Carving a Simple Leaf Applique

2017-05-22T21:42:56-04:00 June 28th, 2012|

finished smaller for web

This is a beginners' lesson that shows how to shape and carve a simple leaf.

  • Lesson Contents: single episode; printable template, tool list, and photo
  • Type of Wood: Mahogany
  • Dimensions: 5"w x 2"h x 1"d
  • Tool List: 6mm v-chisel; #3, 6mm; #3, 18mm; #4, 14mm; #5, 8mm; #5, 14mm
  • Skill Level: Beginner
= More Lessons at the Basic Skill Level =


  1. rob thornton November 20, 2014 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I am learning so much from you! Thanks for such insightful instruction. My question has a rather obvious answer but I would find your feedback helpful. I enjoy working with figured woods where appropriate. To avoid problems should I reduce my depth of cut when working with woods like curly maple or walnut burl or is this a battle I don’t even want to fight?

    • Mary May November 20, 2014 at 10:24 am - Reply

      Hi Rob,
      You do like a challenge! Making deep cuts certainly can add to the challenge. I would suggest several things: make sure the tools are razor sharp – try to cut across the grain when you can – make a definite slicing or shaving cut (don’t just force the tool straight through) – and lastly, if all else fails, use a dremel tool (hate the dust and reminds me of going to the dentist) 🙂

      Or… leave the figured wood to woodturners and burl veneers. Carving in nice straight grained wood is much more predictable and enjoyable.

  2. Lee Short September 13, 2015 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    As a pastor, I’ve been looking for a hobby to help with stress relief. Your site has been amazing, as I have begun learning this new skill. Thanks!

    • Mary May September 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Glad to hear you are enjoying this new craft! Enjoy the videos!

  3. Jim Barry February 4, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    These introductory lessons are wonderful!

    I just finished making this leaf carving but used cherry rather than mahogany. Boy is that hard! I thought my tools were sharp, but working in cherry was another level of difficulty altogether.

    • Mary May February 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Jim,
      Cherry can be quite a challenge to carve. I’d say it is comparative to walnut, but slightly harder. The similarities are that you can get a wonderful, burnished surface with sharp tools, and clean details. But you need to be extra careful creating sharp edges on the wood that can cut your hand. Mallets work great, too!

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