My carving adventure begins!

My lovely bride got me a book and two chip carving knives for my birthday on Tuesday.  I have to say, I’m pretty darn excited.  She got me Wayne Barton’s Complete Guide to Chip Carving…I have read it cover to cover already and today made my first cuts!

First up, I found a piece of basswood I bought at Michael’s for another project and never used.  Perfect.  It’s only 3″ x 3/8″ x 24″ so not exactly an ideal size, but I figured for the first go, why not.

I drew out a pattern, based off what I saw in the book.IMAG2379

Then I started to cut out the triangles, one at a time.  The first few were a little rough because the angle that Wayne instructs you to hold the knife at seems awkward at first…but by the time I got half way through I was thinking it wasn’t so bad.IMAG2380

Then I finished up and decided to try going the other way…IMAG2381

There’s a few good cuts in there….somewhere….it’s great because you can really tell instantly when you made a good cut.  I heard that nice “snap” sound and saw the little pyramid chip pop out 3 times on this first trial run.  I’m hooked!IMAG2383

So then I thought, let’s try a border.  I drew two parallel lines on either side of the triangles/zig zag and took my time keeping the same angle, same pressure and moved it right across the grain…IMAG2388

Not bad, I think.  Next I tried to push myself and see what free form curves I could do.  I drew some random curves and decided to give it a whirl, making some nice shallow cuts.IMAG2389

I discovered a few things, most notably: curves are NOT as easy as little triangles.  But they are a bit more fun because of that challenge.  I’m thinking also that the wood is too dry.  I’m going to try and rehydrate it a little and see if that helps because I got a lot of chatter and rough cuts with the curves.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t initially sharpened the blades on the knives yet—just using the factory edge.  Heh heh…I know, I’m a sinner.  I just couldn’t wait to try….

Finally, I decided to try letters, so I found a cool looking V in Wayne’s book and copied it by eye to the wood.  This was easier for some reason than the curves.  I did a better job of keeping the angle on the blade steady and took my time.  I like it!IMAG2390

So.  No world class carving.  Yet.  But, these are the first cuts I’ve ever made as far as carving is concerned (except for my initials carved into my workbench leg vise chop…lol) and I am really happy and excited to continue to learn this aspect of woodworking!

I’ll try again after I sharpen the knives and rehydrate the wood.  I’m hoping for better results.  It was kind of hard to get the knife to do what I wanted—my shoulder was burning by the time I finished (oh, all the above work took about 30 minutes) so I’m not sure if I’m doing everything right just yet…


About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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