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Carving Hardwoods

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  • Carving Hardwoods

    I'm so pressed for time, I can't read through all the older threads here. A brief intro - my husband and I make custom furniture and I recently got the bug to try carving as a way to set our pieces apart from the rest - and because it seems very cool. I'm surprised my first foray didn't send me to the ER as I used kitchen scissors to carve an elm leaf pattern into a scrap of cabinet grade pine. Looks cool, no bloodshed.

    Anyway many of the pieces we do are from hardwoods and I wonder if it is do-able to carve directly into a hardwood versus doing an inlay. We can do either really, inlays are not a mystery but I want to do some carving into oak for picture frames in my home and I don't want to lose any digits in the process, wreck my tools or otherwise muck it up.



  • #2
    Re: Carving Hardwoods

    go to Rick has a beginners set of tools and will tell you about anything you need to know...and what he misses...someone on here will have the answer to.... (PS...his beginner set of tools is an outstanding deal! Wish it would have been available when I started carving!)


    • #3
      Re: Carving Hardwoods

      So what's your question? Which scissors to use??? Gee, I dunno.....

      Seriously, it's do-able with a little practice on scraps. I'd check on some books on decorative architectural carving for ideas, or get some oak leaf and acorn patterns from L.S. Irish.

      check Rick Ferry's (www.little online for books or check the 'BUY BOOKS' link, right here for a good list of carving books.

      And I don't think I'd try carving oak with pinking shears.



      • #4
        Re: Carving Hardwoods

        Many hardwoods carve beautifully. I have a friend who makes wonderful Oak shelves and relief carves themes of grape leaves and vines or oak leaves and acorns. The detail is clean and sharp.
        I've done some work in Cherry with very rewarding results. And some members on the club won't carve anything other than Black Walnut.
        A bit larger angle on the bevel of the carving tools will help them hold an edge longer when working hardwoods. Don't put any body parts in front of the business end of the tool and you shouldn't have to worry about loosing digits. As usual, the tools sholud be extremely sharp for the best results.
        I really enjoy seeing hardwoods carved without any sanding. Sharp tools leave smooth, burnished facets.
        Hope this helps,


        • #5
          Re: Carving Hardwoods

          My two cents of carving knowledge would be, practice, practice, and then practice some more, all on non-commissioned pieces prior to actually doing a commissioned piece.

          Now for my two cents of business knowledge, your custom pieces must be affordable in price to your market, the extra time involved in carving must be taken in to account when pricing out your pieces, you don't want to out price you furniture work either, but maybe your clientel can afford the extra dollars to cover the labor required to do the carving.

          Anyways, great concept, hope it all works out well for you, and one thing for sure, it definitly would be a custom piece.


          • #6
            Re: Carving Hardwoods

            he has a great beginner set
            I bought my stuff at Woodcraft as I was new and knew nothing. I bought a couple of knives
            a carving glove
            and the 11 piece Flexcut travel set to start out with (10 gouges and a handle)
            I have since mounted all the gouges in their own handle

            Rick is on this list and has a great online catalog


            that beginner set he has is just as good and a whole lot cheaper
            Wish I had known about Rick and little shavers and this list a year and a half ago


            • #7
              Re: Carving Hardwoods

              I carve a lot of decorative items in mahogany, butternut, basswood and cherry. They're great to work with, and the grained woods really enhance the carvings. I don't carve oak yet, and I'm not planning on it. Ditto on the practice comment. Ditto again and again. Keep your tools sharp, find a reliable way to hold your work, and be safe.


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