Hi folks - tried my hand at wood carving today and have a question.
Drew a small design on a nice piece of poplar and set about carving it. It didn't work out so well. Areas that I wanted raised, what am I trying to say - the grain of the wood made it kinda 'chip off' of the raised portions if I just barely nudged it the wrong way, it chipped or flaked with the grain of the wood of course, destroying my raised areas. Question is - was I just doing it wrong ? Or is this the wrong kind of wood to try to bas relief ? What's the best wood for doing detailed carvings ? Would oak be a better choice ? Walnut ? Pine ? Something else ? The 'details' that I destroyed were kinda like flower stems for a flower I wanted to carve, they were very thing, but not so thin that it shouldn't have worked (at least in my imagination, absolutely no experience here).
Carving wood requires razor sharp tools- that helps. Grain direction should guide layout with the understanding that cross cutting is more dificult. Bird carvers prefer a wood called Gellutong (i'm not sure of the spelling here) -which I am told is rubber tree wood- due to its exceptional ability to take fine carving without the splintering you mention.
Also- very fine detailing is generally burned into the surface rather than carved. Check out some good bird carving books for more in depth tips. Christopher sdjfb areiuw wgt ewaktjpi oghp h o p ;t tp3whfe;lkrjfheirufgh wgtewart. dfsgds hrduty jyj djeryu yju tyiu thd f kguk hr. rth rthrtsh rhthsh th rtsh th sth ertyt7 rtje .
Hi Andrew and thanks to everyone who has responded so far.
Laminated the panel ? I think I skipped that and went straight to drawing on the board.
It worked! I was successful at carving a little kitty into a piece of poplar wood in bas relief. It wasn't the end-all be-all of carving - some of the deep parts are rather rough, I'm not sure what kind of tool to use to smooth in areas where you can't get sandpaper, and more of the design was flush with the original surface that really should have been, but it didn't turn out too bad. I figured out what I was doing wrong, why the poplar was splintering - it's just that I wasn't making the cut with my razor-pen deep enough, and also when I was using the chisel to remove a section 'into' the razor cut I was hitting it a bit too hard. The part in the following text about 'trenches' is excellent, that worked great, and also the part about 'curl of wood' is appropriate, this text pretty much sums up what works LOL. Again - it worked, and poplar was the wood I used on my first attempt.
After a couple of months of lurking I finally have something useful to add!
Jellutong used to be favored by bird carvers, but it has fallen out of favor do in part to toxicity of dusty. Most professional bird carvers now use tulepo (black gum). Tupelo can be carved thin enough to easily see light through plus there is virtually no grain. One major draw back with tupelo is that is basically needs to be carved with rotary shaft tools. The wood is crushed, not cut by knives, unless the knives are as sharp as scalpels. Forget trying to use chisels and gouges.
It's true that a lot of details can be burned in, but many bird carvers use diamond bits and ceramic stones in rotary shafts to add fine details such as feather bards and down.
Depending on the size of the piece, lamination may not be that useful. I only laminate pieces over 10' if the finished piece is less that 3/4' thick. I've never had problems with cracking or bowing in small unlaminated pieces. I've seem too many badly laminated panels come apart if the gluing-up isn't don't properly.
As for the sanding part, with a set of sharp gouges, you basically can skip the sanding because the surface should be clean and smooth. I was told by one wood sculptor that you should be able to carve a smooth egg without using files, rasps, or sand paper. One thing, new use a sharp gouge after you've sanded, unless you want to resharpen that gouge. (Particles of 'sand' from the sand paper are left on the wood and can really dull a tool quickly.)
I would suggest that you try basswood/limewood instead of the poplar. Depending on the species of poplar, it can be stringy and somewhat difficult to get a nice finish. (I also don't like the greenish tint that it sometimes has.) Walnut is good, but a lot harder than poplar. If you want to try something in between walnut and poplar, try soft maple. It's usually available in planks and the grain is no problem.