Designed primarily as a metal-shaping tool, the rawhide mallet is favored by woodcarvers who have taken to using a lightweight mallet instead of doing heavy pushing with their hands. The idea is, that this mallet can be used in conjunction with relatively delicate gouges without fear of doing damage to the gouge handles. The lightweight mallet is particularly useful, when working with bent and spoon gouges, because it can be used with a light, tapping action without the woodcarver really feeling the strain of holding a heavier tool.
left: Tap with the mallet while maneuvering the gouge.
Many woodcarvers - especially older carvers who are working day in and day out and are worried about repetitive stress injury - now favor using the soft-headed rubber or urethane mallet. They have a good-to-hold shaped wooden handle with the pommel and the same rounded head, but the resilient head does the job without the force of the impact traveling up the arm to do damage to the wrist and/or elbow. Better yet, these mallets can be dropped and generally abused without damage. Such mallets come in three head sizes and three weights.
There are basically two types of power carving tools: those that cut with a rotary action - like holding a sanding head in a drill - and those that work with a reciprocating action - like a fast vibrating pecking. Many woodcarvers claim that the small rotary tools are wonderful for fine detailing in hard wood, while the reciprocating type are great for roughing out massive carving when there is a lot of waste to be cut away.
2 When you have cleared the bulk of the waste from in and around the leaves so that the various details stand proud like plateaus, use the gouge of your choice to shape the details.
3 1 laving partially shaped and dished the foliage, start to model the undercuts, creating the illusion that the leaves variously curl and fold over each other.
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