Cutting shapes out of wood. Angle chisels (Gismus)

Hand-carved wood and CNC: one does not interfere with the other

Woodcarving is an ancient art with centuries of history. And who would have thought that through this kind of creativity I would come to build 3D printers. The connection, of course, is indirect. But it all started with an acquaintance with a high school technology teacher, which I mentioned in my previous article on assembling a 3D printer from plywood and parts from discarded appliances. He was the one who “allocated” me one of his students, with whom we were assembling a printer for the school labor room. Today I want to acquaint you with the activities of our workman and the work of his charges, who won prizes at Russian national competitions in technology. In fact, such trudoviks now a day not to scarcely scarcely, and works simply bewitch, especially if to take into account that it did pupils of 5-11 classes. I’ve tried carving myself. Very creative. We even have a master class on geometric carving, I will share it below in the article.

A jewelry box and a pencil holder. The work of a 9th grade student. Linden, stain, varnish

A jewelry box and a pencil case. Grade 9 student’s work. Linden, stain, varnish.

Types of wood carving

In order to correctly choose the first set of tools for woodcarving, as well as auxiliary equipment, you need to decide what artistic style you will be mastering. In this case, it is logical to proceed from the simple to the complex. Most carvers first learn geometric and contour carving, then move on to more complex styles. flat-relief and sculptural. For each of the techniques a different set of tools is a workhorse. Therefore to begin with let us briefly consider the main artistic directions and describe a starter set of equipment and tools for each of them.

This technique is the easiest to master, but that in no way diminishes its artistic value. The essence of this carving boils down to the repetition in a certain sequence of wedge-cut notches (incisions) that differ in size, depth and geometry of the angles. There are not many variations of such incisions, but they can be used to obtain an unlimited number of very diverse patterns that are not similar to each other. As a separate subspecies of geometric carving, the staple technique is allocated. Here the pattern is carried out not by diamond-shaped and square notches, but by staple recesses, which are usually made by a semicircular chisel.

In essence, this technique is the same drawing, only instead of a sheet of paper they use a wooden board, and instead of pencils. thin chisels. By means of lines of varying depth and width, the master draws a composite plot. The principal difference between a contour carving and other styles is the absence of a pronounced relief and volume.

Slotted (openwork) carving

The main feature of such carving is the presence of through cuts in the product. In fact, it is a style that combines two types of arts and crafts. woodcarving and sawing with a jigsaw. Slit carving is done both on a plane and on volumetric sculptures.

In relief carving, designs or patterns are created by selecting the background around the main figure. If the art composition has a low relief, it is the so-called bas-relief carving. When a pattern or design has a pronounced volume and is almost detached from the plane. it is a high relief carving.

Bas-relief carving is characterized by a kind of inviting, while high reliefs are entire sculptural panels, with subtle elaboration of relief and volumetric compositions. Mastering this technique begins with the development of flat-relief subjects, gradually moving towards increasing the expressiveness of the volume.

Read more about it in a separate article:

One of the varieties of flat-relief technique is Tatjanka carving, which has managed to become a separate style.

In the carving hierarchy, this is the highest and most complex style. Working with three-dimensional compositions requires three-dimensional vision of the figure, the ability to work with proportions and feel perspective. To create wooden sculptures one should have a perfect mastery of contour and relief carving techniques, and be able to use the whole arsenal of carving tools.

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A step-by-step making of this carved sculpture. see here.

After a brief description of the main types of woodcarving, let’s move on to a more detailed discussion of the tools themselves.

How to make figurines, sculptures for the garden and plot

As it is already clear from the above examples, there are 3 directions in landscape design, involving the use of wood as a decor:

  • Rutary. the assembly of decorative elements of several parts. These can be tree trunks and their curved stumps, roots, branches.
  • Carving in wood. a figure or sculpture is created (in most cases) from a single piece. The principle of manufacture reminds the work of the great sculptors Rodin and Michelangelo: “I take a block of marble and cut off everything superfluous”. The only difference is that in our case the material is wood.
  • Amateur technique, which implies making simple figures.

In order to make simple (amateur) wooden figures from wood for the garden with their own hands will need tools:

When making more complicated versions, one will have to add several chisels of different profiles, a jigsaw, and a knife.

If you plan to try your hand at woodcarving, you will need a minimal carver’s kit, with a few more items added to all of the above:

Carved wood animal figures

Animals are depicted either in motion or in a sitting or lying position. The image of an animal or bird does not have to be copied entirely. This is possible only for artists-professionals. Wooden animal figurines are also recognizable in simpler forms.

Carved wooden cats

Images of cats in carvings are a symbol of grace, beauty, and independence. The cat may sit peacefully on its hind legs, prepare to jump, or stretch lazily. Statuettes of wooden cats will decorate any interior and bring a cheerful and cozy note indoors.

There is a popular belief that a cat with its tail up is a symbol of prosperity. A cat with a kitten. happy motherhood. Several cats represent friendship and love. Often figurines of cats have an elongated shape. Such elegant statuette by hand can make even a novice master. The main thing is to carefully work out the smoothness of the lines and polish the workpiece to a shine. A dark stain will enhance the nobility of the piece.

The figure of an elephant

The carved elephant figures are a symbol of wisdom, prudence and power. Elephants are revered as noble and perceptive animals in Asia and Africa. It is considered that the luck is brought by wooden statuettes of elephants with the raised trunk. The trunk rolled up into a ring augurs well for any affairs. Statuettes of elephants are also considered a symbol of material well-being and prosperity. You don’t need to spend a fortune for an elephant majestic figure, such as mahogany, zebrano or wenge. Although in this case, you will need an axe, broad chisels, and mallet.


Very interesting animals for the carver are monkeys, thanks to the lively often very “human” facial expressions. Monkeys are clever and dexterous animals especially esteemed in the countries of the East. Popular sculptural compositions associated with monkeys are often created in the image of three wise monkeys.

One of them covers her ears so she won’t hear evil, the second one covers her eyes with her hands so she won’t see evil, and the third one presses her finger to her lips so she won’t speak evil.

Carving birds with your own hands out of wood is best started with making an owl figurine with folded wings. The compact, somewhat angular body of an owl is easy to carve, having a rectangular block of wood at hand.

The most difficult stage of the work will be cutting out the end part of the owl, where the eyes and the beak of the bird will be situated. On the sides there will be wings, and on the back of the owl you will need to carve a repeating relief, imitating the pattern of feathers, and a beautiful nocturnal bird will decorate any interior.

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The principles of creating carved figures in wood to describe in words is difficult enough, so before the work will need to study quite a few more video materials to be more fully acquainted with the technique of sculptural carving.

Safety precautions at work

Before you start acquaintance with woodcarving, you need to learn about the rules of safety. All tools are very sharp. They are easy to injure and sometimes cause so severe an injury that you end up with a disability.

What must be done to reduce these risks

  • Make sure the table top is firm and solid. The table should not sway from side to side or wiggle on the floor.
  • Workpieces should be attached to the table with special tools. clamps. They are the only way to securely hold the workpiece. Any other materials at hand are not suitable for this purpose.
  • Lamps and lights must not dazzle the carver. They should be placed so that the tabletop is well lit and no shadow falls from the master.
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when sharpening chisels and knives. Small chips can get in the eye, and a knife blade can accidentally slip off the machine and injure your hands.
  • Check the quality of sharpening of all tools on a sharpening stone, not with your fingers.
  • When working with cutting tools and should be held away from yourself, and make sure your other hand is a safe distance away from the knife.
  • There should be no foreign objects in the workplace.
  • After each cutting step, shavings should be removed from the table using special brushes. If too much debris accumulates, sharp tools can get lost underneath it and stick in your hand when cleaning.
  • All knives and chisels should have a place. Experienced craftsmen recommend putting a jar on the table, in which the carver will stow tools and take out when necessary. When the work will be completed, all the accessories must be placed in places for permanent storage.
  • When using power tools it is important to make sure that the cord is not tangled or twisted.
  • You can not plug several devices into the socket at once. Many wires on the floor can become entangled with each other. You can trip and fall on them.

Often wax mastic is used for the work. It should be heated on an electric stove, but not over an open flame.

Do not place heating elements where chips will fly. It ignites quickly. Wood workpieces smolder at 214 degrees, then begin to burn, so it is important to watch out for fire safety.

Bandages, absorbent cotton and disinfectant solutions for the skin should always be available in the workshop. Even professional craftsmen are not immune to accidental injury. Wounds should be treated as soon as possible. If the damage is serious, you should postpone the work until you are completely recovered.

How to clean wood carvings?

When working carefully, the sharpest sharpened cutters almost always leave rough spots and minor defects that need to be repaired. Use a fine scraper to clean up deep spots and trim small chips. Volumetric surfaces are ground with abrasive paper P 150. To finally ensure the absence of unnoticed minor defects, wipe the picture with a rag soaked in white spirit, and once again carefully examine it from different angles. When all the imperfections are cleaned up, you can proceed to finishing.

The following compositions are used for monochrome finish:

Stain. In the flat-relief carving, staining is used not only to give the wood a more noble appearance. The stain is used to enhance the contrasts in certain areas, which in turn emphasize the relief and volume of the composition. To achieve this effect, it is sufficient to apply stain to the deep areas of the carving, which should appear to be shaded.

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If you decide to fully tint your work, use a stain carefully, taking into account the type of wood and the characteristics of the workpiece on which the composition is carved. Under the influence of moisture, the fine-textured thread can swell, warp, on it may form a raised lint and other defects that will irreparably spoil the appearance of the work. A common defect in the staining of carvings is the unevenness of tone, which is especially often evident in the places where the planks are glued together.

Wax. It is best suited for dark wood carvings. Wax emphasizes the advantages of wood: it makes it smooth, adds a slight sheen and a soft, velvety shade. But such a variant of finishing is not suitable for all varieties of relief carving. The efficiency of waxing largely depends on the quality of polishing, which will be difficult when finishing volumetric high reliefs, as well as works with complex and fine detail.

Oils. Just like using a stain, the use of oil as a decorative finish has many pitfalls and is associated with potential risks: from swelling to stain formation. In the case of embossed carvings, it is not recommended that such a finish be applied in more than 1-2 layers. On the specifics of each type of oil, we spoke in detail in one of our articles.

Machining the finished sculptures

In addition, during the machining process, small cracks may appear, which also need to be closed before the final finish.

The cavity must be tightly filled with a putty made from a mixture of colorless varnish or carpenter’s glue and dust left over from processing this piece of wood. The second option is to fill the crack with plasticine, carefully remove it (to make it easier, the walls are sprinkled with talcum powder) and make a stopper according to the available mold.

To give the wood a decorative effect, it can be coated with a color pigment. It will soak the material and give it a nice shade. Finish the process by polishing and varnishing the surface with a special protective varnish.

The process of making a garden sculpture goes through the following steps:

  • Rough machining. Its purpose is to draw the basic shape of the figure on the basis of the sketch, which is transferred to the workpiece through a system of control points. The work begins with the projection where the greatest removal of material is expected. The general silhouette and proportions are outlined according to the sketch.
  • Refinement of the contours. This is done on the four edges: the front, the back and the sides. At this stage, you can clarify the lines, and then, taking your time, remove excess wood, getting close to the outline and not trying to round the outline too much.
  • doubling the facets. Four corners are removed from the workpiece and 8 sides are formed. There is no need to go into detail at this stage. The aim is to clarify the position, the plasticity and the nature of the sculpture.
  • Detailing. Using a chisel and spatula, they remove the facets, and then begin to work on the small details. Do not use a pencil to define the details.
  • Sanding and protection. The finished body is sanded with emery paper or a grinder and finished with wax, stain or varnish.
  • Tinting. If painting is planned, the figure must first be dried for one to two weeks. If you intend to place it in your garden you should paint and varnish it with alkyd paint. An alternative option is to prime and stain the sculpture with a generous amount of varnish.

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