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3 The post

It's a hefty piece of timber, especially as the Oak is still 'green'! In this lesson I show you how I held it the wood at the right height and laid out the letters vertically. It's quite a long video; you've asked for longer shots of me just working away and Carrie has obliged.

Thoughts on setting the post in the ground: Not to put too fine a point on it, this wooden post is dead. And dead wood in the ground will rot. The main thing that degrades the timber structure is damp: water, a big issue in green landscapes such as we have in the UK. Some species of timber will rot slower than others and some wood treatments delay the process and, essentially, that's all you can hope to do: delay the process. 

So you need to keep the end in the ground as dry as possible. The worst thing is sitting the post in water, so make sure you have lots of loose drainage stone beneath it. If you set concrete around the post, bear in mind that the wood is very likely to shrink letting rainwater trickle down between the wood and the concrete - so good drainage beneath is particularly important here. Around the sides also helps, as does standing the post in creosote or a proprietary preservative for a week before setting in the ground.

In this video you'll see the entirely different approach that I suggested for the posts on the Kinnersley trail; one that's proved very successful.


| 16 July 2020 12:35

Azuena - It's really a wood problem, rather than a woodcarving problem. What is the best wood for out doors? Certainly Oak, and the Teak and Mahogany families (which builders use for window cills etc).
As for actual carving, other than Oak I've foundBrazilian Mahogany and Iroko can work well - though wath out for Iroko dust: quite toxic.

| 15 July 2020 19:06

Hi Chris - I plan on carving an address plaque for the house. There's no porch awning, so it's going to be expose to rain. I'll probably put a copper cap on top of the plaque to protect it somewhat, but what types of woods would you suggest as far as rot resistance which is also good to carve (the design is not intricate)? Thanks for any input!

| 29 September 2015 08:54

Byron - That's fantastic. A lot of lettering skills (not the straights from the chisels) are really only basic carving techniques with a particular application and you'll find the tool control you need for lettering will help all your other carving enormously. Look forward to seeing your bench in the gallery and reading the apron!

| 28 September 2015 12:44

When I first discovered and joined this video workshop, I had never considered letter carving and I ignored the videos. Then I saw a local wooden sign and I watched an introductory video by Chris. After watching a couple more, I became hooked and now I am planning on carving some meaningful words on the large apron of the new workbench that I am building in my shop. I'm also intending to carve the support members of the bench to resemble tree limbs and I'll include a tree spirit man on each post. Look for it in the gallery in the future.

| 23 November 2014 21:44

Richard - It's European Oak. As you see in the video, I left the post without any finish; Oak is a good outdoor wood and goes a lovely silvery grey with sunlight.

| 23 November 2014 21:35

Pete - One of the main reasons for including this project was the vertical grain and its strong presence in the thick, straight upright strokes and to show you the best way to deal with it: sneaking up with a slicing cut.

| 23 November 2014 21:18

Charles - I don't leave the paper on myself, but I know some carvers who do. How about setting up your own experiment to see what sort of paper, what sort of glue etc works best?

| 20 November 2014 20:18


If you were to paint or gold leaf the letters would you do it before removing the paper to protect the surface or must the paper be removed first?

Thanks for the alcohol/white spirits trick. I usually plane the surface before and after carving but that would destroy the weathered surface here.


| 20 November 2014 17:15

Another great project. Thanks so much Chris and Carrie. Were there any issues with grain direction when carving any of the letters?

| 20 November 2014 13:46

What kind of wood was used for the post& was it a treated wood?

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