Best way to make carvings that stand proud of a surface
Synopsis: A traditional and useful technique, applied carving makes it easier to get a smooth background than carving done “in the solid,” where you have to lower the background with relief cuts or a router. With applied carving, the design is cut out with a scrollsaw and then applied to a backer board, carved, and glued to the workpiece. Learn this method, and an alternative one where the blank is applied directly to the workpiece and carved in place.
Woodworkers often react to applied carving as “cheating,” a somewhat grudging admission of its effectiveness. It is a traditional but still very useful technique. Sure, every applied carving could be done “in the solid,” with the carving outlined by vertical stop cuts, and then the background lowered with numerous relief cuts or perhaps with a router. But achieving the smooth background normally needed for furniture can be very time-consuming.