On the heels of his success with the video release Sharpening Simplified, long-time carver and teacher Ev Ellenwood has turned his attention to the "newbie" carver. The result is Ellenwood's current effort, some two hundred ten minutes of video carving instruction for the brand new or very inexperienced carver.
The video consists of fourteen segments:
2) Anatomy of Wood
3) Carving Knives
4) Sharpen Carving Knives
5) Stylized Bird
6) Chisels, Gouges and "V" Tools
7) Sharpen Gouges and "V" Tools
8) Tool Practice
9) Flower Relief Carving
10) Good Woods to Carve
11) How to Start a Project
12) Clamping Devices
While all the chapters contain useful information, I found the discussions in Section 2 - Anatomy of Wood particularly interesting. Ellenwood does as good a job as I've seen in his discussion of grain in wood and its' impact on how you carve.
The two sections on sharpening are "Cliff Notes" versions of parts of Sharpening Simplified. They are a good start, but the newbie carver, particularly one lacking a convenient mentor, would benefit from the full version of that video.
Chapter 8, Tool Practice, is another that should be a big help to the novice. Ellenwood introduces basic cuts utilizing both knives and gouges
"What wood should I carve," is an oft-heard question from newbie carvers. Chapter 10, Good Woods To Carve, goes a long way toward answering that question.
The two projects included in the DVD, the stylized bird and the flower relief, are good projects for the beginner. The fact that only two projects are included is the basis for one of my nits to pick - I would like to see more projects, even if they are just supplemental project sheets, like the two included for the bird and flower relief.
Overall, the production values of the video are good - the lighting and sound are more than adequate. The camera work is also pretty good, with only an occasional lag in focus when switching from long to close-up shots. (That's nit number two.) These are relatively few in number, however, and certainly don't much detract from the utility of the DVD.
Overall, I would call Beginning Woodcarving a very good value for the new carver, particularly for those who do not have an instructor or mentor close at hand. Even some intermediate carvers will find useful gems. At $29.95 plus shipping, the DVD is a bit more expensive then some books, but is well worth the cost.
Still not sure? You can sample four video snippets at Ellenwood's web site. Visit the web site by clicking HERE. You may also contact Ev Ellenwood at cllenwoodartsATcharterDOTnet, or call him at 507-289-2616