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morpheus83uk

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Hello

I am looking at starting hand carving and wanted to know where to start. What would be good to carve for beginners? What tools are good? Would I need both small and large tools for intricate wood and moving large stock too? Are there any good videos or course?

What wood is good for carving and where are the best places for it?

Thanks

James
 

Claymore

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Narex and flexcut make some nice carving sets, you use much larger chisels for large stuff but there are ways to rough out the design using rotary tools with burrs etc but I have been using a mixture of Tiranti and Narex fine chisels for 40 years so they last well. Lime carving blanks to practice one and most of my big stuff was Oak which can also be finely carved. I would start with some small ones maybe a mixed set of Narex (don't buy loads until you know what sizes suit you and then just buy the size you need eventually you will have a great selection of tools you will use instead of a lovely set but only use 3 of them lol also make sure you learn how to sharpen them and keep them sharp which is tricky at first but you soon get the knack. There are some great videos on Youtube of carving demos......there's a guy called Tim Vande Sluis who looks like a hillbilly but knows his stuff and explains much better than i can....one of my main problems in life is i can do it for myself but trying to show others i am useless and i used to tutor carving for 10 years lol a bandsaw and a scroll saw comes in useful for roughing out for making Lovespoons etc and bench sander/rotary tools very useful.
Have fun
Brian
 

marcros

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first decide what you want to carve. spoons are a low cost, good first step but are not of interest to all. that said, if you want to do letter carving, it is not a good first step. etc
 

morpheus83uk

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Thank you for your responses. I picked up two small pieces of elm to carve but I am unsure what to do with it so any ideas would be welcome. When I am back home I could post pictures if that would help?

Thank you for the tool recommendations as well I will certainly check them out too.

Thanks

James
 

marcros

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I would start with something like lime rather than elm. I have a book that even recommends whittling with carrot or soap fir the first plays. elm isn't the easiest of timbers to work.
 

Lons

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Hi James
I suggest you do a search on the forum as this subject has been discussed a number of times and you can pick the bones out of our answers to suit your needs.

Anyway, my twopennerth if it helps.

* Don't buy a set initially unless you can find a nice cheap second hand set of good quality chisels, as said you'll end up using only a couple. If you find you like carving - and it's a big if until you try it - you'll buy individual tools to suit what you're carving.
You can start off with a couple of bench chisels and maybe a gouge re-sharpened if you just want to try.
I have dozens of chisels and have sold on around 60 but mainly use probably half a dozen. If you are buying there are a number of makes and we all have favourites, mine being Pfeil but lots of others if you read the threads also if you can get hold of old Addis, Henry Taylor, Robert Sorby and others in good condition they are very nice quality.

* Decide whether to try relief carving or in the round. Relief is generally easier for beginners to try and get initial half decent results. My very first attempt was a Peter Berry design caricature golfer figure about 10" high stupidly using the most stringy mahogany in my stock. I still have it and wonder how it inspired me to do more as the wood was so horrible to work.

* Considering relief or round, how are you going to hold the wood? A number of possible options but it's important.

* Wood: - Your elm. - can produce nice results but not always easiest to work due to open and often wild grain, wouldn't be my choice for a first carving. Lime or basswood would be my recommendation. Oak, walnut, dense mahogany, beech, holly, fruitwoods and many others are quite suitable, some easier than others but in truth most woods can be carved. You could practice on softwood because if you can cut that cleanly ( **very sharp tools ) you'll have little problem with lime.
Using a very difficult wood to start with could put you off for life so give yourself a head start.
My all time favourite wood by a mile is boxwood btw! :D

** Most important! Tools have to be razor sharp, if you can't do that then I'd strongly suggest you should perfect sharpening before putting tool to wood. Get them sharp, imo angles aren't as critical as some would have you believe though I use different tools for oak than lime, once sharp just a quick strop regularly while working is sufficient.

Last: Be critical of your own work of course but realise that whatever you manage to produce and however imperfect you think it is the other people in your life will be amazed at what you've carved and won't see the faults you do so just enjoy and keep learning, it doesn't stop.

Bob
 

Jacob

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I’d say have a go with whatever tool/materials you already have. There is no defined way of becoming a carver or sculptor, some do it with axes and chainsaws! Carrots and soap a good idea! Or modelling with plasticine etc.
Then buy materials and tools item by item when you are confident that you need it.
In the meantime have a look at as much carving and literature as you can, to form an idea of what you want to do.
 

Ttrees

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Sorry I can't be of much help.
Chris Pye has made a video (maybe more than one) with Rob Cosman, about chip carving which might be of interest.
But for carving, I don't know of much folk who have publications in forum, nor video.
This channel looks like one to be subscribed to.
I just thought it might be of interest, guessing you wouldn't stumble across this guys videos
all to easy.
[youtube]H0T0wirQgQM[/youtube]

There are bound to be some carvers on this forum
Love to see more links
Tom
 

Nikolaj33

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It seems that Mary May has a very good course on her website, maybe the best. It has a free section for beginners.
 

thick_mike

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I found that when I tried woodcarving, I mainly ended up hand carving. I stopped while I could still count up to ten without taking my socks off.
 

Lons

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thick_mike":2mxujyup said:
I found that when I tried woodcarving, I mainly ended up hand carving. I stopped while I could still count up to ten without taking my socks off.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
 

johnnyb

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buy a biggish gouge a medium chunk of redwood then carve something in the round an animal or a teapot or anything. then start to shape. rough at first then detail last.
keep your one chisel sharp i mean like a razor. hold your wood in a vice.
concentrate on shaping try to forget tools( apart from sharpening)
 

D_W

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The comment above about first deciding what you absolutely want to make is vital. If you're going to carve shells in a chest, you'll have drastically different tools than if you'll chip carve or carve different types of elements.

I have purchased a couple of "definitive" carving books only to find that what's in them isn't what I want to carve. If I'd have bought the sets they recommended, I'd be out a lot of coin reselling them. Find your object first, and then find the method to carve it and buy the tools as you need them.

Of all of the things that the average person can be parsimonious on (boasting of doing endless work with three planes, three saws and one set of chisels, etc), carving tools are the one endless pit of potential new needs with new projects, and there aren't any good cheap ones that I'm aware of, but I'd bet there are a lot of really expensive ones sitting in shops not getting used.
 

custard

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When I trained as a furniture maker some basic letter carving was on the syllabus. The rationale was that letter carving is a way of adding real value to even basic projects, carve the date or someone's name onto a box or a stool and immediately you've got something that no high street, mass production furniture maker can realistically provide.

Plus the nice thing is that you really don't need a load of special carving tools. Your existing chisels plus a couple of largish gouges is all you really need to get started.
 

Dovetaildave

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......and access to printer and a sheet of carbon paper will help in getting lettering onto the material clear and straight.

Regards,
Dave
 

MikeG.

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custard":1bv9ue4x said:
........Plus the nice thing is that you really don't need a load of special carving tools. Your existing chisels plus a couple of largish gouges is all you really need to get started.
Absolutely. There are some people who really don't want to hear this, though.
 

Bm101

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Hi James. Not much help but I did go on a stone carving course recently. So I'm an expert. ( #-o )
No advice for wood that won't be given by wiser hands.
However it was with a proper known sculptor and I'd reckon there's defo some similarities.
She said the clearer you had the design sorted before the better the execution. She had the group make clay mock ups (there was a proper name) of the designs. No different when you think about it from say a cabinet maker or such. It's all carefully planned in 3 dimensions before tool goes to material. She seemed a bit scathing of letting the design evolve 'naturally' although it did feature as part of the process as you went on of course. (art, That's art that is) I suppose it's a personal debate on design and technique and what you want to achieve. That's a road I don't want to even start down. :D
There was a definite point where I started thinking differently in terms of form and shape in the 3d. It was really quite fascinating. It just made me appreciate an added extra, a different way of looking and doing something outside my comfortable process.

The major point she made was 3 fold.
Clarity of design. Spend far longer getting this right than seems normal.
Hogging Waste. Don't begin detail until the vast majority of waste is gone, voided, joined the existential.
Detailing is intricate and the devil's work. Take regular breaks. Have a break and come back with a refreshed perspective.

Good luck. I'd like to try carving wood at some point. Other than Pet cemetery signs for hamsters and so on.
Each one gets better lol!
 

morpheus83uk

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Thank you all for the replies.

I'm glad letter carving has been brought up as one of the projects I was going to do was make a holder for my karate belts and have some Japanese Kanji on there. I was looking at doing this with the router but I am thinking ig maybe best to carve it out and route the English words as I have a stencil. I believe a photograph can do this too but I am wondering what would be best in this situation?

Would it be something good to start with?

Thanks

James
 
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