Chip carving is a traditional woodcarving art form that is accomplished with a minimum of tools to create beautiful geometric patterns. Lettering and free form designs can also be incorporated to personalize the artwork. Chip carving is a great discipline for all woodcarvers because you learn how to make clean and precise cuts which will aid in all your woodcarving projects. Most chip carving is done on basswood, but there are beautiful examples in many other types of wood and don't be surprised if you happen to see chip carved golf balls at your local woodcarving show!
The basic tool for chip carvers is the chip knife. The chip knife is characterized by its high arched back which helps to push the tip of the knife forward as the carver makes a plunge cut. A carver will make three of these cuts to take out a triangular chip. This cut is the basis for all chip carving. Chip carvers will also make cuts in to free-form shapes of animals, plants, or just about anything. The chip knife is also used for these free-form cuts. The stab knife is the other useful tool a chip carver will use to accentuate the chip cuts. It will make a deep embellishment, usually helping to decorate free-form designs.
Design and layout is key to a successful, pleasing to the eye, finished project. Chip carvers also use t-squares or rulers to layout border designs (decorative trim adorning edges of boxes). A compass is used to draw rosettes, which are then chip carved. Rosettes are circular designs which are seen mostly on plates, but can be found on any type of chip carved item. Often a carver will use graphite tracing paper and a stylus to transfer their project onto the wood surface.
We carry some great step-by-step books on chip carving that cover the most important aspects of the art form and guide you through the complete process. Chip carving is a fun craft that you'll want to try at some point, why not today!