The History of Carving
Nothing makes a piece of hand-made furniture more appealing and special than intricate carving. Furniture makers have been carving furniture for hundreds of years to add dimension and beauty to wood furniture.
Initially, early carvings were incised cuts and geometric in shape. Over time, as carving tools improved, patterns became more artistic. They often captured natural objects such as flowers, leaves and vines. Now you can find grape carving, acanthus leaves and roses on many pieces of traditional oak furniture.
As we know, Tudor style oak furniture prevailed in England of the 16th century, during the reign of Henry VIII. It was heavy and bulky. One of the most popular carving patterns was the linen-fold motif. It is still used on blanket boxes, like this one.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, furniture design falls under the influence of European classism. We see column-like pillars of four-poster beds, heavily carved with the family coat of arms, figures of knights and ladies and mystical animals. One of our most spectacular beds features many types of carving on the canopy and the pillars.
You can read more about the history of four-poster beds in our previous blog, which can be found on our website.
Gradually, the furniture evolved into more of an art form. With that, carving became more sophisticated as well. Elaborate carving appears on many types of furniture. It consists on either a stand-alone centrepiece element or a repeated shape running along the cornice or framing a drawer.
Types & Designs of Furniture Carving
Vines, acanthus leaves, flowers such as a Tudor rose, can be found on furniture in museums and also on reproduction furniture made today. For example, many Tudor Oak furniture designs feature grapevine carving, such as this beautiful china cabinet.
Additionally, a Tudor Rose can be found on our door frames and mirrors, such as this.
In our traditional furniture collections, large bulbous legs of Tudor style dining tables carry floral motifs. In addition, Elizabethan style tables are supported by pillars adorned with petal-shaped carvings.
One of the most recognisable design elements is typical of the Jacobean period, during the reign of James I. Notably, the Jacobean furniture is known for its decorative carving, with patterns of the figure of eight, connecting circles, semicircles with petals, lozenge panelling, double scrolls and others.
We at Tudor Oak absolutely love the geometric moulding of the Jacobean style of furniture, such as this beautiful chest of drawers. The Jacobean style of furniture spans two kings’ reigns, in the 17th century. However, many pieces of furniture in
Carving to Complement Traditional Furniture Design
Carving really shows off the skill of cabinetmakers. In general, the best carvers are real artists, who let the carving accentuate the grain of the wood and really show off the natural pattern.
Well-designed and laid out carving complements the design of a piece of furniture, but does not overpower it. Any good and experienced furniture-maker plans the carving to be in proportion with the rest of the piece. Importantly, they also make sure that the carving is in the same style and period. Sometimes, a client would ask for a completely bespoke carving design. Tudor Oak cabinetmakers have been known to carve turtles onto the door frame head, a family crest onto the back of the chair or the side of the dining table.
In our opinion, when selecting a piece of bespoke furniture with carving, it is useful to know what different types of carving are, their names and what features to look for.
Most Popular Carving Terms
Shell carving is exactly that – a shell-shaped carving in the wood. It was often used in early Georgian furniture.
Arch carving (sometimes it is called finger or thumbnail carving) is a series of small scalloped shapes, usually along a cornice or on the side of a table.
Scroll carving is usually also a linear pattern of figures of eight, with a floral shape inside. This type of carving looks great on drawers and cornices, it is decorative, yet subtle.
A lunette is a semicircular motif, sometimes used in the corners.
Linenfold Carving is carving in the shape of folded linen. As well as furniture, it is often used in oak wall panelling.
Fretted carving is a small cut out wood shapes. We use them to decorate the underframes of our Stuart style high back chairs. So-called “blind” fretwork Carving is carved onto the wood.
Obviously, there are many variations of carving and each traditional furniture brand has their own preference and trademark designs.
Naturally, at Tudor
However, most of all, we listen to our customers and try and fulfil their vision for a bespoke piece of furniture we make for them.