Carving Incised Letters
Just a few tools do the job
Synopsis: Fine Woodworking’s Roger Holmes talked to Frank Cushwa, of Kent, Connecticut, about how he came to the art of carving lettered signs and how others can carve them. His technique is straightforward and involves using carving tools rather like knives, pushing or pulling them to make slicing instead of chopping cuts. The technique is similar to chip carving, in that several angled cuts pop a chip of triangular cross section of wood to create letter elements. Straight cuts are made with a skew chisel. Photos show all the hand positions during cutting, and the article includes advice on lettering.
I first saw Frank Cushwa carve a sign at the Bridgewater Fair, a cattle-and-cotton candy fest up the road from us in rural Connecticut. With a single skew chisel and a couple of gouges, Cushwa incised eight or so 2-in.-high letters in a piece of pine, a nameplate for…