Woodcarving tools consist of gouges and chisels or "firmers" with handles that fit into the palm of the hand, or with handles that are used with mallets. The shape of the metal end determines the type of cut that can be made. Gouges make curved and F-shaped cuts; chisels make straight cuts. For the first steps, the tools that have handles that fit in palm of the hand are good; these are similar to linoleum cutting tools. Sets of tools usually have "slips"-shaped sharpening stones to aid in keeping the tools sharp. Woodcarving firmers are different from carpenter's chisels because they have blades that are sharp on both sides of the blade, as contrasted with the carpenter's chisel, which is sharpened on only one side. There are many shapes and sizes of these gouges and chisels; a small woodcarving set gives the basic tools, and is adequate for camper projects (Fig. X-43). A bench block (Fig. X-44) is an essential piece of equipment in using woodcarving tools.

Dishes, Bowls, Plates, etc.

All kinds of wooden utensils can be made from pieces of scrap lumber that is free from knots and cracks, or from interesting natural pieces. These are products of pioneer crafts, for such utensils were used in the daily living of pioneers and early settlers. One American song tells of the girl who was ready to marry, for, among other things, she had "a spoon and a cup and a trencher."

Dishes, Bowls, Plates

Equipment needed: crosscut saw; gouges; jackknife; bench block; coping saw; finishing equipment-sandpaper, etc.

Materials needed: blocks of wood as desired-for a small plate, about 8" x 8" x 3/4"; for a bowl, about 4" x 4" x 4".


1. Plan shape of utensil. Draw on all sides of block to be used (Fig. X-45 a). For a plate, the bottom may be cut out in a desired shape, the bowl of the plate conforming with the outside shape.

2. Saw off excess wood with coping saw, leaving to 3/4" margin outside pencil marks of pattern. With jackknife, continue trimming and beveling until edges are as desired. Take off small bits of wood, using stopper cuts to prevent long splinters (Fig. X-45 b).

3. Use gouges to dig out bowl; cut with the grain as much as possible. Turn the piece and go in opposite direction when the curve of side is reached. Make gradual deepenings, rather than sharp angles, and proceed slowly (Fig. X-45 c).

4. Finish by sandpapering until satin-smooth. Stain, if desired, and wax or shellac when dry. Rub down with very fine sandpaper, and wax or shellac again. Repeat several times. For salad dishes, use vegetable oil rather than shellac on inside surfaces.

A bowl is made in similar fashion to the plate, but the starting piece of wood is deeper, and the gouging of the inside of the bowl is more difficult (Fig. X-46). Simple carving on the rim of the bowl makes the project more interesting to advanced craftsmen.

A Noggin Or Hike Cup

Hike cups may be made from blocks of wood, in same manner as a bowl, but with a handle (Fig. X-47). Noggin is the name given to a cup made from a burl of a tree. The burl is a protuberance where there has been some injury to the tree which has healed over completely, so there is bark all over it. The burl can be sawed from the tree in the same manner as removing a limb. The spot on the tree should be painted to prevent rotting. It is easier to make noggins from green wood, since the burl is a knot, and therefore very hard (Fig. X-48). Gouge out with wood gouge. Sand and finish as desired.

A Noggin Or Hike Cup

FIG X-49.

Using Driftwood, "Character" Wood, Cypress Knees, etc.

There are many interesting forms in driftwood, roots, and other pieces of wood found in the open. Sometimes these suggest a use, as a lamp base or a flower holder; sometimes they are beautiful in themselves or in some flower arrangement. The camper with an appreciative eye will soon find small and large pieces of wood that resemble something or that suggest beauty.

Some of these will have spots of rotted material in them; some will be enhanced by scraping or by sanding; many will be useful or beautiful as they are. A jackknife to dig out crevices, a bit of sandpaper and some steel wool, and wax to bring out the beauty will be the only tools needed.

Hang some pieces to resemble birds in flight, or make mobiles of other interesting nature objects. Put some on mantels with candles or flowers. Use some as bases for candles or lamps. There are many possibilities.

Chip Carving

This is a form of carving in geometric designs cut with a single-edge razor blade or stencil knife on a flat surface, such as a pin blank, box, notebook cover, etc. It is a good step in progression in working with wood, but is not a craft directly related to out-of-door living.

Chip Carving