Well, its Super Bowl Sunday this weekend here in America. While my guys will be watching the football game I will be enjoying a few, quiet hours of wood burning and pyrography fun. I thought you might like to join me.
This quick, and easy Steam Punk Star takes about two to three hours from start to finish. Use it as a door decoration, on a box lid, or to accent the cover of your latest scrap book. All you need is the pattern, which as always is given free with the project, your wood burning tools, 7″ sized basswood or poplar star, and a set of twelve artist quality colored pencils.
While you are here you might wish to choose one of our newer projects – Feathered Border, Snowman Card, or create your own Practice Board. Check out the Pyrography link in the top nav menu for more great, free pyrography and wood burning projects by Lora Irish.
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.
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.
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.
Please 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.
For our final session in this in-depth, step by step seminar on Chip Carving, we will look at a classic carving layout for a needle-arts styled Sampler layout. This layout can easily be adapted to use any border, line, or motif chip carving pattern.
There are several ways to learn and practice your chip carving. The first is through the use of practice boards. We have discussed this idea several times during this seminar, but it is worthy of one more look. In the sample board to the right I have worked a series of progressions using the simple 3×2 grid diamond motif that has been shown throughout these pages.
The grid pattern was penciled directly to the basswood practice board using 1/4″ squares. Each 3×2 grid motif was marked using a darker pencil line. As I worked each row of the practice board I treated that basic 3×2 diamond differently in how many times I divided the diamond into triangles, the style of cut, in the positive and negative space, and in the addition of accents.
As you look at the photo sample you will see that the first two diamonds in each row show just the cuts used to create the diamond. The last two diamonds show the accent chips and cuts that can be used. This creates 9 variations of the 3×2 diamond and 9 possible borders.
Our Chip Carving Pattern Package contains four patterns which show 36 variations of just the 3×2 diamond motif that can be used to change, alter, and vary any of the larger pattern layouts using both triangle, and straight-wall cuts, as well as negative space.
Beginning in the 15th century needlework samplers became a way in which young women could show their skills with a needle and thread. Small patterns, motifs, and borders decorated the linen cloth as a record for future use. In essence, a needlework or needle-arts sample is similar to the practice boards we create for our wood burning, wood carving, and in this lesson our chip carving.
The layout pattern is very simple and perfect to practice and experiment with small chip carving patterns. The top rows will be small border patterns. The central area of the sample is used for larger, individual designs or rows of similar sized motifs. The bottom rows return to the border patterns. This places the largest visual units at the center of the layout and the small designs at the top and bottom areas finished work.
Sampler Layout Chip Carving Pattern
The Sampler Chip Carving Pattern, shown right, uses the needle-arts layout. Please click on the image for a full-sized, printable pattern.
The third row shows the first large motif area and uses both free-from long line work as well as large triangle chip cuts. The central rectangle area can be used for a name, date, special event, or for a small free-from pattern.
A thin, small border line of triangle chips with stab knife accents fills row four.
A 6×6 square motif is used in row five and separated with a small mirror-image 3×2 straight-wall chip cut.
Row six uses curve-edged chips along the bottom edge of the border pattern. It also makes use of negative space, captured between the 3×2 motifs as well as both cut oval and stab knife accents
The last row, number seven, combines a simple alternating square chips border with a triangle chips motif. It shows on the two sides of the triangle motif how easy it is to adjust the triangle chip sizes to fit into a specific space.
I hope that you have enjoyed this free, online Chip Carving Seminar. Please feel free to drop me an email note if you have any questions.
Today we are going to put it all together as we work through a Chess Board – Game Board Chip Carving layout. We will use triangle, square, curve-edge, and free form chips to cut this 13″ square board. I will be working a small practice board using 1/4″ basswood. This small sample allows you to learn and experiment with each chip style used to create the larger board.
The finished sample, right, is a composite image made from my smaller practice board to show how your finished large board will look.
4″ x 8″ x 1/4″ basswood practice board printed copy of the practice pattern removable spray adhesive large chip carving knife 320-grit sandpaper13″ x 13″ x 1/2″ to 3/4″ basswood plaque is needed for a full-sized board.
Practice Board Pattern
Click on the practice board pattern to the right for a full-sized, printable pattern.
Lightly sand your practice board with 320-grit sandpaper. Work the sanding with the direction of your wood grain to avoid fine cross-grain scratches. Remove any dust with a clean, dry cloth.
Make a printed copy of the practice pattern. Following the directions on the label, spray the back of the pattern paper with an even coating of spray adhesive. Place the paper pattern onto the board, aligning the edge of the pattern with the edge of the board. Rub the paper gently to insecure that it is in full contact with the wood. Allow the spray adhesive to dry thoroughly, about one half hour.
Begin your practice session by checking the sharpness of your chip carving knife. Work your knife over your sharpening stones as needed to create a low bevel to the cutting edge. As you work through steps 4 to 6, try to keep the angle of the chip knife the same for each side of the triangles. This will keep the depth of the chip wells consistent throughout the motif.
We will work the border motif square from the center out towards the curve-edge chips.
Full-sized Chess Board Chip Carving Pattern
This pattern shows one quarter of a full-sized chess board layout. Please click on the pattern for a full-sized printable pattern.
The first area that we will work is the square motif created with triangular chips. This motif is made up of three rows of alternating triangles around a diamond shaped negative central area. Following the directions for cutting Triangle Chips, working one triangle chip at a time, cut the three sides of each inner row triangle.
Work the next row of triangle chips in the square motif. Cut the side of the new triangle that shares the side of the inner triangle first, then cut the remaining two sides. By cutting along the side of a triangle that has already been worked in a previous chip you reduce the minimize the chances of that side breaking or chipping out.
Work the remaining, outer row of triangles in the square motif. Again, work the side of the new triangle that shares a pre-cut side with the previously worked triangle first. Then cut the remaining two sides.
Next we will cut the small square chip rows that create the side border of the pattern. These small squares are worked holding the chip knife at the same angle to the wood as you did for the larger square motif triangles. For this design the small squares are alternated with small squares of negative space.
The curved edge chips on the sides of the large square motif are worked next and treated at three individual chips to make to complete chip pattern. There are two three-piece curved edge chips on each side of the large square motif. Begin by cutting the straight sided triangle that joins the large square motif. Cut the side of this triangle that touches the cut area of the large square motif first, then cut the remaining two sides.
Work one curve-edge triangle at a time. For the first curve-edge triangle cut along the straight side that touches the triangles cut in step 7 first.
Next, gently roll or curve the direction of the knife blade to match the curve of the pattern line for the next side of the curve-edge triangle chip. Cut the remaining curve-edge side of this triangle.
The inner row of this border pattern is created using small triangles and is cut in the same method as the large triangles in the design. So far we have cut each triangle as an independent chip, working through all of the sides of one complete chip before moving to the next.
You can gang cut chip shapes instead of working them one by one. In gang cutting you cut all of the matching sides of the triangles in an area or group at one time. Example, you can cut all of the small triangle accents along the side that touches the large motif first. Then, rotating the board you cut all of the sides of the row that are at 90 degrees to the main border pattern. The last cutting session works all of the diagonal line cuts for each of the small triangles.
Gang cutting reduces the time need to cut each triangles individually, and reduces the time needed to rotate the board for each and every cut.
The inner negative space diamond in the large square motif is worked next by making a small two-cut chip that cuts the inner leg of the inner row triangles.
Lay your blade, at the 45 degree angle, onto the wood at the center point of this inner triangle leg. Push the knife down to cut a small line that goes through the chip wall and into the un-carved diamond area. Turn the knife blade over in your hand and angle the blade away form the first cut at the 45 degree angle. Cut along the same line. This releases a small triangle of wood from the diamond.
Repeat steps 3 through 11 to cut the game board squares. Work the large square motifs first, followed by working the alternating squares areas.
When all of the chips have been worked remove the paper pattern from the wood.
Check your work for any small problems and correct as necessary. I will note here that in my experience no two chips will ever be exactly alike. In any chip carving there always seems to be a few chips that are not exactly on the pattern line, or perhaps have a little deeper or shallower well.
Unless you are placing your chip carving into a contest or carving show, you are the only person that will ever inspect each and every chip that you carved in a full design.
Make what adjustments that you need to but do not become over obsessed with re-working each and every chip that you have carved.
Consistency comes with practice. So for the new chip carvers I suggest that instead of spending a great deal of time re-working one practice project that you move onto your next. In time most of the small problems or errors will resolve by repeated chip carving.
I finished my practice board by applying two coats of linseed oil mixed 1 to 1 with turpentine. The oil finishes deepens the wood and sharpens the shadows in the chip wells. Allow the oil to dry overnight. Work the wood with two to three coats of paste wax, allowing each coat to dry
Chip Carving Workshop by Lora Irish takes you through all of the essential chip carving techniques, from tool sharpening and preparation to hand positions, chip cutting, and finishing. You’ll discover how to use both geometric shapes and free form designs to create wonderfully detailed patterns. Practice projects will have you decorating household items and creating artistic pieces in a variety of original designs. Hope chests, wooden spoons, jewelry chests, clocks, candle plates, serving trivets and decorative plaques are just a few ideas for your new chip carving skills.
Tomorrow, our last day for this Free Online Chip Carving Seminar by Lora Irish, we will look at a basic needle art style Sampler Layout using the free chip carving patterns that are posted to this thread. Thanks for reading today!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cut 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.
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.
Cut along the second side, following the curve of the pattern, and angling the blade point to the center of the chip well.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
Tomorrow we will work through a Chess Board – Game Board Chip Carving Pattern.