Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Relief Carving Fundamentals


Relief Carving Fundamentals



Join professional woodcarver and teacher, Mary May, in this 5 day class as she helps you get started on the basics of woodcarving. She will start at the beginning and teach how to get your tools razor sharp, how to safely hold and use gouges, how to secure your work to the bench and how to carve in the correct grain direction. 

Class Description

The projects will start with a very basic floral relief carving with each project getting progressively more challenging (without you even realizing it!). Mary will walk you through the thought process of how to plan out a carving from start to finish. As you work through the various projects, she will share techniques on working with overlapping elements, tricks of how to make the carving appear deeper than it actually is and other carving secrets. Come join us in learning a fun and relaxing new skill!

You will get a chance to carve in basswood, mahogany and walnut.


Please bring your own tools. This tool list is approximate, use it as a guideline. If you have tools that are close to the numbers on the list, please contact Mary to see if they can be substituted. Mary will be bringing some extras if you can't find a full set, but won't have enough for everyone. If you have additional gouges not listed, please bring them - you can never have enough tools!

Mary May carving set packages are available through Chipping Away. The Beginner Set and Additional Set 1 are similar to the list below. 

  • Mallet
  • Fingerless gloves (bicycle or weight lifting gloves)
  • 6mm v-chisel
  • #3, 3mm
  • #3, 6mm
  • #3, 14mm
  • #2, 18mm
  • #5, 6mm
  • #5, 14mm
  • #7, 6mm
  • #7, 10mm
  • #7, 14mm
  • #8, 10mm
  • #11, 3mm
  • Flat chisel: single-bevel fishtail


There are no prerequisites for this beginner level class. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day and runs until 5:00pm in Building 304.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $785

Materials Charge: $40