WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Essential Woodcarving Techniques

Essential Woodcarving Techniques
by Dick Onians

Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, 1997
Paperback, 180 pp., $17.95
ISBN: 1-86108-042-5

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     Carving is a woodworking world of its own. This volume features guidance from a master craftsman with insight on the many and varied facets of woodcarving.
     "I do not claim that the techniques I describe are the only way of doing things," Dick Onians states. "As my teacher William Wheeler used to tell: 'If taught by three part-time tutors on successive days, each would ask what fool had told me how to do this work, and then show me the proper way'."
     Onians begins with an introduction to tools, sharpening techniques, and a guide to selecting the best wood to use. A long chapter on moisture content and seasoning wood is useful, with an emphasis on what peculiarities affect the suitability of wood for carving. An appendix lists his favorite species and what to expect from each one.
     Beginning with chip carving and moving on through architectural moldings, then foliage and linenfold carving, Onians introduces skills that build on information presented in previous chapters. He explains high and low relief, carving in the round, animals, the human figure and abstract forms.
     The text is especially useful in conveying this master carver's experience, for example, undercutting to make use of light and shadow, when details cut in to the surface can be too much, and how to use edges to suggest movement. The author encourages drawing, design and thinking ahead about depth and perspective. He also discusses built-up laminations, bowl carving and stylized modern figures.
     Photographed in color with black-and-white line drawings, this book inspires the reader to explore new directions with wood and tools.

...Barb Siddiqui