About a month ago I was reading one of Chris Pye's interesting e-bulletins (you can go to his website by clicking on this link). He made some thought-provoking comments about woodcarving tutorial videos on Youtube:
"This arguably doesn't need saying but it's important: just because you see something filmed doesn't mean it's something worth watching; or that the techniques you see are worth emulating. Observe carefully. Test things out.
It's very easy to upload video clips to Youtube and, while there's a lot of good stuff to be seen, you need discretion in what you watch or, rather, what you take on board as a technique."
But then why should technique be worth taking the time to learn? The highly skilled carver Guy Reid has said something that makes sense to me:
A Dummy Mallet
(Image from www.johnnealbooks.com)
Looking at their previous work online or elsewhere is an obvious starting point; I'd look for someone who is making and showing work regularly that you would like to be able to make yourself. If someone isn't making their own work that often or showing much of it online then they might be worth treating with some caution, although if you are reading this blog then I probably don't need to point these things out to you!
I don't have many quick answers I'm afraid. It just feels like some carving tuition I'm seeing around doesn't come from particularly experienced carvers...
Perhaps it's worth searching for good tutorials in books - not the same as actually doing some carving, but a good lead into this great pastime. I'd recommend those by Chris Pye and Dick Onians myself.