Preview: Wood Carving, Part 2 – Carving Letters

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Whether it’s on the stern or a quarterboard- nothing beats seeing a boat’s name carved in wood.

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21 Responses So Far to “Wood Carving, Part 2 – Carving Letters

  • Avatar

    William Elliott says:

    Great video, I really enjoyed watching it. Reed, you’re so talented that the video makes me want to run out and buy a carving chisel and a piece of wood and get started. Alas, I know that the reason it looks so fun and simple in the video is because of your talent, and my first 100 attempts won’t come close. Nevertheless, I still think that I want to give it a try. Thanks.

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    Edward Barker says:

    Reed, Saw a video of you describing the various carving tools that were the basics used in your two videos, I can’t seem to find it now. Please advise. The Pheil tools are expensive so would like your choices for basic carving. Thanks, Ed Barker

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    drew cathell says:

    Is the sharpening video still in the works. Please address if you can the sharpening of the v tool used in the sign carving video. It presents some unique issues.


    • Steve Stone

      Steve Stone says:

      Yes Drew. Thanks for the question. We hope to shoot the sharpening video(s) shortly after the new year.

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    steve shay says:

    I bought letters for 50 cents a piece at an arts and crafts shop and stained them. Looks great. I wish I could post a photo here.

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    martin schulman says:

    As many of us have already said this is a remarkable and wonderful video. I would like to point out however that the lighting used in the course of the filming is inferior and substantially diminishes its value. May of the fine points of Reed’s technique are lost in the shadows.

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    drew cathell says:

    Great video. I have done a good bit of carving and sign carving over the years but use the v tool very little as it is difficult to keep sharp without forming a hook at the leading edge of the tool. Perhaps a followup video discussing sharpening the tool would be helpful Thanks for all you guys do.

    Drew and Kathy Cathell

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    James Johnston says:

    I was inspired by Reed’s work in this video and carved a registration number board using his technique. The project turned out OK but it would be useful to have a video that demonstrates kerning, how to outline/highlight the carved numbers/letters, applying gold leaf/paint, varnishing the board, etc.


    • Avatar

      Leonard Seastone says:

      To Letter space simply superimpose a visual grid between the letters. The grid should be approximately equal between each letter to give the letters a rhythm and balance that unifies the letters into a whole word. Classic example is the space between the letters both with upright stems such as N and N: NN is tighter than two letters of different configuration such as A and Y: AY. Move the NN further apart to somewhat accommodate and equal the “grid” between AY. You may also move the AY closer together, or a little of both adjustments if possible. Obviously TT can not be moved closer together without other tricks not usually used in boat signs. As you lay out your letters on tracing paper you may use a graphic design trick. Turn the paper upside down and judge the rhythm. it will be easier to see because you see the letterforms as forms rather than the letterforms being just letters.

      Background: The terms upper case and lower case are typeface nomenclatures. The Majuscule letters [upper case] were in a drawer [a case] above the drawer [case] of miniscule letters [lower case]. The term “kerning” as it is now used is a computer designation. A letterfrom is not necessarily a typeface

      Ok.If you are working in Majuscule letterforms (capitals) Carving is most appropriate as this was one of the major means to create these Capital letter forms in Ancient Greece and Rome. The relationship of capital to capital is different than lower case to lower case letters because of the process utilized during their inception. The carving of a capital letterform is not necessarily a carving of typeface. The use of a computer printout of a typeface is something that can be of an aid in the process but does not need to be followed exactly. An example of this is the change Reed made to the termination of the serifs.

      Leonard Seastone

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    Hans Scholl says:

    Hi Reed,
    This is a wonderful video, thank you for sharing the technique. What an inspiration to practice! Do you have a recommendation for the size of the gauge/v-tool you are using for a specific letter size? It looks as if you’re using a 90 degree tool, but I’m not sure if this is what I see?
    Thank you for the video and advice.

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    Paul Noble says:

    Wonderful to watch a craftsman at work. Fantastic to watch…..

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    Joe Walsh says:

    Excellent guide. Nice to see the 4 province’s flag in the background of the workshop too.

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    Clay Ford says:

    Excellent presentation. Would you be doing one on layout and letter spacing?

    I carved a sign using only a knife. I had no special chisels. I can see now how a corner chisel would make things a lot easier, and less soreness of hand.

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    Allen Sawyer says:

    Wonderful explanation. It is amazing to watch individuals who are masters at what they do. Reed’s ability to communicate, and teach at the same time as working is equally amazing! It is a skill that I don’t have.

    Reed, if you don’t already instruct or teach — you should! Thanks, for the lesson.

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    James Johnston says:

    Interesting video and excellent explanation of the technique. What size of letters/numbers are appropriate for a sign board?

    • Avatar

      Reed Hayden says:

      Hi James,
      Two and a half to three inch letters are generally good for signs.

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    Dale Niemann says:

    I am not a carver of wood. I enjoyed seeing a master at work.

    However, it appears that the most important factor here is sharp tools. This is where I have experienced the most difficulty in woodworking. Maybe Reed or others could do a video on tool sharpening.
    Thank you

    • Avatar

      Dustin Urban says:

      You’re in luck, Dale – stay tuned for an upcoming sharpening video in this series.

  • Avatar

    John Kelly says:

    It’s always inspiring to watch an artist at work. Reed makes this all look effortless, but it’s gotta be difficult to get it perfect.


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