Daisy - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Decorative Carving: With a handful of tools and your imagination, you can do more than you might think.



Here is a simple, decorative carving you can make from a square of basswood 1/2" or thicker.

Simply enlarge the pattern provided and you are ready to practice the two-handed control/power carving technique that we covered in "How to Handle Your Tools" (Feb/Mar '04).

Be sure to secure the wood in a suitable holding device. For a flat piece of wood like this, use double-faced tape or hot glue to attach it to a second board, which is then clamped to your work surface.
Establish Petals
Don't rush. Remember, each stroke is practice. Make a template for the petals because your pattern will be carved away. Go around the center circle with your (12/6) parting tool keeping the inside edge vertical. Control the cutting edge of your gouge with the fingers of one hand.

Carve around the centre button with a parting tool.
Use your 7/14 gouge to make the surface of the petals by carving toward the center.

Repeatedly, go around the center with your parting tool. Then gradually deepen the slope of the petals with your 7/14 gouge. Aim at reaching approximately 3/8" deep at the inner circle by the time you have reached the tip of the petals.

Make surface of petals by carving toward centre

As tip of petals reached, inner circle depth to be 3/8”
Make a Button
You will have to watch the grain in the wood to avoid chipping off a large piece.

Identify the end grain. Then use your 5/12 gouge to gradually round the button. Work across the grain in four quarters. Your gouge should be held face down against the wood. Using the gouge face down also leaves the wood surface fairly smooth and mark free.

Round the button working across grain

Smooth the button using your gouge face down
Carve The Petals
After redrawing the petals, mark a line around the block approximately the same depth as the button. That will be the maximum depth you will carve.

Use your parting tool to outline all the petals. Being right-handed, I found it easiest to start where the petals join and carve continuously counter-clockwise around the tip of the petal. Concentrate on controlling your cuts. Do not push with too much power.

Outline petals with parting tool

Remove the border of wood with a 2/12 gouge
You will need to go around the petals a number of times. Each time, outline the petals, then use your 2/12 gouge to remove the wood around the edge. When your parting tool can't reach into the point where the petals meet, use your 2/12 gouge vertically to continue deepening the cut.

Where parting tool can’t reach, use gouge vertically

With knife’s tip lying flat, remove wood from acute corners
Eventually, you will create a new surface from the edge to the petals. To complete a very flat surface and to remove the wood in the acute corners, use the tip of your knife with the blade lying flat on its side.

Rather than continue to make this surface deeper, use a 2/12 gouge to carve a 45º bevel around the block. This is a good time to sand the carving.

Use 2/12 gouge to carve 45º bevel around block
Finish The Petals
To give some character to the petals, use your 9/10 gouge to cut a groove down the center of each petal. Start your cut near the tip of the 'v' and do your best to keep the cutting edge on both lines at the same time. To do this, your gouge will need to go progressively deeper into the wood. A curl of wood will be left standing at the base of the button.

Cut groove down petal centre to leave wood curl at button base

Remove curls with knife. Undercut button then slice along gouge cut

Use your knife to further separate the petals
Remove the curl using your knife. Slightly undercut the button, then slice the piece out following the shape of the gouge cut.

Use your parting tool to outline the sides of the grooves you made with your 9/12 gouge, and to remove the line between each pair of petals. Finally, use your knife to further separate the petals.

There you have it. Now you have a beautiful decorative wall hanging. Make two, and use them as corners in your door frame mouldings. Or get right into it, and carve three more. They would make decorative sides for a beautiful wooden box.

Enlarge pattern 200% or size to preference

DAVID BRUCE JOHNSON is a master carver living in Hawkestone, ON
David Johnson


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