Viking Era carving



The 1904 excavation in Southern Norway of the Oseberg Viking ship revealed a vast array of woodcarvings, from the late 700 a.d. to early 800 a.d., 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 of the woodcarvers.

Farther north, the Urness Stave Church, dating from 1130 a.d., with its magnificent portal, epitomized the the transition from paganism to Christianity. The fantastic deeply carved snakes, monsters and beast are totally unique.

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.

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 to Norway to undertake various woodcarving projects. In 2006 he carved a stave church panel at the Borgund 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

In this five-day workshop, experienced and beginning students will have an unique opportunity to learn about woodcarving in the Viking age through hands-on experience, lectures and discussions. An understanding of these woodcarvings, the techniques and types of tools used, and familiarity with the forms will greatly add to your woodcarving knowledge, creativity and experience. 

Class Description

Beginning students will have ample opportunity to practice using knives, gouges and chisels, learn about grain direction when carving, learn to sharpen tools and how to achieve a smooth knife and gouge finish.

The right two images are examples of the projects that will be undertaken by beginning students.

Experienced students will have the opportunity to work on one of the projects depicted in the left two images. The projects will be approximately 24” x 18” with deep relief carving. Experienced carvers are expected to understand grain direction, familiarity with using gouges and knives, and sharpening.

A slide presentation will be given on Viking age woodcarving, the construction of the Oseberg Ship replica, and Norwegian stave churches.



For all students, you will need:

  • pencils and sharpener
  • white eraser
  • a clear plastic 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) gouge
  • #3 sweep 12mm (#05C07) gouge
  • #8 sweep 7mm (#05F03) gouge
  • 3mm wide, left, skewed spoon gouge (#05L16)
  • Optional:  right skewed spoon gouge (#05L19)

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 Pfeil Swiss-made tools from Woodcraft. The series numbers above are from the Woodcraft print and online catalog.  

For the advanced students the following tools will be helpful:

You can obtain the following Pfeil Swiss-made tools from Woodcraft. The series numbers below are from the print and online Woodcraft catalog.  

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

Note: if these specific ones are not available then get the closest size.

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 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: $ 775
Materials Charge for beginners: $25

Materials Charge for advanced: $ 60
Register by: September 24, 2018

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