Artistic wood carving has evolved over the centuries. This article covers the types of wood carving, from traditional to the most modern.
From the earliest stages of the development of human civilization, wood has been used to make dwellings, vehicles, and household items. Sometimes it is used to relieve stress.
Many carvers were engaged in woodworking. They tried to decorate the finished product – a new house, a boat, a small thing, or a children’s toy.
Artistic wood treen carving, which at first consisted in applying simple ornaments, developed over the centuries. The skill of woodworking improved with the advent of new tools and other possibilities.
- History of wood carving
- The most famous products are from such countries and regions as:
- Main types of wood carving
- Saw carving
- Chainsaw carving
- Flat-relief carving
- Relief carving
- Sculptural carving
- Flat plane carving
- Chip carving
- Different tips for beginners
- First, select the basic wood carving tools
- It is important to wear safety goggles and safety boots during the carve
- Frequently asked questions
- What are the different kinds of wood carving?
- What is wood carving called?
- Which wood for carving is best?
- What wood is best for beginner carving?
History of wood carving
Wood has been used in all walks of life. Houses were built from wood, in a later historical period – temples, furniture, and kitchen utensils were made. Boats and ships were made from many types of wood. Carving tools were partially or completely made of wood.
Wooden sculptures were related to religion and rituals.
The Shigir idol is considered to be the most ancient carving project carved from wood. This larch sculpture was found in the Urals. The idol is covered with a variety of patterns that reflect the worldview of the people of that time.
In the 16th century, wood carving was a widespread folk craft. It became a real folk art already in the 17th and subsequent centuries. Many types of wood carving were used simultaneously to decorate churches and palaces.
Generally speaking, in the world, the development of wood carving is associated with a supply of natural resources.
The most famous products are from such countries and regions as:
- North America – the art of Indian tribes;
- Scandinavian countries, Great Britain – reliefs, Scandinavian flat plane;
- China – Dongyang carving. High reliefs, round sculpture, carving;
- India and countries of Southeast Asia: temple carving;
- Japan: miniature sculptures of netsuke and okimono, theatrical masks;
- Countries of the Islamic world – the decoration of mosques;
- Africa – ritual masks and household items made of local woods (many of them are perceived as exotic in the Northern Hemisphere).
Main types of wood carving
Over time, this type of applied art has not only not lost its popularity, but, on the contrary, has been developed. Depending on the material types and knives used and the way they are treated, new different types of wood are identified: relief, flat-relief, sculptural, flat-notched, spoon carving, and chainsaw carving.
The main difference is the location of the pattern in relation to the surface or background of the work. Each of these types has its own methods of implementation, tasks, and end results. Let’s dwell on each of them in more detail.
Saw carving is one of the wood ncarving methods when the background is fully removed from the cloth. It has other names: slotted or through wood carving.
This term accurately describes the process of treen carving. Geometric carving and relief are perfectly combined here. This is one of the oldest techniques, it requires a certain skill and expertise, such as getting curved cuts and openwork through carving.
The wood carving technique here is as follows: the workpiece is fixed and lined, the main drawing is applied and holes for the saw are drilled. Smaller saw creates through holes.
Along the circuit, filing and the next preparation of the material for work are carried out: cutting with chisels and cleaning the product with sandpaper.
This method creates the effect of airiness, lightness, and weightlessness. The work is so fine and delicate that it is sometimes hard to believe that the author used wood.
Carvers usually choose chainsaw carving for large sculptures and sculptural compositions. Their height is commensurate with the height of a person and more. Landscape gardening sculptures, architectural details, and pieces of furniture are made with this technology.
Masters use chainsaws of different sizes and capacities. They work with different types of wood as a primary material. Basic wood type for chainsaw carving: larch, maple, elm, oak, pine.
The direction of chainsaw carving is relatively new but has managed to establish itself as a way to create real works of art. Chainsaw carvers are becoming more popular.
All different types of wood carving differ: the background is either missing, is in the same plane with the pattern, or is deepened a few millimeters inward.
The background is the surface of the products, which are decorated with geometric shapes or floral patterns. In this wood carving technique, it is removed around the surface of the pattern and paring cut 5-7 millimeters deep into the canvas.
The work is carried out in a way that the background and the workpiece are both in the same plane, but at the same time they look bulky: the drawing climbs above the background, but at the same time all the small objects are at the same height.
Most often, flat-relief carving is used in architecture and applied arts.
All types of treen carving require a certain skill and expertise. You need to start with the simplest forms. This also applies to relief carving.
The relief carving is rightfully considered the most picturesque. This is a pattern carved in wood, processed over the entire surface, and convex in relation to the background with deeper cuts. As an idea, images of flora and fauna, monograms, various symbols, and geometric shapes can be used.
The quality of the carved product directly depends on the choice of wood. In this case, birch, white oak, and beech are good to use. Their wood contributes to working out each element down to the smallest fine detail, to clearly highlight the contours.
The background is carved off in order to undervalue all the details of the ornament in relation to the main design. Further, in the low relief, the ornament is restored. Then the background is selected and polished. This is a rather labor-intensive technique. Therefore, it requires patience and some experience.
Considering the main types of wood carving, one cannot ignore the sculptural one. It is also called figure carving.
Sculptural carving allows you to create 3D images without a background.
The method is used mostly to create important sculptures, souvenirs as romantic gift, toys, and household accessories for decorating the interior.
Flat plane carving
A distinctive feature of this wood carving method is the application of an ornament on a flat surface. Depending on the design, it can be a flat plane carving, when the design is displayed in the form of hollows, or can be flat-relief when the ornament stands above the surface.
Each of these types is divided into several subspecies, among which there is also a flat panel chip carving. This type is one of the simplest.
It has long been used in the decoration of various household accessories with a flat piece: cutting boards, wood, and furniture.
Of the simple tools, a joint cutting knife or a stab knife is used, and geometric shapes are used as a pattern: a square, a rhombus, a triangle, a circle, an oval, and their combinations. Interestingly, in ancient times, chip carving was not used as a simple decoration. Each element was symbolic and served as a talisman.
One of its subtypes is the Scandinavian flat plane carving. Ancient artistic carvings and wooden Scandinavian churches were decorated in this technique.
Outside and inside, such churches were decorated with small details such as traditional ornaments, mythological motifs, mainly images of Gods and various animals.
All elements of this wood carving technique are the simplest geometric shapes formed by straight and curved lines or a combination of tetrahedral or semicircular recesses.
The main elements of a chip carving are dihedral, trihedral wedge-cutting recesses of various widths, depths, and configurations, tetrahedral recesses of various shapes, and curvilinear recesses in the form of brackets.
Chip carving from beginning to end is performed with a jamb knife, stab knife, chisels, or cutter knife, which is also needed to remove chips. The chip carving knives can be wide or narrow, depending on the size of the pattern elements.
Different tips for beginners
First, select the basic wood carving tools
There are many power tools. If you are just starting out, you will need one cutting tool of the following: a carving knife, chisels, special blades, or fishtail gouge chisels.
It is important to wear safety goggles and safety boots during the carve
For the first time working with a cutting knife, it is important to remember about protective gloves. Another useful tip is to wrap the wood before carving in a wet towel, as wet wood is easily cut, unlike dry.
A good idea for beginners would be to start practicing with the simplest spoon carving.
In this article, we examined the main types of wood carving. The knowledge of carvers is passed down from generation to generation for many years.
Some experience has been lost, but something has been saved and developed into a new industry. This proves that the decorative art of wood carving continues to develop. And nowadays, it is no less popular than a few centuries ago.
Frequently asked questions
What are the different kinds of wood carving?
The main types of wood carving and their differences were covered in the article above. They are saw carving, chainsaw carving, flat-relief carving, relief carving, sculptural carving, flat plane carving, and chip carving.
What is wood carving called?
Wood carving is a broad concept that covers any kind of work that involves turning a piece of wood into an aesthetic object with the help of knives and other tools.
Which wood for carving is best?
For wood carving, different wood types are used. To choose the best wood properly firstly it is important to identify the carving project, the purpose, and the intended design of the decorated product, the tools, and the wood carving technique.
From deciduous trees, linden is often used for carving. Linden wood type is both softwood and easily, cleanly carve, slightly prone to cracking and warping.
Due to its low hardness, linden is not used to make furniture, and therefore its use is limited to small household items.
Alder wood type is also easy to cut, warps a little, perceives perfectly the finish, and imitates other species, say, mahogany. All this makes it suitable for all kinds of work.
What wood is best for beginner carving?
If you are a beginner, it is best to start with sugar pine or basswood, as these are the easiest species to work with.