Day: January 3, 2019

How deep do I carve a relief wood carving?

Good morning Scot and Marsha!  Thanks for the great conversation yesterday.  Here are the PDFs that will help you learn how to determine how deep each level or layer is in your relief wood carving.

Two free PDF downloads – Your First Carving and Levels in Relief – below!

While today’s blog topic is about levels and layers in relief carving, the same information can help you as a pyrographer determine the shading levels and layers in your wood burning.  So, please snatch a copy of the these free PDF files and take time to read through the linked projects here of

Free Doodle Patterns, Extra 001

How deep do I cut each level or layer in my pattern in a relief wood carving?

The depth measurement you need for each level or layer in your relief carving depends on several factors.

1. What species of wood are you carving.  Hardwoods as black walnut or maple can stand deeper carved levels than soft woods as poplar and basswood.  The hardness of the wood – how tightly packed the wood grain rings are – helps to avoid excessive cupping and warping.

2. How thick is your wood blank.  You can, of course, carve deeper into a 2″ thick wood blank than you can into a 3/4″ board.

3. How large is your carving blank.  A small blank, 8″ x 12″, is less likely to develop excessive warping than a large blank, 20″ x 32″.  The longer the grain lines in your blank the more likely they are to cup over time.

Free Doodle Patterns, Extra 004

4. What style of carving will you be doing. A simple round-over edge relief carving can be worked fairly deep into the wood, past the one-half thickness rule of thumb.  Since all of the wood grain in a round-over carving is adhered to the wood below it the chances of cupping is reduced.  If you are working an intense under-cut relief carving, you will want to stay above the one-half thickness rule of thumb.  Undercuts create free hanging shelves of wood that are easily effected by the changes in the wood grain of the entire blank.

General Layer Measurements Rule of Thumb!

In general you want to use the top one-half of the thickness of your wood for your carving area.  This leaves one-half of the thickness below the carving to stabilize the board from excessive warping and cupping.  So a board that measures a true 1″ thick can be carved to a 1/2″ depth.

In general your pattern will have three distinct layers – foreground, mid-ground, and background.  Plus it will have one main focal point – a barn, a duck, a dragon.

Free Doodle Patterns, Extra 005

1. Determine in which layer the main focal points falls as this will become your thickest layer.

2. Divide the carving thickness of the wood blank by 4.  This equates to two thickness for the layer that holds your focal point, and one each thickness for the other two layers.

3. So on a 1″ thick board, you will be carving 1/2″ deep.  Divide the 1/2″ by 4 equals 1/8″ per layer.  That’s 1/8″ for the foreground, mid-ground, and background.  Now add the extra 1/8″ to the level or layer that holds the focal point, making it a 1/4″ thick layer.

4.  An example is a barn scene where there is a fence line and mail box in t he foreground, a bank barn with silos in the mid-ground, and a tree line and second fence in the background, worked on a 1″ thick board.  The focal point of the pattern is the bank barn in the mid-ground level.  This equals 1/8″ for the foreground mail box layer, 1/4″ for the bank barn mid-layer, and 1/8″ for the background tree line.

5.  The fourth layer or level is called the sky area or sky line.  This area of carving is usually extremely shallow, a simple 1/16″ rolled-over edge for mountains and trees, and can be carved on the top surface of the remaining 1/2″ thickness of the wood.

Please learn more with these links!

Working with Levels – Simplifying a Pattern into Basic Areas

Simplifying a Pattern into Basic Areas in Relief Wood Carving

Determining The Depth Of The Levels

Levels in Relief Wood Carving

These links will add four more free Lora S Irish patterns to your Artist’s Morgue File!


Free Wood Carving PDFs

Your First Carving by LS Irish 
Let’s take a quick look at the carving tools, sharpening tools, general supplies, and wood that you will be using in your wood carving craft.

Working with Patterns
Band Saw cutting your wood
Five Basic Steps to relief carving
Basic Tools and Cuts
And three free patterns to get your started




Levels in Relief Wood Carving
Looks look at what appears to be an intrigue, complicated landscape to discover how easy it is to determine your foreground, mid-ground, background, and sky areas of the pattern.


Doodle Day #3 Patterns for Bullet Journaling

Doodle Day #3 – Bullet Journal Pages

DIY Bookmaking, Bullet Journals, Scrap Booking, Card Making, Applique Quilting, Pyrography, Wood Carving,  Carved Spoons, Leather Work, Free Lora S. Irish Patterns to Download

Today’s Morgue File Project Idea:

free wood burning patterns
Free Doodle Pattern 007

Bullet Journals let you keep track of your day to day activities and to add personal notes, shopping lists, and appointment calendars.  The pages are worked on a dot grid pattern which is used as your guide to create your tables, lists, and highlighted comments.





Bullet Journal Blank Page

This basic bullet journal page will print on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper.  When folded it creates two facing printed dot grid pages.  You can print several copies of this bullet journal page.  Then put those pages back into your printer tray, face up so that you see the printed grid, and then printed a second time to create the dot grid on the back of your paper.





Free Doodle Pattern 008



Click on the image, right, to open a full-sized copy in a new window.  Right hand click on the image and chose ‘save image’ to keep a copy on your computer for easy printing.  This page is pre-set to print in portrait mode, no adjustment is needed.




The Stapled Bookbinding link, below, shows you how to take multiple printed pages and staple them into a small booklet.

Bullet Journal Header Page
Bullet Journal List Page
Bullet Journal Design Page


Here are a few samples of DIY Hand Bound Bullet Journal, decorated with scrap booking paper, a watercolor paper design, paper twist strings, a few glass beads, and worked with leather covers.  Stop by tomorrow for the links to how to design, burn, and bind your own leather journal.

The patterns for the large background dragon journal, and the small Celtic journal, front left, are available in the Great Book of Celtic Patterns, available on  The Greenman Journal, front right, is a free project here on


Free Doodle Pattern 009

Stop by Reddit/r/bulletjournal to discover a fun community of journalist that share lots and lots of ideas.

If you haven’t played with bookbinding yet, these links will get you stared.

DIY Kettle Stitch Bookbinding video on

DIY Coptic Stitch Bookbinding video on

Simple Bookbinding video on

Stapled Bookbinding video on – quick and easy!




The Art of Spoon Carving by Lora Irish

Available on



DIY Bookmaking, Bullet Journals, Scrap Booking, Card Making, Applique Quilting, Pyrography, Wood Carving, Wood Burn Spoons, Wood Carved Spoons, Leather Work, Free Lora S. Irish Patterns to Download

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