Basic Chip Carving
Basic chip carving is perhaps the easiest technique to learn, and to master. It uses fewer strokes to complete, and fewer tools to learn to use: PRACTICE !
Chip carving is widely used for putting a border on a project, but can also be used to very ornately decorate a jewelry box or other piece of furniture. It is really a repetitive rendering of a complex geometric design, or even scrollwork, and can also be very tedious and exasperating. Again, the key to this technique is in transferring the design from paper to the work. You will be using artists curve patterns, a compass and various scrolls to create the geometric design, and the tracing paper/carbon paper method to transfer the design.
A chip carving knife is specifically designed to make the kind of cuts demanded by this technique. It produces the straight line cut and the triangular shaped chip that it removes easily, and a good chip carving knife is MANDATORY. I generally refer to chip carving as whittling on the flat. The technique is also a lead in for a more advanced one: Inlaying, which involves inlaying a contrasting wood, or mother of pearl into the area being carved previously. Inlaying can be done on furniture but is more readily recognized on the neck of a good banjo, or fine guitar. Carvers who can inlay are top of the notch. and have my greatest admiration.
Because of the repetitive nature of carving very tight geometric patterns, chip carving can also be very frustrating. If all the chips removed are not the same, or very close to the same, the design will not look right. FRUSTRATING, EXASPERATING, TEDIOUS ! There is only one way to learn chip carving, and that is to practice, practice, practice, and to use a sharp chip carving knife.
As you may be able to tell from this text, chip carving is NOT my favorite style. I do it well, even though I am not thrilled by the constant, repetitive and delicate nature of this type of carving. again PRACTICE.
I suppose it is proper, at this point to say that chip carving requires a good deal of patience as well as a steady hand. PRACTICE. At my age (78) the patience is possible but the steady hand is getting farther and farther away.
I, personally, am getting to be a freehand kind of a guy ! Which brings me to my favorite subjects.
Bark Carving, Driftwood Carving, and Chainsaw Carving
Do you remember, as a boy, using your Scout knife to carve a heart shape into the bark of a tree and then carving your initials, as well as those of your favorite girl inside the heart? Well I do. And she and I have been married for 56 years. Many more to come.
Bark carving is also a good way to see the image that lies within the bark, and to create neat little gremlins that live within. Driftwood is also a favorite media.. by using the driftwood to see the image of an old, bearded, salty sailor within, and to bring the image out blowing in the wind in all his glory !!!
Another favorite is Chainsaw Carving. (You can see, now why FREEHAND CARVING is what I have come to love best.) Carving an EAGLE or a BEAR sitting in the crotch of a tree or at the very top, is my cup of tea. The chainsaw cuts the basic image, and an angle grinder adds the detail. Throw in a squirrel or two, and perhaps a raccoon maybe even a fox or wolf, Tres Bien !