What Are Common Mistakes in Chip Carving? ? | BC Learning Series #20

What Are Common Mistakes in Chip Carving? ? | BC Learning Series #200

Working on chip carving, every beginner needs to have not only a good set of wood carving tools but a lot of patience in order to solve the mistakes that they will make while creating this artwork. Here in our article, we will point out the most common problems that occur while chip carving and show the way to avoid and correct them.

Chip Carving Wood Carve

Choose the right wood. Not all wood is good for chip carving. Wood with heavy grain, such as sugar pine, for example, is not a good choice for chip carving. You will have a lot of chips that break or split further than planned because of the wood structure. Even not every basswood board will be of high quality. Choose high-quality basswood blank for chip carving to be sure the wood will not stand on your way to success.


Dull blade. One of the biggest problems of carvers is a knife blade that has lost its sharpness. So, it is essential to check your knife every once in a while. A sharp knife plus a high-quality piece of wood is your formula of success. If you see a ragged wall of your cut, or if it is difficult to make a cut like you are fighting your way through a grainy wood, then it’s time to check your knife’s edge. It shouldn’t be dull if you don’t want to repeatedly tear the material you’re working with. Hone your knife till it’s razor-sharp. Also, it is better to use a chip carving knife with a thin blade that has a large and not too steep bevel.


Chip out. One of the reasons for chip outs is the wrong kind of wood. If the grain is heavy, it will cause such problems.  But even with the right wood, during chip carving, small pieces still may fall out which we want to stay in place. Or the chip may come out bigger than necessary. You can repair chip outs with the help of wood glue. Glue the broken chip back, wait till it dries and then cut the chip once again.


A chip may break or another unexpected tear may occur when you do the cuts incorrectly. You should not make a pulling movement of the knife through the wood, the correct way is to push the knife into the wood. When you pull the knife, the grains may stand on your way and start tearing or cracking. Instead, aim your knife point at the imaginary intersection of the chip sides and push the blade into the wood. Performing cuts this way will minimize the risk of chip outs.


Facets on a chip wall. If a wall of a chip was cut using staggered strokes, you should re-cut the wall with one full stroke in order to cover the entire wall side. This way you will make the wall flat as it should be.


A wavy chip wall. If the wall of your chip appears to be wobbly, gently shave it with the blade of your knife, but don’t touch the corners.


Unclear intersection point.  If you have aimed the third wall cut a bit away from the intersection of the two previous walls by mistake, you will not receive a clear well point of your chip. Correct this flaw by re-cutting one of the chip walls in order to minimize the intersection.


Uneven depths of the cuts. Avoid overcutting one side of the chip, because the only way to receive a perfect chip is to make all the sides even so that they will meet at one point. If you feel that you have this problem of cutting one side deeper than another, apply lighter pressure to the blade and cut small and accurate cuts. With time you will learn to make exact cuts and take out perfect chips.

 Chip Carving Techniques

Off the pattern. Sometimes you may slightly miss the pattern line when you cut. It may be just a tiny bit but will be clearly seen as a mistake that breaks the pattern. Try to be careful and follow the lines perfectly, however, should the mistake happen, try to re-cut making more precise movements. Glue the chip back and cut again if you have cut out too much by mistake.


We hope that this was helpful and you are armed now against the mistakes that may occur during chip carving. You will not be able to do it all right when you are just learning. Make sure you have glue with you, before you start working on your chip carving, even experienced carvers use it from time to time. However, as you see, most of the mistakes can be corrected, so don’t worry and begin your project with inspiration. 


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