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There Are TWO MUST HAVES When It Comes To Mastering Proper Chip Carving Technique: 


Chip Carving MUST HAVE  #1 – A Scary Sharp Knife!


Chip Carving MUST HAVE #2 – Proper Technique!


Scary Sharp + Proper Chip Carving Technique = Success!!



Chip Carving Celtic Knots

Chip Carving Celtic Knots, You Will Be Carving These Soon Enough

Just like “Love and Marriage”… Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other.



Proper Chip Carving Technique: The Importance of A Sharp Knife

If you have the sharpest knife in town and don’t know how to hold a chip carving knife, good results will be hit and miss. Switch it around and put a dull knife in the hands of someone with perfect technique and you’ll get the same lousy looking chip carving, you can’t have one without the other. The very first thing I focus on when teaching a class is how to hold a chip carving knife correctly. The other MUST HAVE is already taken care of as I provide everyone with a Scary Sharp Knife. Now if you’ve been chip carving for quite a while, don’t tune me out. You may have picked up some bad habits over the years and not even realize it! So read on… After demonstrating how to hold the knife, I’ll help everyone adjust their grip so it’s proper. I’ll get this quizzical look quite often as I twist the knife and they say, “Really? Like that?” It just doesn’t feel right the first time… and it won’t! The temptation is to hold the knife in the same way we’ve held a paring or whittling knife. This is brand NEW. It will feel different! But…eventually…it will feel more and more natural and muscle memory will start to kick in. Give it time. It takes a while! When muscle memory is working, you’ll know without even looking that your knife is just right.


So, why do you think Proper Technique, is the second MUST HAVE?

Proper technique, of which holding the knife correctly is a big part, results in consistent cuts all made at the same angle. When these consistent cuts meet together at the bottom of the chip, PRESTO!!! The chip comes out! SUCCESS! As I’ve helped aspiring chip carvers over the years, there have been certain technical problems and questions that come up over and over again, from class to class.


Common Chip Carving Problems:

“My thumb doesn’t look like yours?”

“I’m getting a blister on my thumb”

“What’s wrong with doing it this way?”

“Why are these cuts not the same angle as my other cuts?”

“How many knuckles should touch the wood?”

Take A Look At This Chip Carving Technique Video



Now let’s look at these questions, one-by-one.

“My thumb doesn’t look like yours?”

Some of us have straight thumbs and others, like me, have a thumb that hooks out. If your thumb hooks out, then hook it out to give yourself a wider, more stable base If your thumb is straight, work with what you have. You’ll still be able to hold the knife correctly and form a solid tripod. Here’s a short video that explains “straight-thumbitis”

“I’m getting a blister on my thumb”

If a blister forms anywhere, it should be on the inside of your index finger. The force pressing down on the knife should come from this place on your index finger. If your thumb gets a blister, this indicates too much pressure on the end of your thumb and not on the index finger where it should be.

“What’s wrong with doing it this way?”

Maybe you learned to hold your knife the way Uncle Chipper taught you and it doesn’t look anything like I showed you in the video. Nothing against your Uncle, but if you learn to hold the knife the way I’m showing you, you will get good results. I promise!

“Why are these cuts not the same angle as my other cuts?”

Usually, “these cuts” are cuts made across the grain. Because cutting across the grain is harder than cutting with the grain, extra force is needed to get the depth required on the cut. What can easily happen on cross grain cuts is this…

The cross-grain cut starts like this it takes more force to get the needed depth so you press down harder as you press down harder, it’s easy to roll your wrist over as shown When your wrist rolls over your knuckles come up off the wood When your knuckles lift up, the angle of the cut increases! As the angle increases, it’s harder to remove the chip.

“How many knuckles should touch the wood?”

Generally speaking, the first two knuckles are in contact with the wood.

The first two knuckles on the wood looks like this.

Chip carving how many knuckles touch the wood

The Times When You Will Need To Use A “Rollover Grip”

This isn’t something you have to learn right away when you first start chip carving, but you will want to learn how to roll your knife over when your skills begin to advance.

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