Introduction: Hand Carved Largemouth Bass Woodcarving!
Relief wood carving showing a largemouth bass about to strike a fishing lure near the rocky bottom! Traditional chisels and gouges were the primary tools used. A dremel was used for the final details. I applied multiple coats of a light colored penetrating oil and a dark stained border was completed as well to finish it off.
I wanted to try something different, something that I've never carved before. I felt a simple fish design was perfect. It provided good experience and I was yet able to finish the carving in a decent amount of time. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and I think the lure dangling in front of the bass really gave it that extra cherry on top element that finished it off nicely. I was very pleased to have a great friend buy it from me. I'm happy to know it's treasured and will be taken care of.
***DISCLAIMER*** I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL NOR HAVE I TAKEN CARVING CLASSES. I DEMONSTRATE MY METHODS I'VE LEARNED THROUGH MY OWN CARVING EXPERIENCES. NOT EVERYTHING I DO IS THE BEST OR TEXT BOOK WAY OF DOING THINGS. IF YOU KNOW OF A BETTER WAY THEN I ENCOURAGE YOU TO SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. IT'S A GREAT WAY TO HELP THE CARVING COMMUNITY GROW TOGETHER.
- 12x15" board (this is carved out of white pine)
- A decent variety of gouges. Multiple gouges can get different jobs done, but I'd say you'll at least need a V-gouge, shallow sweep gouge (#3 - #5), and a deep sweep gouge (#8 - #11).
EXTRA MATERIALS FOR WHITTLE & BORDER
- 1x3" board for border (60" would probably be enough)
- stain of your choice
- small chunk of whittle-able wood
- wood glue
- fish line
- 18g nails (for brad gun)
EXTRA TOOLS FOR WHITTLE & BORDER
- whittling knife
- pipe clamps
- brad gun
- saw of some kind
- air compressor & hose
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Step 1: Outlining and Background Removal
Generally the first step in any carving is to roughly outline different elements of the carving and carve back the background to a desired depth. The deeper the background the more room you'll have to work with when shaping later. Once the background is at a good depth the next thing to do is to do precise outlining using a vertical stop cut technique.
Step 2: Tapering the Ground Plain and Shaping
As you can see in the picture, the precise outlining of the fish is complete. Next thing to do is to carve the ground plain. The ground plain is the part of the carving that basically transcends through all the different layers of the carving. It starts at the carvings forefront, then tapers all the way back to the background. This particular carving is simple for the fact that the carving is really only one layer. You just taper back the ground evenly from the forefront then connecting with the background. After that I started shaping the rocks using a similar method as step one, outlining each rock then shaping to a desired look.
Step 3: Shaping Continued...
Once the rocks were shaped how I wanted them, I began to shape the fish. I carved back the fins further into the carving then rounded the edge of the fish until they connected with the fins. I continued this until the shape of the fish looked proportional. As I was shaping I made sure I maintained some key elements of the fish that I didn't want to lose in the process, like the gills, eye, and mouth area.
Step 4: Adding Final Details
Once I was satisfied with the shape of everything I began to start on the details. It's important to completely shape first because if you start detailing too soon, you may have to carve it away if shaping is still needed later. I started by sanding the area until the carving strokes disappeared revealing a smooth finish. I did not sand the rocks, however, because I wanted to maintain that jagged edge look that could be lost if I sanded them. I then carved in the details to the fins and finished off the eye and mouth area. I didn't get to fancy, I only added details that I was confident in. I added the water texture using a small sweep gouge and I added the bark texture on the log by using a V-gouge.
Step 5: Scales and Finishing
The last carving element I did was adding scales with a small sweep gouge. This was time consuming, but I'm glad I did it. I feel it added some necessary detail in the end. After the carving process was complete I finished off the carving with a light colored penetrating oil.
Step 6: DONE
I added a whittled bait hanging in front of the bass for a nice cherry on top element. I then applied a dark stain to the 1x3" boards and nailed/glued them to the edge creating the final border. I think the light colored carving and dark colored border looks nice and kind of compliments each other.