Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Complete Guide to Chip Carving, by Wayne Barton

Mr. Barton is the go to guy for chip carving technique.   Do an internet search on the subject and you'll find his books, and his website, at the top of your results.    This book is supposed to be the introductory text of choice.   The reviews on Amazon are all 5-star.

So maybe I'm just destined to be the slow student in the class, blaming the teacher.   But I don't share the enthusiasm about this book.

The good news:  introductory chapters cover everything from how to sharpen your carving knife to how to hold it.   And, when you get to the chapter on rosettes, there's a partial page of guidance on how to lay things out.

So why the grumpy review?   Because that's the extent of the layout guidance.   For example, in the section on borders the photos show the layout lines of intersecting sine curves against which one can carve a really nice border.   So, again admitting I'm the slow kid here, how do I lay out those cool sine curves?  I tried a few different approaches but didn't get anything like I wanted from my compass.   This is an example of where a bit of detailed setup guidance could go a long way.

In fact, the bulk of the book after those how-to chapters consists of pretty examples of chip carving excellence.  But apart from a single page of advice on how to lay out rosettes, you're pretty much on your own for figuring out how to duplicate any part of these great examples on your own.

So as a catalog of really cool carving examples, it would get 5 stars.  But since the introductory chapters do set it up as the how to book for beginning chip carvers, the absence of real layout guidance makes this at best a 2- star book for me.

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