CARVING PRACTICUM - SELECTING WOOD TYPES


MODEL SHIP CONSTRUCTION - HOME

CARVING HOME

TYPES OF CARVING TOOLS

SELECTING WOOD TYPES

MAKING TRACINGS

DIMENSIONING WOOD AND TRANSFERING THE TRACING TO A BLANK

CUTTING OUT AND HOLDING DOWN YOUR CARVING BLANK

VISULIZATION AND TYPES OF CUTS TO USE

VISUALIZATION AND TYPES OF CUTS TO USE CONT.

FINISHING

USING SOURCES OTHER THAN YOUR MODEL PLANS

 

LINKS TO OTHER CARVING HOW-TO SITES:

CARVING INTRODUCTION

CARVING FAQ

The types of wood that you decide to use in your carving will have to do with the visual objective that you have for the completed model. You may want to end up painting your carvings in their original colors. If this is the case it will be possible to simply find a type of wood that you like carving in and use that one type throughout. If you want to leave your carvings natural and display contrasting colors like I am doing with my Wasa model, then you will have to select several types. If you want to leave your carvings natural and provide no contrast by using one wood type that is an option as well. 

The one main rule, however, when it comes to selecting wood types for  model ship  carvings is the finer grained the better. Generally, the finer grained the wood is, the least likely it is to split when you are adding fine details. You can cut very fine grained woods against the grain or with it with almost equal results. In fact, some very fine grained woods that I will suggest for carving are more like carving in a substance that has no grain such as plastic.

The above picture shows the woods that I have used to make the carvings for my Wasa. They are generally arranged from coarse to fine grain size from left to right. Again, you can also purchase billets in sizes that are close to the size of the carving that you will be making if you do not want to deal with cutting up larger dimension lumber. 

From the left to right: walnut, birch, yew, swiss pear, holly, apple, and dogwood.

Walnut is about the coarsest grained wood that anyone will ever want to use in model ship carvings, in fact, some model ship builders would completely advise against using it. I use it for its dark color, however. Below is a picture of the railing links for my Wasa that I have made in walnut. Click on it to make it larger and show more detail.

I had some issues with the carvings splitting apart due to the coarse grain. I would simply glue them back together where they split with cyano acrylate. I suggest that if you are a beginning carver, you start out with one of the other finer grained woods that I have listed above or the kinds that I suggest below.

Above is a picture of some example carvings that I have produced for my Wasa model. Click on it to see more detail.  The figurehead lion in the upper left is made in swiss pear, the 20 emporors, gunport wreaths and frize carvings are made in holly, the tritons to the right of those are in dogwood, the carving to the right of that is in apple, and the dolphin carving below it is in walnut. Below the ruler, from left to right, the two dark colored tritons are in walnut, the next are in dogwood, the large warriors are in apple, and the balusters are in yew.

There are kinds of wood that are available and suitable for carving other than what I have used on my Wasa model. These include boxwood, cherry,  jelutong, degame, persimmon, tupelo, and whitebeam.

When using different kinds of woods in your carvings you will need to think objectively about what you are accomplishing by using different kinds. Are the colors of the woods that you are using going to clash with the carvings next to them? Are they going to clash with the color of the woodwork around them? Are you adding too much color as to make your model look like a rainbow? All in all it is up to you, however, you will most likely need to ask these questions when you are in the planning stages of your model so that you do not end up veering away from the visual objective that you have for your model ship.

I suggest that you see the links that I have on my nautical and model ship links page for more suggestions on what kinds of woods to use, their properties and where to buy them if you are at this stage of planning your masterpiece.

 NAUTICAL AND MODEL SHIP LINKS