Carved wooden chains attract attention and are fairly easy to make. Once you have the pattern drawn correctly onto the wood and remove the waste wood, the shape of the chain is visible and you can set to work. People with no knowledge of carving will be amazed at how you were able to create a chain out of a block of wood. Carving chains, balls in cages and other novelties are commonly referred to as whittling.
Select a straight-grained block of wood for your chain. A square piece of basswood or pine at least 4 inches long would work nicely. The longer the piece of wood, the longer your chain will be. A 4-inch piece of wood should yield a chain with three links. Choose a piece of wood that’s wide enough for the size links you want.
Draw pencil lines on the wood with a ruler to indicate where the links of the chain will be located. When finished, the markings on the ends of the block of wood will resemble a plus sign. To achieve this, draw two lines in the center of each side and end of the wood, parallel to the length. The area between the two lines represents the width of the links of the chain. For a block of wood 1 1/4 inches square, the area between the two lines should be 1/4-inch wide and the areas on either side should be 1/2-inch wide.
Cut away the waste wood. This can be done with a knife or gouges, or it can be removed with a table saw. Mark the waste areas with a pencil if you’d like a reminder of what needs to come off. You should end up with a plus sign as deep as the length of the wood.
Draw the chain link shapes onto the wood with a pencil. Starting at one end of the vertical section of the wood, draw the top half of a link above the horizontal section of the wood and the bottom half below it. Draw another link next to that one in the same manner, leaving enough space between the two to allow you to cut them apart. Continue until you've reached the end of the block of wood. Draw the links on the horizontal part of the wood so that the ends of the links are drawn to what will be the open area in the vertical links. All the links should be the same size and thickness.
Mark with a pencil the areas around the drawn links that are to be removed. Remove the wood between the links with a carving knife. You should now have what looks like a solid chain.
Carefully carve out the inside of each chain link with a carving knife. Use a thin-bladed knife to separate them, using a slicing motion in tight areas. When completed, you should have a rough-looking chain.
Round each link to the same thickness with your carving knife. A small, rounded wood file would also work. When finished, you can leave your chain as is or you can sand it smooth with sandpaper. A lacquer finish could then be applied.
Vary a chain carving by adding another element, such as a ball in a cage. A chain with no end can be carved from one wide block of wood.
Take your time when carving the links apart to prevent breakage.