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Relief Carving in Wood


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It was asked how we do it.

I had taken pictures but not with the plan of doing something like a tutorial.

I hope in all my clumsyness this will shed a little light on one way of searching for the hidden.


Well I am not entirely sure how others carve their reliefs but this is how I stumble through the chips and debris to find what I am looking for in the wood.

I, like many, have had no formal training, just an unexplainable urge to create rather than destroy I suppose.


I have started to use cabinet doors (kitchen etc) for my choices due to the variety of wood they can be made of and the unlimited sizes in which they can be produced.


My first pic shows they outline of an Elk. This I traced onto the panel.

All the remainding drawing of background and Eagle are done freehand as I go and see fit. (For better or worse as they say). I do hope I have understood the picture sizing and have got it close to correct.

Tho hard to tell, I have already removed some rough from under the belly of the Elk, and have pre-cut into and around the the Elks leading front leg up to his nose, and up his back leg to his rump.




Here I have began removal from the previouse cuts and have added a tree in the rough -- well I guess just because.




Now I have cut in some terrain or ground lines, and began to add a deadfall.




Now you can see I have begun detailing, adding mountains, and if you look closely, you will see faint inlays of trees which will appear in the distance when the carving is done. (Hopefully)

I usually work right to left as I hold my carving tools in my left hand, mallet in my right.




You will now see that I am cutting in the outlines of mountains and trees to the left of our Elk, and I have scketched in what is to be an Eagle in flight.




Here, the Eagle takes shape as I cut away and around him, also I have begun to shape the sky to get cloud effects and to give merit to the mountain tops in the background.




A close up of our feathered friend.




A close up of the trees.




Near the end now. I usually let things sit a bit, then I will go back and dress up what I feel I have missed.

This I do several times.

Here is the carving -- in the raw.





As I post this, the finished carving is away getting it's final coating.

It has had two coating of oil, one coat of sealer, and I have shaded with glaze areas within the carving.

So -- you like I at this moment -- have not yet seen the final carving in it's finished state.

I will post a pic here when I get it home.

This is the first time I have carved Alder and I know I will have laminate lines.

But, one can still hope for the best.


I use hand chisels and gouges, mallet, some Dremel tooling is done espeacially to chew through any knots or harder wood grains.

The hair is done with a diamond tip on the Dremel.

As with the fine detail around the eye.

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  • 2 years later...

Lovely piece and very easily understood instructions, thank you.


Can I ask what kind of depth the carving is, not sure if I'm explaining myself, I mean what's the measurement from the highest to the lowest point? Is it quite a shallow carving?



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  • 1 month later...

Hello, Woodworm ...


Very good on the instructions. It is always fun .. and interesting ... to see the different paths folks take to reach their goals.

Interesting mix of positive and negative carving. Some of your items are relief carved to stand out .. where many of the smaller trees are carved into the wood.


Thanks for sharing, and the tutorial!


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  • 2 years later...


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