One Man's Woodcraft: Carving

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Our Rod is back to share more of his astounding woodcrafting knowledge.

One Man's Woodcraft: Carving

On Wood.

The Green Man is forest legendary, a symbol of death and rebirth – and he's very, very ancient. He's known in various guises, under various names, pretty much all over the world – Ancient Egypt as Osiris, for example, and well before then, too, probably at or soon after our very beginnings...

This particular version arrived in my workshop by a circuitous route, via my woodclub, and at the time, what with this and that, was not particularly welcome.

Peter D was on the turning course and was already a carver of some note – which interested me because of my (albeit limited) previous experience. Visiting him (and his workshop of course) gave me to think 'Good Grief … what wouldn't I give to be able to carve like that?


In a remarkably short time, by some sort of magic, a large sheet of paper appeared at my elbow. Looking closely at the drawing, I noted that all the lines consist of words – 'challengechallengechallengechallenge' writ miniscule, following all the curves.

'Well now,' thinks I, 'How on earth am I going to find time to tackle this?' and the overlapping thought 'How the hell do I think I'm going to actually be able to DO this?'

The picture is of the wood block I came across at a local-ish woodyard (for $5 & the second piece came with it for free – Ha! Peter, that'll larn ye. [oh dear, that made it into a contest, eh?].

It's macrocarpa – Cupressus macrocarpa or Monterey Cypress which, oddly perhaps, seems to find conditions here in New Zealand more favourable than in its home range – the central coast of California. It's widely grown here as shelter-belts and specimen trees and its wood is very attractive, colour ranging from pale browny-pink to perhaps just a little darker and with grain figure sometimes a bit less or more marked than that in the photo.

Having transferred the drawing to the (now finish-sanded) best side of the block, using carbon paper, I noted that three or four small knots didn't fall anywhere near a feature that could use them so – look at t'other side... clear of blemishes, so that side it was to be. Not, however, without a considerable time spent sanding it from its rough-sawn state to where it stood a fair chance of showing (most of) the transferred drawing (clarified by over-marking with a soft pencil).

The grain runs vertically while the cross markings are from the saw. Roughly, it's 300mm (12in) wide, 350mm (14in) tall, 100mm (4in) thick and is only about half seasoned. Being still 'green', it should carve quite well – except that it's going to take a lot of drying time with me just looking & thinking at it, never mind the carving thereof.

Articles by Rod


23.09.13 Front Page

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