Cottonwood Bark

A Helpful Guide for Carving Cottonwood Bark

Many woodcarving enthusiasts prize cottonwood bark for its unique textures and patterns. It’s quite versatile as far as bark goes, and thus lends itself to a whole slew of different creations. If you are interested in pursuing woodcarving as a hobby, or simply in search of some hints on how best to carve it, this guide provides several good suggestions and steps for carving with cottonwood bark.



Benefits and Uses of Cottonwood Bark

Cottonwood is an incredibly popular medium for woodcarving. It’s very plentiful and is grown all throughout North America, spanning from Saskatchewan to Dallas, TX. Because of this, the wood is not expensive, it’s easy to purchase, and if you choose to harvest it yourself, you’ll have little troubles.

What really makes this wood shine, however, is its unique structure. The tree’s bark surface is a very distinctive texture, and is gnarled and twisted. Because of this, items that are crafted from the wood have a whimsical and unique appearance. While a novice might be concerned that wood of this type would limit the creativity of the artist, it is simply not the case. This wood has lent itself to flute-making, wind chimes, jewelry, and an assortment of other crafts. A popular trend at the moment is carving faces from the gnarled bark.

Items You Will Need

There are a few tools that you will likely need in order to carve a sizable item from cottonwood. You will most definitely require a decent set of carving instruments, particularly if you are going to attempt any intricate designs or fetishes. If you plan on making a flute or other hollow item, you will need specialty tools that will allow for this type of carving.

Larger items, such as a wood face, will also require some specific tools. A work bench is highly recommended, particularly one with wood clamps. If you are carving a small little totem, however, you can likely skip these requirements.

Things to Remember Before You Begin

Remember that when carving you should always carve away from yourself and not towards, even if it seem more convenient to do so. The knife can easily slip, a chunk of wood may break off, or any other number of accidents may occur that can leave you requiring stitches.

Practice makes perfect. It takes a long time to become a skilled woodcarver. If needs be, consider purchasing patterns that you can use to create your first few pieces while you get the hang of it.

Carving Your Cottonwood Bark

Once you have selected your piece of wood and know what you will be carving, you need to get your work area set up. Make sure you have your carving tools ready, and if you’re working on a larger piece, make sure you secure your wood in the wood clamps on your bench.

Using the correct carving tools start making cuts that are at least 1/16 of an inch in depth. This will rely heavily upon the type of design you are hoping to create. If you are trying to achieve a smooth uniformed finish, then you should go with the grain of the wood. If you want a raw, natural look to your piece, feel free to carve in any which way.

When you are done carving your item and pleased with the result, it’s time to decide whether or not you want it have a natural finish, or if you would prefer a varnish or stain. Choose the finish that works best for you and coat it or stain it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to dry before attaching hangers or putting it on display.