WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Carving Architectural Detail In Wood

Carving Architectural Detail In Wood
by Frederick Wilbur

Guild of Master Craftsmen Publications: 2000
Paperback, 160 pp., $19.95
ISBN 1-86108-158-8

       Order Now!

     The critic might point out that architectural carving is of a lesser stature when compared to the art of sculpture - that the architectural carver is a copyist, and is satisfied with repetitive tasks - but this is a simplistic observation," Frederick Wilbur says in his Notes to the Reader. "A comprehensive understanding and uncommon skill are necessary to balance the many aspects of the work...
     Wilbur begins with a chapter on classical design, briefly covering mathematical proportion and the general use of symmetry, with historical notes on architectural styles. After that, full color photography illustrates the layout, marking aids, tools and techniques to create moldings in flat designs, concave designs, cyma profiles, astragals, ovolo and frieze. He explains how to carve spirals, scrolls and volutes. A chapter is dedicated to rosettes: incised, applied, and high relief. Another chapter covers capitals: leaf, ionic, romanesque and corinthian.
     The last chapter, Wilbur calls 'applications.' All the various patterns and designs discussed earlier are shown here, now applied to a picture/mirror frame, several fireplace mantels, and some interesting gateposts.
     Much of the carving shown is in reference to furniture: acanthus leaves swirling across the rounded knees of cabriole chair legs, C-scrolls edging a table apron, gadrooning along the upper edge of a table, or topping off the egg and dart molding along a chair rail.
     This book is a wonderland of sample pieces to try, and work to aspire to. Specific carving terms are denoted in bold type throughout the text, then easily referenced in the glossary of terms at the back of the book. Wilbur includes a lengthy bibliography, including classic reprints from Dover Publications, and the many volumes cited in his text. The book is fully indexed, and presented in full color.

. . . Barb Siddiqui