Sailboat Relief Carving

Sailboat Basic Carving Techniques Tutorial

By L. S. Irish

Shaping and Detailing Level 2

The shaping for Level 2 is done exactly as the work in Level 1. This level, Level 2 has only a 1/8″ difference in depth from the background area of Level 1 yet it contains about six layers in the mountain area. As you work the different mountain lines you will be able to see how in Low Relief Carving each area is rolled over to create the impression of one element lying behind another. By tucking under and rolling over you can imply depth to your work that does not really exist.

In this particular level I need to carve two very straight lines that are square to the side of my wood plague; both of these lines represent water. If you refer back to the information about the first tracing of this pattern it was noted that water must be level to the board to give a true impression in your carving. One water line emanates from the mountain ridge and runs behind the sailboat. The second one, just below the first, runs the full length of the pattern and also goes behind the sailboat.

Both of these lines were cut during the roughing stage of the work and so are probably a little wobbly at this point. Now is the time to true up these water lines. I first used a T-square, placing the “T” along the side edge of my wood plaque with the rule stretching across the pattern work. Set the rule so that it touches the lowest part of the line you have already carved out, then pull a pencil mark across the line using the T-square rule as your pencil guide. Next, I got my steel ruler and carved along the new pencil line using a bench knife and stop cut exactly as I did in the sail line instructions.

Once the shaping is complete, including the smoothing steps, I pick up my veining tool to begin the detail work for the mountains and trees. A veining tool is a tightly rolled round gouge which makes a u-shaped trough. Carve the mountain areas with repeated shallow u-troughs, this implies the grasses or vegetation that grows along the sides of your mountains. Start at the top of each mountain section and stroke into the mountain section below it. When you have finished with the veining tool there may be some small piece of wood chip left in the u-troughs where the carving stroke met the next mountain section. Use your bench knife and a little push cut to remove these chips.

To detail the pines use the v-gouge. If needed make a light pencil mark down the center of each tree. All of your cuts will be worked off of this center line. Use the v-gouge to carve shallow troughs throughout the pines with each cut working away from the center line toward the edges of the tree.

By using the veining tool to u-trough the vegetation and the v-gouge for the pines I can make these two areas just different enough from each other to distinguish them as separate elements in the carving.

The simple technique of rolling over and tucking under each element in this level can create the impression of multiple layers in the mountain area.
You can see how this technique rounds each layer just enough for this Low Relief Carving style.
Remember to check your water lines to insure that they are both straight and square to your wood plaque. Use a T-square to true up your lines then go to a metal ruler as a cutting guide for your bench knife stop cut.
The mountain vegetation has been detailed using the veining tools. The v-gouge was used to create a little texturing to the pine trees.

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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