Compressed Wood

An Introduction to

Chip Carving

All you need are two knives and a comfortable chair by Wayne Barton

Wood Carving Boarder Design

Pleasing the eye.

Chip c arving transforms a basic box with pattern and texture. With a little practice, you can learn to chip carve the floral and caning designs shown here, as well as many others.

by Wayne Barton

For centuries, woodworkers have embellished boxes, ornamental plates and furniture with chip-carved designs. The appeal of this simple form of carving is easy to understand. With only two knives, a few basic techniques and a little imagination, you can transform a drab, flat surface into a delightful composition of texture and pattern.

Chip carving involves incising designs into the wood. Each waste section is cut out by angling knife cuts inward toward each other. If done properly, this creates "chips" that lift cleanly out of the wood.

Many chip-carving designs arc based on simple geometric patterns, such as the crosshatch "caning" pattern seen on the side of my butternut box. But chip carving also lends itself to flowing motifs such as the one shown in the center of the box lid—a rosette of flowers and berries surrounded by leaves. Although this design requires wider and deeper cuts than those on many chip-carved patterns, it's not as difficult to carve as it might look. By practicing the few cuts Til show you in this article, you'll be able to carve this box lid design as well as the caning. Master these basic cuts and you'll be able to try your hand at any number of published or original designs.

Knife Wayne Barton

A two-knife craft. Chip carving involves only two knives. The "cutting" knife (top) does most of the work. The "stab" knife creates wedge-shaped impressions.


This pattern is excellent for learning chip carving. It includes a rosette of flowers and berries surrounded by «1 sea of leaves. A thin border frames the entire design.

Wood Carving Border Patterns

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