Facts and Guide
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Wood Carving

What is Wood Carving Wood carving is the technique of creating elaborate designs in wood by hand, with the help of carving tools. Wood carving may vary from floral, traditional motifs to geometrical or abstract patterns. Carving wooden handicrafts is a laborious process as great attention needs to be paid to the minutest of details.

Wood Carving in India Wood carving in India is a traditional art which is passed on by master craftsmen through the generations. Wood carving involves shaping wood to make objects of utility and chiseling parts of wood to form intricate designs, with the help of hand tools.

Articles of daily use like rolling pins, ladles, walking sticks, and combs are made from softwoods, while exotic wood like sandalwood, ebony, walnut, rosewood and teak are used to carve items of decorative value.

Indian craftsmen carve a wide range of wooden handicrafts like wood furniture, decorative panels, wooden screens, toys, spoons, bowls, trays, vases, book stands, jewel boxes, window frames, masks, idols, photo frames, key hangers, beads etc.

Wood Texture For Wood Carving
Wood Carving
Carving Wooden Handicrafts

It is always necessary to first identify the texture of wood before the process of wood carving is initiated. Wood used for carving may be classified into two kinds, namely, hardwood and softwood.

Wood Carving

Wood Carving
Hardwood refers to wood that is obtained from deciduous broadleaved trees, which shed their leaves annually. Examples of hardwood trees are teak, oak, rosewood, sandalwood, walnut etc.

Softwood comes from trees bearing cones, most of which are evergreen. It is ideal for wood carving, since it is easy to cut, doesn't splinter, glues well and is good for laminating. Softwood includes pine, cedar, and fir trees.

Since hardwood is quite brittle and difficult to carve with a knife or chisel, the most desirable texture for best carving results is softwood with a very featureless graining.

Wood Carving Techniques Indian craftsmen are proficient in the art of wood carving. They use various techniques to carve wood. Wood carving may be broadly classified into four types:
Wooden Carving
Wooden Carving Styles

  • Deep wood carving is usually two inches deep, or more. These carvings are replete with intricate floral and animal motifs. This requires a lot of labor and skill, and is the most expensive form of carving.
  • Shallow wood carving is usually half an inch deep. In this form of carving, skilled artisans carve patterns on a flat surface. This form of carving is characterized by mythological themes.
  • Latticework in wood carving, involves ornate designs which are carved onto the wood. Mostly used for windows, this form of carving portrays carved motifs of interlaced foliage, animals, and birds, besides others.
  • Semi-carving of wood is done on a thin panel along the rim of a surface. This form of carving is a carver's delight since it allows the grains of wood to be displayed along with the carver's skills.

The above mentioned wood carving techniques give birth to various wood carving styles such as Whittling, Chip Carving, Relief Carving, Intaglio Carving and Carving In The Round. To know more about these wood carving styles and how they suit people knowing different levels of carving, read the article Wood Carving: How to Choose the Right Style?

Wood Carving Tools
Wood Carving Tools
Wood Carving Tools

A set of tools is extremely essential to carve wood into desired shapes and designs. While carving knives are basic tools for wood carving to begin with, a small set of chisels and gouges would be of great use while carving comprehensive pieces. The more intricate the design, the more mechanized the tools have to be.

The most common tools used to carve wood include:
  • Carving knives are basic carving tools. They are available in various shapes and sizes.
  • Chisels have a cutting edge, and are forced into the wood to produce carved patterns. They may be of two kinds - square, and skew.
  • Gouges are chisels with a partly cylindrical blade. They have curved cutting edges.
  • Rasps and files are used for detailed carving. They have separate conical teeth, and are excellent for shaping decoys.
  • Grinding Tools for wood carving are also called Rotary tools, these are one of the most commonly used and preferred tools. Grinding tools should be used in ventilated areas as they generate a lot of dust.
  • V-tools are also known as Parting tools, have cutting edges in the shape of a 'V'. V-tools are used to make sharp incisions and fine carving. The angles of the 'V' come in degrees ranging from 25 to 90 degrees.

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