Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Carving Viking Dragon Heads


Viking Carving

Jay Haavik

LEVEL 2, 3



From the carved objects found in the Osberg ship find in 1905 to the large portals on wood churches (stave churches), the wood carvings from the Viking age stands as some of the finest wood carvings. 

While much of the carvings were deep relief, there were also wonderfully carved 3 - dimensional objects such as the animal head posts.

In this intensive 5 day workshop with Jay Haavik, participants will have the opportunity to carve a Viking age "dragon" motif in semi-figure 8 pattern. The inspiration for the carving comes from the portals of the Norwegian stave churches. This is an "open" and deep relief carving project with lots of opportunities to texture the surface with various kinds of "diamond cuts" found on Viking age carvings.

The carving will be approximately 12 - 14" in size and made of mahogany.



Activities in this class: 

  • Cleaning up the edges and surfaces of the pre-roughed out carving
  • Create the "over and under" shapes of the "dragon"
  • Sculpt the shape of the head, tail, leaf motifs, etc.
  • Demonstrations on sharpening, carving techniques
  • A number of image presentations will be presented on Viking age art, the new Oseberg Viking ship construction as well as contemporary Viking style art
  • How to add the various "diamond cuts" to the surface of the "dragon"
  • A trip to Edensaw Woods to select the back panel for the "dragon" carving


Necessary Equipment: 

  • Pencils and sharpener
  • white eraser
  • a plastic "see-through" 12" ruler
  • leather strop
  • personal sharpening equipment
  • several clamps for securing carving to bench
  • straight knife: The Japanese convex carving knife from Lee Valley (#60D04.03) is excellent. Find it here.

You will need a variety of gouges and chisels. The following specific tools would be helpful. 

You can obtain the following pfeil Swiss-made tools from Woodcraft (the series numbers are from the Woodcraft catalog print and online).

  • #2 sweep 12mm (#05B08)
  • #2 sweep 18mm (#05E37)
  • #3 sweep 12mm (#05C07)
  • #5 sweep 12mm (#05D05)
  • #7 sweep 12mm (#05E42)
  • #1 straight edge chisel (single bevel) 14mm (#05E20)

If these specific ones are not available, get the closest size
The instructor will have some tools available as well.
If you have questions about tools and equipment please contact Jay at haavik@comcast.net


Some previous wood carving experience is necessary. Having taken the previous week's "Foundations of Woodcarving" course would be helpful as a beginner. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 306 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 750

Materials Charge: $ 60

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.