Woodcarving Lessons

Hi carvers, this is Peter, or Pete as many of you know me by.  For the record, I like and go by both names and really don’t have a preference.   I’m going to take over and write this page of the website, so that I can explain to you in my own words what my woodcarving lessons are about. 


In case you’re the kind of person who likes to cut straight to the chase, and since I’m not noted for my writing brevity, I put the main quick facts about my woodcarving lessons right below.

Quick Facts:


• All lessons are open to complete beginners through very experienced carvers


• My chisel and gouge woodcarving lessons are available to individuals on a one-on-one basis or to small groups, and all lessons are always custom-tailored for the student or group.

• Cost is $295 for a full day (8-9 hours) or $165 for a half-day.  Carving clubs and groups please call for pricing information as each situation is always unique and different

• My studio is located in my home, on a large beautiful lake in Clearwater, Florida, about 20 miles fromTampa 
International Airport, and less than 10 miles from Clearwater Beach. 

Okay, allow me to give you some particulars about my one-on-one carving lessons.  It begins with me talking to each potential carving student on the phone to determine their present carving skill level, carving interests, and the area of carving they most want to improve.  Occasionally I'll ask to look at photos that can be emailed to me.  After that we map out a plan for your day with me. 


If you will glance at my portfolio page, if you haven’t already done so, you will see many different examples of the kinds of things that I’m able to carve in wood and show others how to carve.  I spent my first eight carving years stumbling around entirely on my own as a self-taught carver, doing things the hard way, by trial and error.  I've never forgotten how frustrating it was in those days before I met Ken Pacetti.  

Pacetti, having trained for three years in Oberammergau, Germany, taught me the easy and efficient ways to hold and sharpen tools, and dozens of other things I needed to know that opened up a whole new world to me!   I take great delight in showing  carvers the methods that Pacetti taught me, as well as other innovations that I've come up with on my own through the years, that save time and allow the carver to produce higher quality carvings.

I supply the carving wood, and always have an abundant supply of basswood on hand so that students can do in-the-round carving or relief carving during their day with me.  There is never any extra or hidden costs for my lessons or instructions.  I never sell students a carving blank, tool or anything for that matter.

In a typical one-on-one day we move a lot of wood and make lots of chips, but our goal is not to create a finished project.   Instead we concentrate on carving techniques, methods, and the myriad of other things that a carver needs to know in order to permanently increase their skill and confidence level.  


I’ve taught carving classes in the past where a rough out that was about 65% completed was finished by my students -- but I learned long ago, that finishing a roughed out carving doesn't give a carver the knowledge and skills to start and finish their next project on their own.  It reminds me of the story about giving a person a fish, and you feed them for a day, versus teaching them “how” to fish, so that they can feed themselves for a lifetime!  I think instructing woodcarving is similar, in the sense that there is only so much a carver can learn while finishing a carving blank.

I pride myself in taking average woodcarvers and improving their skills to the point where their future carvings are significantly improved well beyond their previous carving efforts.  I impart in my students the confidence and knowledge to carve whatever they choose to carve, and perhaps just as important, to think and act like sculptors, to really improve their future works.  If you subscribe to the woodcarving magazine, Chip Chats, they published an article written by me in their March-April 2014 edition, titled: Think & Work Like a Sculptor.  If you have that edition, perhaps you might want to check it out.


I never have enjoyed grinding wood with electric tools and only occasionally will use a small Dremel type tool to make the nostril holes in a human face carving, where using a gouge would be impractical.  I own about 45 full-sized tools that students use during their day with me, that range in size from 2 mm up to 80mm wide.  I encourage students to bring their own tools with them when they work with me, since we always start with making sure that all their tools are working up to their maximum efficiency.   The fun in woodcarving really doesn't start until a carver's tools are shaped, sharpened, and finely honed so that they feel like they're gliding through the wood, rather than being forced through the wood. 

When I worked with Pacetti for the first time in 1979, he handed me a large V-parting tool and asked me to make a deep cut with it.  The V-parting tool he handed me was twice the size of my own V-parting tool, yet it cut with less than half the force that my smaller tool required!  The reason that his larger tool required less force to make a deeper cut was because his V-parting tool had the excess metal removed from the heel of the tool that was causing the tool to wedge in the cut.  He taught me that tool manufacturers put too much metal in their V-parting tools at the heel of the tool, causing the tool to wedge in anything but a shallow cut.  The same thing happens when a gouge wedges in a cut, except with gouges, there's too much metal where the bevel and shank meet.  Please watch my FREE video to see where to remove this excess metal.  I usually use a belt sander turning away from me, but a coarse stone with lots of light weight oil also works well, and is safer for people not comfortable using powered grinding machinery.  Also in the interest of safety, the bench grinder with buffing wheels in the background of the video was converted so that the wheels turn away from the user. 

Some of the things Pacetti taught me, that I pass on to my students, are still seldom found in American woodcarving books, even today.  For example, before working with Pacetti, I used to spend a good deal of my carving time clamping and unclamping the wood so that I could make a cut in the direction in which I wanted to go.  Pacetti showed me that if I learned to hold the

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 © Copyright Peter Newton 2014