Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Foundations of Woodcarving


Foundations of Woodcarving



From carving the bark off of a stick with a pocket knife to the highly finished, beautiful work of 18th century limewood carver Grinling Gibbons and more, woodcarving has been enjoyed and practiced by those who feel a strong attraction to wood, its texture, color and grain.

If you have always wanted to learn to woodcarve or have tried to but been frustrated by a lack of information or courage this is a class for you. Taught by long-time professional woodcarver, artist and furniture maker, Jay Haavik (www.jayhaavik.com), this workshop will give you the beginning skills and confidence to start you on the path to being a woodcarver.

Class Description

In this Level I Foundation workshop, participants will learn some of the many aspects to woodcarving as well as having the opportunity to complete one or two projects.

Some of the areas to be covered are:

  • safety in carving and in the shop 
  • tool selection and type
  • various types of carving woods and appropriateness for different uses 
  • selecting the right tool for the form 
  • carving techniques with gouges, chisels and knives 
  • understanding grain direction and its importance for working the wood 
  • sharpening 
  • finishing a carved piece - to sand or not to sand? 
  • creating a design…the importance of drawing, and transferring drawings to wood 
  • types of carving styles…from traditional European styles to NW Native forms to Viking motifs to contemporary carvings and more

While covering these areas, there will be a series of practice exercises leading up to a completed project(s).

Carving brings you very closely in contact with the grain of the wood - you will learn at a very visceral level how you need to adapt the cut direction to the grain. Carving is like dancing with a tool - you’ll learn how to use you whole body to control the carving tool and the grace of the curve.



  • sketch pad
  • pencils and sharpener
  • white eraser
  • plastic “see-through” 12” ruler
  • carver’s mallet 
  • straight knife: The Japanese convex carving knife from Lee Valley (#60D04.03) 


A variety of gouges and chisels, however the following specific tools would be helpful. The pfeil Swiss made tools are excellent as thet are already sharp and of well made steel. Other brands are fine if they are well made and sharp.

You can obtain the following pfeil Swiss made tools from Woodcraft (the series numbers are from the Woodcraft catalog print and online.   (http://www.woodcraft.com)

  • #12 “V” parting tool 8mm (#05T85
  • #1 straight edge chisel (single bevel) 14mm (#05E20)
  • #11 4mm veiner (05T51)
  • #2 sweep 12mm (#05B08)
  • #2 sweep 18mm (#05E37)
  • #3 sweep 12mm (#05C07)
  • #5 sweep 12mm (#05D05)
  • #7 sweep 12mm (#05E42)
  • #9 sweep 7mm   (#05G06)

If these specific ones are not available get the closest size.

The instructor will have some tools available for students to use as well. If you have budget issues, buy what you can and there will tools to use.

If you have questions about the class, tools, etc. contact the instructor at: haavik@comcast,net 


This course is open to beginning woodcarvers. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 206 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: $30

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.