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Woodcarving Glossary – Part 1

Monday 9 July 2018


1. Applied carving – made separately and subsequently attached (planted on) to the item to be ornamented, making the

work easier

2. Arkansas – type of natural oil sharpening stone for achieving the final cut to the edge of a chisel


1. Back bent tool – as with 'Tracery' chisels (Spoons) they are traditionally used for creating tracery features but produce a convex form (roll) on the inside of an internal curved surface

2. Bleaching – makes the wood's surface lighter than the original colour, or helps to remove unwanted marks

3. Bosting in, roughing out, blocking in, wasting – shaping and isolating the main forms and masses of a carving by chopping the bulk of the waste material away in the block of wood before carving commences

4. Burr – the rough edge produced on the chisel's cutting edge during sharpening


1. Carborundum – a type of manmade oil sharpening stone

2. Carvers' bench screw – a screw with a tapered end for screwing into the bottom of work and a wing nut for fixing to the bench

3. Carvers' mallet – used for striking gouges that has a rounded head

4. Chip carving – the technique of incising triangular shaped chips forming decorative designs that are cut in the wood usually with a chip carving knife and typically executed in geometric patterns

5. Chisel tool – a cutting tool with a flat section

6. Concave – the inside of a curve

7. Convex – the outside of a curve


1. Dog – a metal clip with serrated ends that is used with the aid of a screw for clamping work to a bench

2. Dog legged – a tool whose shank is cranked with a double bend to offset the cutting edge


1. Facet – small flat surface cuts that decorate the surface.

A combination of these cuts produces a 'Tooled' surface finish to carvings

2. Finishing – the final stages of a carving that may include the surface texture or the colouring, sealing or waxing

3. Fishtail tool – as the name implies, it has the profile of a fish's tail. The lower part of the shank flares out in a triangular shape towards the cutting edge

4. Fluting or flutes – a concave groove usually arranged in groups on flat and concave surfaces on columns, pilasters or furniture

5. Fluteroni, Macaroni and Backeroni tools – these are highly specialised tools that incorporate complex cutting edges. The Macaroni has a square three-sided channel-shaped section to its cutting edge. The Fluteroni is similar but has rounded corners, and the Backeroni resembles the fluteroni but has a hump in the middle of the cutting edge

6. Fluter tool – these are similar to gouges except their cutting edge is not a uniform curve but are 'U' shaped in section, hence traditionally used to carve flutes

7. Fuming – the only satisfactory method of darkening and colouring certain wood types (oak and chestnut) by exposing them to ammonia fumes


1. Gilding – thin sheets of gold or silver are applied to a surface for ornamental effect. Water gilding gives the brilliant shine often associated to objects such as picture frames, whereas oil gilding uses a varnish-like adhesive known as size to secure the gold leaf to the surface, such as seen on carved house signs etc.

2. Gouge tool – a chisel which has a curved cross section to its cutting edge

3. Green timber – this is a term given to wood that is freshly cut and therefore not seasoned

4. Grounding tools – these can be flat or almost flat across the section of cutting edge. When viewed from the side, they are bent quickly at the bottom of the shank towards the cutting edge, similar to the Tracery chisel, enabling you to access and extract the backgrounds of relief carvings, hence the name


1. High relief – a carving where the background is proportionately deep compared to the size of the carving. As a high relief gets deeper, the features approach three-dimensions and may become isolated from the background. Also known as 'Alto Relief' meaning it contains features carved to 3/4 of their true depth, or greater

2. Holdfast – a quick adjusting cramping device that has a leg passing through a hole in the bench top, holding work in the middle of the bench where it is not possible to use clamps