One thing that attract me to wood carving is trees. Now that might sound to obvious, but trees – their shape (both positive and negative), color, smell, bark, leaves, sound, feel, climb-ability – are a big part of carving for me. That is why I recommend wood carvers have a few books on trees and wood around.
One book worth having is “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees.” This field guide is filled with many interesting facts, wonderful color plates and much information useful to a wood carver. Its introduction tells us that there are over 50,000 species of trees in the world. Only 680 of them are native to America. Wood carvers are always looking
for different wood to carve. Good, basic wood types – bass, butternut, sugar pine, white pine, birch, walnut, oak. But just this one fact about s pieces opens up worlds of possibility for the carver. So many kinds of wood to try, so little time.
The color plates of tree bark and leaves are also useful. Audubon divided the plates into groups by leaf shape and structure. Further subdivisions by tree types allows the reader to quickly find a type of tree of interest. Tree identification is aided by the plates provided. Cottonwood bark carvers become much more aware of tree bark, its beauty, and variety.
One other feature that a carver may find useful is the section giving tree descriptions, habitat, and range. Carvers looking for different kinds of wood, assuming they are a bit more adventurous and aren’t just going down to the local lumber yard, will know where the tree of interest can be most easily found.
Audubon’s Field Guide for North American Tree is a valuable and interesting tool for any wood carver.
There are many interesting types of wood with interesting names and characteristics. One that always
catches my attention is zebra wood. Its characteristic stripe always draws my eye when I am reading books or magazines on wood or carving. It does not come off as the best carving wood, but for backgrounds or accents there is much to attract us to this wood.
Zebra wood is an “exotic.” Translate that into limited availability and expensive. It is also considered a “threatened” species, thought one article did speak of reforestation attempts in West African nations where it is most common.
Dramatic coloration attracts those who make furniture, veneer, paneling, arts and crafts, turnings and flooring. It is said to saw easily but to plane with difficulty. An added feature is that the wood smells, stinks when it is planed, like its name sake. The wood glues well. The finishing process must be done with care given the different densities in the striping. One characteristic a wood worker must take note of is the wood’s “shrink” factor. It tends to shrink a lot in the drying process.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.