Small Scale Hand Carving
with Julia Harrison
Carving Series Level: Level I & II


This class gives you the easiest access and lowest cost route to beginning carving in our Carving series. You can think of this as the introduction to carving in a small space in your home.

Julia Harrison teaches adults and youth in the Puget Sound region and will be teaching at Penland School of Crafts, Penland NC,in August 2013..


A carver needs both the conceptual skills to "see" the form inside a block, and the technical skills to set that form free.  We'll develop both skill sets by creating small sculptures using a selection of versatile and efficient hand tools.  

This type of carving calls for a small assortment of affordable, portable, and easily-maintained tools. Students will need to arrive with a very basic set of personal tools.
Early on in the course, Julia will advise students on choosing, using, and maintaining a wider array of tools such as adzes, chisels, knives, saws and rasps.  A beginner should be able to put together an adequate set of starter tools for $50-$100.  

Class Description

Through a combination of demonstrations and supervised work time, we'll cover the basics by roughing out and carving simple spoons, then apply the same principles to carving sculptures (the instructor will demo a 1:6 figure but students will be free to choose their own subject matter).  Finally, we'll apply a range of finish carving and surface design techniques.  
This all-levels class will ground beginners in the fundamentals and allow more advanced students to refine their detail-carving skills.  Students can expect to leave with either one completed piece and several samples, or a few works-in-progress--as well as the knowledge they need to tackle whatever caving project comes next!

Day 1

  • Overview:
    • Hand exercises and safety
    • Coarse, Medium to Fine / Roughing, Shaping and Detailing/Finishing
    • Presentation: hand-carving tools (chisels, knives, planes, drawknives, scalpels, etc)
  • Spoon carving: 
    • Design, layout on blocks, roughing out with bandsaw
    • Working with the grain: Using handtools for interior/exterior carving
Day 2: 
  • Tool maintenance and sharpening
  • Figure carving 
    • Sketching and model-making for subtractive work
    • Laying out and bandsawing rough figures from blocks
  • Demo of Adze roughing
  • Carving in context:
    • Slideshow #1 (more direct work, eg Enku)
Day 3
  • Figure carving (continued):
    • Faceting
    • Stop-cuts
    • Reapplying/adjusting design
  • Demonstration: Use of the drawknife
  • Presentation: Surface refinement:  
    • Sanding vs scraping vs burnishing
Day 4
  • Figure carving (continued):
    • Demonstration: Drilling to excavate deep spots
  • Finish carving on spoons:
    • Chisel finish effect with different profiles
    • Simple patterns 
    • Detail carving with chisels and scalpels
  • Carving in Context:
    • Slideshow #2 (more refined work, e.g. Nadelman)
Day 5
  • Complete figure carving
  • Finish spoons and figures: 
    • Demonstration: Decorative finishes
  • Discussion: Choosing wood finishes



  • Safety glasses, dust mask, ear protection
  • Sketch book, mechanical pencil
  • Basic carving set (We'll define this shortly)
  • Any additional carving/woodworking tools

More about this class

  • Class Notes
  • Blog Entries



Class Information and Registration


  • Safety glasses, dust mask, ear protection
  • Sketch book, mechanical pencil
  • Basic carving set (We'll define this shortly)
  • Any additional carving/woodworking tools
Class size: 10
Cost: $650
Materials Charge: $25

Coming Classes:

If you would like to be notified when this class will be scheduled, please contact us via email at


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