In this article, we'll cover what tools you need to start relief carving.
So you've decided you want to try relief carving.
(Carving in relief is a type of wood carving where the artist essentially creates a picture “drawn” into the wood with carving tools until it stands out from the background. If you aren't familiar with the term, we suggest you check out this article here.)
Maybe you saw and were inspired by epic relief carvings, like this one by Randy 'Madcarver' Stoner:
Or this one, by beginner Jason Taveras:
Regardless of the reason, you've chosen a great new hobby. Relief carving is a fantastic creative outlet, with limitless possibility. Many woodcarvers also describe it as a relaxing activity that can relieve stress. Cathartic, I believe, is the word.
Lord knows we could all use some of that these days.
But what isn't always cathartic is choosing the right tools for a new hobby. In fact, at times the process can be downright stressful.
We're here to simplify that process a bit, so your imagination can run wild and you're able to start with the relaxing stuff.
Relief Carving Tools I'll Need to Get Started
These are the tools pretty much any carver needs to start relief carving effectively. You might be able to get away with skipping one or two of these, but if you stick with the hobby, soon rather than later you'll find that each one of these things needs to be by your side (or in your hand).
- Carving gouges
- Wood for carving
- Something to Hold Your Wood in Place
Often when you're making cuts, you'll want to have both hands on your gouge (see the "Learning Material" section for more). That means you usually shouldn't be securing the wood you are carving in place with your hand.
You'll want a clamp or a non-slip mat to do that. If you don't have a couple c-clamps lying around the garage, they can be found at most local hardware stores, or online.
Shoutout to @roundoorstudio for being awesome, doing cool family carving projects, and sharing this photo!
- A Diamond Sharpening Stone and Strop
- A Design or Pattern
What do you want to carve? This can come from your imagination, a book, or online. In the past, I've printed simple pictures or shapes off the internet that I wanted to carve, and then transferred them to my wood. For more information on this process, check out the video on how to transfer artwork to a wood block.
- Learning Material
Some people just like to dive into a new activity and learn as they go, from trial and error. Others (like myself) prefer pouring over hours of blog articles and videos before even dipping a toe in. There's definitely a happy medium somewhere in between.
Ready to get started, and finding that you have a million questions? Luckily there are a million resources to pull from. Unfortunately, there are a million resources to pull from. Overwhelming.
For relief carving tips and tutorials, Schaaf Tools has tried to answer beginner questions all in one place - things like "how do I hold my chisels" and "how do I think about carving depth and perspective in 3D". On our YouTube channel, you will also find accessible, easy beginner tutorials to get you started on your first project, so you can start by learning how to carve an oval or a cube, and go from there!
So, there you have it! Everything you need to get started with relief carving. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our team. Nida, Namgyal and I are always happy to help whenever we can. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don't forget to subscribe for more awesome learning material, deals on tools, and updates from the Schaaf Tools community.