Carve a Simple Wood Spirit with a Flat Bench Chisel | Clint Rose | Skillshare

Carve a Simple Wood Spirit with a Flat Bench Chisel

Clint Rose, Timber Anew - Wood Carving

Carve a Simple Wood Spirit with a Flat Bench Chisel

Clint Rose, Timber Anew - Wood Carving

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9 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Brief History and Tools

    • 3. Study Stick and the Eye Socket

    • 4. Shaping the Nose

    • 5. Establishing Cheekbones & Moustache

    • 6. Carving the Lip

    • 7. Carving the Beard

    • 8. Final Shaping and Details

    • 9. Final Thoughts and Extra Examples

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About This Class

If you find yourself wanting to try some woodcarving but don't have the money or experience to find the right carving chisels then this class will be ideal to begin your carving adventure!

I'm a great believer in helping people to get started in carving and you need not spend a fortune or have a lot of room to do it. 

All you need is one flat chisel, a piece of wood, a mallet, a clamp and a table to clamp the work to, then you can get start wood carving a face right away. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Clint Rose

Timber Anew - Wood Carving


Who am I?

My name is Clint Rose and I'm a wood carver from Suffolk, UK.


What do I create?

I make all kinds of carvings from signs to figurines and scenes. I use a whole variety of woods to create my work with a selection of chisels and knives. My pieces have found their way all over the world and I continue to be inspired by all the amazing creators and possibilities out there. 


Why am I on Skillshare?

Starting your woodworking and carving journey with very few tools and the whole wealth of the information on the internet can be a blessing and a curse. It's so hard to know where to start and to just make simple things. I'm here to try and simplify wood carving, which can be a very daunting creative pursuit, so that peop... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Welcome to my class. I'm carving a simple wood spirit using just a mallet and a normal bench chisel. Throughout this class, you'll learn how to plan and draw the features of a wood spirit. You'll be using the chisel and the mallet to use the grain of the wood to your advantage and you stop cuts where necessary to create different features. You'll also, as you go on in the class, be developing an understanding for the planes of the face, where the cheekbones are, the nose, the eye sockets, the brow, things like that so that you can then go on in the future to create even more complicated wood spirits. I know when you view these classes, you think to yourself, who is this person and why should I listen to what they have to say? Well, I've been woodworking for around 10 years using all different kinds of woods. From really low grade pallet up to really nice fancy wood. I have in the past few years found a real enjoyment for carving and I have started my own business. I'm also a great believing in getting people from all walks of life into woodworking. That's why my classes tend to focus on using simple and affordable tools in small spaces and on kinds of wood which you can get anywhere. This class is ideal for complete beginners, though those who have worked with wood before will probably learn the techniques faster and have more of an understanding of what's going on. The great thing about this class is that you only need a mallet, a chisel, a piece of wood, and a clamp to clamp the piece of wood to the table. That's it. You can get going. This class will be perfect for people who want to make a hand-crafted gift perhaps. Maybe you want to carve a face into a walking stick. Maybe you even have a dead tree outside like a stump outside you want to carve a face into, or just a garden ornament you want to make, or even just an ornament for the house. You could use the skills learned in this class to then maybe go and start making more complicated carvings. You can maybe go into the world of caricature carving, which is very popular. Or maybe into anatomy carving, studying human anatomy and carving different pieces from that. By the end of this class, you should be able to carve a basic wood spirit face into a piece of wood. You may even find yourself as we go along developing different features on the face differently. You might make the nose bigger, you might slant the brow in a different direction, you might do a curly mustache. I don't know. There are so many different things you can do. Thanks very much for listening to the intro and now let's go on with it. 2. Brief History and Tools: If you're not familiar with wood spirits, kind of an old traditional carving that people have been doing for many, many years. Quite often they be featured on trees, and people regarded them as wise and protectors to keep evil spirits away. Lots of people nowadays just use them for decoration. Though there's some people who have like a wood spirit carved looking down the pathway of their house to make sure that no intruders can come, stuff like that. I think it's a really interesting thing they have a lot of history behind it. Now as for what you'll need for the class, first of all, a mallet to hit the chisel, and you need a straight bench chisel or some description. I have three different sizes here. Generally, bench chisels are bought in packs. There's no reason why you can't just buy one. You can probably find one on eBay, or a flea market, or a car boot sale, people will be selling them cheap. You might already have one. If you're already a woodworker, or you just have like a toolbox at home here or from Amazon, stuff like that. They're very inexpensive compared to a lot of other tools, and you don't need any fancy curved chisels for this project. Also, we need is a clamp and a piece of wood; so mallet, chisel, clamp, wood, that's it. I chose this project because it's simple, but it's also incredibly satisfying to see the features of the face slowly come together. One thing you have to be prepared for when you're carving your own spirit is to maybe go with the flow a little bit. Maybe knock a little bit off the nose, that's okay. Just make him have a smaller nose, we'll make that part of the feature. But as you make them more and more, you'll learn more about the features of the face and how to set them out, and how to then customize it to your own design. 3. Study Stick and the Eye Socket: I have my piece of wood clamped down to my workbench where you can see it's a really firm table. You could even put the wood against the ground and have this bit up against the shelf or something, so allow you to hit the chisel against it this way if you don't have access to a table and a clamp. This here is what we call a study stick. It helps show the stages which are divided by the green line there. The very first stage we're going to be doing is cutting the brow and nose here. I'm just going to draw on this piece of wood to show you how we start planning that out. One thing you have to think about when you're making the wood spirit and planning out on the pieces of wood is there has to be some room for the beard at the bottom. The first one I'm going to do is draw the brows so it'll help you get to near the top of the carving. What I'm going to do here is draw a line that's at right angle to the side, right across the piece of wood. That's our brow line. Then the next stage is the nose. From the center of the brow, it doesn't have to be an exact size, you can do it however you want. You can make it exact if you want. But really with a carving like this, it doesn't really matter. It's a carving where you just go with the flow and see how things happen. There's the triangle for the nose. Then what we'll do there is add two more lines across the side there. Now what I have to do, the first part of this carving, is to take out these two areas here, and we'll start to learn how to do that now. We're going to start with a chisel like this and hold it in our hand like that and place it down on the cut there. If you want to make it a bit easier for yourself, you can use your other hand just to get it in the right place first. Let me just give it a couple of taps with a mallet and we'll make sure to angle it in this way, not have it so straight up but angle in a little bit. Across the top there. This is the brow line so we do the same on this side, going down about maybe two millimeters. We've got the brow lines sorted out. The next thing is to do the sides of the nose. Depending on the kind of wood you got, you can even push down. I'm just pushing down from the top now like this because what I'm using here is pine, so it's quite soft. We have a line there but except for when we use a mallet, we could do that too. Just a couple of little taps. We don't have to go crazy with the amount of pressure we're putting on here because in this direction we're going with the grain. It depends how you set out your carving, but it should be fine. Now we've done that, the next stage is to go from where this line is and cut down towards the bottom of the brow there. What I'll do first is with my other hand, hold the chisel there again and then tap it down lightly. Put a shallow angle, then you can brush it off. If you don't want to brush it off with your finger, you can always use an older painter's brush to do that in case you're worried of breaking splinters or something. Then once again, holding the chisel like that. In fact, sometimes you can put your thumb on the side there to help with some guidance. Put it on there, couple of taps, couple of taps, couple of taps, and there we go. That's the start of the brow working out there. Now we just want to get the rest of this material off here. What you can do if you want is to just push the chisel with your hand and slide down there, and I'll show you how to do that. This technique might not be recommended for people who have some kind of arthritis or hand pain but a lot of people will do it this way just because it makes the process a little bit faster than to keep tapping with the mallet every time. What you can do is take the chisel and put it in the palm of your hand there like that, wrap your fingers around it, and then use this hand to hold it and then push down in there like this. You have to have a little bit of control with this, you're using this hand to do most of the controlling, the one that's holding the chisel. If you hold your hand against the wood as well, it'll give you even more of a base to control from. Then what you can do here is just push down or mallet down until these bits just nick those little bits out of there. Then we'll do the same to the other side. Now we can saw either side of the nose. To do that, we'll take our chisel and turn it this way and then just go up the inside of nose a little bit like that. Just keep coming down in this corner and keep going until we get it all out. You could even come sideways through here if you wanted. You should blow off that excess. You can do this, a little bit of trimming. Trim up where you want to take little bits off and you'll probably find yourself doing that throughout the whole process. A little bit to trimming with a chisel just to make the shapes the way you want them. 4. Shaping the Nose: You can see we've got our first step completed. The next step is to cut a line below the nose, and then keep that line continually going down towards the eye sockets as well, and then we can start to round over the nose a little bit. Let's draw a line under here. It's not an exact science, you're just doing it as you go along, unless you're trying to actually copy a face, then you might want to do some actual measurements, but we are just spitballing, figuring out where we might want it to be, and using the study stick to our advantage. Now that we've done that, the first thing I would start to do now is the stop cut on the bottom of the nose, because we don't want that nose to be flying off or anything. In order to make this stop cut, we're going to do like what we did for the top of the brow here. In fact, it's pretty much the same cut. We're going to come down to the bottom of the nose and angle it a little bit that way again. A couple of taps. This will depend on the hardness of wood you're using. We've done that. Now, we can use the grain to our advantage once again, because the grain's going this way, and because we're diving down into it with a chisel, it should chip up. The reason we did that stop cut there, is so that it will happen like it's happening right now, it will stop, a stop cut. What I'm going to do now is come along this line and trim down to the bottom of the eye sockets. If you're using a set of bench chisels, you might want to use a slightly larger chisel for this part, but I'm going to keep going with the one chisel just so I can show you how it can be done with a single chisel if need be. I'm pushing down again, just allowing the grain of the wood to flick up, because we're diving downwards. The wood is just peeling up for us. We'll do the same to the other side, come down there, and then we'll clean everything up, and that'll be the next stage done. You can see we've got our basic shape now. One thing we have to do now is to start rounding over the nose a little bit. I'll just show you how I do that. There's lots of different ways you could do it. Noses don't always look the same. Really depends what kind of character you're going for, but for the purposes of this video, I will show you how I do it. What I would do first is to think about where the point of the nose is. The point of the nose is right in the center, usually. That's where the highest part of the nose is. What you can do is do a stop cut here, a little stop in there. This will prevent us from cutting any further up the wood here, then take a chisel and go around the sides, pull that off there, come down to the center, and just keep shaping it. Just keep peeling these pieces off, trying to figure out the shape of your spirit. We can keep doing stop cuts, taking these little bits off. Already, you can see it forming a nose shape. What you can do is angle your chisel a little bit again, peel off these corners here and there. If you want, you can leave it there. That looks like a nose, but if we want to go a little bit further, we could maybe trim a little bit in here, take that off there, take this off here, and come in a bit. Just trimming and trimming until it looks how you want it to look. I said, if you make a mistake, if you slip up somewhere, you can just incorporate that into the design, or if you really want to, start over, because this process, for this particular wood spirit is pretty simple. 5. Establishing Cheekbones & Moustache: Now you should hopefully have a little nose and the eye sockets on there and start to see your wood spirit coming to life gradually. We've got to the second step on the study stick there. The next step is to show where the cheekbones are and the mustache. You can do a lot of customization with this, but for the purpose of this video, I'll show you how I did it this way. Let's get to that part now. At this point, I thought it'd be a good idea to just do a quick review on what we've done so far. You can see, the study stick and my face are actually different because of the length of the nose, but generally the idea is the same. You can see the profile there building up in the same way. There's the profile from the study stick and here's the profile from the piece that I have just carved for the class, so you can see how they're starting to come together. The next part here is to start outlining the mustache, getting the cheekbones in, and then doing the bottom line of the mustache so we can start doing that now. Once again, like I said, the design of the mustache and everything, a lot of it is up to how you want to do it personally, but I'm going to do it this way for now. We're just going to draw a pencil line coming from the side of the nose there, right right the corner there, curving downwards to the line that we already made, and then maybe just coming down a bit more like that. Coming back up from the side, and then curving just at the bottom of the line that we previously cut there, and coming back down again. Now that we've done that, I'll start doing the stop cut around the top, and this one we'll do it in the same way. One thing you'll notice when you get to the edge here is when you try and do a stop cut, often the wood will split out from the side, that doesn't really matter. We got to take some of this wood at the end anyway to shape the cheeks a little bit, so it's not a big deal. But if you want to try and limit that, just try not to tap too hard, just give it a little bit of an indication like this of where the cut will be and then that's fine. As you come in here, you can start going a bit deeper. You can tell I was hitting it a bit harder there. Same there. We come to the other side of the nose, a bit harder there, a bit harder there, and then here not so hard. Then what we got there is the top of our mustache, but also it's going to help us with the cheek line. We can then take a line with the pencil, go from about maybe two or three millimeters up from the bottom of the nose here, and another straight line. Once again, this isn't an exact measurement because you could come all the way up here if you wanted, you could go down low, this is just to show where the cheekbones are at, cheekbones are always different. I'm just doing it as a guide, so from the corner here up to here, it's probably more like three or four millimeters. Then what we can do, is come from this angle and push down here and cut these bits off. Once again, using the grain of the wood to our advantage to peel these up, just pushing these down a little bit. Then once I've done the nice cuts, I can do my stop cut, and take those all off again. We'll go back into where my stop cut was, I should say. Let's take those bits off. We could even do like we did before at this point, once we get this piece off here. We can do like we did before with the side of the nose. Take your chisel, turn it sideways, and come around in here, trying to control it. You can see as I pushed their I pushed it a bit to get a nice slip. You could potentially take the end off the nose, which might be a little bit annoying. There we go. I'll just repeat the same on the other side, I'll do it from a slightly different angle, so you can see how it was done on this side a bit easier. We demonstrate that process again. We did our stop cut in here, so now we're going to come back this way with this cut, and try and trim that off while pushing down into our stop cut again. There we go. Mistakes do happen, but it's okay because we're going to round that off later anyway. Blow that out of the way, come up from the edge here. You don't have to come at it from the edge here if you don't want, but I find that it's giving a more rounded top to the mustache. The last part of this is just getting the bottom of the mustache shaped out there so that we can then go into the next step after that. I'm just going to push down with a chisel. We don't need to go down too deep at this point, so I'm just going to push it. Like I said, if you suffer from any kind of hand problems, you could use the mallet for this step, no problem, as soon as you're careful with it, and don't push too hard. Once again, as we come down to the end here, we're going to be a little bit more gentle. Same here, pushing fairly hard here. Then as you get closer to the edge and also in line with the grain, we'll go a bit softer. Then we can just take the chisel and nick these little bits out. We made our stop cut around the bottom, and now we're just peeling these parts out to show the outline of the mustache. Another technique you could use rather than pushing it in like that is to come up the edge like this and peel that out like that. You could use that if you're a bit more confident, you can peel up the edges. But now we've got that stage done, and you can see right there, it's the same as this stage here. 6. Carving the Lip: We've got to this part on the study stick. The next bit we're going to do is to do this part and create this lip under the mustache, which I know it might look quite easy but sometimes it can actually be a complicated thing to do. I'm going to show you how I do that. The first thing I would do, you just draw the indication of a lip under here. I just want small circular lines, small curve coming under there. Once again, we're not going to go straight down with a chisel because I'd be worried about splitting too much off from here. We're going to angle which has all this way a little bit, and just come in like this. Once again, you can tap this with a mallet, if you don't think your hands are up to pushing into the wetter if you're using a hard wood, I'm using pine here. We've made that line in there. Now I can come back just to indicate where the bottom of that lip is, without pushing too hard because you don't want to flip loads of stuff off it. If you end up flipping the material of it, and just dig the lip a little bit further down, it's no big deal. Keep coming in here. Taking out. There we go. Then what I'll do is draw a curve a little bit further up, and that indicates the top of the lip that's sticking furthest out from the wood. Then we'll come back here and curve that bit off down here. You can choose to go further for this, and you could add some more path it if you want. You can make the lips look more lip-like if that's what you want to do, completely up to you. This is just to show you a very basic way of doing it in a way that if you're not used to this kind of thing, will hopefully help you understand how different cuts work and just how some faces are shaped. Give you basic understanding of the planes of the face. You get the little lip all done. 7. Carving the Beard: This point you can see we've actually got quite a lot of the face done. He's got a nose, he's got a mustache, he's got a lip. He has the cheekbones and the eye sockets, right? We're pretty close to getting this done with just one mallet and one chisel. The next part we're going to do is outline the bottom of the beard there, and then we'll be able to add on a little bit, embellish him a little bit, try and make him look a little bit more like a face, or add some features you want to add, but for the next step, let's focus on getting that beard in there. If you look at the study stick beard, we can see it comes from the edge of the mustache, this goes down to that point. You can do the same thing here. Just come down here, go to a point in the bottom of the wood, something like this. Then we can just cut a line around the outer edge. Let's do this with a mallet, just for the sake of doing it with a mallet. Once again on this corner, it will want to come off a little bit. You see the wood wants to come off from that corner a little bit. Let me get a bit harder as we come in. A little bit harder each time. Then at the bottom on the wood will probably start on to split as well a little bit, it's not a big deal. As we go, we can shape and change things to however we want them to be. I've got the stop cut put in there. Now we can just come in from the edge as we did before. Doing this kind of thing it doesn't really matter if we make a bit of a mess on this part because that's going to be coming out anyway and then I can get the mallet if I want and do this. Hatch this away. We can even turn the chisel upside down at this point if you want. You can hold it a bit higher up and come down like this, or you can just do it the other way we were doing it, which was just pushing the material off. Once again, you can do this one of two ways. You could come down like that and chop it off, or you could come around the side here again and chop it off. The reason I'm coming from this way, and I'm not from this way is because I'm following the grain of the wood. If you imagine the grain of the wood is like this, my fingers going this way. This is the end of the chisel. The chisel goes round the wood fibers like this because they're sticking out. This fiber is supporting this fiber so they cut more nicely. If you're coming from the other way, however, and you want to cut, and suddenly you're pushing against the fibers and it ends up making them split apart. That's where you're going to remember when you're doing that kind of cut, you want to be able to be hugging the grain and pushing with it and not coming this way and totally pulling it apart. Now you can come on the side again on this side, like we did with the other one. Once again, like I said, we could do this slide and cut from here. Take this stuff away bit by bit. It might be easier for a lot of you to do this with a mallet instead. 8. Final Shaping and Details: So we have the wood spirits face. Pretty much done. We've got the basic planes on there. On those is one key to the side, but that's okay. We go to this stage here and now we're going to try and add a couple of little features just to make it look a bit more like a wood spirit. We've got the word spirit looking like this one there. The next thing we want to do is make it look a bit more like this one by carving a few more details. The first thing I'm going to do is start rounding off the beard a little bit. We can come from this angle again, round off the beard. You could easily just stop at the part we were already at. You don't even really have to do this, but if you want to, there's no reason why this couldn't be your wood spirit right here. Wood spirits come in many different forms. There's no reason why yours couldn't look like this. Now we're going to come here and take some of the side of it. You don't have to try and do this trimming cut like this, you could come down like this if you wanted to. Push down on that, flip those a little bit. You know you could do that if you wanted to. But I'm going to try and do it like this. It'll do a bit of practice with this cut. I would suggest by taking tiny pieces off first. Just try and take some tiny bits of it off like this first. Then when you get more comfortable, then maybe you can do some larger pieces like that. This part that we're now doing a lot of it is up to your own design in your own mind and maybe some references you might have gathered from online or something. Another thing that's quite good to do here is to round out the mustache, and so it shows a bit more depth and dimension to the piece. You slide up the side like that and we do the same on the other side, twist the chisel that way. Cover the slide like that and then round over here a little bit like this, and in there. Blow it off. There we go. Then what we can do there is then find out where the brow is so we can come up from the central arm you made from the nose. You get a couple of wrinkles there. Just push your chisel in both directions. Break a little piece of wood out and that you've already got a bit of a wrinkle and should go a bit further. Come up here. Then we could round the outsides of here to make it look a bit like a side of the head. But it could be better coming from this direction. Coming from this direction and turning your chisel up that way so that the little bevel there is facing the edge. You can do this and push like that. Keep your hands down on the work while you're doing it, it helps you steady the chisel a little bit. You can see that's giving you, I don't know if realistic is the word, making his face look more like a face idea. This is the way to say it, you got to brush out this point, so it pieces out. Then if we want, we can add beard hairs as well. The reason why we can't take the very corner of the chisel and just saw to later of this, for sure there's no curls in there, quite fun this part. Just doing the details. Once you've got all the planes of the face figured out a lot of time. You can think those curly bits on that will actually want to, I absolutely like them, so I'm going to trim them off a bit, just while it's cutting the chisel along with it. Some people might like that style. This part is still [inaudible] we call that a beard hair we could do the same with the mustache. Or you could even just do it with actual lines and the chisel. Let's do that for a different technique. Let's just put some lines in like this. No reason you couldn't do that. There's lots of different ways to texture wood. Some people even do it with bashing pieces of metal-ligand or steel or something. You've got to be careful not to push down too hard. Actually, you push down hard there and a piece start to break also. Once again, depends on the kind of wood you're using, we're using pine. You see is lots of lines appearing on there from the nose. We then can do some eyebrows, maybe have those angle this way. Lots of wood spirits don't have eyes. I've decided not to do eyes for this tutorial because they're complicated and also quite difficult with the stretches or but not impossible. There you go. The wood spirit go there. 9. Final Thoughts and Extra Examples: Here's our guy. All done following the steps on study stick. You can see how they're similar. You can add things as you go along with this. You can add leaves, you could maybe paint it, you could oil it, or varnish it, or something. I'll show you another couple I've done with flat chisel just to show you how far you could go with it. You can potentially go even further than what I've done. It's not to say that mine is the top of the food chain. Then this one as well, which was done all with straight chisels and then paint it. You can see the leaves on there, and a nice big beard, and everything. If you wanted to go one step even further than that, you can then start buying yourself some gouges and some carving chisels. Then you can really start getting in-depth for the details of the face. I've actually started an old lady wood spirit here. Lots of details with carving gouges. Still many part way through it. I actually made a wood spirit for the garden on a really big log with all different kinds of chisels. You can see what you can move on to from after the straight chiseles. You can also use the skills in this video as a foundation to move on to something like caricature carving. You don't have to try and go into super detail or anything. But a caricature, there's lots of different things to explore there, so you can go there as well. Thank you so much for taking this class. I really appreciate you taking the time to sit here, and listen to me, and try out some techniques. I would absolutely love to see your projects, and the things you come up with, and hear about you from the class. If you'd like to rate the class, let me know how I can improve. Let me know what you liked, what you didn't like. Hopefully, I'll see your projects soon. Thank you very much for taking the class, I appreciate it.