Getting Started with Letter Carving

Getting Started with Letter Carving

Carving letters and words into wood can be one of the more challenging projects to tackle in woodworking, but with a little patience and practice, it can be a skill worth having. The art of letter-carving can instantly turn a regular piece of furniture into an heirloom. You can create a stylish sign or homemade gift with your new found skill.

Ready to get started? First decide if you want to carve incised letters or relief letters. Incised letters are generally carved into the wood with a V-cross section. There a couple different ways to create this. If you are using the X-ACTO Woodcarving Kit, use the V-shaped blades along with the gouge blades to achieve the V-cross sections and carve each letter shape. The V-tool is easiest to use on the straight areas on each letter. Curved letters can be roughed out with the V-tool, and then cleaned up with curved gouge blades. A second technique is to carefully carve each side of the "V" using your blade at a 45 degree angle. One important tip for letter carving is to make sure your blades are razor sharp for clean smooth cuts.

Relief letters are easier to carve than incised one, but it also depends on the effect you are going for. The background is cut away for relief letters, leaving the letters to stand out from the rest of the wood. Relief letters make more sense when you want thick chunky letters. With incised letters, you can achieve thinner more sophisticated letters.

A few things to keep in mind when getting started are: larger letters are easier to carve than smaller ones; capitals are easier than lower-case letter; and be sure to plan out your words or letters on a computer first to ensure you have the proper spacing between letters and use your printout as a template.

Once you master the skill of letter carving, you will be hooked. It is truly an art form of its own that can transform any wood project into a personal showpiece.