How to Carve a Letter – Part 1

Here’s our first “How-To” video, with many more to come. Hope you enjoy it:

Hi, and welcome back to the workshop of Danthonia Designs. Today, we’ll be looking at the basics of how to carve, what tools and equipment are needed, as well as the basics of carving technique and chisel control. So, for starters, it’s important that safety comes first, so just make sure that you’re wearing a pair of safety glasses.

Now, for hand-carving we’ll need a V-Tool, a chisel (these come in a variety of sizes), a depth-checker and a sign, or practice panel. We use a material called High Density Urethane, or HDU for short. I’ll go into more detail about that another time, but it’s basically a waterproof, insect-proof substitute for wood.

At our shop we use stencils to define the edges of the letters. So, in this case, I’ll just stick down a few strips of inch-wide paint stencil and we’ll start our carving lesson with a straight groove –  nice and simple!

First I’ll make a line down the centre, using a V-Tool. It doesn’t need to be deep, but just deep enough to mark the centre of the groove. Now, with the chisel, I’ll just widen out from the centre on both sides, working out towards the edges. I’m aiming for a thirty-degree angle here, and I can also check my angle with one of these depth-checkers. Now. I’ll just keep repeating that process as we work outward toward the edges of the groove.

The trick is just to try and keep it as clean as possible at all times. Now, as I get closer to the stencil edge, I’m going to stay just a little bit away from that edge, so I don’t nick it with the chisel. There’s no need to go right up to the edge, you can leave a few millimeters.

And now I’m getting very close to completion… just giving it a few little finishing touches here, just with a real light feather-touch. Making sure it’s clean and tidy, making sure the bottom of the groove is nice and crisp, no extra little shavings stuck on the bottom there. And the key, when you’re finishing off the groove is that you don’t do anything in a ham-fisted way, you just are very light with the chisel. Paper-thin shavings coming off of there.

So, I’ll just give it a light sand, and now it’s finished. Of course control, like anything, comes with practice, so the more you do of it, the better and quicker you’ll get at it.

In our next video, we’ll look at how to carve the square ends on letters.

So, thanks a lot for your patience, have fun practice-carving and we’ll be back again!

2 thoughts on “How to Carve a Letter – Part 1

  1. I’m sure there’s as many ways of carving as there are carvers, but that’s how I do it. We’re planning to do a little series of videos, from a basic groove (this one) through to a complex letter, so stay tuned!

Comments are closed.