White Pine for Chip Carving?

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Forum topic by Micah Muzny posted 09-16-2013 02:31 AM 4875 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Micah Muzny

185 posts in 1935 days

09-16-2013 02:31 AM

I was wondering if White Pine would be ok to start chip carving on? I have some laying around and it is easier to acquire since I can just go to Lowes or Home Depot and get a large piece to cut up. Basswood and others I would have to buy online or at a expensive crafts store. Will it give me any problems?

3 replies so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2451 days

#1 posted 09-16-2013 02:37 AM

I may be the wrong person to ask, but I just started chip carving last week. I keep quite a bit of pine in the shop for setting up router operations, test joints, shop jigs, etc. I was having a hell of a time getting my technique down and no matter what I did I couldn’t get a nice chip. I picked up some basswood and the chips were popping out across the room. There is a huge difference.

No matter how hard I tried to stay straight, the blade tracked badly on with-the-grain cuts. Also gauging depth was difficult. Basswood was a lot different and much better. It felt like clay compared to pine.

I’m sure someone fairly seasoned would have much different results, but I am going to stick to the basswood for now. I got some at woodcraft and it was a tad pricey. I noticed my lumber mill carries it at 2.50/bf so I am going to grab some there on my next visit.


View LSIrish's profile


53 posts in 2114 days

#2 posted 09-25-2013 02:51 PM

White pine has a wide, deep grain pattern that can throw off your small chip cuts. If you are planning to work any triangles less than 1” I would suggest basswood or butternut, not pine.

However … If you are working a more vintage style of chip carving where the chip triangles are very large pine will do nicely. By large I mean a chip triangle of 2-3” or more. A wonderful form of chip carving was done centuries ago where the carver worked large but shallow chip carving motifs into the roof beams or fireplace posts of their log homes. The knife uses is a slanted chisel, not a small bent angle bench knife as we use today.

I have a wonderful white pine chest that my Dad chip carved nearly 50 years ago for me. The chip squares that run along the sides are 4” wide but the carved chips only go about 3/8” into the wood at the deepest point. He marked the pine with the pattern then cut vertically along the pattern lines with a bench knife to separate each triangle. Then using the slanted, thin-bladed chip carving chisel he shaved the triangle sections toward their lowest point in the motif.

Its beautiful! And it is still my most treasured possession.

Hope this helps.

Lora Irish

-- Join me on my Wood Carving Blog!

View MyWayChipCarving's profile


49 posts in 2080 days

#3 posted 09-25-2013 07:18 PM

I agree with LSIrish.

If you do buy basswood online, I highly recommend They have the best basswood in the U.S., in quality and price. (in my opinion)

-- Please recycle. Save the trees.......for woodcarvers!

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