Some tips on how not to lose your fingers when sculpting hard wood 😀

As we wrote some time ago, I decided to undertake the carving of a pipe in a material made of briar. We had to wait a while for delivery and this time I spent on designing.  Although, I will tell you honestly, it’s hard to design when you have no influence on the dimensions. We had no influence what exactly piece of wood would come to us, so curiosity was even greater 😉


It’s just for post purposes. No one got hurt! 🙂

After a long wait time it finally arrived; D After opening the package, we saw a polished, beautifully colored, heavy and hard piece of wood. Fortunately, it had holes previously drilled by the seller (smoking enabled, so it would be fully functional).

On the forums I got a lot of tips on briar features, how to facilitate the work and what to look for. Part of it worked out quite a bit. If you once try your hand at sculpting in briar, remember that everyone really has an opinion on this subject. And only part of the information can work on your piece.

Here are a few of mine tips and I just emphasize my conclusions after the experience of sculpting a pipe in this material:

  1. When I started to sculpt, I was “getting off the material” quite hard from the volume on the edges (the wood was extremely hard)
  2. My piece had two different densities (literally). One side was dense and filled with knots. The second minimally smaller density and for this practically no knots appeared in it. It’s best seen in the photos of the pipe upside down (you can find the photos in our store).
  3. I was suggested (due to the fact that there may be a lot of minerals in the wood) to gave up the use of chisels because I can simply destroy them and in exchange turned over to the Dremel. I took a chance and made the whole thing with chisels. Fortunately, none of them suffered, but unfortunately they had to be sharpened very often. It’s good that Kuba is very patient ;D
  4. As far as the size and types of chisels are concerned, different were used, with various profiles. A micro chisel was helpful, thanks to which the detail was great, but it was also good to have a choice when shaping the form.
  5. Watch out for briar crumbling tremendously. If you cut the surface with longer strokes, this should not be a problem. It is worse if you have to choose a part that is quite perpendicular, for example the inside of the eye (the surface of the eyelid was crumbling – I used a clay spike and just punctured the eye). It was also difficult for me to have a sharp and smooth edge of planes contact.
  6. If you do not have the skill to work with chisels, it is better to use gloves when plucking. It’s very easy to hurt yourself when you have a pipe in your hand and you’re doing the detail.
  7. It is better to do as much work as possible on the pipe attached to the table top.
  8. While sanding I was working with 180 and 240 gradation paper, with 320 some gloss appeared (I did not use a higher gradation).
  9. To protect and at the same time give the pipe the so-called wet color, Kuba used carnauba wax. Carnauba wax petals was melted in a can to create hard piece/ring to rub in wood and cotton cloth used for further polishing with accurate force.

And that’s probably all that comes to my mind;)

I’m getting used to carving “Nixie” and soon I will write to you how to combine dynamic and static surfaces in an interesting way and how to make different types of factures  and some technical curiosities;)

See you soon!