This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
When the carver has made a selection of a design and of a piece of wood to be carved, he proceeds to transfer the design to the wood. There are several ways of performing this.
(1) Rub the surface of the wood with chalk, and then sketch the design on it.
(3) Sketch the design on paper, lay it on the wood with a sheet of carbon paper intervening, and pass a hard point over the lines, when they will be transferred to the wood.
No two carvers work exactly in the same manner, but the object of all is to secure complete command over the action of the tools. In general terms, the tool should be firmly grasped by the left hand, so that the hand reaches to within about 1 in. of the cutting edge, while the right hand encompasses the top of the handle and applies the motive power. It is a great advantage to the operator to be able to reverse this order of things in left-handed work. In diaper carving, commence by cutting out the outline with the parting tool, held slanting in the right hand, with the left hand arched over the tool, and having the wrist and finger-tips resting on the work, as a check to the forward motion of the tool, and a guide in curves. The groundwork of the design is thrown up by punching. In commencing a panel in relief, the outline is gone over with a chisel or gouge held perpendicularly in the left hand, with the middle finger beside the blade, the right hand giving slight blows with the mallet. Small gouges are next used to scoop out the parts to be cut away, and chisels to reduce the ground to a uniform depth. To ensure clean cutting, the grain of the wood must be constantly watched and humoured by altering the direction of the tool.
The work consists in the two operations of "blocking out" the design (cutting away the superfluous wood) and "finishing" the details, but every carver has his own way of dividing the work between the two steps. A great choice of beautiful designs will bo found in Bemrose's 'Manual of Wood Carving.'