Chip Carving Techniques


Chip carving, which is often referred to as spoon carving, is one of the most simple wood carving techniques to accomplish. Chip carving is a method by which wood is removed, or chipped away, to create elegant three-dimensional designs into a piece of wood. Celtic designs are typically used, but chip carving artists also do their own free form designs as well. Here are some tips and techniques you can use to bring out the best in your chip carved works of art.

Tools and Materials

Chip carving requires very few tools. A chip carving knife, sandpaper and wood are all you need to get started. Mahogany, basswood, pine or butternut are some of the woods you can use for your chip carvings. You can purchase these wood in blocks at a lumber yard. You should also keep wood stains or paint on hand if you will be finishing your work.

Bas Relief Carving

Bas relief carving is a technique that creates a three-dimensional appearance. It involves removing wood chunks from a flat, thick piece of wood to bring out a design that appears to rise from a background. Use a combination of small wood chisels and a chip carving knife to cut away triangular pieces of wood until the image you are after begins to appear in rough form. Use sandpaper to smooth the edges of the design and continue to chip away the wood until you have finished your piece.

Pull Cutting

Use the pull cutting technique when you are doing very fine chip carving work. Hold your knife at a 65 degree angle and make a cut coming toward you, then rest your knife at the end of this cut and push it into the wood as you turn it, changing direction for the second cut. Pull cutting avoids pushing into the wood and digging it out. This cut makes it easier for you to cut away your shapes and remove the excess wood by pushing beneath it and lifting.

Plunge Cuts

Plunge cutting is a technique designed to remove big chunks of wood at a time. Push a larger knife into the wood where you want to begin your cut and pull it back out. Turn your wood block and repeat this, placing your second cut into the wood. Avoid more than a small angle to avoid shallow cuts. The purpose of a plunge cut is to gouge wood from your base to make your design.

Keywords: chip carving techniques, woodcarving, wood chip crafts

About this Author

Carl Hose has been writing since high school. His work appears in the zombie anthology Cold Storage, which he co-edited. His work also appears in Champagne Shivers, DeathGrip: It Came from the Cinema, DeathGrip: Exit Laughing, the horror anthology Loving the Undead, the erotic ghost anthology Beyond Desire, and issues of Lighthouse Digest. Hose's nonfiction appears in Blue Review and Writer's Journal.

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