How to Start Carving

Here we are in March and a post has been a long time a coming and I thought I would start off again with the basic conception on how would you start carving. Many people like the idea or the romance of producing their own carved forms be it for display in their own home or as a gift, but where do you start and what on, especially when you are a complete novice. Many of the carving books that you buy are filled with generic shapes, or projects, that will leave you with very little satisfaction after going through the process, a meaningless exercise. The anticipation of producing a good carved piece for the person who is new to this form of expression often betters their skill level, meaning, the project taken on is often far too complex, so it is doubly important to start off on the right path. The energy is there in the first instance so we don’t want to burst that initial enthusiasm with choosing the wrong project.

A meaningful project will stimulate the mind and keep the interest there even when the going gets tough, whereas if it were only an exercise it is so easy to move on to the next topic.

I know you’re eager to get started and you have already purchased the carving book, wanting to tear into the first design offered but sit back and think. Carvings are not just about trinkets that adorn your curio cabinet, they can be functional objects like cabinet handles or wardrobe handles. I know most people have walk-in closets these days but children rooms often still have the free standing cabinets and many of these handles can be replaced with a more organic shape than the regular round knob or the u shaped handle. Kitchen cabinet handles lend theirselves to be replaced with carved handles of fruit, vegetables or flowers to give a more country feel. These are small carvings that are functional and will give you self satisfaction on an everyday basis plus a learning curve into the durability of your carving. A reminder of how to better it the next time.

When you first start you have already eagerly been to your local woodworking store to purchased the carving set or the carving tools that you think you will be needing, or browsed online at the many woodworking sites with their selection of carving tools. This in itself can be intimidating to the beginner, there is such an array of carving tools to choose from but by doing your research you can normally narrow it down to a few prominent manufacturers.

Carving tools that come to mind are Henry Taylor, Pfeil, Ashley Iles, Flexcut and Robert Sorby. These tools have been crafted over a long period of time so anyone of these manufacturers will deliver a lifetime of service, in most cases it is simply which tool feels most comfortable to use.

By purchasing good quality tools it will eliminates any doubt about the tools ability, leaving just the carvers skill to be questioned if the carving is not just right. In starting out, remember, it is not a race to complete the carving as fast as you can. Take your time and perfect the details, that is why it is important to start out small. As your confidence grows so can the size of the project, gain experience with the new tools until they feel like an extention of your arm and remember, keep them sharp.

4 thoughts on “How to Start Carving

  1. Hello, I’m a new carver and I just wanted to say that you have a fantastic blog here and I’ve already found some very helpful information. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the kind comment. I will feature a couple of carvings relating to handle replacement and like I said it is a fine way to ease yourself into carving.

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for your kind advice you left on my blog. I will definitely take it to heart. I’ve added a link to your site in case any of my readers (not that I have many) want to use the excellent resources you provide. Thanks again.

  4. Hi Mike! I am a 69 year old Carving Rookie for sure . I find your Blog very informative, honest, & Useful.
    I’m in the process of purchasing tools that fit my budget……. So far, I’ve bought the “Carvin Jack” (Portability) and I will soon be getting the Flexcut “Chip Carving” 3 piece set as well as the “pair of Flexcut “Whittling” knives …

    My main interest at present is Chip Carving & Whittling …… I also have a couple of very decent pocket knives , so we’ll see………
    I look forward to any remarks you might have ……. I have some Basswood on hand as well as some “squares” 8″X8″ etc of Select pine from Home Depot …..

    It has taken time to accumulate all of this as I am a pensioner ……… Launching day is pretty soon to come LOL

    Thanks again for your site ……..Very Much Appreciated ….. Bill

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