well I quickly discovered some very useful facts
    1. God does not reward impatient wood carvers. Even the smallest amount of change to the shape you are carving takes ages and any attempt to speed the process up is bound to end in disaster.
    2. The book "Simple Projects for Beginning Wood Carvers" cannot be honestly written and sold. Wood carving starts at extremely hard and goes up from there.
    3. Wood is evil and does not enjoy being carved and will not under any circumstances co-operate in the process. It can be tamed but never domesticated.
    4. Huon pine is lovely timber. I have a few odd bits of it and I suspect that over time I will make good friends with it and it will consent to being formed into the shapes I have in mind.
    5. Also wood carving is great fun.
    6. I have had the chance over the last week to spend large uninterrupted time turning perfectly good timber into shavings and sawdust. I have been having and orgy of wood working. Now I have sometimes thought that perhaps it might be possible to turn some of my meagre skills and enjoyment into cash by making and selling objects but now I am not so sure. I realised that I do not spend time in the shed to make things. The actual making or producing useful and sometimes beautiful objects is not the point of the exercise for me and is in fact an artefact or by-product of the activity. It appears that for me at least the process of making and learning is far more important and satisfying than the actual production of objects. I have made houses and buildings full of objects over the years but when I look back on it it was the process I enjoyed far more than the completing. I am not sure that this is a good attitude to have for anyone contemplating making money from wood.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    I realised that I do not spend time in the shed to make things. The actual making or producing useful and sometimes beautiful objects is not the point of the exercise for me and is in fact an artefact or by-product of the activity. It appears that for me at least the process of making and learning is far more important and satisfying than the actual production of objects. I have made houses and buildings full of objects over the years but when I look back on it it was the process I enjoyed far more than the completing.
    I can't comment too much on the carving but I totally agree with this statement.
    The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

  4. #3
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    That is why top quality wood carver's are a rare breed

  5. #4
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    Was your first joining nice, fast and easy ? Don't give up at first try ! You just need practice.

  6. #5
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    Default

    Chook, as with all woodworking, Carving is a skill learnt thru practice, practice, practice.

    Some tips to make it a tad easier. Aussie hardwoods are the same a self flagellation. Local timbers to try are Huon, as you mentioned, Jacaranda or Camphor. Exotics are Poplar, Box or Jelutong.
    Keep every tool sharp and have a strop or hone next to you.
    Draw/reproduce the picture on the wood.
    Do a little each day. Leave it set up. Hone your chisels, carve, hone. Even if you do this as a break from over activities through the day.

    Have fun.
    Pat
    Work is a necessary evil to be avoided. Mark Twain

  7. #6
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    How and when to sharpen, how and when to hone on a strop, how to keep consistent angles = those are the path to fun in wood carving.

    Done it for years. North American hardwoods = birch, walnut, maple. . . not so bad with "carving sharp" tools. That is not the same as woodworking sharp.

    Read "Star's Sharpening Journey" in the Wood Carving Forum. He invited me to do "show-and-tell."

    Any questions, just ask.

  8. #7
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    It is a big advantage to keep a bit of modeling clay on hand for the tricky bits. It's hard to see 3D on a flat board.

  9. #8
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    Depends upon how you use the clay.
    Additive is fine but you can't determine the carving process from that.

    Subtractive is fine but the transfer to wood (& different tools) is a puzzle.

    On rare occassions, I cut things from syrofoam or some other plastic foam.
    Only to gain a sense of what the end result might look like. There's no gain in the carving process or technique at all. Wish there was!

    With "carving sharp" tools, I can do a maquette in no time. All I learn is the order of process = carve this before carving that. I keep them as reminders of "how" to get other carvings done.

    I have run out of spit talking about "carving sharp." Quite important, overall.

  10. #9
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    If the carver can draw or model in clay, he or she can " understand " the carving and copy if necessary. As far as a beginner putting the bow to the fiddle he has a much better chance if he understands the form to be carved. As for a carving strategy that comes with experience.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by copeau View Post
    Was your first joining nice, fast and easy ? Don't give up at first try ! You just need practice.
    I think I made 4 dovetailed boxes before I got one I was half pleased with and I expect that this new adventure will take me years to master to any extent at all. When you go to the wood shows and see the carvers there they make it look so easy but I quickly discovered otherwise. But I have high hopes that at some point I can add further levels of beauty to the things I make.

    But one way or the other I AM going to carve a decorative handle for the table.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Chook, as with all woodworking, Carving is a skill learnt thru practice, practice, practice.

    Some tips to make it a tad easier. Aussie hardwoods are the same a self flagellation. Local timbers to try are Huon, as you mentioned, Jacaranda or Camphor. Exotics are Poplar, Box or Jelutong.
    Keep every tool sharp and have a strop or hone next to you.
    Draw/reproduce the picture on the wood.
    Do a little each day. Leave it set up. Hone your chisels, carve, hone. Even if you do this as a break from over activities through the day.

    Have fun.
    I like camphor and intend to toss out current kitchen and make a camphor laurel one. Some carved and turned embellishments would be nice.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robson Valley View Post
    How and when to sharpen, how and when to hone on a strop, how to keep consistent angles = those are the path to fun in wood carving.

    Done it for years. North American hardwoods = birch, walnut, maple. . . not so bad with "carving sharp" tools. That is not the same as woodworking sharp.

    Read "Star's Sharpening Journey" in the Wood Carving Forum. He invited me to do "show-and-tell."

    Any questions, just ask.
    Thank for the offer.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

  14. #13
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    I feel the same way as you do about carving so have not gone anywhere near that aspect of wood working. As for turning this is quite as adventure, as I am finding my way on using the chisels.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robson Valley View Post
    Additive is fine but you can't determine the carving process from that.

    Subtractive is fine but the transfer to wood (& different tools) is a puzzle.

    There's no gain in the carving process or technique at all. Wish there was!
    I'll have to wade in on this RV, as it goes against everything I tell my students..
    Working from a plasticene model (maquette) I consider vital and is a time honoured technique in subtractive sculpture..
    I find that people often mistake the challenge of carving with the process and methods of removing wood...
    ..This is not the case....pushing a chisel around a piece of wood is not difficult and can be taught quite easily..(as can sharpening)
    ..The biggest challenge I've found is to get your head around the whole 3d subtraction process....ie, the confidence in knowing which bits to remove.
    ..and this is where the maquette is important..
    ..before starting a carving project I get my students to model a rough likeness of the piece in plasticene...it's quick and gives them a sense of volume, proportion, line etc..
    ..next, I get them to make a simple copy (in plasticene) of the piece of wood they are working with....then, using a knife, repeating their piece in plasticene by subtraction only..
    This is a simple teaching technique...it takes little time and gives a student the confidence to know exactly what to remove...
    The speed and ease of manipulating the chisels, like anything, just comes with practice

    what if the hokey pokey is really what it's all about?

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by underfoot View Post
    ......The biggest challenge I've found is to get your head around the whole 3d subtraction process....ie, the confidence in knowing which bits to remove.
    ..and this is where the maquette is important......
    This is an interesting perspective on how to approach the task of carving. I might need to keep this in mind if or when I give carving a go.

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