Carving a Gnome with Flat Chisels | Clint Rose | Skillshare

Carving a Gnome with Flat Chisels

Clint Rose, Timber Anew - Wood Carving

Carving a Gnome with Flat Chisels

Clint Rose, Timber Anew - Wood Carving

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11 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Origin and Tools

    • 3. Marking Out

    • 4. Carving the Outline

    • 5. Shaping the Hat

    • 6. Carving the Nose

    • 7. Making the Beard

    • 8. Creating the Moustache

    • 9. Carving the Boots and Trousers

    • 10. 10 Cleaning Up and Additional Techniques

    • 11. 11 Summary and Other Examples

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About This Class

If you've ever wanted to get into wood carving but found it daunting or confusing then this simple gnome carving class may be the quick introduction you need. 

I try to keep my classes as simple as possible so that anyone with no prior knowledge of working wood can give it a go without buying any expensive tools, costly wood or having a huge amount of space. 

For this particular class all you'll need is a piece of wood (doesn't matter what kind though I used pine as it's the cheapest), a mallet, a couple of flat bench chisels, a clamp and a table/desk/bench to hold it on. 

This class will be free for the first month, after which time it will become premium

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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: My name is Clint Rose and I run a small wood carving business called Timber Anew. I'm here today to teach you how to carve a little gnome using some flat chisels, and a mallet, and a piece of pine. I'm a great believer in getting people started in wood carving with limited space and tools and budget, and I don't think anyone should be limited by that factor in order to be able to enjoy wood carving. This class is for people who are completely new to wood carving, you don't even have to know how to hold a chisel or to do any basic wood working. All you need is a mallet, a clamp, some flat bench chisels, and then somewhere to clamp the wood onto like a table, or a desk, or something. With these limited tools, and space, and budget we'll create a little gnome. You'll learn how to cut lots of different facets, and lines in order to get the features to stand out the way you want to. Then maybe you can use those skills later on to make your own little designs, to make your own character tools, maybe go back to the woods spare class I've done as well because these two are closely linked. Just make a whole host of characters if you feel like it. But anyway, I'm going to stop blabbing, and let's go on with class. 2. Origin and Tools: The origin of gnomes is thought of going back to the 16th century, where they're described as small humanoids which live underground. It's said they're able to move seamlessly or very easily through solid Earth just as well as humans are able to move through air. They were reluctant to interact with humans, unfortunately. But we're making our gnome today so you don't have to worry about that. For all this class, you'll need a little piece of wood to curve your gnome onto. It can be little or big. This design can be scaled up or down depending on what you want to do and depending on the size of your chisels as well. You'll need a mallet, some flat chisels, which you'll hit with the mallet. Then a clamp, to clamp the piece of wood down to a table or desk or whatever is you're going to use. I chose this project since it's a great way to get started in figure carving and probably just like a little step up from the wood spirit carving class that I've put on here. You could probably do that class first and then do this one and mix some ideas together in your head and make your own little customizable gnomes or figures or wherever it is you wanted to make. That's the good thing about it, it's really customizable. I'll stop jibber, jabbing, and let's go on with actually making the actual thing. 3. Marking Out: The first step is we want to mark out where we want the name on the wood, or more importantly, marking away the pieces that we want to cut away. I've included a couple of designs in the resources, so you can use some of the designs yourself, or we can just figure out on your own. If you do a little bit of sketching yourself, you might find that you can make a design that suit you a bit more. But basically, what we've got is I'll just go around this pencil guy, and you'll see these are the areas that we want to cut out from the outside edge first. We're going to have like as a silhouette here at the edges. We want to take away, so everything here, we're going to get rid of with the chisels. If you want you could do this with a coping saw or some kind of bandsaw or a jigsaw or something. I just want to show people that you can do it with chisels as well. The reason we've got the hat here and the nose here is because we're hiding the eyes deliberately, not only for character but also that just simplifies this whole curve, even more, hiding eyes because eyes can be a bit tricky sometimes. Another thing I would like to mention at this point is thinking about all these little spaces. There's a line here that really you need to be able to fit a chisel into because the beard is higher and the boots are higher than this bit here. You need to be able to fit whatever chisels you're using in that little gap to clean it up. Otherwise, if you have one that's too large, it's going to probably chip off bits of the beard and the boot as you're trying to get it in that little gaps. Think about the little gaps that you have to get into and if your chisels are of the right size. These two are going to be fine. This one's going to be mostly for cleaning up around the edges and this one for doing lots of little details. Now, we shall move on to taking away this outside edge. 4. Carving the Outline: We've got our clamp and we've got our piece of wood here. We need to clamp this down very firmly to keep it on that bench because we're going to be doing some fairly strong chisel strikes on it. What we're going to do is, you can always draw this on here as well, to help your brain a little bit, if you sometimes need the extra help. I often need extra help with my brain so I do this kind of stuff to help me out a bit. Now I know that I have to take this section away all the way down here. You can mark on the end there as well where you want to cut it off. Our wood grain is going in this direction and we want to head downwards in that direction because of where the wood grain is going. If I try and visualize it for you like this, this is the direction of our wood grain. We want the chisel to come down here so it brushes along the tops of the bits of grain. If I had the chisel coming from this direction and the end like that, then you can see how we're going to start pulling up these bits of grain. We want it to skirt over the top, curve down over the bits of grain. That's what we're going to do here, curve it down over the bits of grain. We'll start, just making sure that clamp is nice and tight. You can hold the chisel in your hand like this, lean your hand on the work. If you're able to lean hand at it, that's better because you get more points of contact, makes everything more sturdy. Then we'll just do a couple of hits. We don't have to go crazy here. This can be a slow and steady wins the race kind of thing. We're just going to keep going down until we get this to the level we want. I'm not worried about it being too neat right now, so we're going to come back to the outside edge of that. I just want to get rid of most of the waste from the outside there. Now with a piece like this, talking about the grain is a little bit more tricky because we have to come down from this side and come down from this side. Because if we try and come down from this side and then scoop up, then suddenly we're going to split a forwards extra wood here. There's a couple of things we can do to help us cut through that piece easily without making mistakes. First thing you can do is try and figure out roughly where the center point is, where it dips lowest in the wood and I think this is around here. Then do a couple of chisel strikes downwards. Next thing you can do is to try ensure that you don't take too much off is rather than using the chisel this way, the flat way down, turn it up so this little beveled section is touching the wood, so you turn it upside down, or at least what you might consider upside down and do it. This tiny bit was touching the wood. You could push this in like this. You don't really need to use the mallet for this, but a lot less material to take off. Depends on you, maybe your hands can't do it. You might have some joint problems or something, then it made just be easier to use the mallet. But this is much easier than using something like a knife pushing-wise because a knife requires lots of strength in the hand sometimes to cut some pieces. We can do the same from this side. Let's use the mallet from this side. Just because it's awkward for me to get to. Once again, don't worry about the neatness, just yet, we have a lot to clean up. 5. Shaping the Hat: The next stage is to create this hat and what we're going to do is make a rounded appearance, which is the reason we've cut away this silhouette from the outside to make us create this rounded appearance a bit more. We're going to cut along the bottom here to show the bottom of the hat. Let's start with that. I'll probably use the smaller chisel for this one. I'm going to use the mallet. I'll just use the pressure to push down on it, but don't go too crazy with how far you push down. You could split out the slide. You got to be careful when you get to the edges not to split the slide out. It's not going to be the end of the world you can fix it, but probably best to try and avoid that. If you want to try and come in from the outside, like that. Counting like this. Then when we've done that, we can simply just take this and push in, chip that way. Take care not to do anything to the nose just yet. I'll keep pushing in there and coming back on this side to create a little valley in there. Back and forth, back and forth, do the same here. The depth that you take this, is all dependent on you really. There's no hard and fast rule. Just keep doing it until you think its deep enough. You've probably gone about two or three millimeters deeper. Now you have that line, figured out. We can carry on the line around the outer edge using the same technique and then round over the hat. Probably what we'll do first is start rounding head and a hat. We've got the grain going this way, we can come down the edge again. I would probably get the chisel and come down like this. Do the same here. When it comes to this bit bending inwards, we have to come back from the other direction like we did before. You could use the mallet for this you don't have to do just with the hands like I'm doing. Then going back towards there again, I'm going to do a bit rounding over the hat as we go bit by bit. We'll just clamp it on its side again then we can start rounding over even more. We've just drawn a line where the bottom of the hat is around the side there. We can just do the same thing, push down. Then when it comes to the end, come in at an angle a little bit. Then that bevel bit touching the wood again. Keep working that out. I said we can use the mallet here, it's being a little bit stubborn so let's use the mallet. Don't use huge taps or anything, just a really light tap. Once you've got that, we can then sketch out again like we did here. You can even move to a bigger chisel if you want. There you go. Now we're on the same side as well to put more curves in this hat so we're not worried about the back being curved mostly just curve from around here. At this point, I think you should just have fun, do whatever you want like I'm doing right now. Just go for it. Just look at the hat keep coming around the front, keep looking around the front to see where you want to curve it. I still will do this here, scrape from that way, come from this direction. Scrape down here, once again you can use a mallet again if you like you don't have to use this. You might want to use sandpaper at the end to clean this up. I'm not a massive fan of sandpaper unless there's some really rough edges. That was probably about what I would do and then move on to the other side, do a bit the same. It's just using the big chisel again, just to take away the material here. I've already cut the bottom of the hat like I did on the other side. Just trimming this down now. So just go, just see what you feel. There's no hard and fast rules to a lot of this stuff, it's just more about getting used to holding a chisel and using it and figuring out which way the grain goes and how to cut it. So that it does what you want it to do but generally, I think it's nice to just go for it. There you go. Pretty much finished [inaudible] I'm not going inner. 6. Carving the Nose: I think the nose is one of the trickier pieces of this carving, especially with pine. It's because it's quite a small area and it's easy to break it apart. But it's no big deal if you break it, then either your gnome just doesn't have a nose or it has a smaller nose or its nose is hidden behind its hat, or there's probably other ways to get around it, but we're going to try and not mess up. We're going to get the chisel, take it to the edge of the nose and come an angle like this, try not to go straight down because you might split away more than you think you're going to split, and we'll just do a really soft push in there, nothing too big. Same on the other side. Little soft push. Then we're going to come to the bottom here do the same thing, push a little harder this time, but keep that angle going away from the nose. Then we've already begun to curve the hat here. So now we have to undercut or cut down where the top of the mustache is here. We're going to do that same thing, come an angle a little bit, push down, and let me get to see edge here come in an angle. Whoops, whoops. Hang in there. There we go. Do the same here. Push down there, come in an angle here. Now we can have the chisel upside down again, push that material out. The plan here at the moment is just to try and make the nose higher than the rest of the face. So just going to keep repeating that process until you get it sufficiently high. At this point, you probably will have to go a little bit faster just because you've already done it once. You may not need to take more material down from the top near where the head is. But if you feel like the nose needs to be a bit higher then just take more material. It's not a big deal really. Another thing I try to do here is add a little mound where the cheek is. So I try to come down this way and then come down this way and leave a little mound in the middle there because I find it looks more like cheeks, that way. Then when you've done that, what you can do is start rounding over the nose. In order to round over the nose, you can bring the chisel back here and do this, take off the sides, then push down in there. It can be whatever shape you want it to be. But if you want to have a little bit of curve, then bring your chisel on the side, turn it sideways like this, and then come around the side there. In here, you can add a little bit of roundness in there and just try and get a chisel in there to break off any of these little bits that are in there. You can always do this at the end when we do the cleaning up, remove all this thing, you can see that made it more of a round, nice. 7. Making the Beard: The beard is going to be done very similarly to a lot of the things we've done already. Basically, we're going to cut the outline at the bottom, just like we'd cut the outline at the bottom of the hat. Then round over all the edges and then create the mustache in the same way. A lot of this is repetition really. You should get used to it after making this first one, I think you'll get used to it without having to probably come back to this tutorial, at least not for too many of the pointers. Then you'll be able to customize things as you want them. Let's start on the beard and then go into the mustache after that. We'll probably use the bigger chisel in this case. We'll start by coming in from the outside edges like this. Don't worry about these bits peeling off, we've got to take some of that off later anyway. Come in like this. Same on this side, at the bottom of the beard here. Then we'll come in here or you could do the bevel either way, up or down. I'm going to take the bevel down, just trim this off like this, so we get a nice little valley in there again. All the same with this one and just keep going until you feel like it's deep enough. It depends if you wanted to have a big bushy beard or not, totally up to you. You don't have to feel constrained by anything. Just take it your own way. This should be about having a good time and just experimenting, trying out new techniques and new designs. Figuring out the look that you want and how to achieve it. There you go, that's a good start. Now what we'll do is we'll cut up the sides here a little bit on the outside. We'll turn this guy on his side again. Then we'll start shaping that and then curving this over. We're going to keep bringing this beard up the side here like this. I'll push down in there. This way around I think I'll get it pushed down in there, push in there. Then get this cut out of there to make this beard stick out. We're sort of shaping the legs at the same time there. We're doing a bit of both. There we go. Now we've done that, we can do a little bit of shaping as well now, making sure to always dive down with that grain. Slicing the top of it off all the time. We can come at the top here and do the same with the mustache part. There you go. I think Locke says, it's a really good time just to have fun with it, just slice wood away, you'd be surprised how nice it is just to do what I'm doing right now, just pairing away wood, such a nice thing to do. You can make those sort of faceted curves on there, which looks pretty cool. Repeat it on the other side. Then after that we go on to the mustache. 8. Creating the Moustache: Now with that done, we can begin work on the mustache, which is the same areas, it's just like another part of it. It didn't really have a mouth as such, but the mustache will indicate where the mouth is. Try to work everything else. Use this small chisel to push down at an angle, we're not going to go straight down, we're are going to at an angle. Not too severe an angle, maybe 45 degrees or so. Then at the HA come in a little bit from the side. Now that you've done that, you can make a small V cut here, just to indicate that that is where the mustache is. Then you can come back and keep shaping and pushing in there just to get this curve in there. It's normally a curve as much as it's lots of tiny straight cut. But what we want to do is continue this around the outside edge after we've cleaned up for that here. We want to continue this around the outside edge here. We'll turn him on this side, and we do on the outside edge, and I'll show you how we do that part right after we do this part, which is to just cut a little V-shape right under the nose to indicate the center of the mustache of the two bits. Part in the middle. Now we can turn it on its side, and do the edge of the mustache. We want the edge of the mustache just come down here a little bit and go up, like that. It doesn't have to be like that, can be whoever you want it to be, but for the purposes of this tutorial, that's what I'm going to do. You're going to just carefully shaping up around there, coming back in here, taking a bit of wood off. If you can't really get to the parts, we can clean it up right now, we can do that at the end, so just try and get the main shapes in there, and then at the end, you can do the cleanup. I'm going to do the same here, cut this down the back, and then we're going to try and just turn the chisel on an angle a little bit, a 45 degree in this direction. Then we can trim down the back here behind the mustache, and also if you want, curve this bill for the same time and come back. Actually we should continue this way. Again, just try and get a feel for what you're doing. Then we can run over the mustache bit here, cut there. Be careful not to hit the nose. Decent, slow scraping in order to not hit the nose, and then just shape the mustache however you want it to be shaped. There are no rules. This is your Gnome and make it however the way you want your Gnome to be. Then repeat the same thing on the other side, and then move down to the trousers. 9. Carving the Boots and Trousers: When it comes to the trousers, there's two rather main cuts we have to think about one One the center of the trousers here. So we'll just take that line down there a little bit. In fact we can go further down and go all the way down to where the boots come out. Then we want to cut where the curve of the top of the boots are. So, we can do that. The same way we did the mustache, the nose, bottom of the hat, all that stuff. Similar cut. We could choose to use a mallet for this if it's too hard to push in or whatever, depending on the kind of wood you're using. Then we're just going to come down like this. Cut all these bits away. Once again, you might find it's easier to have the bevel down on the chisel. We want the boots to stick up. That's the whole point of this cut. Right now we want the front of the boots to stick out. So you might want to keep going and take the trousers back further and further depending on how deep you want them. Then making sure you come to this. When you've got them as deeper you want them, make them shorter, cut the line between the trouser legs as well. Coming in here I'm cutting this line between these legs. Well, I think we still have a bit more cutting down around those boots to do to get them where you want them, so I'll do that a bit more it will come to run the boots over. The side of the boots come like this as the trouser is covering most of them. So we can clamp our guy down flat and then just push in here a little bit. Not too much, just a little bit. Then curve the boot down here a little bit, round over this part, keep carving that, and then we'll come back from the other direction and curve back this way. Then maybe just trim a little bit off here. Just to make the boots look like they're going back under the trousers, and now we'll curve over the tops of the boots. So we want these boots to kind of round over inside like that, so let's come from the edge here and just trim off little bits of that, same here. Come from the insert here, go that way, and from the outside here we go in that way. Just keep going back and forth until that's how you want it. There might be an urge to cut straight down at this point, which you can do a little bit, but I would say to probably come from around the sides instead, like this. Take your chisel and turn it sideways on and come around the side, like that, something like that. Then we can take out this bit in the middle of it more, give it a bit more depth to the boots. Slowly keep working around that. Then we'll go to the cleanup. 10. 10 Cleaning Up and Additional Techniques: One way you can clean up around these edges is to hold your chisel like a knife. If you bring your hand closer to where the end of the chisel is you can do stuff like this. Peel away at the edges like that. Just be very careful with it. Don't put your hand up here and start using the chisel at this because one slip and the chisel goes in your fingers. Bring your hand down on the wood and use the chisel higher up than your hand that's holding the lead. You can do just a couple of tiny little cuts around the outside edge just to clean things up a little bit if you want. Another thing you might want to clean up a bit is the mustache. Now the mustache there, we can maybe get our little chisel and cut down here. You can sweep it down the edge like this. Or just do a little bit what we did on the rest of it. If you feel like anytime you're having to put too much pressure on something, then try and cut a bit less wood. Because usually that can make you either split off a big chunk of wood or make you slip with the chisel. If at anytime you're putting too much pressure on something, cut off less wood. It should be easier on your hands and also you'll be less likely to make a mistake. You could use sandpaper to clean all this up. I don't really like sandpaper. Pine is not really that great for carving. At least not this particular thing that we're doing here now, I just wanted to show that it was possible to use this to make something. You may want to use sandpaper if you're using pine, or on other wood that's difficult. Now one more thing we can do here is to try and show where the end of the beard was. If the beard comes up here somewhere down to the mustache, we can indicate where that is. Then I'm going to show you another way we can clamp this down considering all the edges are really wonky. Now if you want to work on the sides of it more, there's a little trick we can do to help us clamp this down on the side without it wobbling all over the place. Because we have all these uneven edges one thing we can do is use some cloth, t-shirt or something to fill in the voids a little bit so you could put that down there. See there's a bit of a gap below the helmet and below there a little bit, push that down like that. You can see that's given us more contact between the wood and the surface that we're clamping on. You can also do the same for the top. If you feel like the clamp isn't going to hold on. If the surface up here is too curved or whatever and the clamp's not holding on very tightly, then you can put a cloth and the top as well, and that should help hold it down. Also, the cloth acts as an extra piece of friction to stop it from moving around. You could even do that right from the very start of the curving to stop the curving moving around so much. Helps to have a little bit of cloth or a bit of leather you could use. I'm going to come in here. This is the edge of the beard. I'm coming from a very soft corner of the mustache up to the top there. Now we're just going to trim away this part a little bit. We'll do bevel down on the chisel again. Takeaway the face a little more. Then just round over this beard just a tiny bit. Whoops. I'll now show you some other examples and some paint jobs and things you can do to make your life a bit easier and to make the gnome look a bit more interesting. 11. 11 Summary and Other Examples: We made this guy today. You could also make your guy chunkier, you can make him a bit smaller but painted, and you could also make him smaller still like this tiny, tiny little guy here. The benefit of painting a gnome like this is not only that it stands out obviously a lot more than the other three guys that are here but also if you want to, cheat on some details. So you see the mustache on this guy is not actually carved in like these other three. It's just actually painted on, and other bits stand out. It makes lots of things stand out. I don't know. I think in a sense, I prefer the painted one but also, I'd like to see the grain of the wood so we just used acrylic paints for this one here. Another thing you can do is to add folds and stuff and little bumps to the clothing if you want to. Also, remember that the size of your chisel limits the size of the carving that you can do, in a sense, or at least the details, and sometimes it's best just to focus on big, bold details rather than tiny, tiny details. Because if you get the basic shape in there, sometimes you'll find just the basic shape that's a lot more like a gnome and sometimes the little details, if you keep trying to get tiny, tiny, tiny with these kind of chisels that are not particularly made for this thing, then they end up being really scratchy and not so great-looking. But that's down to the person. Most of all, I would just say have fun with it, try some different designs. I'm going to put a few designs of these in the resources so you can just have a look, get some ideas, maybe even just trace it straight onto a piece of wood, totally up to you. These three, a pine, and this one is oak. The oak was a lot nicer to carve. It's a harder would but you can get a nicer finish on it. But the reason I use pine in pretty much all of the tutorials I do is because everyone can get it. It's cheap and I don't think price should be a factor when trying to start something like woodcarving. Anyway, thanks very much for watching. I'm going to stop talking now. Thank you very much for watching. I really hope that tutorial helped. Feel free to talk to me anytime you like about it. You can send me a message on here or come to my Twitch channel where I stream live, I have Facebook, Instagram as well, Check out my page for the links for that. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you have a very good day.