Chip Layout

I was finishing up a small walnut bowl and decided to define the narrow side-panel with a graduated row of chip cuts. I have a slide show and description of the cutting of these on a similar bowl in this post. Unlike triangular chips with the deepest point in the center, these have the deepest point at the apex, with two vertical walls with and a shallow ground cut. This makes for distinct shadows.

I’ve used these in a variety of ways and combinations on many pieces that are in blog posts and the gallery photos, but I want to share a simple layout idea in this post.

In some situations it may make sense to just go at it with your knife without any layout. This can give a liveliness and energy that works well on many pieces. In other circumstances you may want a little more regularity, like I did on this walnut bowl. I typically draw lines representing the upper and lower edges of the line of chips. When these lines taper toward one another, rather than remaining parallel, the chips get gradually smaller.

In this case, the junction between the side panel and the bowl surface below served as the baseline. I typically just draw these chips in by hand and eye, moving along the line. The pencil lines allow me to make all of the vertical cuts in the same direction at once with confidence.

If you find the hand drawing troublesome, here’s a simple idea that may help with your layout. Cut a little triangle out like this. You could just use an index card or business card, but this might also be a good excuse to cut up a credit card, and it will hold its shape well. A 90 degree (or so) angle works well, but you can create different effects with angles more acute or obtuse.

Drawing a vertical line from the apex bisecting the triangle helps to orient the card, especially when working on a curved layout. Just eyeball that line so that it is perpendicular to the baseline at that point. Make a couple quick pencil lines on either side, then slide the card over to where that chip meets the baseline and keep rolling.

As the band tapers, the chips automatically get narrower and shorter.

I made the vertical cuts with a knife, deepest at the apex and just kissing the baseline. I normally make the ground cut with the same knife, but if you or the situation calls for a chisel, that can work well, too. Here’s another old post featuring the chisel in use for these chips. Happy carving!

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8 Responses to Chip Layout

  1. Skip Florey says:

    Dave – excellent tutorial👍 I also appreciate the links to past posts and the help/ideas that they provide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. francedozois says:

    so that’s the trick–

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael O’Brien says:

    Thank you David, a very useful and helpful explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beautiful and very clear suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tip! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. philhuber11 says:

    What a delight there is in simple profiles, simply made. Is that chisel flat on the back or double beveled.


  7. Dave Fisher says:

    That one’s double-beveled, Phil. A single bevel will work too.


  8. Great lesson, Dave. And I can’t get over that pencil point. 😆


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