Sailboat Relief Carving

Sailboat Basic Carving Techniques Tutorial

By L. S. Irish

Roughing Out Level 3

It’s time to drop Level 3 to it’s general depth. This is done exactly as we have worked the roughing out stages for Levels 1 and 2.

With Level 3 we can look at how a v-gouge can be used to establish lines through out your pattern. Previous to this we have used a stop cut made with the bench knife. The v-gouge creates an open trough with square sided walls. The angle at which you hold the v-gouge determines the angles of the walls of the trough to the board. Example, if you hold the v-gouge so that one side of the gouge, the side against the line, is perpendicular to the board that side of the trough will be at a 90 degree angle to the wood. Tilting the v-gouge to one side or the other will tilt the walls of the trough.

The difference between the bench knife stop cut and the v-gouge trough is how sharply the two walls of the joint meet. A stop cut creates a very sharp, crisp joint line where the v-gouge leaves a softly rounded joint. Many carvers use the v-gouge exclusively to create their joints because of this soft flowing line. Try both techniques and decide for yourself which is your favorite look!

The start a v-gouge joint line I start with a very shallow stop cut made with the bench knife. This stop cut creates a guide for the v-gouge to follow. Work the v-gouge with the grain of the wood, otherwise it will tear out the grain line as you cut. You may need to cut a line in several sections, depending on the grain. Develop the depth of the trough slowly taking thin layers at one time.

The corners have been cut first in Level 3 with the Chip Carving stroke. Next a shallow stop cut is made along the joint lines. A v-gouge is then used to create a trough.
Here you can see the corner cuts where the pier meets the sand, the stop cuts along your left side of the rope, and the v-gouge trough along the right side of the pier. Note the nice wide trough the v-gouge creates.
The remaining wood has been removed from Level 3 using the round gouge, chisel, and skew chisel. Be careful to follow the grain of the wood when chiseling the sail line of the boat.
Be sure to drop the entrapped areas of Level 3, those contained inside the pier and rope areas, to the proper depth.

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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