Introduction to Letter Carving in Wood - Making a Sign | Clint Rose | Skillshare

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Introduction to Letter Carving in Wood - Making a Sign

teacher avatar Clint Rose, Wood Carving

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools and Materials Needed Tracing the Letters

    • 3. Holding the Chisel

    • 4. Carving the W

    • 5. Finishing the W

    • 6. Carving and Finishing the E

    • 7. Figuring out the C and O

    • 8. Carving the M

    • 9. Finishing Touches

    • 10. Class Recap and Final Words

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About This Class

Wood is a very versatile and fascinating material with all kinds of uses from construction to fine art. In this class you'll learn :

  • How to understand he basics of grain direction in relation to letter carving.
  • How to make careful and precise cuts into the wood.¬†
  • How to make your own sign from wood with carved letters.¬†

I've designed this class to be an introduction to letter carving in wood and would encourage complete beginners to try it out, you may surprise yourself! 

You'll need the following tools and materials :


  • 3 Standard Sized Bench Chisels¬†
  • Wooden Mallet
  • Clamp(s)
  • A Piece of Pine (or whichever wood you prefer).¬†If¬†you're using the Carving Template provided the wood should¬†measure around 24cm long, 9cm wide and 2cm thick.¬†
  • Pencil and Template (carbon paper optional)

Although a fair bit of concentration and focus is needed when carving letters I find it to be a very mindful and zen like process. Using chisels to shape and craft wood and make it your own is a worthwhile experience for anyone, using natural materials and your own hands to create your own art. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Clint Rose

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: when it was Clint Rose and I had to woodworker from Suffolk. In the UK, where work focuses primarily on carvings, boxes pin this clocks basically a lot of little things a finding in this class will be taking. You have to cut clean, consistent lines in the one of those to be showing your various ways that you can hold chisels in order to attack the word from the right direction and also various chiseled cuts . There will help your letters come out nice and shop on that the underclass. You'll be able to have your very own welcome sign. You've called yourself, maybe even use the fun. Teoh. Make your world looking for about 10 years, and it's been my passion. Ever since I started beginning, I had to use old word stuff that people didn't want small tools that I had on. He's a very limits space I have, which is why I have a lot of emphasis on hand tools, then carry that forward into my business. Beginning in 2016 on now used exclusively on one of wood on, I use hand tools almost all the time. That's 99% of time in my small shed to make things for people times. This class that successful to complete beginners toe woodworking. So essentially you could just have your piece of word clamp company, a table on the news chisels in a mallet to stop making less. That being said, if you're already a woodworker, we have some experience of working, especially with sharpening tools. That was certainly help in the course, but it's not totally and utterly essential. This course is both anyone he just wants to learn and you creative skill. You could use it to create a gift for a loved one. You could use it like a sign for your kids door if your existing woodwork ill could add another new dimension to your woodworking. Nine. If your personal projects will make physical products that you might have, you might start making blacks with people. You start designing some of your cabinets that your only make, but you can personalize that there was handcrafted lives this closer to help you get a grasp of coming until would in general not just let me So. For instance, you go to Chip Cove ing after this, which is a very similar technique. What we're gonna learn this. We're also going to relief carving, makes a nice piece of art or even get some Gallagher's and makes a nice, curvy letters one day. But in this class is you're able to create your very own welcome sign. We could take the fund, print and Web kind of letters or numbers you wanted. Make a sign for your shared. Make a sign for a friend's wedding, uh, carves letters into top of the box Teoh Award. Drake. Hey, can plaque for your desk. You could do several different things that come up against ridiculous study. Anyway, I'll stop blabbing on and let's go with class, so thank you for listening to the interest. Let's get to it. 2. Tools and Materials Needed Tracing the Letters: It's the first of all. Let's look at the tools and materials that you need for this project. So I got my piece of pine that I've pretty cut. Like others from a hardware store. It's nothing special. It's just a piece of pie, the template printed off. And also you could use the fund to make your own word and print off if you like. Three bench chisels. What I have here is a 19 millimeter 13 millimeter on a seven millimeter on a pencil, the pensions to trace the letters on. You can also use it Teoh color in the back and then trace the lissome. But I'm going to use some carbon paper. So if pre cuts, um, carbon paper just a piece of film, that's my welcome template. We can do as well, if you want to, is toe. Take down the edges to make sure this doesn't shift as you're doing it. I'm not gonna worry about If you want to make sure it didn't shift, that's a good way. And then we're just gonna basically drool around the less concerned about what letters you go. This is a boy. You would do it. You could use a ruler for this if you want to super accurate right now, what I normally do is to get the shape of the on here like this on their news of real afterwards to find letters into the wood. But, you know, everyone has their own way. No, I'm just doing a lost letter on. I will show you what it looks like when it's done. So it might be anything need yet, but least with that is on the board, never ready to stop. 3. Holding the Chisel: one thing we have to consider when woodworking and particularly carving, is how to hold chisel not only for maximum effect meant trying to cut something, but also say, you don't cut yourself, because can I have a pretty easy on the using sharp chisels. So I'm just going to show you a couple of days, and I hold the chisel to make carving easier and perhaps of it. So far, so good Face a would go a clamp, and I'm ready to come off a little thing here. So if we want to have maximum control of the chisel, we don't wanna be holding it up here because, you know, it's a little bit loose up there, so you want to come a bit further down and actually hold around the blade. But, you know, try to avoid the sharp pointy end because that's not very nice. Felt touch for the hands. We could give it a couple tabs over five say that's one way to hold it for that particular cup. So another way we can handle chisel is Billy using a poem. It's over. Wrap your fingers around it like this and pushed down. It's pretty bad from standing up position, you can bear down on the way Dio cup they in the other direction. You don't like that, but always keeping this hand down the bomb here for the control of the bomb piece cause it's just a lot harder could took in trouble if you get your hands off here. That the times, Of course, when you can't use this grip safe around this direction, it doesn't really work very well from that way. So what you can do is kind of some on the front and your fingers on the back to sort balance this out. You're doing your cup down like that. Then I just switched around here. You can go back to this group and come back in that way. So it's just ways you kinda get used to. You probably my even develop here in style. Everybody has around holding innocent, so but to me, this is quite a safe way of doing it, and it gives you a lot of control 4. Carving the W: So now comes the slope, the scary part, which is starting to call the lettuce. I'm going to stand up for this part because I feel like I could bear down a bit more weight onto the chisel impact to be a bit more accurate than I can while sitting down. But once again, it's kind of a person by person coming thing. It depends on the height of the table on what you're used to. So try a couple of different ways. You go find a way that works for you the best. So I know from the previous lesson that I can start coming in. These lines pretty much perpendicular to the grain as long as they're not too vicious with them. Should have no problem that on going to start by cutting a little bit further away from the parallel lines and sort this out afterwards. So first, let's get some waste out of these kind of upright pieces. Another good thing about standing up is that I can use sort of their bowl of the hand holding into the world to give me a bit more control, you know? So I'm not shaking around in no man's land up here like this. Of course, it gives you extra kind of clamping pressure on the word as well you can push down on. It helps you bet more. You can also use your knee on the world. If you want, you could sit on the wood. It's totally up to you. There's lots different ways to do it, really. But I would suggest to climb just cause it gives you no more controlled kind of pressure. Another thing to point out with your clamps. If you've got one that doesn't have a nice so rubber surface like this one moment of a piece of leather down or a piece of cloth the old piece of T shirts. Something like that, just to stop it marking the workers. We are working and pine here, so he will take up any little dings and stuff you know quite easily. So it's always nice toe keep the word is nice as possible when clamping down. Okay, so the name of the game here is to make some these. So imagine these pieces split down the middle. Staying away from these ends the moment. Come in here with the chisel. Come inside the line. We don't get right on the money. I wanna come inside. I just a few taps of encouragement go in that direction. Now that's coming from the other direction. Could take out pieces. No, the wood is starting to chip out. Do you want weaken fresh out of the hands? Or if you don't use that, you could always use an actual brush to brush away. The bits will stop you potentially getting swimmers. So you have a first part kind of roughly carved out. We want to do the same going there on their on their. So we do that now and they will start working on taking the cups down to their final death . One of this things, remember, when doing this port is to try and aim on an angle of about 45 degrees, I'm going down into the wood. If we come down to shallow like this, then we're gonna end up breaking a message piece of wood off there, which we don't want to do. If you come into deep, then we're gonna cut down Are nice looking the edges that we're gonna make here. So I want to come in between yeah and flat come to about 45 degrees bed last summer. Start making sense more brave Cuts come down in there like that. Waken come from the opposite direction just a few times. Don't flush that out. You can see it's not really there. So now we can down on a little bit give a little wiggle, Keep going until we get what we want to go Could keep coming from both sides. I am that the down he has toe Imagine an imaginary point down there. Imaginary line that to sink down into There we go and they consider a little bit of a long piece of trying to take out. Just carefully slicing. Okay? Yeah, it's pretty much you first part Dumb. I just can't keep going down in here under following up by that. So now we can do the same process of these parts to go a little bit. Want to take off, But that's OK. Do the same process with those parts. There 5. Finishing the W: we got ready a lot of the waste and got nice or V cuts. I'm gonna show you how tow cars, some of the more complicated parts of the W they have your first finished left, which is actually quite achievement. And it's pretty cool when you first of it. So let's get so you can see how I've got these. Oh, wow. So the next part to do is this kind of tricky part where these two lines meet. Just gonna show you how I would go about doing that, and then we'll finish off these ends here. So the first step here really wants to just carry on up this line as usual and then come up this inside line and keep following up on a straight line. So I'm gonna do the same with this opposite side and have the meat and just kind of have this line here, continue up. So I'm gonna start establishing this line now. Just saying the same as usual. Security says made a nice little point in the middle When we come back to this side here and take this out down here, do the same as we did on all the other sides a little bit. We'll do a big cleanup. Let's do the cleanup. We can stand up and do the pushing down cup that I showed you. So you got the right hand pushing down on the chisel, kind of wintering in there to cut that out. You can come back from the other side, Same over, while imagining that point down in the bottom of the way. Have to get a chance to. And that line that's imaginary until you get down to it and then doing the same away. Up here, coming down here, just kick work your money. So, like it the effect way. Want again? So now this is where it gets a little bit tricky. I don't want to switch toe seven enemy A chisel for this. One of the smallest one. When a day is just come here a bit like that. Same with the opposite side. And then instead look a slicing cut. So I'm gonna come in here, this take out trying to angle it down. Very good. I share from another angle. Say concealing did so. You come in from this angle coming from this angle tips and so It's just that we work for, but it's not coming. All the three and then been a slice. I want to do it so that the point of the chisel kind of reaches the V. So the edge of the very corner of the chisel there wants to reach the the or let's get close to it, and then we can come back takeover out. Keep doing it bit by bit slow. Start in that corner. Take his little or as much as you want at a time, just whatever you're comfortable with to try and get a cup as clean as possible. So I offered him the camera, not the liver. There you go. So these are probably some of the weirdest parts to carve for this particular form. The reason I show you this one because it's nice and square. So there's no curved edges, which quite hard to do with just normal bench chisels. So the end part was kind of strange, and it's kind of up to an interpretation. Little bit as well lack coughing really was going to show you the way. So coming here like this same with the opposite side, and I'm going to do that slicing cup again. He's going to start by slicing that piece off, and that's out. I wear size down a bit, take a current base directions. Probably probably step up a chisel. Step up to the medium chisel coming down there coming down here. I'm just trying to work out and yeah, it's just shines what we're gonna get to Well, this is just about a little small movements and then cleaning up, especially on your first start out, you'd be spending a lot of time cleaning up the little cuts. Then it's toast. Cuts the app a little bit, got some of the fluffy stuff out of Africa and trying to find the lines a little bit sharper. The lines are and the chauffeur chisels up Nice of the last look. So I'm Clampett. Those are you have w considered nice grain from that direction. If w called out. So the same principle applies to all the letters. Really? So the e is very straightforward is about a C L C, and the hour of it's strange because these angle parts but we'll get to that. So the next letter is e Mr 6. Carving and Finishing the E: we have the So it started off by coming out the perpendicular part first, because I'm never gonna have any issues with grain split. But the problem is here we have three parallel pieces to come out, so we need to make stop cuts What we did like I showed you the very beginning. So no need to make a cup there one. They're on their on their one that I don't have to worry about this part because I've already got a stop cut there because there's a couple of So it's not gonna supposing about a split three there cause it come. So now let's do there's still cuts and try that. So if they stop quite so I'm going to use the small chisel again. Well, I'm gonna do that's coming a bit of an angle, but you have to bear in mind that this cut is going to be down at an angle like this down at the 45 degree angle, coming in there and coming in there. So Oh, this stop cut to have a point down in the middle. Get anything too crazy. Can we just pushed down there? You don't even have toe. Use the mouth all the time. That's what I do. First down in that, probably best to come a bit away from the edge. You can see I'm perusing a would a little bit on the image because this is pied. So trying to come a little bit of life on the edge, huh? Where possible? Okay, so now I got to stop cuts there into a couple here as well, huh? Okay. So now I should be able to cut my pieces and without fear that the cup is going to extend beyond where I wanted to. So now let's get that whoa. Stuff like usual. Take the centerpiece out. You don't even really need the mallet for this part. I mean, you can use it because you're pushing the chisel in line with the grain. You don't really need the mallet so much because you know that you once that it wants to slide into the grain, is looking typing there for it to go into. So it's just pushing between five is over grounds. It comes up for usually that we can just keep refining this coming down the edges, talking out now and then just come down on the top edges. Another way you can do this is to slice better than the other side. You're going to hear the slice cut, which will give you a nicer finished. But it's hard to scale to get used to just pushing down the edges like this. The problem pushing on the edges either is that it can split in a way that you don't want it to. So we're trying slice when you can always finish off the bomb corner just sticking, of course, coming from side to side until it works in your favor. But yeah, so I go to a bit of a dollar. No, you come to the corner of the 80 here. That shouldn't have with doubly, sir, What a day has come down in this corner. Love this. It's the kind of slicing coat again down in that and the same in this direction. Come down here. Keep going back and forth until you got a nice the shape in their corner. Thanks. On this voice toe Xs getting in the way a little bit that Notre 7. Figuring out the C and O: Okay, So if you followed lessons so far, your things should look something in a bit like that. We covered w we did the A. The l is very similar to the A. So I didn't bother covering out the lessons because you could just go back to the 80 and check out what to do with CEO. Just taken off the perpendicular parts again on we're gonna figure out these corners, which are a little bit weighed. So let's try and do that. Okay? So for these ends here once again, fairly simple. Just coming in the they're a little bit then slicing this piece, trying to keep the point on the corner of the chisel down into the valley. So trying to make that get down into the valley? Yes. Finish off like that. It wants to come out again. We clean up Ebola. Okay, so that it's done. Now we have this issue this corner. So one skin, this is something that could be done. And if you are, are you deaf? Reminds it completely depends on your style on how you want it. The for purposes of this video, I needed it like this. So another slicing cup sometimes needs to solve. Come on a little bit. Then. We're just gonna come right here. Take that slicing cup again from a corner. Just take everything outside off as we would normally. So try and ease this piece out. So I'm probably gonna slice some cuts down here just to figure out we're gonna do here. Cut a bit too, Father. It's one of the dangers of doing this kind of slicing cup. Do the same. Here. Slice, slice again, Right. None of this cold. Trying to get this out bit by bit now. Okay. To corner. Yeah. Yeah. So I took this stuff out there. Take this piece out here we're looking for. It's a kind of line following around. I'm in a corner emerging, which is what we go. No, no, we did. There was slow the old on. The reason for picking this fund with these strange corners and things like this is because it's a completely straight phone and can be achieved with these straight chisels. Okay, if I heard curve letters, which is what most fans alike. So you have a curve to see your curve. Then we have toe start using gouges or some sort of more complicated techniques with the bench chisel, which I am not very good at. So I tend to use curved gouges when I'm doing current letters. So this is a good kind of star fun to counter, just to get you to understand the valleys and the twists and the turns. That's the reason for this form and why it's a little bit weird. But now we're gonna do this bit again, trying to have it faster than last time. Just so it's kind of a recap. So So I said, they're a bit come down here, maybe slicing here. You have to kind of steps do it in two steps, then papa section out here so we can get dealing with some details, have you? So I put that section out. Now we can deal with the details, so come down the engines. Here, take those out. They're on the corners of this, Okay? It's a little bit strange, this phone, and you wouldn't only have to tackle the problem with acting right now with most other funds, because this one is a little bit but but it's all straight lines. So that's the reason I picked it for this clause I'm trying to get to use. You know, that's few tools as possible to achieve something that not everyone can afford. You know, every single chisel in the book, okay? 8. Carving the M: the M is very similar to the W, and that has to sort straight parts on one. The shape up. Um, the W in this case is a bit different. This one is. These lines are a lot more straight seven where it's kind of easier. So I took it out, these two. So it's and I'm not gonna come in and do this report. You see, I've taken a lot of waste. So now I can just get in here pushing with the chisel cities bit with danger there that you're gonna split and go too far. So sometimes you go just take it a bit, but it make sure you establish please lines on the outside. Come in here. Get it Y stuff. Eventually. Get down to the V. Some use my 40 right now. Push down to that chisel. I can change, angle the phone, come in from this side again, these pieces out. So this bits coming Too troublesome. But it's not too bad when you think about it just because of slicing down from in here. Really? What are you going to get a straight down in the We're instead going to try and keep the angle a little bit and slice back, and that is done. So now we just got a day tops the bombs. The bombs are easy. We covered that before, but you should head to the top. Kind of cover the top part before as well. It's, uh this is kind of a little bit of a recap, I suppose. So. We come out from the both sides and then did Slicing cup. Uh, it's nice coming again from both sides. Come in and okay, clean up in the don't. 9. Finishing Touches: So you've got a card sign on. Actually, you're quite happy with it. Um, if your carbon paper is anything like mine, it might leave some unsightly pencil marks left on there. So what I have done is over raise as much as I can within a razor. Then in the next stage of BTO, go square block of wood on a piece of sandpaper. Program for two full, we grip, just wrap it around that, and then try and sand away the rest of it. There's probably other ways to do it, but that's the way I would do it. Not bad. What's doing it? But, you know, I'm just gonna show you how I'm gonna do a couple little finishing touches around the edges just to give it a bit more. A bit warmer, softer. Look, make it less of a block, so I'll show you got to say way out of it and got some of the pencil marks off. See another one. Okay, I'm gonna shampoo around the ages of it. I'm not gonna do it any particular way. I'm going to go for a super straight lines or anything, so I'm gonna take biggest chisel I've got here. Andi, I can see the grain is going along and upwards like this is going straight up like this. And that's the direction I want to follow in. So gonna take my chisel on this corner, slowed it down here. Just take a sham for off the top there just to soften up. But you could do this with sandpaper as well. Could send around the top edge is, you know, that's totally up to you. You don't have to do this at all if you don't want to. I would recommend sounding the corners just so you know, people handle it or whatever. They don't get split. Is there anything dig into their hand or anything like that? I just find this is a nice way to kind of soften up features a little bit and make it a bit less rigid. Make it look a bit more Just a bit more pleasing to the eye. Don't come in with some sandpaper. Did sign down here. This is the end grain. So go, Commodore, slice on this. Just slicing down the money comes the and just kind of trying phage. Yes. Just repeat around all the edges. So you made a sign we've done about shopping around the edge, oozes tied it up a bit. We sanded it down a bit. So now what we want to do you want to put some kind of finish on it or something so you could pick whatever finish you want it depending on mother's outdoors or inside or ever. It's a whole different, uh, subject entirely. That's a bit hard to cover in this class, but I'm just going to use Danish oil, so it's going to get some of that on there. This should make a last stand out more hopefully because they should sink in. I kind of get absorbed. I can see it has already started. Show up alone forgeries for my I would start well next to the cameras. That's strange, but can you get on that? Let's wipe the excess off. Trying to soak up their stuff is in the West. Don't make pools of finishing backers. Then they get a bit donkey on the very nice good. So now we can hang up somewhere. I suppose 10. Class Recap and Final Words: So now you have your very and welcome signed to hang up wherever you want. Like I said, this isn't the nicest looking phone Two Cove, but I was trying to give a very good introduction to people who just had square chisels. I have never done let carving before. If you wanna get into more fancy carving doing things like Times New Roman, which is a really nice fun to cough he needs on a different technique. We need to nice Kurt chisels and a few different kinds of coaches ALS as well. So the whole idea of this welcome sign the class is designed for people who have never done it before and also had limited tools on limit. Budget is already it's What you see is a piece of pie you know you can use and Stanley chisels or something else, um, near excuses or something from Amazon. Just normal bench chisels, and you can make this sign. So that was the whole point of this close to offer it to as many people as possible. So you learned about grain direction in relation to let A Car of England has a slice and nice, so consistent lines on, and we learned her to make very insulin. And, you know, you could use this to just decorate your house. You could put signs up in the house to put signs in your garden. You could if you got a wedding or you get into a friend's wedding, maybe you could make them subsides. Toe pup saying, You know, reception this way. Ceremony This way, you can make a sign for one of your friends, daughters, doors or something. You know, there's lots different things you could do. If you're a woodworker already, you could use this skill to customize your projects that we sell to people. Get at it is another kind of level of stuff you do. Even if you just a hobbyist, you could make up your own little solid business, perhaps, and use this toe, you know, sell a few sides, people and Christmas time and stuff like that. Who knows? Another thing I like about carving lettuces. That's a very deliberate and patient and calm and Zen like kind of process, but I think it teaches you to kind of be mindful in your work. Take your time, concentrate on get the result that you want. You know, that's another one of the main reasons I like it. Onda. I would really love to see the projects egos make. In fact, I'm quite desperate to see the project. See like so, please, if you have a go at it, just put pictures in the gallery. Andi, I would love to see what you making, what you guys come up with and how your designs have worked There. Thanks very much for taking the class and hopefully I will catch you saying