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Undercutting Creates Apparent Separation

A time-consuming skill in woodcarving explained: Undercutting creates apparent separation and here is a detailed explanation of how to do it: 

What is Undercutting?

Undercutting is the most difficult part of woodcarving and the energy that disproportionately goes into it is deceiving, but the idea is to create the deep shadows that give the apparent separation which adds to the realism. Cutting through to make the purse seem to hang from the belt, is very time-consuming, but well worth the effect it achieves.

Creating Apparent Separation

The belt, it’s buckle and the knot have now been completed, with the appearance of it hanging free, whereas in reality it is anchored with a small post at the hem level. The strap end has been detailed in and it looks natural now. This area is now awaiting the other areas at the belt level to be caught up to this level of finish when much tweaking will be involved.

Carving Around Corners

The sword and its hanger have been finished, more undercutting, more carving around corners, more carving standing on my head but it looks quite real now and is at such an angle that people will be able to grasp the hilt of the finished piece when it is on display, so it works on a tactile level as well as an artistic one.

An extension was added and carved in from a piece of wood, specially saved for the purpose because it was a perfect grain match.


The block where the Ballock Dagger is tucked into the belt has been defined ready for its carving-in. Once this is done I’m on to the Buckler and its completion will mark the end of a fundamental design stage with the work. Concentration will then be on his legs; archers rolled down their hose because of the scour and this will be represented.


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