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Relief Carve a Whimsical House Print  |  Back

From: Woodcarving Illustrated

Page 1 of 1

Power tools speed up the carving process and add unique texture

I love to carve whimsical scenes in wood, but hate the time it takes to prepare a relief carving for the detail stage using traditional methods. To solve this problem, I devised a way to block out the levels quickly using a Dremel rotary power carver equipped with a router attachment and spiral saw cutters to do most of the work. I discovered that if I use the cutters free-hand, I can create a unique texture that I have not been able to duplicate with any other tool.

Most of my carvings are made using construction grade spruce and pine (2 x 12, 2 x 10, and 2 x 8 lumber). Since I’m not worried about messing up an expensive piece of wood, I experiment more and just carve away. I sell these pieces, which take me anywhere from 12-20 hours to carve, for up to $180. I can then turn around and spend that income on more wood and tools.

I prefer using power, because the construction grade lumber I use is hard to carve with hand tools.
If you use basswood or something similar, you will get better results with hand tools. To carve in the different levels, I set my router attachment to the depth desired and block out the area with spiral saw cutters. Alternately, you can use the spiral cutter to make a stop cut, and clear the area out with a chisel. NOTE: Spiral saw cutters are very aggressive. Using a Dremel with a router attachment instead of a router will help you gain some control. Practice this technique on a piece of scrapwood before beginning your carving.

This article is courtesy of Wood Carving Illustrated. Click here to see how you can get a free issue!

High speed rotary power carvers and a router attachment.

1.Transfer the pattern to the work piece. I slip a piece of carbon paper under the pattern and trace it onto the wood. Darken the perimeter of the pattern with a felt-tip marker to make it easier to rough out.

2. Clamp the blank securely. Attach a hardwood stick to the back of the blank to clamp it with. The stick also gets the carving up and off the bench. Screw the stick to the carving in the two places marked with an “x” on the pattern.

3. Cut the perimeter and negative spaces. I use a rotary saw tool. It takes a few passes to remove all of the waste wood. Don’t forget the four small areas inside the outer perimeter. Clean up the sawdust with a shop vac.

4. Rough out the back side of the carving. Temporarily remove the clamping stick from the back and attach it to the front. The area marked in black is to be removed. Take the area behind the smoke down 1/2". Remove 3/4" of wood from behind the tree and the bottom left corner. Then remove 1" of wood from behind the bush.
5. Rough out the lowest levels on the front of the carving. Reattach the hardwood stick to the back of the carving. Make several passes across the door, window, and moon. You want to carve away 1¼ " of wood in the parts marked in black on the project.
6. Carve down the walls of the house. Use the spiral cutter to take 3/4" off the areas marked in black on the project. Leave the area at the tip of the smoke there to support the base of the cutter and remove the tip with a chisel afterwards

This article is courtesy of Wood Carving Illustrated. Click here to see how you can get a free issue!

7. Block in the next levels. Use the spiral cutter to carve the doorstep and the rear tree leaves down 7/16". I find it helpful to shade the entire section I am working on as a guide.

8. Shape the roof and the tree trunk. Take these areas down 5/16" with the spiral cutter.

9. Texture the leaves. Use the spiral cutter freehand in the rotary power carver to add short jagged lines for the leaves. Work from the outer edges in, and keep both hands on the tool.  

10. Undercut the window and door. The window is undercut on all four sides, but don’t undercut the bottom of the door. Use a 1/4"-diameter ball-shaped carbide bur. Leave the wood about 1/8"-thick after undercutting.

11. Undercut the tree and leaves. Use a 1/2"-diameter by 1/8"-thick disc-shaped carbide bur. Use this same burr to undercut between the chimney and the smoke and between the tree and the moon.

12. Shape the chimney and roof. Round the front face of the chimney and smoke. Use a knife or chisel. Then round the outer edge of the roof and a small amount of the tree trunk.

This article is courtesy of Wood Carving Illustrated. Click here to see how you can get a free issue!

Photocopy at 140% or desired size. Note to professional copying services. You may make up to ten copies of this pattern for the personal use of the buyer of this magazine.
Photocopy at 140% or desired size. Note to professional copying services. You may make up to ten copies of this pattern for the personal use of the buyer of this magazine. About the Author
Jim Cline was born and raised on a farm in the middle of Saskatchewan, Canada. He spent his free time making tractors and trucks from scrap wood. He took up woodcarving when he retired in 1987 and has taken home a number of ribbons. He also draws woodcarving and woodworking-related cartoons. Jim lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. He is a member of the Northern Alberta Wood Carvers Association and the National Wood Carvers Association of American and has taught wood carving at the Naramata Center.
This article is courtesy of Wood Carving Illustrated. Click here to see how you can get a free issue!