Intro to Chip Carving

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Introduction: Intro to Chip Carving

About: Thanks for stopping by! My name is Mariela Fuson. I am currently in school for Business Marketing in hopes to one day own and operate my own pottery painting shop. I like to live life by the words tattooed o...

For all you out there with the need to learn a new hobby, look no further. Chip carving has been one of the most relaxing hobbies that I do, besides fishing of course. It isn't super expensive to start out and with enough practice you can make great gifts for people.

Step 1: Materials Needed

You will need:

•Pencil
•Ruler
•Chip Carving Knives
•Sharpening Compound
•Basswood

*If you're just starting out and need a recommendation, then I highly suggest Flexcut's Chip Carving set. You can pick it up at Amazon for around $40 and it includes the sharpening compound, and three knives all used for chip carving.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0057P4ARM/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474318473&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=flexcut+chip+carving+set&dpPl=1&dpID=51GRDNaOWyL&ref=plSrch

*I buy my basswood at a Woodcraft store near me but you can also find it at Michaels.

Step 2: Holding the Knife

The images show first position. You thumb is going to keep in contact with the wood surface and the knife at all times when carving. This allows for more control and reduces risk of ever cutting yourself.

The second position is simply facing the blade away from you and pushing the tip of your blade into the wood with your thumb on the back of the knife.

Before carving it's important to sharpen your knife. There are videos all over YouTube which can help you out.

Step 3: Measuring It Out and Start Carving

Start out by measuring out a two block high grid and however long you want it. Each block or square is 4mm wide and tall. So in total the two squares on top of each other are 8mm.

Chip Carving the first basic pattern:

Put the tip of you blade into the first intersection of lines and press down coming towards you. You want to make sure that the blade of the knife is going in at about a 45° angle into the wood. There's no need to move the blade forcibly. Just push down towards the bottom left corner of the square.


Step 4: Continuing on the Pattern

Now flip your basswood over and your going to hold the knife in second position. You will be pushing it away from you.

Again, at 45° angle into the wood itself, push down towards the opposite corner of the block next to the one you just carving into.

Step 5: Removing the Chip

This is the third cut of the chip and will remove the triangle. Pus your knife in at and angle towards the middle of the triangle chip and push down towards the middle line. Then start to lift your knife out towards where the other cut ended, while still adding pressure.
This will hopefully remove your chip.

Step 6: And Repeat..

You're going to do this again in the blocks above where you just carved the triangle. The two triangles should have their top points touching.

Repeat this process all the way down you row of 4mm measured squares. Makes sure to skip a square when starting the next one because the base of each triangle takes up two square widths.

Step 7: Now for Some Decoration

So far you have completed a nice basic border. To touch it up and add some really nice detail, we're going to make some small cuts into the wood squares between the triangles.

Just switch from first position to second position.
•From the middle of the side of the triangle, cut inwards at an angle towards the intersection of lines.
•Then go to second position and push into the wood removing a small thin chip.

Repeat this on all four sides of every square and the result will amaze you!

Step 8: All Finished!

Hope you enjoyed learning some of the basic steps to get started with chip carving. I'd love for you all to share what you end up carving when you try it out. Feel free to ask and questions or give some input in the comments below.

If you're interested in learning some more, then go watch this video below! I think it's great and its one that was very helpful to me when I started out. Thanks for stopping by!

https://youtu.be/Q-90UZ5UqYg

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    27 Comments

    Hi, I want to carve in to some wlking sticks, and other round surfaces, i wander if you know if this are the best tools or there others more adapt to round surfaces. Great tutorial, thank you.

    2 replies

    Good sharp thin blades comfortable handles That you can use with some force but have care any sudden splitting off can cause a deep cut to your hand as I've found a few times over the years

    What you want for wood carving or whittling is a knife was a small sturdy blade, and a handle that is big enough to fold your whole hand over, so that you can control that blade. I have one like these, that I bought ten years ago: Morakniv


    Great timing I work with polymer clay and have been looking at moulds that I can use but now I think I will make my own and then using a silicone mould putty I can make a working mould for my polymer clay and get to have the originals for when I need to remake the silicone mould :-)

    Thank you for a the instructable have not done this since high school art class will have to see if I still have all my tools umm 30 plus years I might be better if just buying some new ones :-)

    You tutorial came at the perfect time. I was doing research on how to start & presto - you come along. Thanks a ton for the excellent tutorial. Also planning to make a couple of chip carving knives using old saw blades. WIP

    1 reply

    awesome! glad to hear it! and I would definitely love to see those knives you make so feel free to come back and post some pictures in the comments!

    Awesome tutorial! Question for you. I find that when I am chip carving, and I am by no means an expert at it, the wood gets very dirty and slightly worn where my hands are placed when supporting the knife. I know my hands get sweaty and I'm sure this doesn't help. Is there a way to prevent this or clean the area or does varnishing/staining it cover up all that (I have yet to reach this stage)? Thanks!

    2 replies

    Also I know that you can use acetone to remove pencil marks from the wood so maybe try that if the wood gets dirty. but test it in a different area than where your art is

    sorry to chime in, I'd suggest cotton/latex/nitrile gloves or finger cots, whatever material and coverage works best for you personally. I'd probably go with nitrile or latex though since they're going to let you grip the tool better than cotton would

    Beautiful work. I am going to do my bass boards this way . So cool! Thank you.

    I'm just a beginner but I find hardwood easier to carve

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    Thank you so much for this, you explained it all clearly, this is something I have been looking at and wanting to do for some months now, I have been watching on YouTube regarding carvings and making wooden boxes with my band saw etc. I will also check the link you posted. Just one snag though, your Amazon is in US$ and not UK£... Aaarrggh only kidding as I 'think' we have craft shops dot co.uk, thanks again

    1 reply

    sorry about the us$? but thanks for taking the time to check out my tutorial and I'm glad it helped out

    This is great. And you explain it so well - an art in itself :)

    1 reply

    looks pretty cool.would love to try this.thanks

    1 reply

    What's cool about this is I can stop saying "some day when I buy some equipment".

    1 reply