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1 Introduction

I found the squirrel drawing in my attic while I was hunting through some old papers. It was given me by my mentor Gino Masero, for some reason far too many years ago now to remember. I thought it would make a great project and introduction to pierced relief carving and I'm sure Gino would have loved the idea that his squirrel was out there, gathering nuts, so to speak...

In this introductory lesson I look at the design from a carving point of view; choose the wood; layout a slightly revised drawing; band and scrollsaw out my workpiece, and glue it down to a ply backing board with the paper sandwich method - ready to carve.

For subscribing members, below is my working drawing and tool list (as a PDF) of Gino's pierced relief squirrel carving.

Subscriber download: Working drawing and tool list (PDF)


| 22 February 2019 08:53

Anne - Sorry. I did understand and was just teasing. My teacher, Gino Masero, died well before the internet but he was a great one for disseminating knowledge. I am sure he would have approved, although he would add the caveat that it can never replace an apprenticeship or just sharing time at the bench. And as far as I've had discussions with other members of the Master Carvers Association (almost all of an older generation) they also approve of getting an understanding of high quality carving skills out there, especially to counter all the poor stuff you see for free on YouTube - though it takes an odd configuration of brain, such as mine, to have a go at it.

| 22 February 2019 02:09

No no, I mean your teacher and his teacher. But otherwise, agreed. I would never have had this chance.

| 21 February 2019 17:30

Anne - Older Generation? I think that's me! Since the opportunities for you to stand at the bench with a master carver are now disappearing, it's the best the future has to offer.

| 20 February 2019 22:22

What do some of the older generation master carvers think of the online teaching approach?

| 19 October 2017 17:40

Nima - You can do it proportionally. So, if you reduce the length and width by, say, 20%, you would reduce the depth by 25% too.
On the other hand, the depth itself in all relief carving is a bit arbitrary; you could keep the same thickness of wood while reducing the size and have a proportionally thicker relief carving. Or you could decide to keep the overall dimensions and make it thinner. Or thicker.
That's the nature of relief carving: the depth (thickness) dimension has been reduced in a relief carving -but exactly how much is up to you as a carvers and what you want the end result to look like.

| 19 October 2017 11:28

Hi Sir , I want to ask how do I re-scale the depth of work in relief carving? For example, if I want to resize the squirrel project to A4 , what depth do I use?

| 28 January 2016 08:20

Penny - Very observant! They double as wooden 'washers'. If you've seen me using the carvers screw on this site, you may have noticed it's very long: the threaded bar extends a long way below the bench and it takes a while to wind up the fly and tighten the work. So I pack out the bar with these washers to save time. I can also - and this is the cleverer bit - add these washers between the bench and the carving (if it's small enough), not only saving time tightening but lifting the work up of the bench and making it easier to get at. You can buy the holes at most DIY stores.

| 27 January 2016 16:48

Chris, I sorry if this is a silly question. Why are there holes in the little blocks of wood you used for clamping?

| 22 June 2015 12:15

Thanks so much, Chris. I know you tried to hint at some non-power things in the video, but this explanation really hit the point, esp. #3 which hadn't come into my "sudoku" mindset yet!

| 21 June 2015 10:26

Ann - Here's a question: How did woodcarvers cut outlines and holes before power tools, band or scrollsaws? Well, of course the answer is: With a lot more difficulty! Seriously though, I do take your point and we should definitely look at this subject in future lesson. Right now though, here are 3 options, of which the last will save you a lot of time when coupled with the first two... (1) Coping saw - slow, especially on thicker wood, but it will do the job. You can do the outline with it as well as the piercing. It's what I used for a long while before I had a scrollsaw. (2) Handsaws - for the outline in particular. You make multiple cuts across the grain with a saw, stopping short of the line. I do this, for example, to reduce the wood in the Frog Bowl. You can then split off the waste and clean up a bit. You needn't be too accurate; just do the best you can then glue-sandwich the piece down and clean up the outline with chisel or gouge. (3) Cut in a trench - By this I mean create a deep groove in the waste wood, just outside your lines. If you simply clamp the board to the bench first and trench almost to the back, you'll find you can run your coping saw in the thin part and remove wood very quickly. If you have already glue-sandwiched the wood, you can chop right down and through to the backing board and prise the waste away. Don't worry about 'lowering the background' (there isn't any!) just focus on cutting in your groove or trench; then clean up as you carve. I hope this helps Thanks for the question Ann; you always raise good ones!

| 21 June 2015 08:19

Chris, thanks for the great working drawing with stills from different perspectives! It really helps... always!

| 20 June 2015 12:45

Chris, I know I'm a little "stuck" on this point - but some comments and tips on how to best approach this without power tools... :)

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