Carved Elements: The Scallop Shell


Even if you aren’t into period details, learning how to carve a simple scallop shell gives you the foundation to carve virtually anything you want. Because a shell is a three-dimensional object, it provides a more in-depth carving lesson than chip or relief carving.

While two-dimensional carving can be helpful in teaching carving basics, it’s not until you begin carving in the third dimension that you truly need to understand grain direction. Sure, you have to deal with it to some degree in relief carving, but it takes on a whole new meaning in three dimensions.

Understanding grain direction is the single most important skill to learn when it comes to woodcarving (followed closely by sharpening). Although most scallop shells are relatively flat in nature, they still provide enough topographical change to drive home the lessons that will take you to new sculptural highs.

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4 thoughts on “Carved Elements: The Scallop Shell

  1. Chuck,

    This is a great carving intro, and I expect to be referring back to it many times as I develop carving skills.

    You only listed four of the eight carving tools in your ‘kit’ here, although you do list the other four in the blog post.

    Thanks for a super article!


    1. Charles,

      Thanks for the kind words. I only listed four of the eight because I didn’t want people to run out and buy a bunch of tool they were not going to use on this particular project. It’s always better to accumulate as you go, rather than buy all at once. This way you can decide if your work dictates a slightly larger or smaller version of one of the tools I use. You may even find that your work calls for some different sweeps, which is the point of the article and the blog post. Don’t buy a set assembled by someone other than you – buy the tools you need, not the ones I need. Thanks again and there are more “Carved Elements” to come in the future.

  2. Great tutorial Chuck, much Respect to you , Sincerely, j

    1. J.,

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the article. I expect to see some shells in my inbox.

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