Carving a Rosette

Rosette Keyframe

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This project introduces some techniques that can be used to carve a rosette. Paul uses a basic set of gouges and a knife to show some skills that are transferable to many projects. Key to this project are careful layout and sharp tools.

Tool List

Compass with pencil
Knife (freshly sharpened:
Gouges: ⅜”/10mm No 7 sweep and ¾”/20mm No 5 are what Paul used. (He uses another No 5 which is more rounded, but this is not essential).

Click here to download the technical drawing for the rosette


  1. Justin Spaeth on 4 April 2017 at 2:49 pm


    You don’t talk much about grain direction here. With a piece of maple (I think?) is grain direction less of a concern than with working with a different type of wood, say oak? Or, are the methods you are showing less likely to breakout due to carving with/against the grain. I am thinking of trying my hand at relief carving an oak quilt ladder for my wife and have done a bit of practice. However, I have often slipped and craved the wood along the grain. I’m sure I need more practice, but I’m surprised you didn’t call attention to the grain direction in the video.

    • Justin Spaeth on 4 April 2017 at 2:50 pm

      I appreciate all you do!


    • ameliawizard on 4 April 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Check out Mary May woodcarving videos on YouTube

      • Justin Spaeth on 4 April 2017 at 5:11 pm

        Thanks Amelia,

        I have, and she is quite great. She has a similar video, but done much differently. I appreciate both approaches and recognize that Paul’s method may be a bit more beginner friendly. I wonder if the selection of wood plays any role into Paul’s approach.

    • Sven-Olof Jansson on 4 April 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Mr P. Sellers is using lime-tree (linden; Tilia Europea), which is very close to basswood (Tilia Americana); both well recognised as very suited for carving, While for that, grain direction doesn’t seem to be very critical, linden is very unforgiving on planing against the grain.


    • Thomas Hanson on 5 April 2017 at 12:48 am

      I other videos he stressed working down grain instead of up.

    • Philip Adams on 7 April 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Hello Justin,
      Close grain woods like lime do carve more evenly, and grain is less decisive than, say oak, which is quite open grained. This does mean you have to be more careful to work with the grain for such woods to get a smooth finish. The best advice is definitely to practice before you go for the final piece.

  2. Thomas Angle on 4 April 2017 at 3:18 pm

    “You got to watch skew chisels, because they often take you in a way you don’t want to go.”

    I can think of a few other things that I ran into in my life that the same could be said for.

  3. jakegevorgian on 4 April 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I’m having a good morning—thanks Paul & everyone who made the video.

  4. Matt Shacklady on 4 April 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Can I ask what wood you are carving in the video?

    • knipperton on 4 April 2017 at 6:28 pm

      He mentions that it is Lime, which I believe is what we call Basswood in the States.

    • ChrisFleming on 4 April 2017 at 6:43 pm

      I believe Paul said it was Lime. He mentions it in passing at some point while he is carving with the knife.

  5. António on 4 April 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you WWMC team!

  6. wrstew on 4 April 2017 at 8:18 pm

    It is easy to see that Paul’s tools are razor sharp, and the wood is chosen for both grain and firm but not excessively hard. With harder woods the use of a mallet helps with control and being mindful o.f grain direction limits tearout.
    Great intro lesson from a great teacher.

  7. Thomas Bittner on 4 April 2017 at 9:23 pm

    So I ran downstairs and got a piece of pine, sketched out my rosette and grabbed the only gouge I had a #35 with a 7 sweep with an outside bevel and a 15mm with a 6 sweep outside bevel.
    What are you using? My #35 is way too big, you don’t specify sweep but maybe I missed something in the instructions?

    • Larry Geib on 4 April 2017 at 11:54 pm

      The PDF above ( under the heading “Layout Drawing” has all the information on knives and gouges.

  8. D.J. King on 4 April 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Loving the carving Paul!!! I hope you do some shells or claw and ball feet in the future. Wonderful job as usual.

  9. Brian M on 5 April 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Paul, another great video. Thank you!

    Question … After we’ve practiced the carving technique, and assuming we want to make a carving on a drawer front for example, would you suggest carving the front piece before or after the piece’s joinery has been completed? I imagine there are pros and cons either way.

    • David B on 7 April 2017 at 2:38 pm

      I second this question–I would assume that decorative work would be done post joinery but pre glue-up so that you can still use your vise. And given that you are likely to make micro-adjustments as you build your piece and do the joinery I would assume that doing the decorative work afterwards would ensure 1) minimal risk of fingerprints/dirt marring the decorative work and 2) that the decorative work will be in the precise location you want on your final piece.

      But that said, I don’t know the exact answer and found myself wondering the exact same thing as I’ve never really done any carving in any of the (limited) pieces that I have made.

      • Philip Adams on 7 April 2017 at 4:18 pm

        Paul said that he would tend to do the joinery first, then the carving. However, if you are a beginner carver, he recommends doing the carving first incase you need to re-do it.

  10. Glenn Doherty on 5 April 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I’m glad to see you’ve not only not slowed down with age, but instead gotten faster!

    Beautiful carving. This is another area of this craft I hope to get into soon.

  11. Gary BALCOM on 7 April 2017 at 2:07 am

    My eyes can’t help but notice that saw vise in the background. Maybe that could be a project at some point? It seems like a good design, I assume it’s made to go in the bench vise?

  12. roger bickford on 7 April 2017 at 10:14 pm

    what make of knife are you using.
    the directed web page seems unavailable

  13. Steve Giles on 6 May 2017 at 12:13 pm

    They are ‘sectors’ not ‘segments’ 🙂

  14. Greg Wagner on 21 March 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I really enjoyed that; I’m just getting back into woodworking and as a one time time-seved bench joiner who really enjoyed the early years, life passed my by chasing my tail to move from the tools and earn better wages to bring up my family, and now they’ve all sodded off to do pretty much the same, I’m rebuilding a full compliment of hand tools, whether second hand or made by hand I’m really looking forward to it. I feel I made some really nice bespoke items in my youth, but looking back I can see where a nice touch like some carving would have made all the difference. More caring tips and techniques please Paul…

  15. Christopher Johnston on 9 June 2018 at 3:36 am

    I enjoyed your instruction Paul but the video kept stopping.It is not my internet speed as it ran at a constant 116Mbps throughout which is quite fast.

    • Philip Adams on 11 June 2018 at 1:25 pm

      Hello Christopher,
      Glad you enjoyed the instruction. We try and keep these comments for woodworking questions, so I have emailed you about your problems viewing this video and will remove this comment in a few days.
      All the best. Phil

  16. bytesplice on 14 June 2021 at 3:33 am

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