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Chip Carving Question

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  • Chip Carving Question


    I am a beginner in Chip carving. I bought some basswood practice blanks to chip away. I am finding that the wood splinters when I cut in certain directions. I know this has something to do with teh direction of the grain. But then, I was told that basswood is suppopsed to have little or no grain. What I am doing wrong? Could this be because of a dull knife or a mistake in technique.

  • #2
    Re: Chip Carving Question

    Not being aware of what type of knives you have, it's kind of hard to give you a good answer.......BUT, most knives, even the best, neet to be honed and stropped prior to use, and stropped regularly to keep that razor-keen edge. If they are not meticulously sharp, they are apt to tear when cutting across the grain, or especially when working against the grain.

    My suggestion would be to make sure you have razor sharp blades before starting. If you can see any striations on the blade's edge, they are not sharp. Proper stropping will put that mirror finish on the blade that is critical for clean cuts.

    It is also possible that the blanks you bought are a bit punky. The wood should be solid and not stringy. Some basswood is sold that is not top quality, and it is more difficult to work with. I think that most carvers have run across this and have learned from experience, what to look for in good quality wood. Soft is not always better......balsa wood is extremely soft but is terrible carving. Even though you don't want rock hard wood to work with, you will find that a firm texture to the wood gives good results.

    Hope this helps.



    • #3
      Re: Chip Carving Question

      The problem you are having is indeed because of a dull knife. What brand did you buy? Flex cut knives are one of the few that are pre sharpend all others need to be sharpened before use. You may still get splinters at times it's just the nature of wood. Pick up a copy of Wayne Bartons chip carving book this will help you a great deal

      If you have problems sharpening your knife you could try your local Woodcraft or Rockler for help. If there is none in your area you could ship it to me and I will sharpen it for you free of charge.

      Good Luck


      • #4
        Re: Chip Carving Question

        I agree, dull knife. I don't do much chip carving but I did try it and I had the same problem until I stropped my knife good.

        Up here in Southern Ontario, the master of chip carving is Dennis Moor. Check out his website at He's got a lot of great tips and some patterns you can try.

        He gave a talk at our carving club a couple of years ago and I've spoke to him on the phone when I ordered my stuff from him. He really knows his stuff.



        • #5
          Re: Chip Carving Question

          All of the above are good tips! I agree it is probably a matter of sharpening/honing the blade...another thing I have found is that sometimes I need to change the direction of the cuts, this will be in Wayne Bartons books..and I have some basswood that is less than desirable and found that I can spritz a little over the counter alcohol on the wood and it helps a lot with splintering..bought the little spray bottle at Walmart...hope this helps!


          • #6
            Re: Chip Carving Question

            I had a similar problem. My knife was sharp. I was cutting small triangles and found it made a huge difference in which order I made the cuts. You will have to experiment as it depends on the grain direction.


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