Patterns & Projects

Quilt Patterns Inspire Chip-Carved Coasters

Classic geometric designs embellish this useful caddy

By Barry McKenzie

Learning to convert a variety of patterns into chip-carving patterns will open up a whole new world of opportunities. Nearly any image can be converted into a free-form chip-carving pattern, but quilt patterns are especially well-suited for geometric chip-carved designs.

Books specializing in traditional quilt patterns are a rich source of inspiration. I found inspiration in a fabric quilt square created by my wife, Barbara. Once you are open to using patterns from other sources, you’ll start to see chip-carving patterns everywhere. Breaking these designs down into chip-carving patterns is a good way to learn about pattern drafting and study design concepts. This conversion process involves you more in the pattern. The pattern is no longer just random lines.

I’ve adapted a variety of quilt patterns to create this set of coasters. You can create an entire set using one design or mix and match the designs for a complete set. Each design uses a combination of standard chip-carving techniques. Start by cutting your stock into 3½” squares and sanding out any surface irregularities. Then, trace or draw the pattern onto the blank.

One of the most helpful discoveries I have made in chip carving is how placing vertical stab cuts in the chip cavity provides control over the chip. Lateral displacement of the wood by the knife can cause breakout between chips. I control this lateral displacement by making vertical cuts inside the wood to be removed. With the stab cuts in place, the displacement created by the outlining cuts breaks the chips to pieces, producing perfectly shaped chips.

Basswood: 12 each 3/8″ x 3 1/2″x 3 1/2″ (10mm x 89mm x 89mm)
• Table Top Varnish, such as Behlen Rockhard™ high gloss
• Tung Oil Satin Finish, such as Formby’s
• Golden Oak stain or light stain of choice
• Sandpaper, 400-grit or finer
• Crumpled up brown paper bag or used dryer sheets for polished finish
• Self-adhesive felt dots (optional)

Chip carving knife
• Ruler
• Square
• Mechanical pencil (to draw on pattern)
• Graphite paper (to trace on pattern)
• Stencil-size brush (to apply finish)
• Rags (to wipe up excess finish)

CLICK HERE to download the Chip-Carved Coasters Patterns.

Read Chip Carving (Best of WCI) for more information about chip carving. Discover patterns, tips , and techniques, as well as a beautiful gallery of work to spur the imagination for unique creations. The book is available from for $19.95 plus S&H.

CLICK HERE to read more great articles from Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2008 (Issue 44).



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