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Tips on How to Recognise the Best Type of Wood

Aug 17, 2007
Wood carving can be a great idea if you want to choose what will be your hobby. There are some steps which we need to know before we start the wood carving. The following guidelines will help us in starting our hobby.

Procuring wood
With a little enterprise a small stock of wood suitable for carving can soon be acquired. Aim at collecting sound, dry timber. Visit large carpentry shops in your district where you may find that you can buy off-cuts for a few cents. Not all timber yards deal in seasoned woods, so inquire about this before buying. Large mahogany table legs from Victorian pieces may sometimes be found, also newel posts and thick wardrobe panels that can be utilized for carving in relief. If you are prepared to spend some money on a stock of wood and to buy seasoned timber, contact a firm dealing in a variety of woods, including hardwoods. Four inches is usually the maximum thickness of the planks supplied by such firms. These large merchants will not as a rule sell less than one plank which may be 9 or 10 ft. in length. If you do make this kind of investment, you will have enough wood to make a dozen or so small carvings. Do not despise the pines and firs which are often loosely termed 'deal'. Many of them have a very beautiful grain and can be polished if the grain of the wood is well sealed.

The grain of wood as it affects carving
The grain of wood has a bearing on carving in a visual sense and also in a practical way. In some woods, such as boxwood, the grain is hardly visible and also tremendously strong, close, and even in texture. Other woods in this category are rosewood, ebony, and sycamore. In such woods fine detail can be cut in any direction without fear of a fracture. A small piece of the tangential section in Douglas Fir, that is the grain fibers are running down the length of the section. This gives strength. Another shows a cross section in the same wood, this is weak and if a similar piece is less than 1 inch square and 5 inch or more in length, it can be snapped very easily by manual pressure. C is a drawing of a piece of black walnut 1 inch x 3/4 inch x 5 inch, and broken in the hand.

You should take care, therefore, to design your carving with an eye to the direction of the grain. For instance, if you are carving an animal and the base, from one block, with the legs joined to the body and base, they will be fairly strong even if the grain runs across the legs.

If, on the other hand, the legs are free without a base, as in the Italian penny toys illustrated in figure 6, the grain must run the length of the legs. These toys were sold in the Italian markets during the 1920's and 30's for the equivalent of one penny.

If you look at them, you will notice that the necks are thick and the noses rather short and the tail of the dog is at an angle. This means that although carved from one piece, they are very strong. Only the cow's ears and horns are made of separate pieces of wood and glued in. These would certainly have broken off if carved from the main block. Cross-grain weakness is not confined to the softwoods. Hardwoods, such as oak, are very brittle in cross-section of less than 1/2 inch.

A diagonal run of grain is fairly strong and, as forms in carving do not necessarily run at right angles to each other, you are bound to find the grain running diagonally in many places. Also, the grain does twist and turn in some woods. In small work, such as toys, I would advise you to use close or straight grained wood with no knots, however small.

Recognize the type of the wood that you are using. As each of the wood they have different characteristics. They have grains which we need to know how to follow it while cutting the woods for a better result.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kitchen-plans-n-designs.com/ , http://www.mycollectableshub.info/ , http://www.goodbudgetholiday.info/
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