Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 4
March 2008
 
Carving Found Wood
 
 
 

For the past 20 years, I have been carving sculptures exclusively from found wood. It has given me the opportunity to explore my creativity in carving endless forms and sizes of sculpture. Most recently, my work has evolved into carving rooted trees that have suffered weather damage. One of my greatest joys is releasing something unexpected from this wood so that others can see it too.

Carved sugar maple   Burning creates texture
This carved sugar maple was a gift for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.   A closer view of the bear shows how the author created texture by burning the wood.

Found wood can be as simple as a stump from a fallen tree, as complex as a burl, or as common as a tree branch. It can be as small as a knot, or as large as a rooted tree.

It's important to gather found wood in a conscientious manner. Use care when exploring delicate bioregions in search of wood sources and remove only what you need—leave the rest to decompose naturally. Familiarize yourself with endangered and rare species in the particular area in which you are seeking found wood and be sure never to upset these. Always ask for permission to remove found wood from private lands or municipally owned areas.

Where to Locate Found Wood
Farmers' fields: In the region where I live (central Ontario, Canada), farmers' fields have proved a great source of uprooted cedar trees.
Local woodlands: fallen trees.
Shorelines: obviously a good source of driftwood. Look for standing trees you may be interested in carving. Keeping the root system intact aids in the fight against shoreline erosion, and the sculpture adds beauty and interest to the shoreline.
Local arborists can often provide you with, or help you locate, tree burls.
Any location that has withstood extreme weather conditions. Look for storm-damaged trees.

 
     
 
             
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