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Fig, apple, and other woods

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  • Fig, apple, and other woods

    Okay, so I've been wanting to get into wood carving for a while, and I just purchased a set of knives and chissels. That being said, I don't currently have any official carving wood, and if I don't have to buy any, i would prefer that. So within the past year or so we've cut back a good deal if trees in our yard. This includes almond, plum, cherry blossom, apple, fig (to specify, this is the large fruiting tree I am discussing here, I have a ficus tree with my chameleon, but I have no intention of carving that, at least for now), and pear. I was just wondering if any if these woods would be good for a beginner wood carver, or even a more advanced carver, in which case I could save the wood till I get there. If not, I also do wood burning, and have done for a while, but mostly on purchased wood and pine, so if any of these woods would work for burning, I'd like to know that, too. Thank you

  • #2
    I carve fruit trees...although I am on the islands so they are exotics....most fruits carve well, although each one will be different to carve, one may be harder, one may break easier, one may splinter easy. The hard part is to get your tools sharp and stay sharp. Although in my experience with wood, ....I say carve the easy one....which you have to buy that would be bass wood. Easy means it carves easy, and it does not have a large learning curve master. When you master the easy....then you go to the hard woods. Some fruits are very hard....and need power tools, and I will let everyone else tell you which ones. But you can start with any kind of wood, just note some are really not easy to carve and you will need lots of patience's, some woods you will learn are not worth your time.....another learning curve. I learn on hardwoods, needless to say I only did that one project, ....because it was so darn hard, I did not pick up the chisels again until 20 years later.....if you can go beyond my lesson? Most of my own issues was that the chisels where not sharp enough and I had to spend tons of time learning that basic principle.


    • #3
      It takes a while to "learn" the textures of the woods. Which ones you like to carve and the others that are too hard, for example.
      As Dileon points out, keeping your tools "carving sharp" is a must. That helps when comparing woods, too.

      What few hardwoods we have where I live (alder, aspen, willow, birch, cottonwood) turn from cheese to bone as they dry.
      Like all your fruit woods, once they really dry out, I don't think I'd call them beginner woods. Maybe except birch.

      Conifer woods as a group don't hold fine detail as you would see in alder or birch.
      You get bits that snap off or long cracks, really furry patches that don't clean up. . . . . . . .
      Even so, most carvers here ( about 6 of us) are using western red cedar.

      I can feel my gouges going dull after about 30 minutes of pushing.
      Takes little effort for a tune up and the pushing effort is so much easier.


      Pick one wood. Carve a bunch of things, even just shapes, to make lots of chips.
      This is to learn a wood and learn to keep tool edges carving sharp.
      Then pick another wood. Carve things for comparison.


      • #4
        If you have some bigger pieces, I would save them. practice on some of the "scapes" to get used to your tools. Fruitwood dose carves nicely, to begin with, you might try some basswood. most of us get our basswood from Heinecke Wood Product.
        . . .JoeB


        • #5
          Hardness is one consideration for carving wood, but for projects involving hand tools the grain may be equally important. A twisted, curvy grain can make it difficult to know your cutting direction. Some of the finest, detailed carvings I have seen were done in pear wood.


          • #6
            As JPB said, many of us get our basswood from Heinecke. Heinecke Wood Products Great wood for beginners, as well as experienced carvers. This wood will keep you a lot less frustrated than some of the fruitwoods, as you are starting out.

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            • #7
              Thank you all, I'll save a few peices for a later date, but for now I'll take a look Heinecke.


              • #8
                Heineke basswood is, by all accounts, very good carving wood.
                In the meantime, set up a bunch of your own wood to dry with painted ends, split blocks and so on.
                I have 3 stacks of wood blocks and beams in my workshop. Two more piles else where in the basement.
                Two other big piles of large blocks outside. Not in anyone's way, they just sit and dry.


                • #9
                  The woods you listed are all good carving woods. But need to dry well before you use them. As some of the others have said it would be good to start with a good basswood. If you are new to carving I would suggest you see if there is a carving group or club within driving distance and visit it. You will meet some nice people and you can learn about tools you will want for the types of carving you want to do, sharpening and safety. Just Google carving clubs in your state and hopefully you will have one or to within a comfortable driving distance. Most meet once or twice a month.



                  • #10
                    If you go to the top of this page and click on the Woodcarving tab then click on the community tab, you can get a listing of clubs as well.