Relief Carving by our Master Wood Carvers.

Relief carving is as old as antiquity, yet it is still enjoyed by carvers today. There is essentially no limit to this form of artistic expression. Relief carving is a sculptural form in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than standing freely. Depending on the degree of projection, reliefs may also be classified as low, medium or deep relief. Relief usually under ½” in depth is considered a low relief carving. A medium relief would be up to 2”, and over 2” would be high or deep relief. All our carvings in other than standalone items at the Master Wood Carvers website are done in relief. Relief carving can be described as “carving pictures in wood”. The process of relief carving involves removing wood from a flat wood panel in such a way that an object appears to rise out of the wood. Relief carving begins with a design idea, usually put to paper in the form of a master pattern which is then transferred to the wood surface. Our Master Wood Carvers use only hand tools-chisels and gouges-which sometimes require a mallet to drive them through the wood. As wood is removed from the panel around the objects traced onto it from the pattern, the objects themselves stand up from the background wood. Modeling of the objects can take place as soon as enough background has been removed and the object edges are trimmed to the pattern lines. In order to secure the wood panel, a workbench with fixtures like bench-dogs, carver’s screw or clamps, is necessary. Carving tools come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, some aimed strictly at the hobbyist, but others directed at professional carves. Some carving tools are held with one hand while the carving is held in the other. But most relief carving requires that the wood panel be secured so that both hands may be on the carving tool. Do you have more questions about relief carving? Leave us a comment!