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Carving hardwood vs. softwood

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  • #16
    The woody veg of New Zealand consists of many gymnosperms, identified by the wood lacking the combination of xylem fibers and xylem vessels, composed of vessel elements.
    Instead, they are typically gymnosperm with woods of xylem tracheids.

    Driven with enough force, the differences between hardwoods and softwoods are moot.
    Survival Research Labs developed a Pitching Machine to propel wooden 2 x 4 at 200 mph and 2/second.
    The wood anatomy doesn't seem to have been a concern.


    • #17
      Originally posted by Rangipo View Post
      Just wanted to add,

      99% of New Zealand hardwoods are non deciduous! They are not conifers either. Most are podocarps with berries attached to the side of the seeds and all are unrelated to what notions one might have in the more common Western world. So hardwood and softwood are viable definitions in New Zealand.
      Podocarpaceae is a family of conifers.


      • #18
        It is always easier to make the distinction between gymnosperms and angiosperms. Anatomy rules.

        Although it takes a little more "push," I don't see a significant carving difference between dry birch (angio) and dry western red cedar (gymno).
        All my gouges are 20 degrees, all my knives are 12 degrees. The big blades are between 25 and 30 degrees.


        • #19
          Soft woods some of them are easy to carve and you can carve them rather fast. Some soft woods are too soft to carve and break apart easy....some soft woods have lots of sap and are messy. Some woods like red just do not carve..... There are few soft woods that fuzz terrible and not worth the effort. Ask people here about the kind of wood your thinking about carving and suggestions.

          Hard woods are whole different ball game, each wood is very different. I have carved major kinds of hardwoods although most are exotics. One will carve great with one kind of bevel....the next will not carve well with that chisel nor that bevel. The same with power tools,.... I have to go through lots of bits before I find the bits that the wood likes to carve with bit does not work, next one breaks the wood, next bit may just spin and burn. I have hard woods that I can use a carving knife on....other hard woods that are hard as rock and very difficult to cut. I have had my best chisels break on some hard woods. Some hard woods like the exotic koa is very difficult as it has various hard and soft spots, various grain directions shooting in all directions....all of these factors will depend on what kind of tools, both power and chisels that I use.. I say beginner stay with basswood until you learn to carve....then if you want to go hardwood...stay with one kind until you learn how to carve it. If you want to know information about the kind of wood you want to carve.....ask people who have carved that wood....what methods of carving they use and any tips they can give you.


          • #20
            I have two relief carvings of similar design. Both have a combination of basswood and black walnut - almost the extremes of soft & hard among carving woods, On the two carvings the woods are reversed, so figures that were carved in black walnut on one were carved in basswood on the other. Both were carved with hand tools. The black walnut would take fine details about the same as basswood, but care was required because of the hardness. In both cases the wood was old - salvaged from old cabinets or long storage.

            That said, I would emphasize that all wood varies, even within a species or geographical source.
            Last edited by pallin; 10-12-2017, 05:55 PM. Reason: spelling


            • #21
              I like to hand carve the common conifers that I live with = mostly western red cedar, some yellow cedar and a little spruce and pine.
              There are wood details to look for when you go shopping, whether you scavenge logging debris piles with a power saw or buy fence posts from Home Depot.

              Pallin's right: WRC from the coast is not at all like the WRC down the road at a local mill. They're both OK but for different reasons.


              • #22
                Not all "hardwood" are hard, e.g., basswood; and not all "softwoods" are soft, e.g., yellow pine. Interesting nomenclature.


                • #23
                  Just a common language to make a really sloppy distinction between the angiosperms and the gymnosperms.
                  The precise distinction is very easily seen in a microscope at modest magnification.