I recently started working on a new carving project that has me very excited – carving this lovely mahogany wood Tele-style guitar body shown below. I’ve had this carving blank for a little over a year now, thinking about what I could carve that would do this gorgeous piece of Honduran mahogany justice.
I went through a long process of sketching thumbnail drawings, of looking at what other people are doing with carved guitar bodies for inspiration, and drawing out even more ideas, before I landed on the visual concept I was after. I decided to base the carving on my original Triple Raven painting, shown below.
The original Triple Raven design is around 4 inches in diameter, so I did some mock-ups in Photoshop to work out how to layout the design around the guitar’s components and see how well it would translate to the larger format of the guitar body. I used the mock-ups as the basis for a full scale pencil drawing on graph paper – a selection of which is shown below:
I photocopied the drawing to use as a template and used the copy to transfer the design to the guitar body:
Once I completed transferring the design I drew it onto the wood surface using an easily erased drawing pencil – a vintage Eagle Draughting 314 pencil that I find is the perfect pencil for woodworking:
The following photograph shows the carving progress after about ten hours of work. The carved areas still need a lot of refining and the rest of the design needs roughing out, but you can begin to see how the design will translate into a low relief carving on the body of the guitar.
The woodcarving I do is all by hand – I don’t use any power tools during the carving process. The photo below shows a selection of the tools I am using for this carving, with the carving bench in the background. It’s a very peaceful and satisfying process – I don’t think I have ever carved a more pleasant piece of wood.