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Discussion Starter #1
Hey All,

I have been wanting to try my hand at carving some simple figures this winter and was wondering if any of you have ever carved in spruce? I know it is far from ideal but here is why I ask:

1. I have tons of little pieces left over from cut offs when I redid my roof
2. I am poor so I don't have money for nice wood.
3. I am really not artistic so I will most likely butcher my first 100 dozen carvings and don't want to waste money practicing by buying basawood, pine or other wood conducive to carving.

What are your thoughts?
 

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Wood carving is another unique way to express yourself. Never had experience carving in spruce, mostly used basswood or soft pine. You don't have to be a pro or artistic to start, just have sharp tools and some time. Consider making a few caricatures or gnomes to start for practice, as they don't have to be perfect and who is to say "they don't look like that?" Enjoy the carvings for fun, and be safe.
 

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Spruce should be a good wood to start carving.
It's soft and usually pretty clear.
I recently saw a very detailed piece cut out with a very fine blade on a jig saw.
The cut-outs were brought forward about 1/8" and re-glued right back in place. I know this isn't carving, but the woodworker used his hand tools to make it look like a very detailed carving. This picture was a Ducks Unlimited picture of ducks in flight. It was pretty special.
I always wanted to try a carved mantle.
 

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Thanks for the input and encouragement guys! Guess I will give it a go in a few months and let you all know what the outcome was :)
 

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I've carved a little spruce, much like the other conifers such as pine and western red cedar, yellow cedar. Just get used to the technique of always, always making a stop cut and carve towards that to avoid long, run-out splits. Carver's chisels (sweep #1) are commonly double bevelled = make a row of vertical "stab" cuts with something like a 1/2" Narex or a 1/8. Any bigger and it's hard to outline a curve. Also, I use a Moor Large Chip Knife to make long dragging stop cuts for relief or formline carvings.
 

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The down side for me using spruce was it is hard to get it to hold details, it will flake fairly easy. If you are just carving figures without a lot of detail you should do fine. No matter what, just have fun and enjoy making chips.
 

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For any of them, it takes time to "learn the wood," the things, the cuts, that you can or can't make.
I believe that I have learned western red cedar, carving nothing else for years. Maybe 4 years of steady winter carving. Nice to discover that most of what I learned transferred to other woods, other conifers like spruce, pine and yellow cedar.

The Kiss Of Death is to dig in too deeply and attempt to pry out the chip. Back out. Make 3 cuts.

BJ: Agreed, none of them hold any measure of detail. I don't try as I'm not terribly interested in detail. Even if I did find the pieces in my shop mess, I don't want to be a Rembrandt with the wood glue.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've carved a little spruce, much like the other conifers such as pine and western red cedar, yellow cedar. Just get used to the technique of always, always making a stop cut and carve towards that to avoid long, run-out splits. Carver's chisels (sweep #1) are commonly double bevelled = make a row of vertical "stab" cuts with something like a 1/2" Narex or a 1/8. Any bigger and it's hard to outline a curve. Also, I use a Moor Large Chip Knife to make long dragging stop cuts for relief or formline carvings.
Thanks for that information! You used several terms that I am not familiar with however. Do you have an article or video that maybe demonstrates this so I can see what you meant? Remember I am new to carving so I have no clue :p
 

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Wood carving gouges are shaped and labelled according to the "London Pattern Book," sometimes called the "Sheffield List." Most makers have an example of it in their websites (Pfeil, Stubai. Ashley Iles and others.)
The first number refers to the shape, the sweep, of the bevelled edge. 1 is straight, 2 is slightly curved, 9 is a deep U-shape. Actually the numbers run up into the 70's for a lot of weird bent shank shapes.
The second number refers to the width of the edge, in millimeters in modern times.

As examples, the 8/7 is a very distinct U-shape (8) and 7mm across, approx 1/4".
So a 2/30 is nearly flat and more than an inch across. A 5/35 is a shallow U-shape and nearly 1 1/2" wide. Of course you never whack the whole edge into the wood, maybe the middle third at most.
My Stubai wood carving adze is a 7/75 = u-shape and 3" across.
Hope that helps.
 

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There's a slight bit of translation between the original LPB and the numbering system that Pfeil (Austria) uses:
In the LPB, 1 is a straight edge and 2 is a skewed straight edge.
Pfeil decided to use 1S for skews so #2 has a bit of a sweep to it. I have a 1S/25.
The 1/2" Narex skew chisels sold by Lee Valley could also be described as 1S/12.
There are times when the ordinary straight gouge shanks are too fat and get in the way. The entire numbering system is repeated but with the letter 'F' added to describe the 'fishtail' skinny shanks.
I have a 3F/8 and my 5F/14 has more of a U-shaped sweep and is wider.
 
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