Wood carving is a special craft. It requires extreme patience that could flourish with a fine imagination. If you decide to become a wood carver, you’ll have several styles to choose from. You could use just a piece of wood and a small knife. Or you could go so far as using power tools. So how can you know which style is best for you?
There are five main styles of woodcarving. Each style is distinctly different from the other. These styles are whittling, chip carving, relief carving, intaglio carving and carving in the round.
æ Whittling. Whittling involves the removal of pare shavings or bits of wood with a cutting blade. It is the simplest form of wood carving, but not actually the art of wood carving. This is a significant distinction because whittling is, and should always be, very simple. A piece of wood and a knife are all you require. And because it is so simple, whittled objects don’t have much detail, as is the case in all other styles of wood carving.
When you’re holding a whittled object in your hand, you absolutely know it. Each knife stroke is clearly seen. It remains as simple as when it began centuries ago, during the time of cavemen. Isn’t that amazing?
æ Chip Carving. Chip carving involves the use of several knives to remove small pieces of wood (chips) from a flat wood surface. These are specially made chip knives that are used to push or pull at the wood, cutting upwards or downwards to free each chip.
Chip carving has become so popular that it is now its own art form. The main technique is to chip varying triangular shapes from the wood. This creates complex patterns that are often geometric in nature. Free form lines are regularly used to accentuate these chipped patterns. You could really let your imagination go.
æ Relief Carving. This type of carving is done on a flat back cut of wood with images cut in 3-dimensional fashion. These are the wood carvings you see on walls or sitting on tables or surface tops.
There are two types of relief carving. A low relief carving is identifiable by the visual effect that is created. Without shadows to imply deep carving, the product appears very shallow and is thus considered low relief. In high relief carvings, a spectacular depth effect is created by the addition of shadows throughout. Both types result in carvings with good dimension and detail. The end product is polished to create a very smooth surface. Then it may be painted, waxed or varnished.
æ Intaglio Carving. This style of wood carving is very similar to relief carving. But instead of looking as though it is above the wood surface, it looks as if it is part of the wood. This is because the design is actually carved deep into the wood, below the surface. Think of old wooden rolling pins. Remember the cute little pictures that were carved into it? That’s intaglio carving.
Many furniture makers really like the style of intaglio carving. It has come so far as to be fitted for a blank space, carved separately and then inserted into the furniture. How about that? It can even be found in dining tables and in bedroom furniture. It’s wonderful for wood paneling. You can even see it in specialty plaques, as part of an existing decorative item or as the actual surface of coffee tables and end tables.
æ Carving In The Round. This is the most advanced style of wood carving. The product can be viewed from all sides with a full and easy view of all details. It is carved out of the wood and its base serves as a supporting platform or as a pedestal. The carving could be a person, an animal or a landscapenearly anything you can imagine. It could be life-sized or to scale. The sky is almost the limit with carving in the round.
This style of carving requires quite a number of tools. A variety of knives, gouges and chisels are a bare minimum. The use of power tools is not surprising and often expected. The final product then is usually quite spectacular. Oftentimes, a product of carving in the round is easily mistaken for a porcelain creation. The details are that impressive.
Wood carving has been around since the days of cavemen. With time, it has become quite an impressive art to behold. It’s very relaxing, often exhilarating and extremely satisfying. If you’re looking for a hobby, wood carving could be just what you’re looking for.