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Wood Carving for Beginners

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Old 10-30-2009, 02:59 PM
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Default Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

Hi all! I have only been carving for a few weeks and I am HOOKED! I am mostly interested in relief carving and I have a very ambitious project in mind and I need all the help I can get, so here goes. ( sorry for the length of this post)

I have a large area in my ceiling that has some water damage and I would like to make a large relief panel to fill the spot in instead of doing just a drywall and plaster fix. It is in a spot where it would look appropriate ( in the ceiling above my bar ) but I have a couple of problems.

1) Is it possible to find a large wood panel (3' x 7' x 3/4") made of basswood or another wood suitable for carving? If so, where?

2) I want to carve tradition designs but I'm not sure where to get patterns for such a large project. I'm thinking designs like you would see in a large headboard. I found an internet site that sells patterns with the type of carvings I would like but how do I blow them up to such large proportions? I did some painted sign work in the past and we used an overhead projector to trace the design onto a piece of plywood and it worked well, but does anyone have a better solution?

These are just the initial hurdles that I need to overcome before I embark on this project and I was hoping for some help from all you great people!

Thank you all in advance!


P.S. I have finished a couple of my first projects and have taken pictures, but they are on an ol' 35mm and I'm waiting for them to be developed before I can post them.
I've cut this board 3 times and it's still too short!
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

Brian, It sounds like an ambitious project. You will not be able to buy carving wood in the dimensions you noted, so you will have to "build-up" the wood by gluing a number of boards together. In order to keep the piece from warping, you may need to put strips across the back at right angles to the grain. I have enlarged patterns by scanning them into my computer and printing them in pieces, but for a pattern as large as you're doing the projection method might be better. One of my pieces is 4' x 7' x 1-1/2" in redwood.
Phil Allin - Ventura, CA:

My WCI gallery:
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:20 PM
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Default Re: Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

For the board you will need to do a glue-up. There is a way to do it so the board will not warp once you begin carving. Pallin has touched upon that. I think you'll find more about that here on the forum.

The pattern need not be in one piece--as Pallin has pointed out. But you can take a drawing to Kinko's or a reprographic place that will scan it--if you don't have a digital image--and then enlarge it to fit the dimensions you desire.

For example, if you have a paper drawing that's 18"x42", then it would be enlarged 200% and printed out as 36"x84", i.e. 3'X7'

You could just take a half size drawing (18"x42"), draw a grid on it--say lines 1/2 inch apart, and then transfer the pattern to a 36"x84" board with a grid of lines spaced 1 inch apart drawn on it using the same points of intersection of the linework and the 1/2" grid on the drawing to enlarge the image and transfer it.

BTW--I would still do the drywall, taping and plastering. The drywall is an inherent part of fire protection in a building. You'd be surprised how many buildings are destroyed by a fire that started out small because of there was a hole in the ceiling or a wall. And a 3/4" piece of wood will not last long against heat and flames.

Bob L
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:45 PM
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Default Re: Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

Wow! Thanks for the quick replies! So I guess my next problem is the type of wood to use. I'm trying to keep the cost down so any suggestions as to what to look for? I have seen on certain web sites that white pine is decent. Is that true? I assume I will have to find a cabinet maker or other carpenter to glue up the size of material I will need. I have seen large pine panels at Lowes but they are made of pine and in my short experience working with it have been less than fun. I believe " glutton for punishment" are the words used by a few people in my carving club.

As to your point of fire safty, I think i will place a thin piece of drywall under the carving to address that. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
I've cut this board 3 times and it's still too short!
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:46 AM
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Default Re: Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

IF you are going to take all the time to carve a panel on the scale you are proposing, you really don't want to cut corners on materials. The real value of a carving is not in the wood but the skill that went into producing it. Poor quality materials will produce a poor quality finished product. Call Heinicke and get your wood there. You won't regret it.

Good luck,
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:42 AM
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Default Re: Large wood panel carving. HELP!!

Thanks Dan! I think I may have a winner! Thank God for this community.
I've cut this board 3 times and it's still too short!
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