Viking carving



The 1904 excavation in Norway of the Oseberg Viking ship revealed a vast array of woodcarvings, unlike anything seen previously.  Dragon like headposts, elaborately carved sleighs, an exquisite wagon, and of course, the carvings on the ship itself revealed to us the extent of the imagination and skill for the woodcarvers in the 9th century region of Vestfold, Norway.

Understanding of these woodcarvings, the techniques and types of tools used, and familiarity with the forms can greatly add to ones woodcarving knowledge and creativity

This five day workshop will be an opportunity of beginning as well as experienced carvers to experience the pleasure of making carvings inspired b the Viking age.

The instructor, Jay Haavik, has extensive experience in Viking age woodcarvings. In early 2000 he studied woodcarving at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo (home of the Oseberg Viking Ship). Since then he has traveled extensively Norway to undertake various woodcarving jobs. In 2006 he carved a stave church panel at the Burgundy Stave Church in Laerdal, Norway. In 2010 he was hired by the New Oseberg Ship Foundation,Tonsberg, Norway, to be the lead carver in the making of a replica of the Oseberg Ship using only Viking age tools and techniques. Since then, he has returned many times to undertake various carving jobs. See More

Class Description

Beginning students will spend the first two days learning basic carving skills, which will include:

    -practicing using knives, gouges and chisels
    -learning about grain direction when carving
    -learning to sharpen the tools and keep them sharp
    -how to achieve a smooth knife and gouge finish
    -basic safety steps when carving

The last three days for the beginning students will be the making of a simple, yet demanding project in Viking style (see image#1)

The practice times and project for the beginning students will be designed so that only about 5 tools will be needed to keep the cost down.

Advanced and experienced students will have the opportunity to chose to work on one or two different projects. These will be large scale projects, approximately 24” x 18”, deep relief carving and the surfaces decorated with the “diamond” cuts of the Oseberg ship carvers.

Several image presentation will be given on Viking age woodcarving and the construction of the Oseberg Ship replica.


For all students, you will need:

  • Pencils and sharpener
  • white eraser
  • a plastic “see-through” 12” ruler
  • leather strop
  • personal sharpening equipment (optional)
  • several clamps for securing carving to bench (optional)
  • mallet

For beginning students, you will need:

  • 1S/20mm (05V95) #1 sweep skew-cut chisel
  • #2 sweep 12mm (#05B08) #2 sweep gouge
  • #3 sweep 12mm (#05C07) #3 sweep gouge
  • #8 sweep   7mm (#05F03) #8 sweep gouge
  • 3mm wide, left, skewed spoon gouge (#05L16)
  • Optional: #05L19, right,skewed spoon gouge

Any other carving tools would be helpful (see below).  The instructor will have some tools available for students to use as well.

You can obtain these Pfeil Swiss-made tools from Woodcraft (the series numbers are from the Woodcraft catalog print and online.   (

For the advanced students the following tools will be helpful:

  • A straight knife: The Japanese convex carving knife from Lee Valley (#60D04.03) is excellent. (
  • A variety of gouges and chisels, however 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.   ( If these specific ones are not available get the closest size

  • #2 sweep   8mm(#05B07)
  • #2 sweep 12mm (#05B08)
  • #2 sweep 18mm (#05E37)
  • #3 sweep 12mm (#05C07)
  • #5 sweep 12mm (#05D05)
  • #7 sweep 12mm (#05E42)
  • #8 sweep   7mm (#05F03)
  • #1 straight edge chisel (single bevel) 25 or 30mm (#05V04 or #05V06)
  • #1 skew   20mm double bevel (05V95)

The instructor will have some tools available for students to use as well.

If you have questions about the class, tools, etc. contact the instructor at:


This class is designed to accommodate both beginning and experienced students.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.
This class takes place in building 304

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 775
Materials Charge: $ 60
Register by: May 29, 2017

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. 

all levels