Carving a Basic Flower

2017-05-23T20:38:47-04:00 June 28th, 2012|

This symmetrical flower shows how to carve overlapping petals and techniques in carving in the correct grain direction to achieve controlled carving cuts.

Click on the links below to view a printable PDF template of the Simple Flower, list of gouges used in this lesson, photo of the finished carving, and written instructions.

Template, Tool List & Photo


  1. Ed Womack January 20, 2018 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Mary, for very helpful videos. They are the most detailed and understandable videos on carving that I have seen.

    Two questions. First, do you ever glue your pattern on the wood with rubber cement? If not, why not?

    Second, I have made a carving “peg board” so that I can clamp the board to my bench (or clamp it in the vise) and fasten the carving blank to the board with wooden wedges so that the blank can be repositioned easily. Would you like for me to send you photos of that?

    Many thanks.
    Grace and peace,
    Ed Womack, Cottonwood, AZ

    • MaryMay January 21, 2018 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Ed,
      Thanks! I’m glad you are enjoying the lessons.

      I have not tried using rubber cement, but will try it for future projects. My guess is that it will leave a sticky residue on the back of the carving. The double-sided golf grip tape has worked great for holding tightly, releasing easily with Lacquer thinner, and not needing any clean-up.

      I have several “peg boards” but have found that the carving can slip out of the pegs if you put the pressure in the wrong direction or are not paying attention. By clamping it solidly, I don’t need to be concerned about the wood moving or shifting and can carve in any direction. I imagine if you become accustomed to shifting and rotating your carving to only cut against the pegs, that would not be a problem, but I never was able to get used to that method. This would be a good forum topic.

  2. Kelly Lemen May 18, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mary for these lessons. Wish I had found this before I started carving. I bought basswood and a book. With hand gouges. Or palm ones. Only started three weeks ago. Two weeks of stitch’s in one finger. Happy it’s my left hand. Lol. But now I’m scared of the small gouges. But don’t want to stop. So I will buy the right stuff and do it your way. So thank you very much. Also a side note. Is there a way to put closed captioning on your videos? Your voice and speech is very clear. But once in a while I have to replay it just because I am used to having the words from YouTube. Lol.

    • MaryMay May 27, 2018 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Hi Kelly,
      Welcome to the wonderful world of carving! I will certainly look into the closed captioning. There have been a few requests for that.

  3. Kevin May 29, 2018 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Mary, thanks so much for the videos. I am using these to learn my final career. I appreciate you sharing your experience, thoughts and lessons learned while teaching how to carve. I did leather tooling many years ago and really enjoyed the finished work. I see many common elements between leather tooling and wood carving. I bought the starter kit and have enjoyed using the tools with the lessons.

    • MaryMay May 31, 2018 at 1:09 am - Reply

      Hi Kevin,
      I’m so glad you are enjoying woodcarving! Leather tooling is very similar to woodcarving, in that we often use the same tricks to showing 3-dimension in extremely shallow depth. Have fun!

  4. Gene Parrish August 12, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    MARY August 12,2018 Thank you so much for these lessons ; So far I have been very impressed with the way you Instruct your students,you are a great teacher, I’m an old dude and it’s easy for me to understand so far ; by the way I am beginner student. I have always liked to work with wood; I use to carve some when I was about 15 ;but that’s been many years ago.I am looking forward to getting my tools and getting into actual carving. again thank you for being here for all of us students! Gene Parrish

    • MaryMay August 20, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I’m so glad you are enjoying the lessons!

  5. Dan Endsley November 6, 2019 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Great video Mary.
    I appreciate you putting together this free video series. I’m learning a lot, and watching these videos is good for my blood pressure. Your presentation is a nice combination of Bob Ross, Paul Sellers and Mr Rogers (“Won’t you be my neighbor”). I like your style!
    Hopefully I will get the chance to take a class one day soon.
    Best wishes and continued success,

    • MaryMay November 6, 2019 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      You made me smile all day :)) Thank you! I am honored to be grouped among those greats!

  6. Mark LaFram December 23, 2019 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Thank you Mary for sharing your free lessons. I carved my first flower last night and had a great time following your instructions. I look forward to continue with my new hobby. Woodworking has been my passion for many years now, I would like to add details to my projects in the future,
    Only cut myself once last night so it was a good night,

    • MaryMay December 23, 2019 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      That’s great! And it’s my pleasure! Keep the bandaids close 🙂

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