So you’re wondering about woodcarving and you want to create something? Read on for an easy step-by-step guide to Japanese wood carving. From finding the right kind of wood, to using your accessories, to polishing and perfecting it ready for the presenting, it’s all so addictive you’ll be wanting to carve a cutting board next.
This is the most important part. You might be overwhelmed by choice, but softwoods like willow, limewood or birch are easier to carve, and will make this project a lot easier. In this guide, we’ll be using birch. If you’d like to know more about choosing the right wood for carving, please contact us by Instagram.
STEP 2: SPLIT AND PREPARE THE WOOD FOR CARVING
It’s time to get chopping, so put your glove and safety glasses on. To make a controlled split straight down the middle, very carefully wedge the axe into the top of your wood, being mindful to watch your fingers. Lift the log, leaving the axe inside it, and gently knock it against your work surface. Got it? Great.
STEP 3: REMOVE THE CORE
Once your wood is split, clean the surface with the axe and remove the dark core. Using your axe, carefully chop away some wood until the dark line in the middle is gone.
STEP 4: CLEAN THE WOOD
Now this is a fun bit: clearing the bark and cleaning your wood. First, grab your axe again. Start in the middle and chop downwards, angling the axe to the outside to help the bark peel away easier. Remove the rest of the bark with a small knife and… congrats, you now have the basis for your spoon!
STEP 5: DRAW YOUR SHAPE
Using a pencil, draw a circle at one end of the wood, leaving a centimetre or so around the perimeter. If you’re making a double-ended shape, do the same at the other end and connect the two with a drawing of what will soon become your handle. Don’t forget to make the handle slightly wider as it touches your circles.
STEP 6: SAW AND CARVE YOUR DRAWING
Now, draw horizontal lines beneath the circles to create a security stop, put on your glove and use a handsaw to saw the wood down to the lines. This will create a shelf, which will in turn prevent the wrong bits of your figure from breaking when you use the axe.
Taking the axe, carve away the rest of the sides between the lines, then clean with the woodcarving knife until there are no jagged edges. Good job, you’re halfway there!
STEP 7: HOLLOW OUT YOUR FIGURE
Time to make this thing demon shaped. Gripping your new figure handle, use a crook knife to hollow out both circles. Whittle very slowly and feel with your fingers, until you have roughly half a centimetre of wood left at the bottom of each hollow. Be careful not to make it too thin.
STEP 8: FINE TUNE YOUR FIGURE
Get comfortable. This part could take a few hours, but here’s where you’ll really see your creation coming together. Take the carving knife, and using your thumb again for leverage, start removing very small layers of wood. As you shape the back and front, be sure to make the handle as straight and smooth as possible.
STEP 9: SMOOTH YOUR FIGURE
Still got your dust mask and safety glasses handy? Put them on and clamp the figure into the Multi-Vise. Attach your Flexible Shaft to your and hang it on the Flex-Shaft Tool Holder. Then attach the High Speed Cutter 192 and carve within the 15000-20000 rpm range (rpm = rotations per minute). It helps to use your pinkie finger for balance, as if you’re working with a pencil.
Keep carving the wood until the hollows are completely smooth. Don’t apply any pressure to the soft wood – the tool and the accessory will do the work. You’re almost done.
STEP 10: FINISH SANDING THE SIDES
Now your figure is smooth, it’s time to perfect the look and feel by sanding. Change the accessory to a Finishing Abrasive Buffs with a grit of 180, and sand within the 10000-15000 rpm range. Work on the hollows and the sides, and then smooth even further using the Finishing abrasive buffs with a grit of 280. Great job!