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Chiseling Tutorial by piratecaptain Chiseling Tutorial by piratecaptain
Just a basic tutorial on how I use my chisel to carve wood, and in this case, the guard for one of my katanas. For any carving I do, it also helps to have a utility knife/carving knife and a pencil/pen. However, this whole tutorial can be accomplished with just a chisel.

I've already carved out one side of the guard here, just to see what we are going for. It is simply a basic recess to give the piece that 3-D quality and shadow. I'm using mahogany, but everything here applys for all types of wood, just keep in mind that the more pronounced the grain of the wood, the easier it is to catch that grain and ruin your work.

The first main step is simply to draw out what you plan to carve out. This first step may be most important, and can save lots of mistakes later. Then the best stategy way I've found is to take a knife and cut that line as well. This creates a buffer of sorts so that when you go to the chisel, you don't catch the grain and go right through the edge you're trying to make. This is very important to do, I can tell you just how frustrating it is to put in the four hours of work and then ruin it with an enthusiastic thrust with the chisel.

Next, start to chisel. Do shallow cuts, and go deeper as you go along. Again, caution is the way to go with this. And make sure your chisel is sharp, that way you don't have to push as hard. I just use my hand, not a mallet, I like the control I have that way. But it is more of a struggle that way as well. Just dig into the wood, and then just work the chisel, kind of prying the wood up as you go. Do this until you get as deep as you'd like, or until you are all the way through if that is what you want.

Now another thing to pay attention to is the curves on this one, and also the sharp corners. Because you want to go either perpindicular or parallel to your lines, you have to alter your game plan a little, and maybe take some risks. It is very important to have cut your lines well in these areas, for the reasons mentioned earlier. Makes your job so much easier when dealing with both these problems. Keeping this in mind, you can work your way around pretty well.

Once you have it all rough cut out, you probably want to finish it up a little, make your surfaces a little smoother. To do this, you can lightly chisel the surface, just to flatten things out, or scrape the surface with the chisel, to do the same thing. Then, you can sand it as well, if the surface allows for that. but you should probably sand the edges of the raised area to clean it up a little. Now, in terms of damage control, it is likely that you will either cut what you don't want out of the wood, or out of your finger (note the bandage on my finger). So band aids are good, and glue is good too. If you cut out a chunk, save it. That way its the same wood, and you don't have to worry about using wood filler to replace it. Just glue that piece back in.

That pretty much does it. If there is any way to make this better, easier to read, or if it needs more/better pictures, please please please let me know so I can make it better!
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:iconxaerith:
XAerith Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2010
Its very helpful,Iam glad when someone do a tutorial to help another people:rose:
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:iconsnickflip:
Snickflip Featured By Owner May 1, 2010
Thank you SO much! I have been looking for this for days! :D
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:iconamethystarmor:
AmethystArmor Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010
Wow. Nicely explained. Lots of work involved in carving wood. Nice to see the art isn't dying out!
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:iconpoison-stripes:
Poison-Stripes Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Very nice.
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:iconfixinman:
fixinman Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Another suggestion is to use maple plywood, it's layers make it really easy to maintain a level.
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'll be sure to add that in, it's about time to update this anyways! Thanks!
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:iconkarumaru:
Karumaru Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2008
Sharingan!!!! nice guide gonna add it to my favs :D
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2008  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks, hope it helps!
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:iconkarumaru:
Karumaru Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2008
it help alot man, thanks...
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:iconcaptain0marauding:
captain0marauding Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2008
Excellent tutorial, I finally understand it and want to use it now. Thanks! I'll try this, plus, it saves wood for guards and stuff. Guess AI don't need to use Chioky's tsuba-part-of-his-tutorial anymore and can use this.
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2008  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm glad that it was of use to you! Let me know if you have any questions about the details alright?
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:iconznow-white:
znow-white Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2008
Your wonderful tutorial has been featured here.[link]

Thank you for providing the gallery with such awesome Resources.:heart:
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2008  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks very much, I appreciate the kindness and compliment. And thank you for putting in the time to create the feature!
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:iconznow-white:
znow-white Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2008
Nothing but a pleasure :heart:
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:iconzanarah:
Zanarah Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Does this technique apply to making the trench in a sheath, thanks for the help these tut'r'ls rly help
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2008  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yes, this is pretty much exactly what I do for the sheaths. I'm glad they help!
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:iconlorryl:
Lorryl Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2007
I just want to say that I love your work and am using your pictures and this tutorial as a guide for making my own sword (Nel's, to be specific, so this chiseling tutorial is GREAT!). I am curious, what are the dimensions of the piece of wood that you start out with to make the guard?
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you very much for your kind words! I'm glad that my work is helpful to you. To answer your question, I use a 40 inch long by 4 inches wide piece of wood, usually a 2x4 with no knots. Then I just freehand a curve onto the wood. Lemme know if you have any other questions.
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:iconchioky:
chioky Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2007  Student Artisan Crafter
Wow finnaly its done! good job piratecaptain XD few questions:

1. Its definetly nell's guard you work too fast!!

2. pronounced the grain of the wood: expalin further please

3. is it difficult to make a knife cut around curves?

4. Should i pay extra attention and patience around corners?

5. How long does it ussualy take?

6. Can it be done on MDF which has no grain? or strip pine is it too weak?

Thats all i can think of now ^^
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Good, questions are great!

1. Yeah, it's Nell's. But hey, I couldn't resist, he gave us such a good picture right after her transformation.

2. Well, take pine for instance. Pine has a very obvious grain that can easily get caught and therefore can be harder to work with. Maple however, doesn't have as pronounced of a grain, therefore it's harder to catch the grain and let it get away from you.

3. A sharp knife isn't too hard. If it doesn't cut well just use a chisel and cut down. It just takes longer that way.

4. Absolutely.

5. Took me about an hour to finish that whole guard left and right.

6. Well, for strip pine, I'm not really sure, as I'm not as familiar with it, but I don't see why not. You'd probably have to be careful about it chipping out on you though.

I realize that you might not be asking all those questions for yourself, I just answered them all so that others might see them too.
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:iconchioky:
chioky Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2007  Student Artisan Crafter
Hmm so can it be done with MDF? XD
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would say so, yup.
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:iconchioky:
chioky Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2007  Student Artisan Crafter
But it has no grain whatsoever please explain @.@
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
oh no, the lack of grain would probably help. you don't need a grain to chisel, the grain can just present problems so you have to be careful about it.
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:iconchioky:
chioky Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2007  Student Artisan Crafter
Ah so you dont need grain th chisel I see I thought grain was the most important thing you just needed alot of it XD
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Nope, I'm sorry for the confusion.
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:iconaridelaariadne:
AridelaAriadne Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2007
great ^^
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:iconpiratecaptain:
piratecaptain Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks very much! I appreciate it.
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