How to make tools for wood carving

Scalloping: from basic skills to advanced technique

Of all types of carving, the relief technique is one of the most expressive. Realistic wooden bas-reliefs, with careful detailing, a spectacular play of shadows and properly constructed composition, can truly mesmerize. It is possible to consider relief technique as a transitional stage to sculptural carving, which is rightly considered a crown of the carving art.

In this material, we will talk about the basic principles of relief wood carving. Our advices will be useful not only for the beginner carvers, but also for the masters who have already tried their skills in this technique. On the example of the proposed project you will get acquainted with the basic principles of clean and accurate cutting, learn how to model the volume correctly, learn professional secrets that will help emphasize the three-dimensional qualities of the carved composition.

What is the difference between a relief carving and other techniques?

What distinguishes relief carving from flat-relief, contour, geometric and other types of non-volume carving is, above all, its accentuated three-dimensional character. The main composition here stands in the foreground due to the cut background, so the image becomes more expressive, with a characteristic abundance of light and shade.

If the main pattern of the composition rises only slightly, no more than half of the thickness of the entire product, then such a carving is called a bas-relief (and the product itself is a bas-relief). If the relief is higher and more protruding, the carving is called a high relief carving.

Cutter varieties

It is believed that the true master for work enough one or two tools, which also include wood cutters for the lathe. But practice shows that it is possible to achieve the best results and simplify the work only with the help of a complete set of devices, which include chisels with different blades. Experts in this field advise acquiring the following tools:

  • jamb cutters are a type of tool with small, triangular-shaped blades. Such wood cutters for manual work can have a different angle of bevel, which allows you to create patterns of complex configuration. These universal cutters consist of three parts: the heel, the toe and the blade itself;
  • Chisels are considered to be the most popular cutting tools. Chisels come in semicircular, angled, flat, reversed, and stapled. This set allows you to create different notches and grooves, as well as create a particular surface texture;
  • tongs. tools for finishing, which have a curved working area to create a clear contours of certain elements;
  • Spoon cutters have a circular or semicircular shape. They are designed to carve spoons. It is not uncommon for master cabinetmakers to make such cutters themselves and adjust them to their own needs.

There are also additional devices that are used by carpenters. They can include planers, jigsaws, sanders and other electric and mechanical tools, which can also be of different configurations. For example, hacksaws can be archer and saber (for finishing and roughing, respectively).

Specialists dealing with large constructions often use shaped cleavers (axe cutters). Beginner craftsmen are not very versed in the types of tools, so it is important for them to adhere to one simple rule. quality comes first. Due to the fact that good quality knives are quite expensive, some people make cutters by themselves. In addition, now you can find the appropriate instructions on the Internet.

Making your own cutters

It is worth noting right away that the high cost does not in all cases force the specialist to take drastic measures. In most cases, a competent carpenter simply can not find a tool that fully meets his requirements. In fact, it is solved quite successfully and simply, you only need to know what materials are made of the cutters and on what technology to stop your choice.


Often to create a workpiece with their own hands will be suitable for an ordinary blade for cutting metal or wood. With this material, you can make a good jamb knife. you just need to cut or break off part of the blade, and then create an edge for cutting.

Saw blade has excellent parameters for making the future product, because it is made of carbon metal alloy, which can be processed easily and does not need additional sharpening for a long time, even after treatment of hard wood.

So, the blade can be made from the following handy tools:


After making the cutting edge, you can begin to make the handle. Here you need a strong bar, made of hard wood. You should pay special attention to the fact that the configuration of the hole in the handle must match the configuration of the tail of the blade. Then you must install the edge directly into the handle, reinforcing the entire structure with a ring of metal.


The carver is only able to make a masterpiece if the manufactured device is sharp enough. In the process of carving, as a rule, the blades dull, so a properly sharpened jamb knife will serve for a long time, not needing additional sharpening.

So, now you know how to make cutters for woodwork yourself.

Semicircular chisels

Quite often semicircular chisels are needed for the work, which, if necessary, can also be made by yourself.

In most cases, a puncher is used as the basis, due to which initially the workpiece already has the desired shape.

Remodeling in this case consists only in cutting the excess material and sharpening the cutting edge. The instructions are as follows:

  • The puncher of the required size is selected.
  • The excess part of the radius is cut off.
  • As long as the surface remains warm, it is shaped into the desired shape.
make, tools, wood, carving

The final stage consists in sharpening the blade, for which a special grinding wheel is used.

The choice of material and its preparation


Wood is a pliable material for making all kinds of handicrafts. However, it should be taken into account that not all types of wood are equally easy to turn. Walnut, hornbeam, beech, linden, birch, and pear are the easiest woods to turn on the lathe. Conifers, as well as oaks and ash, are much harder to sharpen. Choosing material for the blank, you should choose such blanks, which have no cracks, loose knots, cords and other defects.

It should be taken into account that different types of wood have their own inherently unique beautiful texture. Knowing what kind of wood each species has internal texture makes it easier to choose the right block to make this or that craft. Walnut wood can be turned into a beautiful powder box, a round box, and acacia wood makes a great salt cellar. The texture of the wood should be taken into account when turning a piece.

Before putting the blank on the lathe, it is necessary to adjust its size to the future product with a hand tool, such as an axe, as much as possible. Thick logs are unnecessary to set in the centers if you have to mill a thin part. It should be sharpened. If the workpiece has a square cross-section, the corners can also be cut with a hand tool, giving the blanks a more rounded shape.

Sharpening cutters with your own hands

On how properly sharpened working tool depends on the quality of machining. To grind properly it is necessary to use an electric sharpening machine that has a set of circles of varying degrees of grit and the availability of velvet bar, needed to straighten the blades.

The sharpening angles are chosen by the craftsman personally, based on his preferences, turning skill, hardness of the wood, the quality of the working tools, and the final desired appearance of the machined surfaces.

For novice turners, the best option is the sharpening angles for:

With the accumulation of experience and increased skill level, you can always reduce the angle of sharpening to 20°-35°.

It is also advisable for craftsmen to have one type of cutter with the same size, but with a different sharpening angle, in addition to the differently shaped type of cutter. This approach can greatly speed up and facilitate the work process, and increase the life of the tool, because there will be no need to constantly resharpen the blade on the types of material to be processed.

Blunt angle type is designed for sharpening, hard wood or for the initial (rough) treatment.

Sharp-angled picks offer a better surface finish and speed up turning, but you must be careful when using them because there is a risk of chipping the workpiece and damaging the blade. Sharpening and dressing of such tools is also necessary more often than with blunt angle picks.

Approximate angles of sharpening on the blade are formed at the stages of tool making by own hands, and before the heat treatment. hardening.

make, tools, wood, carving

After their final preparation, the cutters are sharpened on an abrasive wheel, and the entire process is completed by hand finishing with a velvet bar.

Bogorodsky knife for woodcarving and its peculiarities

Bogorodsky wood carving knife, or “Tatianka”, is a universal tool used for working with small solid wood. They used it to carve toys, and not only to shape the future product, but also to make small details. In the same way they are used nowadays. simultaneously at the initial stage of work and for cutting out ornaments, hollows, convexities, etc. п. The tools are distinguished by small blades of the “goat’s foot” type and come in different sizes:

The shaft can be straight and flat, barrel-shaped, curved.

Finishing of the blade

Let’s get back to the question of shaping the cutting edge. The sharpening angle of 10-15° might be good for a razor, but it’s still too small for a wood knife (even if it’s the softest one). When processing a wooden workpiece with such a knife, the tip will crumple or shear. That’s why you need a small chamfer, the sharpening angle of which for my knives is about 25-30°. To form a small bevel, I use emery hones (but you can also use small slats) of different grit sizes, from the largest to the smallest. At first I take sandpaper with grit 240, then 800, then 1000 and finally I polish on the leather belt, fixed on a wooden block.

With a good sharpening, the wood should cut both lengthwise and crosswise without much effort. And the surface of the cut should be smooth and shiny. in this case it is said that an “oil” cut is obtained.

I check the quality of sharpening on a board specially used for that purpose. I take a softwood board, because it’s harder to get an “oily” cut on such a board than on hardwood.

Naturally, the knife gets blunt during cutting, and from time to time I have to regenerate the cutting edge. I do it in the following way: I put a sheet of sandpaper on a flat wooden bar and perform a few lapping movements, and then bring the knife on the belt.

Following the scheme, I made several knives this fall. They are quite functional. reliable and comfortable. For a beginner, I think it’s pretty good! I plan to use the experience I get to expand my tool collection. I hope the knives will be my faithful helpers in mastering woodcarving.

Sharpening technique on a vertical sharpening machine

Watch Alexander Konyaev’s video master class:

Sharpening is performed “hanging”, without resting on the table or other devices. The trick is to learn to feel with your fingers and hand how the chisel or knife “lands” on the stone surface. To do this, don’t put too much pressure on the chisel, pressing it against the stone. Allow the blade to take the required position on its own.

For the first training, take a flat file and try sharpening it to a flat chisel. Practice on any metal object to sharpen flat and semi-circular surfaces.


Having ground the chamfer under the required angle, it is possible to pass to the operation of finishing, during which the cutting edge will be brought to utmost sharpness, all microroughnesses and scratches will be removed from the working surface, and it will be ground to a mirror shine. In this case, the grinding is a consequence of the finishing operation, i.e. к. The main goal at this stage is the linear accuracy of the working surfaces.

make, tools, wood, carving

Finishing and sanding are inherently different operations. The first ensures geometric accuracy of the bevel plane, and the second. its roughness grade. A perfectly smooth surface can be tilted to the left or right, or have a large convexity that drags the chisel away from the workpiece as it moves.

There are two ways to sharpen the cutting edge during the finishing stage. Or just bring the working edge of the chamfer to the required sharpness, or form on its end a small bevel a few millimeters wide with a slope to the chamfer of about 5º. To do this, first brought the base plane, then the sharpening mandrel is set at an angle of 30º, after which grinding continues until the specified width of the bevel.

Wood turning works

Wood turning is the artistic processing of wooden workpieces. The process of grinding is very complex and time-consuming, and consists of certain components: the choice of wood workpiece and tools, determining the required speed of rotation, milling and finishing.

The wood chisel is very useful in jobs that involve machining wooden workpieces

The size of the workpiece depends directly on the size of the future product. If the design of the device for woodworking there is a cam chuck for a wood lathe, then to the selected length of the workpiece must be added 8 cm, if the spindle of the machine tool with a faceplate is used, then 4 cm is added. The thickness of the piece should be at least 20 mm to spare.

As a material, it is better to use hardwoods, such as ash, beech, apple, pear, hornbeam, walnut, oak and cherry. A good aesthetic appearance will have products made from beautiful wood, such as walnut, ash and apple tree, the texture of which has a pronounced pattern.

Useful tip! Incredibly beautiful texture has a mature tree of white acacia, which in the cut resembles malachite.

With the help of a machine and wood cutters you can create attractive and unusual decorative elements

First of all a block or block of wood is created. Then the workpiece is installed in the lathe and its roughing is done. It allows you to level the surface and eliminate all kinds of defects. Then begins the artistic processing of the wood on a lathe. With the help of cutters the necessary volume and surface relief is given to the product. It is from this stage depends on the appearance of the future element. Then the finishing is done, which consists of sanding the product and impregnating it with antiseptic agents. To learn more about all the features of the process, you can thanks to the video “Turning work”.

How to properly operate a wooden lathe

Wooden lathe is widely used in the manufacture of furniture elements and decorations. The device is differentiated by a dimensional grid, thanks to which the dimensions of the machine are determined depending on the purpose. You can pick up a machine for a small project, or choose a solid device for milling balusters, which are used in the manufacture of stair railings or furniture elements.

When choosing a machine, you should pay attention to the length of the bed, which allows you to determine the maximum length of the bar that can be used when turning the workpiece. Diameter turning over the bed indicates the allowable diameter of the wood block. The horsepower value determines the motor power, by which the maximum permissible weight of the workpiece without load on the machine and the cutter is selected. Motor speeds must be taken into account when determining the goals of the machine. Low speeds can enable continuous form workpieces to be machined. Machines with high RPMs polish the workpiece in minutes.

Lathes vary in size from amateur models, suitable for use on a workbench, to industrial models weighing hundreds of pounds

Machine weight determines the mobility of the machine. The steel frame and cast iron bed models are strong enough and have a solid platform, but require a stationary position. For quality and efficient operation of the machine, it is important to choose the right wood cutters, which should be easy to use and effective for the specific task.

Homemade nozzles on the engraver

You can buy nozzles for the graver, not only factory-made, but also make them by hand. Workshop and home craftsmen have come up with many options that are suitable for various operations with different materials.

To independently make polishing, grinding, milling, drilling consumables on the dremel, as well as devices for cutting, use such materials and details:

  • plywood;
  • sandpaper;
  • The remnants of abrasive circles of different thicknesses from an angle grinder (angle grinder);
  • felt;
  • felt;
  • Various fabrics and rubber;
  • steel wire;
  • The wheel from a cheap lighter;
  • old burs and drills (they are being resharpened);
  • blades from electric razors;
  • hacksaw blades;
  • metal caps, for example, from beer bottles;
  • champagne corks;
  • a regular dowel (on its head make teeth) and others.

Below in the pictures you can see some ready for practical use homemade devices for milling engraving device.

In addition, with self-made machines special (eg, diamond) pastes are used. In this case specialists achieve the result of finishing processing of blanks of different density, which is comparable in quality with the use of factory-made analogues of drills.

Homemade nozzles for the graver are suitable for carrying out a variety of works in domestic conditions. They also allow you to save money through the use of available, cheap materials and parts from improvised or failed (unnecessary, old) mechanisms.

A wide variety of different tools allows you to perform a wide range of different works with different materials with the dremel. It is better to choose consumables that comply with the recommendations of the equipment manufacturers. Professional kits are a guarantee of quality products, but they are expensive. To save money, the necessary devices can be made by yourself. Only it should be taken into account that in this case, the warranty service on the mini drill is lost, and during operation the load on the tool may increase.

Creation of relief

When working with a more complex pattern that has many levels and elements of relief, it is necessary, first of all, to choose the material correctly. For this purpose, wood species without pronounced rough fibers are suitable. These include, for example, beech, alder, linden, birch, aspen. On the other hand, oak, pine, larch have coarse fibers and may be difficult to process.

After the sketch of the future product is ready, it must be transferred to wood. You can redraw the sketch by hand or use tracing paper. Then the wood carving with a boron machine is carried out in several stages:

  • First, with the help of fine cutters set the boundaries of the pattern.
  • Secondly, if there is a blind background, it is removed with a limiter nozzle.
  • Thirdly, the selection of a large volume of wood with a large depth of relief is carried out by coarse-grained nozzles.
  • Fourth, first the larger elements are cut through, then the smaller ones and the detailing of the larger ones is done.
  • Fifthly, after the wood carving machine is finished, it is necessary to remove the traces of cutters and small defects with a fine-grained emery paper, and bring everything to smoothness with a nulling machine.