carved work w/o V-tool

new cupboard door

 Here is a door I made recently for a cupboard, all white oak. The panel is one I carved months ago and I made the frame this week from bits & pieces of oak. Carved related patterns on the frame; but had to scale them to fit the widths of the framing parts. The bulk of this outline is cut with a V-tool   – a took that some have a hard time learning to steer, and all have a hard time learning to sharpen.

V-tool angle
V-tool outline


The chair I just finished last month has most of its carving cut altogether with the V-tool.

Lincoln chair, red oak, walnut & maple


But there are some seventeenth-century carved works that don’t use a V-tool at all. I cut this panel this weekend, and after having done it a few times recently, cutting this one was pretty straightforward. The previous examples I cut the S-outline with the V-tool, but defined the other shapes with curves of various sizes and sweeps. This time I did the whole panel without the V-tool. It has a neater outline, but for me, it’s slower going. Probably over 2 hours to carve the whole panel…

new panel, version 2

Then I had to make a frame for it. A while back I posted some photos of an English church I saw years ago…that had a slew of carved work. All varied, no apparent scheme to the patterns, just swirls and sweeps and curves this way & that. So that was the inspiration for what I carved today.

framing parts underway


Some of the best period non-V-tool carving I know is the “Sunflower” chests attributed to Wethersfield, CT (or they used to be, I have lost track of them) Here’s one of my versions of that pattern.

chest with drawers, 2008
panel w pattern incised

2 thoughts on “carved work w/o V-tool

  1. Thanks for the great photos of the patterns. In the “new panel version 2,” what tool was used for the small circles?

  2. I have recently found your site and am very impressed with the work you share. Thanks for that.

    My question is, how many gouges did you use to carve the version 2 panel? Are they straight chisels or do you use bent gouges to get into the tighter areas?

    Thanks again,


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