How They Did It: The Carving Demystified
Learn the secrets behind David Esterly's intricate carvings. Find out how he holds his work down, joins the workpieces, and finishes them
David Esterly has been carving in the style of 17th-century carver Grinling Gibbons for over 30 years. The key to his carvings (seen on the back cover of FWW #197) lies not in carefully guarded technique, but in the patience and dedication needed to develop a feel for the tools and motion of carving. In his book Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving (Harry N. Abrams, 1998), Esterly writes, “The secret of Gibbons’s carving is this: there is no secret. The sanctum is empty. What is hidden from view is not any trick of the trade but the carver’s midnight struggle with his material.” This is not to say that Esterly’s process is devoid of technique. As he shows here, he has developed proven methods for designing, holding workpieces, joinery, and final surface treatment.
One piece at a time Esterly leaves wooden tabs on each of his workpieces as…