Another Journey into Woodworking - Chip Carving

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Blog entry by Matt posted 07-17-2009 03:52 PM 1811 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It gets really hot here in the summertime. 100 degrees is not unheard of. It’s times like these that I really wish I had A/C in my shop already. It such a nice place to work. That is, unless you’re losing a quart of water an hour to the process of perspiration. Woodworking in wet clothes really sucks. However, that is not the topic of this post.

I was looking through the projects earlier this week and noticed some of the wonderful chip carvings that the amazingly skilled and talented folks on LJ have posted. I thought, “Hey, that’s something I could do in the house, or front portch, or under a shade tree, when it’s too hot in the shop!” With that, I was off to the <insert> to buy a knife and a book.

A few hours later, I had a chip carving knife and a book. I bought the “Complete Guide to Chip Carving” by Wayne Barton and a Pfeil knife. At first glance, it looks like chip carving might not be that hard. I mean, how hard is is to draw triangles then carve them out with a tiny little knife. That was a big, bad, assumption on my part. To quote my dad on a multitude of situations while I was growing up, “It ain’t as easy as it looks, is it?” Haha.

After a couple of hours, I think I made some good progress making chips but I’m nowhere near anything I would like to post here. I’m not one that ever backs down from a challenge and I won’t be putting the knife down any time soon. However, I could see how those with less determination would become frustrated and give up.

The cost (so far!), convenience, and portability are the main appeal right now because it sure ain’t the beautiful things I’ve created. I would say, if you’re a beginner, don’t give up early on, because “It ain’t as easy as it looks!”.

I’m interested in hearing from you experienced chip carvers about the early stages. If you have any additional suggestions, let me know.

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

4 comments so far

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3949 days

#1 posted 07-17-2009 04:28 PM

Hey Matt,
Carving is something I have never done, so interesting post!!

Speaking of the heat, I am so lucky in this new house. The full basement is heated and cooled!! Doesn’ t help when I have to open the garage door to shoot the dust outside, but am thinking seriously of getting a dust collection unit by the fall, so I can still use my equipment when the weather gets cooler or rainy.

View a1Jim's profile


117954 posts in 4213 days

#2 posted 07-17-2009 05:12 PM

Hey Matt sounds like good progress


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4797 days

#3 posted 07-18-2009 12:53 AM

it’s not as easy as it looks!!
I’ve tried it… and should try it again.
It really is quite fun as you get that into “intense concentration” mode.

I’d like to see pix of your first attempts and next year you will be glad that you posted them, giving you something to look back at and see your progress!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Colin's profile


246 posts in 4557 days

#4 posted 08-24-2009 10:08 PM

Hey Matt, start with little projects to help your skills, coasters, wine bottle balancers and so on, it gets easier although there are lots of things to learn, basswood is great to work with. have a look at Roger Strautman to see what can be produced. He is truly a master at this craft.



-- Colin, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. "Every craftsman was once an amateur"

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