Chip Carving Common Mistakes

We have spent the last week looking at the wood carving art of chip carving in this free, online seminar by Lora Irish, which includes free chip carving patterns.  Today I thought we might  take a few minutes and look at some of the common mistakes that can happen in your wood carving.


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




Let’s look at a few of the common problems and errors that can happen in chip carving.  Please note that if you are working a practice board you may find that the basswood is not the high quality that you might find in a prepared basswood wood carving blank.  Small chip outs are more common when working practice board quality basswood.

common mistakes in chip carving

1.  Ragged walls can be caused by poor quality wood or because of an improperly sharpened knife edge.  A poorly sharpened knife, or an incorrect bevel to the knife edge are the primary causes for cutting problems in chip carving.

The craft basswood boards available at your local hardware store often show some ragged wall cuts.  A dull knife tears through the wood instead of cutting the wood.  When working on a high quality piece of basswood, check your knife edge as soon as you discover a ragged wall.

2.  Each chip should have a sharp, clean point at the center of the chip well.  Correct this problem by re-cutting along one side of the center point piece.

3.  This chip’s wall was cut using several, staggered strokes.  Re-cut the wall using one full stroke that covers the entire wall side.

4. In this sample the knife effect began the wall cut slightly away from the intersecting joint line between the two chips.  You can re-cut one of the chip walls to thin the intersection.

5.  Every chip carver discovers a very wobbly edge chip walls.  I find this problem most often occurs when I am cutting through a spray adhesive paper pattern.  Use the blade’s edge to shave just the curved area of the line, avoiding the two end points.

6. Chip outs happen and are caused by several reasons.  If you are working on a heavy grained wood as sugar pine, the change in the grain pattern can cause a thin point to break free.

On soft carving woods as basswood the point can chip because the stroke is pulled into the point.  The pulling action tears the point away from the plaque. Try cutting your finest points with a push stroke instead of a pull cut.  With a push stroke you literally lay the edge of the blade along the line and push the blade down into the grain.

Over cutting one side of the point, reaching the blade point too deeply into the wood, can cause a point chip to break away when the second cut meets the first.  Try scoring the point lines first by using a light pressure in the blade and cutting an extremely shallow cut.

Chip outs can be repaired by using wood glue and a tooth pick.  Place a small drop of glue on the board at the break out spot.  Place the broken chip back into position.  Allow the glue to dry thoroughly, about one half hour then re-cut the chip.

7.  If your knife feels as though it is cutting through grainy wood – a sandpaper feeling – check your knife’s edge for sharpness.  It bares repeating that the biggest problem in chip carving is either too steep a blade bevel or an edge that has lost its hone.

Chip Carving Basics E-Project by Lora IrishPlease stop by Art Designs Studio, Lora Irish’s wood carving, pyrography, and chip carving pattern website.

Chip Carving Basics E-Project, Everything from this Chip Carving Seminar and more!  Learn how to create a wide variety of chip carving designs using different styles of easy-to-cut chip motifs, by Lora S. Irish.  37 page, PDF file format, easy to print e-project and the full cp015 Chip Carving Pattern package with 110 ready to print chip carving patterns.