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Woodcarving Glossary – Part 2

Monday 9 July 2018


1. Incised work – forms that are carved into the surface of the wood and do not have any relief as with incised lettering

2. India oilstone – a type of sharpening stone that is manmade

3. Intaglio – a style of carving using the opposite techniques employed for high and low relief, where the main image is carved away as opposed to the background. This negative relief carving has the main image receding into the wood rather than standing on top of the surface of the wood

4. In the round – a solid carving in three dimensions sometimes called sculpture, but this term encompasses many more practices


1. Knives – there are various knives which can prove useful to carvers such as mill, detailed, skew chisel, straight edge, roughing, bent, scorps and Sloyd, and the stab and cutting knives typically used for chip carving


1. Low relief – a carving where the background is proportionately shallow compared to the size of the carving, and is defined by the actual physical depth of the background. Also known as 'basso relief' meaning compressed to half its real depth


1. Maquette (Bozzetto) – a small proportionate sculpture or

full-sized plasticine model made in preparation for the final larger piece

2. Modelling – working the form of the surface


1. Netsuke carving – originally a toggle produced in many different materials, usually embellished with intricate exquisite designs that were used to fasten traditional Japanese costumes – see page 4 for a modern reworking of netsuke


1. Pierced – when a relief carving combines voids with cuts that go right through the design

2. Power carving – using power tools to achieve quicker results on carvings such as removing waste and sanding to a fine finis

3. Profile – the shape or silhouette of a prominent side of a feature or an object

4. Pyrography – the art of decorating or marking timber, such as highlighting feather or hair detail by burning into the wood using burning pens, a flame torch, or similar


1. Quick tool – description given to a gouge with a deep curve (sweep) to its cutting edge


1. Relief carving – The sculptural equivalent of a picture where the depth is greatly reduced and compressed but stands out from the background and has a limited view point

2. Riffler – a small rasp, usually two ended in all shapes and sizes, and useful to use in awkward corners for removing and smoothing wood in inaccessible places


1: Salmon bend tools – also known as long bend tools,

these gouges are similar to 'tracery' tools but have a long moderate curve along the length of the shan

2. Seasoning timber – there are two methods of reducing the continual distortion (warp) of drying timber to create stability in wood by removing the sap and moisture:

Air drying – this is more traditional and involves stacking the wood undercover to protect it from the weather

while regulating the air flow naturally, which is a slow and gradual process

Kiln drying – this is automated in a kiln to create an environment of instant air circulation, temperature and humidity, which is quicker and consistent

3. Serif – where the ends of the letters splay out to form triangular fishtail shapes

4. Setting in – the process of defining forms by creating a chisel cut around the design, usually for Relief carving

5. Sinking – reassessing the background so that the design stands out in relief

6. Skew tool – sometimes known as a corner firmer that has an angle to its flat-sectioned cutting edge

7. Slip stone – a shaped sharpening stone for the insides of gouges and parting tools

8. Slow tool – description given to a gouge with a flatter curve (sweep) to its cutting edge