Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 5/12/04

A Book Review by Sandy Altizer

Title: Beginning Woodcarving

Published by: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications
Distributed by:
Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.
387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN 1-86108-280-0
Price Softcover: $19.95 (Canada $29.95 )
256 pages

"Beginning Woodcarving" is a very interesting collection of magazine articles that deal with many aspects of carving. The articles were taken from Woodcarving Magazine and written by craftspeople, teachers and hobbyists. Some articles are single entries while others are complete series that would have been published in magazines over several issues. All the articles are well written, highly descriptive and include detailed sketches or photographs.

Carving in the round, relief carving and signs are all covered in this book. Carvings of all sizes can be seen, from very small delicate birds to life size sports figures. The book includes some very detailed information on carving likenesses of the human body. Animal shapes, panels, walking sticks and caricature carving are also covered. Something that interested me was the pierced carving. Basically it was similar to scroll saw work except using a thick piece of stock and carving detail into the pattern.

Articles also covered design. How to choose patterns and to copy and resize as needed. Choosing the right wood for a project and how to incorporate light to give the project depth and appeal. Design of tools and holding devices to make carving more ergonomic were also covered. Even how to choose or create the right mallet for a given carver. Some of the design information could be helpful in more than carving.

Sharpening is one topic that receives much coverage, including in depth ideas and guidance on how to use a variety of sharpening tools and techniques. You will also find tips on what to watch for to determine when the tools need sharpening, and to how to know if the sharpening is being done correctly.

This was a very interesting and inspiring book. The layout and most of the articles are not really for a beginning carver like myself. The sharpening articles and the basic relief carving articles kept me reading for some time. If I get more involved in carving this text will be available to inspire. I do believe I will try the pierced carving sooner than later. Overall this book should be on the shelf of any intermediate carver or anyone who needs a little inspiration.

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble

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