Chip Carving for Beginners

By Carl Hose

Chip carving, often referred to as spoon carving, is a wood craft art form that involves the removal of wood chips from a work surface to bring out design patterns and sometimes even images. Chip carvings tend to be elegant and make fine decorative pieces for the home, as well as popular selling items at craft fairs and flea markets. Chip carving artists can work with patterns or in free-form style to create their masterpieces. The process of chip carving is very simple, requiring only chip carving knives to complete, which makes it an ideal wood art for beginners.

Tools and Materials

Chip carving requires very little in the way of tools and materials. A good chip carving knife by itself is good enough to start. You can find them at hobby and craft stores. You can purchase a set that includes various-size angled blades as well. Prices of the knives vary. You don't need to purchase an expensive set to begin chip carving.

Any type of wood works for chip carving. The design elements typical of chip carvings tend to work well with a harder, higher-quality wood material such as mahogany, maple or cherrywood. Beginners should start with cheaper woods, such as pine or even scrap wood, at least until getting the hang of what they're doing.

Chip Carving Designs

Use wood patterns for your chip carvings if you need a guide. You can purchase wood pattern designs at hobby or craft stores. You can can also draw your own patterns onto the project surface, or you can work freehand if you have the skill for it. Beginners should work from a simple pattern containing very few design elements. This helps keep the project from becoming too demanding. Try a star-shaped pattern that doesn't include a lot of detail work. This will allow you to get familiar with removing chips before you work with more intricate designs.

Chip Carving Technique

The technique for chip carving is pretty straightforward. Taking your time is the important thing. Place the tip of a small chip carving knife against the starting point of the pattern you've drawn onto your project surface. The smaller knife is ideal for getting the pattern cuts started. You can use a larger chip carving knife for cutting longer, not-so-delicate lines. With chip carving, you can take away wood from the project surface to create either bas relief or depression, depending upon where you make your cuts and take away wood. A stabbing knife is handy for pushing into the wood project surface and lifting away larger chips. Switch back to a smaller knife to carve the details into your design.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.