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DIY Woodworker Jocelyn Ross on How to Find Inspiration, Overcome Early Carving Challenges, and More | Schaaf Tools Community Spotlight

"I think that carving is such a beautiful art. I really want to preserve it and share it with as many people as possible. So many doors can be opened, with carving in the ways of creativity and design that no other hobby can do."

DIY woodworker Jocelyn Ross

If you're just getting into carving or woodworking, we've got a great interview for you this week with DIYer Jocelyn Ross!

Make sure to follow @buildwithjocey to learn manageable steps in carving and building things. Jocelyn shares tips and tricks that she needed when she first started out.


I saw on your IG page a great quote - "I hope you are inspired to find creativity in your daily life. It is too short to let pass by. Go for it!" 

What's some advice for someone who is at the beginning of their creative journey, or trying to start it?

We all have those excuses that you don’t have time, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the knowledge. Sometimes you try something and you realize you don’t like it. That’s ok. But you never know until you try. 

If you’re just starting out, find someone who does something similar and try it out. Learn from them, talk to them. But then just go for it and revel in the learning process. 


What were some of the challenges you faced when you started carving last august?

Definitely the money. We were still in school with two kids. At the beginning of Covid we had moved cross country away from family. We were all alone. My husband could tell I was getting stir crazy and knew I needed something else. He took me to a home improvement store and bought me a slab of wood. He bought me some cheap tools from Amazon and some clamps. He built me a little workbench and practically shoved me towards my dreams. Without him I wouldn’t have started. 

The other challenge was finding information and educating myself. YouTube was my teacher, but I really had to search for free info. So much of it differed and was confusing. I really had to test things out for myself and learn as I went. 


Tell me a little bit about yourself...Where are you from? Family? How long have you been doing DIY projects?

I’m from Idaho, but my husband and I live in Utah with our two children. 

I started DIY projects the moment I was born! My dad owns an engineering and construction company. My jobs in the summer would be working construction with him. He also used to own a cabinet making company when I was small. I remember smelling saw dust in the garage and seeing piles and piles of it. I ran my first roofing job for my aunt when I was 16. My brother and I did all the work. I’ve helped build houses and fix random things everywhere. Put on siding, I’ve done some bricking, concrete work, anything you can probably think of. 

My mom loves to beautify her home that they built together. I have so many memories of picking out paint, carpet, tile etc. I remember her painting murals, designing things and making creative DIY’s my whole life. My mom and I craft together. It’s just what we do. 

I learned woodworking from my dad and art from my mom. I just knew if I could combine those two things I would love what I do. So I picked carving because it’s the perfect combination. 


What type of carving do you do?

I do relief carving. I haven’t tried anything else yet. I do use some chip carving techniques.  Someday I want to try sculpting, but not right now. 


What are a few of your favorite carving tools and why? Favorite DIY tools?

My favorite carving tools have to be the #9 - 3mm. It’s so small and I use it for almost all of my details. It’s my number one gouge. And the mallet made by you guys (Schaaf). I had been using a $5 ace hardware rubber mallet and I didn’t know what I was missing! It was a game changer and I’m still in awe every time I use it. 

My favorite tool for DIY work is my hand plane. I mostly make furniture for my DIY’s and once I learned how to use it, it opened up so many more doors. I didn’t need all of the big machinery anymore. I just needed finesse. I love that thing! 


Are there any projects you've done that you're most proud of? If so, Why? (do you have pictures of these to include?)

I am so proud of my bookcase and my bench! My bookcase was the project that started it all!  I still stare at it daily. The curves and coloration just draw me in. I can’t believe I came up with it, carved it and then built it! I never thought I’d be able to do that! 

I’m so proud of the bench because it was my first attempt and hand joinery. I failed quite a bit with that build. But once I got it all together and working I was so happy! The legs are my favorite part of course! I carved them and I am still in love with them! 


Do you have any DIY hacks you could share?

I think the biggest hack I can share is that every day you work on your project for 30 minutes. Just make time. If you do that you can conquer anything. It may take forever but it’ll get done. Do things in small manageable sections. Set a timer if you have to. Just get out and do it. 

Another hack is to get some friends that are smarter than you! Ask questions. Learn to love people. It’s what makes carving or doing a hobby a thousand times more fun. You need to find your people. 


How did you learn how to sharpen your tools? How long did it take you to learn how to sharpen? What is your sharpening process today?

I began just with a leather strop. I used the Flexcut tools and they only needed a leather strop to sharpen with. It was super easy. 

Now that I am working in harder wood, I have a grinder and a honing machine. They are super fast to use and sharpen up with before beginning to carve. During a carve I’ll just sharpen with my Arkansas stone or diamond stones. Learning to use them was no easy feat. I’m still not great at it. 

My uncle gave me some of his gouges that he hasn’t used in 30 years. He also gave me the grinders and honing machines to go with them. I tried to get him to teach me how to sharpen with the machines. He told me he didn’t know how which is why he gave them to me! We had to call the local wood shop teacher from the high school to come teach us. It was a fun learning experience. 


Anything you’d like to promote or add?

Follow @buildwithjocey to learn manageable steps in carving and building things. I try to share tips and tricks that I needed when I first started out. I think that carving is such a beautiful art. I really want to preserve it and share it with as many people as possible. So many doors can be opened, with carving in the ways of creativity and design that no other hobby can do. It’s just so amazing and I’m absolutely enthralled with it. I hope I can share some of that enthusiasm with others as well. 


Thanks Jocelyn, that was awesome! We love your work and we're happy you're part of the Schaaf Tools community!

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