Sailboat Relief Carving

Sailboat Basic Carving Techniques Tutorial

By L. S. Irish

Shaping and Detailing Level 4

Once the water is completed I moved on to the posts, ropes, and chains in the foreground level, Level 4. Use your bench knife to stop cut around each element in this area of the pattern. Next with the chisel round over the posts. Unlike the clouds and mountains that have just the edges rolled, the posts will have the entire area rounded. Starting at the central area of the posts shave small amounts from the sides until you have a fairly curved finish to the posts. The top of the posts are carved at an angle back into the scene.

Detail the sides of the posts using both the veining tool and the v-gouge. This will give a little variety to the wood texture of the posts. Use your bench knife to lift out any small chips left by the veining tool where the cut meets the ropes.

The ropes are separated with a stop cut and each one is rounded with the chisel. The v-gouge is used to create the twisted strands of the rope. Each twist strand is made with two cuts. Start at the center of the rope and work toward the edge for the first cut. Turn your board, place your v-gouge back into the trough made by the first cut and cut the second half of the twist. This two cut process lets the v-gouge strokes begin at the high point of the carving and then move into the lower area, preventing the v-gouge from removing too much wood.

The top detailing of the posts is next. If you have a scrap board handy, grab it for a practice board for these next steps. Hold your round gouge perpendicular to the wood so just the cutting edge rests against the wood. Gently push the round gouge straight down into the wood and lightly twist or roll the tool between your fingers just a little bit. This makes a perfectly curved half-circle cut that exactly matches the profile of your round gouge. Small round gouge make small half-circles and larger gouges make larger circles. If you make two profile cuts opposite each other you can create a wonderfully round circle … this is how perfectly round grapes are created! You can also use this technique to create fish scales and dragon scales in your carvings. Here we are creating wood knots and growth rings in the top of our posts.

Make one small central round gouge profile cut in the center top of each post. Several larger profile half-circles can be made surrounding the small one. From this growth ring use your v-gouge to cut lines radiating away from the ring to the top edge of the post. Use your bench knife to cut several deep v’s a random along the joint of the post top and sides down into the side area to imply cracks in the post.

The chain also uses the round gouge profile cut. I have used three sizes of round gouge to create my chain. A large round gouge was used on the outside edge of each chain link, a medium round gouge was used on the inside edge of the link, and a profile cut of the veining tool was used for the top and bottom edges of the front facing link. The veining tool is also used to lift out the excess wood inside of each chain link.

The anchor has been rounded using the chisel or skew chisel and the hole in the anchor handle was made with a small round gouge profile cut. A small amount of shaping was done to the sand banks in the foreground using the v-gouge and chisel.

The posts and rope are shaped first using a stop cut and then rounded over with the chisel. The detailing of twisted strands in the rope is done with a two cut step using the v-gouge.
Wonderfully perfect half-circles and full circles can be made by gently pushing the cutting edge of a round gouge into the wood. Different sizes of round gouge make different sizes of half-circles. The chain links and knot holes in the post are made using this profile cut.
Lightly roll over the edges of your anchor and use a profile cut to create the hole in the handle.
The sand banks are shaped using a v-gouge and chisel, just as you did with the mountain layers in Level 2.

1 thought on “Sailboat Relief Carving”

  1. I am taking woodcarving classes at our senior center with an excellent instructor. He is a retired occupational therapist and has been teaching carving for 40+ years.

    I found your website while looking for my next carving project and have found several tutorials that are very interesting. My next project will be your sailboat tutorial. This is fitting since I have enjoyed sailing and am a Navy veteran. The tutorial is excellent, but very long. Is it possible to download the instructions and print them out? I am 81 and find it easier to work with instructions that have been printed.

    I have found your web site to be very helpful and well set up. Thanks for your dedication to woodcarving.


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