Chip Carving – Cutting Straight-Wall, Curve-Wall, and Free Form Chips

cutting a straight-wall chip carvingIn today’s free online Chip Carving Seminar by Lora Irish, we look at the wood carving cuts used to create straight-wall, curve-edge, and free form chips in your chip carving patterns.




Chip Carving Seminar by Lora Irish

Chip Carving Seminar
Chip Carving Supplies
Chip Carving Graphed Patterns
Chip Carving Hand Positions and Grips
Chip Carving – Triangles and Square Chips
Chip Carving – Straight-Wall Chips
Chip Caved Game and Chess Board
Chip Carving Sampler Pattern Layout
Chip Carving Common Mistakes
Chip Carved Shortbread Cookies



cutting straight-wall chips in chip carvingStraight-Wall Chips

Straight-wall chips have two sides of a triangle chip cut at or near 90 degrees to the board. The third side of the triangle is cut by laying the knife blade extremely low to the board and slicing the blade back to the intersection point of the other two sides. This creates a sloped floor the chip well.

A straight-wall chip can have several layers of straight-wall work within one larger chip. In the photo example to the right, after the chip area was worked as a straight-wall and second straight-wall chip was laid inside the first. The second small chip has a deeper slope to the chip floor. You can use either a large chip carving knife or a detail bench knife to cut the third wall sloping floor.

cutting straight-wall chips in chip carvingCUT 1

Holding the knife at or near 90 degrees to the board cut along one of the sides of the chip that will be the wall of the deepest point of the sloped floor.



cutting straight-wall chips in chip carvingCUT 2

Cut the second wall of the deep side of the chip floor at or near 90 degrees. The deepest point of the cut for both straight walls are at the intersection of those lines.



cutting straight-wall chips in chip carvingCUT 3

Lay the knife blade low to the wood along the third side of the chip. Push the knife towards the intersecting corner of the straight-wall sides.


Cutting Double Straight-Wall Chips

Straight-wall chips can contain multiple wall levels worked in the direction of the first wall or worked on a new diagonal line.  Each new straight-wall is worked exactly as the first, main straight-wall of the chip.  Both chips of a double straight-wall chip share the same sloped third side of the cut.

cutting double straight-wall chipsCut 1

Cut your the main walls of the larger straight-wall chip.  With a pencil mark where the new, inner straight-wall will fall inside of the larger chip.   Cut the first side or leg of your smaller, inner wall at a 90 degree angle to the wood.


cutting double straight-wall chipsCut 2 and 3

Cut the second straight-side of the inner, smaller straight-wall chip at a 90 degree angle to the wood.

Lay your bench knife or chip knife low to the wood and slice the third wall into the straight-wall corner of the inner chip.


cutting a curve-wall chip in chip carvingCurve-Edged Chips

Adding a curved edge to a triangle or square chip breaks the design out of the angular effect that chip carving can have. The curved side of the chip is treated exactly as a straight side by angling the knife blade point towards the center point or center line of the well. As you cut the curved side of the chip, roll the blade of your knife along the pattern line to create.


The heart pattern, above, uses triangles with three curved sides to establish the heart in the negative space of the design. Cut one side of this curved chip, following the pattern lines, and angling the blade point to the center of the chip well.

cutting a curve-wall chip in chip carvingCUT 2

Cut along the second side, following the curve of the pattern, and angling the blade point to the center of the chip well.



cutting a curve-wall chip in chip carvingCUT 3

The third side is cut as the first two and will release the chip from the board.


Free Form Chips

Free form chips use two to three sides to create long, curved v-trough lines. Entire patterns as roosters or dancing figures can be create using just free form work.

cutting a free form chip in chip carvingCUT 1

Place the point of the chip knife at the beginning of the free form line at or near a 45 degree angle to the wood, angled away from the line. Using increasing gentle pressure, push the point of the knife deeper into the wood as you pull the cut until you reach the mid-point of the line. Slowly lift the knife from the wood as you complete the second half of the line cut.


cutting a free form chip in chip carvingCUT 2

Turn the board 180 degrees to make the second cut. Work the second side of the free form cut exactly as you worked the first.



cutting a free form chip in chip carvingCUT 3

Small oval-shaped leaf cuts can be made by laying the knife blade at a closer angle to the wood. In the photo above, the central motif uses two free form oval-shaped leaf cuts with adjoining sides. It also contains long, curved accent free form lines below the motif.


stab knife chip cutsStab Knife Accents

The stab knife is held in an upright position, 90 degrees, to the wood.  The metal at the blade tip is tapered from a wide area at the point which slowly narrows along the cutting edge as it nears the handle.  By pushing the knife point directly into the wood you can cut small wedge-shaped accent lines.

Some stab knives have both sides of the blade point angle sharpened.  This style of chip carving knife can be used to push the blade into the triangle or square chip pattern lines to cut the walls of the chip.

sample chip carving pattern Sample Chip Carving for Straight-wall, Curve-edge, and Free Form Chip Carving

You now know how to cut all of the chips in the sample chip carving to the right.  This particular chip carving design, by Lora Irish, contains triangle chips, square chips, straight-wall chips, curve-edge chips, free form chips, and stab knife chip accents.


 Today’s Practice Board Pattern

straight-wall chip carving patternTomorrow we will work through a Chess Board – Game Board Chip Carving Pattern.