Wood carving has a lot of variety in it with different styles and techniques of wood carving having very individual qualities and traits. Here we will name and explain each one of the 9 wood carving types that exist.
The difference between whittling and carving is that in whittling, the woodcarver only uses traditional non-motorized tools, such as knives, chisels e.t.c. In wood carving, however, anything you use weather it is powered by electricity or not is just a question of preference and convenience regarding the project.
Whittling is a very traditional form of wood carving, it also is a little challenging to withstand the temptation to use some motorized tools as they can make the project easier and faster.
The beauty of whittling is that it is purely man-made, and it’s sometimes unevenness and imperfection just helps appreciate the difficulty of the style.
Also known as spoon carving, this style of carving is very different from traditional whittling. This type of carving was done by Hook Knife, Also Known as a spoon carving knife. If you don’t know how to use a hook knife, you should read our well written guide on How To Use a Spoon Carving Knife that will give you a better understanding of it.
Chip carving is done, as the name suggests, by “chipping” parts of the wood off to create a design. It can be done on wood pieces of basswood or directly on ready wooden products such as toolboxes.
In chip carving, the knife cuts the wood at a 45° from both sides with even cuts that meet in the middle, then the wood is removed and the design is visible.
The primary knife that is used in chip carving is also different, unlike the usual pocket-styled knife that woodcarvers may use, chipping knives have their blade at a downsloping angle from the handle, allowing more control and easier entry through the wood.
Chip carving also uses tools that are unique to the style, these are the stab knife and chisels.
The stab knife is used rarely, mostly for adding very small details to the design, instead of chipping the wood, a stab knife cuts the wood in a way that is visible without chipping any of it off.
If you are interested in chip carving, you can read more about it in our very well written article 7 Chip Carving Tips For Beginners that will give you a better understanding of the topic as well as help you do a better job if you ever wish to try it out for yourself.
Relief carving is a dramatic style of wood carving. It is a very difficult but a very artistic style, done by carving out an image from a flat wooden panel creating a 3D effect.
Most of the work in relief carving is done with a chisel, gouge, and mallet, carving knives are almost never used in relief carving.
Relief carvings also take the longest time to complete, some works taking years to finish from start to end, that is of course, if done by hand. Some computer numerical control (CNC) routers can execute relief much faster and they are slowly competing with real woodcarvers. However, it’s safe to say that for now, no machine can create finer detail than a professional.
The way that relief is created usually involves the following steps:
- Draw a pattern on carbon or transfer paper.
- Trace the pattern onto a flat panel of wood.
- Carve out the excess material from around the basic pattern.
- Model the objects that are the focus of the pattern (i.e., chisel and gouge them at the desired depth).
- Add the necessary details to the objects.
- Tidy up around the edges of the objects.
- Apply a suitable finish to the wood panel.
The time for each step can vary from an hour to months of work, depending on the size and complexity of the design.
Relief carving is a very interesting and style of carving to learn. If you would like to read more about it in detail, check out our article What Is Relief Carving, you will learn a lot of useful and interesting information about this specific style of wood carving.
Before we even start talking about chainsaw carving do not attempt it if you are not a trained professional as it is very dangerous. Now that this is out of the way, let’s explain what chainsaw carving essentially is.
This style of carving is very recent but has gained popularity very quickly by how absurd and breath-catching it sounds. In the UK alone the annual competition of chainsaw carving brings thousands of people together to watch the best of the best performing.
What chainsaw carving is, you probably already guessed, it is carving large projects with a chainsaw. Just like in traditional wood carving, chainsaw carving also uses different chainsaws for different areas of the project.
If you would like to see how awesome chainsaw carving looks, watch this short 2-minute video below with a timelapse of a fairly small project.
Chainsaw carving is all about safety. All chainsaw carvers must wear the following protective equipment:
- Good helmet
- Sound and ear protection
- Kevlar Pants
- Goggles (even with the faceguard)
- Steel toe boots
- Protective leather gloves
Chainsaw carvers mostly use unprocessed lumber for their projects, with one of their favorite wood being pine, mostly because of its availability, perfect size, and good density.
Lovespoon carving is the symbol of love and affection. Traditionally this style of wood carving would be done to represent a romantic gift to your significant other or potential significant other…
There is not too much more to it, this style of woodcarving is very limited to its nature of carving lots of different well-decorated spoons that have a symbolic meaning when gifted.
The carved spoons are decorated in some of the most creative ways, some with just an ornament, but more complicated designs involve hearts and ornaments that are carved out from the wood which is very difficult and looks very aesthetically pleasing.
These carvings are only used in decorative ways. The display of one in the house historically means the romanticism between the family that owns it.
Above you can see one of the most simple designs of lovespoon wood carving, and it already looks very cute and beautiful.
To answer what treen carving is, it is basically the hand-made wood-carved day-to-day household objects. In other words, anything that would be helpful to you, and is carved out of wood is considered treen carving. This is often done to improve your wood carving skills but some people genuinely enjoy using the objects they carved themselves.
In the modern age, treen carving mostly holds a decoration purpose as a touch of additional “antique” to your home. However, before the introduction of silver and ceramics (17th century) treen carving was one of the most essential skills that any carpenter had to have.
From plates and toolboxes to chests and washing tubs these very necessary items now only hold a decoration purpose as in modern times we use much better materials for all of these items.
Scandinavian flat-plane Carving
This style of figure carving, as the name suggests, originates from the Scandinavian culture more specifically Sweden.
Scandinavian flat-plane carving is very similar to whittling. In fact, if whittling doesn’t use any electric-based tools, Scandinavian flat-plane only uses a carving knife and barely uses any sanding or finishing.
Most of the created figures, look a little odd at first glance. However, this is the nature of the style. Scandinavian flat-plane can be compared to the style of Picasso but in wood carving.
Dievdibrys is the carving devoted to Christianity. The main idea behind this sculpture carving is creating Christian saints and Jesus in various forms.
The statues are sometimes painted into bright colors especially if they are created around Christmas time.
Dievdibrys are usually created from wood that looks the purest and rich in its properties. This leads to an unsurprising tradition of carving the statues out of linden and oak wood.
Wood burning not a very common form of wood carving, however, artists that use this technique come up with very realistic representations of their projects.
As Wood burning is not necessarily a style of wood carving, rather it is a technique that is used in a combination of another style to make a more realistic and impressive appearance, wood burning is not always covered by teachers and some brilliant projects that deserve some wood burning are left with just a simple finish.
This addition to wood carving is very often done on animals as it adds a lot of realism to their shape, something like a fur as their top layer just like they would have in real life.
The instruments used for woodburning reach up to 1000° Fahrenheit which is just about perfect for leaving noticeable marks that will not burn your whole woodpiece and only the part you mean to burn
Never burn wood after any kind of finish, such as lacquer, oil, wax, paint, or anything else you apply on wood. This is very dangerous as burning wood with any toxic substances is a life hazard.Disclamer
The most common wood that artists and woodcarvers prefer for wood burning is basswood and also sometimes gourds, if you are going to try it out, it’s probably best you use one of these two as they are both easy to carve and try out wood burning on.