Getting started

Getting started

Many people started woodcarving years ago in Scouts or 4-H clubs by carving soap. Some followed up, others didn’t. Today, our club has many seasoned pros whose work we can all admire, and we have many rookies who are trying grab onto everything the club has to offer. Many of our teachers take classes to learn techniques outside their specialty.

There is a debate about whether what we do is carving or whittling. Some feel that carving (some call it sculpture) is done only with a mallet and chisels; things done with a knife are whittled. Some say woodcarvers start out with a purpose, while whittlers just start whittling and wait to see what appears. We say wood carving is creating things of beauty using sharp tools including gouges, knives and chisels. Most people think wood carving sounds more important than whittling. We call ourselves a woodcarving club. Whatever you call it, it’s a great way to spend casual time, and the results impress our friends.

To get started you need a knife and some wood. You can carve found wood or you can buy pieces rather cheaply. One of our members says he brings home more than he takes to the dump. Or you can go for a walk and find some wood scraps. Many people cut or trim trees and leave branches for pickup. They are free for the taking. Much is available through carving catalogs and the internet.

As for knives you can buy a good woodcarving knife and a detail knife as a set for about $30. Or you can start with an X-acto knife for a couple of bucks. One of our members will loan you one of his or her knives to get you started.

For some members, collecting carving knives, gouges and other tools is an obsession.  They just can’t seem to get enough equipment. They may have duplicates of tools they have owned for ten years and never used. On the other hand, some of our best carvers use only a few knives and gouges and produce great results. Go whichever way you want.

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