There are many ways that you can use a knife to carve wood but we are going to discuss the three main ones that you will be using for pretty much every project. The easiest way to carve is with the straightaway cutting technique and the most difficult is the draw cutting technique.
The main way that you will be carving is using a straight cut. This cut helps remove a lot of wood or bark - you can achieve this by holding the wood in one hand and cutting along the wood with the other hand whilst keeping your wrist locked in place. The knife will be moving away from you, and you will end up with lots of wood shaving in front of you.
The carving with the thumb pushing technique is less about removing lots of unwanted wood and more about adding little detail that can outline the finished piece. For this example, the knife is held in the right hand, and the wood is in the left hand. The thumb grips the back of the blade, and at an angle, the knife goes down onto the wood, and the thumb pushes it from back to front or front to back. Whichever is easiest for you. This allows for small strokes with precise control. This cut is excellent for designing a piece and for removing bark in specific places.
This carving style is for more advanced carvers as it involves cutting the wood towards yourself using your thumb further away as a brace. I was introduced to this technique not when I started carving but when I saw my nan peeling potatoes one time. It is the cutting that looks dangerous and is dangerous.
If you don’t feel comfortable trying this carving technique, I don’t blame you, especially considering there are other ways to achieve the same look. If you want to try it, hold the wood in your left hand, use your thumb on your right hand as a brace to hold the wood still. Your thumb should be positioned on top of your left hand and not on top of the wood, and in short, strokes, begin carving.
Now that you have learnt the three basic cutting strokes, you are ready to begin carving, and so below, you will find resources to help you continue your carving journey. We would love to see anything that you carve, so; please do make sure to tag us on Instagram at Carved_Culture_