By L. S. Irish
Chip carving has become for the woodworker an art form complete in itself. This technique uses triangular shaped cuts that create intricate and intriguing designs dancing across the surface of the wood. Patterns for chip carving are defined by a few basic elements, as the triangle or free form line, yet by varying the size and position of these elements new patterns are created.
Because the chip carving technique employs such a few shapes it would seem that the patterns created would be static, however this is far from true. The triangles can be long narrow shapes or very short and fat in appearance, even curves are included within the triangles outlines. Chip carving is extremely appropriate for ornate jewelry boxes, shelf supports, and bread boards that will decorate your kitchen.
This technique is basically created with the chip knife. I highly recommend Moor’s Chip Carving Knives. This set of three are specifically designed for chip carving work and will last you a life time.
Two Types of Chip Carving
Chip carving as an art takes two direction. First is the pattern that is created from triangular shapes or traditional chip carving. Free Form chip carving is made with fine cut lines that vary in their shape and direction. In the Section of mistakes you will see a recipe box that has a Free Form bird pattern on the lid accented with a Traditional chip pattern along the sides. Traditional chip carving can be broken down further into fine chip carving and large chip carving.
Fine Triangle Chip Carving
With fine chip carving most of the right angled triangles that you will be working on are about 1/4″ or less in size. So the first two basic cuts are not pull cuts but instead a push or plunge motion into the wood.
The knife is held at a 65 degree angle to the wood surface with the blade of the knife facing you. You will be making this first cut toward you. Let the tip of the knife rest at point A, then push or plunge the knife into the wood toward point B. This creates a cut into the chip that is deepest where the point enters and shallow at the intersection of the next angle of the chip. Back the knife out of the cut, do not pull it out in the direction of the line. This will create a fine cut past the end of the line where you do not want it.
Flip the knife over in your hand, the blade will now be facing away form you. Turn your work so that it is opposite it’s original position. You are ready for the second cut which will be a push cut into the wood. Begin again at point A, holding the knife at 65 degrees. Again, push or plunge the knife into the wood along the chip line toward point C. Then bring it straight out from the cut. Just as with the first cut, the second one is deepest at point A and becomes shallow toward the next intersection.
The third cut is a pulled cut. Return the knife to a position in your hand where the blade faces you. Place the tip of the blade at Point B, 65 degrees. Now slowly push the knife into the wood, pulling it along the line. As you reach the center of the line begin to bring the knife out of the wood until just the tip makes the cut at Point C.