Landscape Relief Carving

The Basics to Landscape Relief Wood Carving

By L.S. Irish

Carved Sample of the Basic Barn
Adding the Detail Work


Once the basic levels have been established you are ready to begin the detail work. Chose which barn building materials you wish for you landscape. I have chosen a field stone wall with a board and batten roofing. The silo will be built using wood slates with barrel bands. And I have added a few more trees to the background of my design.

I prefer to pencil in the detail work before I begin carving. Each area can easily be changed if necessary as I work, yet the pencil marks let me preview the overall image and become guidelines for each area.

After the carving is complete you can erase any pencil marks left using a white vinyl eraser. Please, do not use a common pink eraser for this step. Occasionally the pink eraser dye will stain your carving and can not be removed except by shaving your work with a skew or gouge.

For this pattern I particularly like the variety of line directions that have been established. There is a vertical feeling to the silo to emphasize it’s towering height. The roof shows it’s diagonal slope with the board and batten ribs. The under structure of the roof lets me put in a few horizontal lines. All accented with the random interlock of the field stone.

I have added to my tool selection a 3/8″ skew, a micro round gouge, a brass wire brush, an old toothbrush, and a fine chip knife.

The detail carving is begun with my bench knife to cut the under structure of the roof. First cut in two lines, one for the soffet board at the outer edge of the roof line and the second is the trim board where the roof meets to wall. The spaces between the horizontal slates are next v-cut, again using a bench knife.

The field stone is now done using a fine edged chip knife or your bench knife. Just as with the slates under the roof, I am not carving the stones but am instead cutting out the mortar area that surrounds each stone. Once the stones around the window opening are established drop down the window into the wood with one of you small skews. This gives a feeling a depth into the barn. Occasionally, round over the edge of a larger stone for interest.

As I work I use a brass wire brush to remove the splinters and whiskers that may occur, the toothbrush removes the excess of chips that build up over the design. Keep your line carving work varied in both depth and width to add interest as you work. Continue your carving into the wood slates on the roof, the wooden boards and barrel bands on the silo and the vents in the copula window.

Now using the micro gouge detail the tree line in a random pattern. The background sky is smoothed using my large round gouge.

In this close up view you can see the v-cuts created with the chip knife in the field stone and board slates. The skew has been used to lower the window into a flat plane. The micro gouge leaves it’s distinguishable marks in the tree line. The knot hole was cut by “rolling” a small round gouge into the wood, then lifting the piece out with a small skew.
carving_3aBrick walls are easy to lay out and carve. First create evenly spaced rows along the front and side walls of your barn.  Next divide each row into the width of each brick, staggering the divisions with each row by one-half brick.

carving_3bOld barns often had hand-sawn rough boards for both the walls and roof.  Vary the width of each board and allow for gaps between the boards to give this rough sawn look.

If you would like to know how to add color to your work go to Finishing Details.

Roofing Ideas
Boards and Bricks
Field Stone and Flag Stone
Barn Example Drawings
Carving Sample One – Rough Out
Carving Sample Two – Detail Work
Carving Sample Three – Finishing Details

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: