What you'll need
We have come up with a hand carving project to inspire any budding wizard or simply anyone who has a passion for wood carving!
This project aims to use a range of carving hand tools and techniques to achieve a beautifully unique carved wooden wand with delicate details.
A number of carving knives and techniques are required to complete the perfect wizard’s wand.
Here, we take you through some simple tips to get you started off and some basic techniques to help you achieve the perfect cuts and details. Also included are some safety tips and work holding techniques to ensure you carve your project safely.
For this project we use the Flexcut 18 Piece Deluxe Knife Set focusing on using the Pelican Knife, Roughing Knife, Chip Carving Knife, Detail Knife and Cutting Knife.
The Pelican Knife has a curved blade, perfect for sweeping cuts.
The Roughing Knife has a straight blade, great for slicing cuts and fast stock removal.
The Chip Carving Knife has a short, stubby blade allowing you to get close to the workpiece and anchor your thumb, and give extra strength to the tip.
The Detail Knife has a long thin pointed blade, great for getting into tight spots and carving finer detail.
Work holding and safety
Here are some basic rules to follow when hand carving to ensure you hold your workpiece safely and securely to prevent any slips or accidents.
- Always keep both hands behind the cutting edge.
- Take small cuts and repeat them to remove waste rather than do it in one big cut.
- Always carve away from your body, rotate and manipulate the workpiece to keep cutting away from yourself.
- Keep your knives sharp! A sharp knife will give you more control. Blunt knives will make you push harder, increasing the chance of a slip.
- Think about how you are holding the workpiece, is there a safer way?
Carving your wizard’s wand
Roughing out/cleaning up
First, remove all the twigs and sharp bits of bark using the Pelican Knife and the Roughing Knife, holding the knife in your dominant hand and the project in the other.
Bring your grip high on the knife handle and place your thumb on the handle behind the spine of the blade. Place your other thumb (from the hand holding the project) on top to add more control and stability.
For the sweeping cut, engage the heel of the Pelican Knife and pivot off of your thumbs. This will push the blade forward in a slow, controlled arch. Use the same grip with the Roughing Knife, but instead of pivoting, use your supporting thumb to push and advance the blade. This is a small movement which is limited by the reach of your thumb.
Cut to length
Decide on the length of your wand and either mark with a pencil or with your carving knife. You could cut this with a saw or take multiple cuts with your roughing knife. Sand or carve the tip to your liking.
Carving the wand shaft
You can carve your wand in any shape and with any pattern you like. Here are the steps we took.
First, to visually separate the wand shaft from the wand handle, make two shallow stop cuts with the project resting on the bench, one cut where the handle ends and one roughly 40mm along the length of the wand shaft.
Using the Cutting Knife, take off the bark layer working both ways to carefully cut up to the stop cuts. Then use the Chip Carving Knife to make some pyramid cuts and produce a few triangle details.
When chip carving it is very important to hold the knife correctly and ensure your workpiece is held securely. Your thumb should be located close to the blade of the knife with the heel of your thumb locked against the handle. For stability you should have three points of contact, your thumb should be planted on the workpiece, the knuckle of your index finger and the knife itself.
It may be worth marking out the triangles with a centre point. The pyramid cut is made by presenting the knife at roughly 30° and taking three intersecting cuts that meet at a point. Again, it is important to rotate the workpiece to avoid working at awkward angles.
On the last cut you should feel the chip “pop” loose. Avoid levering out chips with your Chip Knife as this could damage the blade.
Next, make a few longer incised chips using the Detail Knife. Hold the Detail Knife with a pencil type grip and make a vee cut along the length of the grain. A relief cut at each end will release the long thin chip. Then clean the bark off of the shaft by putting in another shallow stop cut and use a combination of sweeping and slicing cuts.
We kept the natural bark on the handle, but carved a couple flat spots for comfort where the thumb and index finger will grip the handle. Add any other details you like at this point. We decided to chip carve a lightning bolt into the handle.
Finish with an oil of your choice.
Had a go? We want to see it!
If you have had a go at hand carving a wizard’s wand, we would love to see it! Comment below or send us a photograph. Alternatively, get in touch via our social media platforms and share your photographs of your pieces. Find us on Facebook or connect with us on Instagram – search @Axminstertools.