My wife came back from Wooworking in America with a few carving gouges and a lot of enthusiasm. She and I had attended Mary May‘s seminar on carving oak leaf shapes, and we were keen to try out what we had learned. We gathered oak leaves from the tree in the front yard to serve as models, and I rummaged around in my wood stack for some suitable wood to carve. I came up with some 7/8″ thick walnut.
The first step was to draw out the shapes of the leaves on the stock. These leaves come from a post oak. I carefully flattened out a few and traced them onto the wood, modifying the curves here and there to suit my eye.
Then I used a brace and bit to created the tight radii between the lobes of the leaves. That also made it easier to cut out the shapes with the bow saw.
The bow saw works exceptionally well in this application. However, the results were blanks that were far too thick. Mary May suggested 1/2″ thick stock, but I figured we could make them a little thinner.
So I got out my tenon saw and resawed each blank by hand, leaving me with blanks of an acceptable thickness. Wouldn’t it have been quicker to resaw the board first? Not necessarily. Then I would have had to cut out twice as many leaves with the bow saw.
The next step was to adhere the stock to a backer board. We tried several methods, including double-stick tape. A couple drops of super glue ended up working the best for us.
Finally, we were ready to start the actual carving. Some lobes curl up and others curl down, so we tried out both designs, often on the same leaf.
The idea is to excavate the center of the leaf with the gouge, and then work into each lobe. Lobes that curl up get excavated almost to their edges. Lobes that curl down get rounded over. It helps to have a half-dozen gouges of various sweeps and sizes.
Vein lines carved with a V-chisel give it further depth. This is one of the first ones we finished.
Now to carve a dozen more!