Learning The Art Of Chiseled Wood Work: Creating Beautiful Custom Cabinets

Custom wood work is more than just designing something that you cannot find in a retail shop. Some of the most beautiful wood work is the result of a good set of chisels and artists that work in wood. If you would like to learn how to chisel designs out of your own custom cabinets, here is what you need to get started.

Have a Cabinet Maker Install Plain-Faced Cabinets

Since you plan on carving your own decorative designs into these cabinets, ask your cabinet installer to make the doors at least one inch thick. Any thinner, and the cabinet door might crack under the pressure of your chisels and hammer. Also, do not go too thick because then the doors will not look right.

Purchase a Mid to High-Quality Chisel Set

A chisel set of lesser quality will dull quickly and break easily under pressure. Also make sure your chisel set has a vast range of sizes for making the smallest of cuts to larger cuts. Blades range from a few millimeters to a centimeter or more. Make sure you buy chisels made specifically for wood carving or you will utterly destroy the doors on which you are working.

Draw Your Design out on Paper

Putting your design on paper first allows you to correct, add and detract from the design before you transfer it to the wood. If possible, draw out your design on transfer paper. That way you can flip the design over and press it onto the wood. Keep in mind that if you do transfer your design with transfer paper, you will get a reverse pattern, so steer clear of words, numbers and letters because they will appear backwards -- unless you draw them backwards to begin with!

Carefully Chiseling out Your Design

The most important thing to remember about chiseling wood is to work slowly. Wood can splinter and split if you work too quickly or are impatient with your own progress. Start by:

  • Tapping the chisel straight down into the borders surrounding the areas you are going to remove. These first cuts stop your chisel marks from splintering into areas you do not want to remove.
  • Work one small area at a time and take measurements to make sure the depths of the removed wood are all equal. That way your raised design will have a uniform appearance.
  • Take time to sand finished sections lightly to give the work a nice, smooth appearance and prepare it for any paint, stain or varnish you are going to use.
  • Use light tapping motions on the end of the chisel with a light hammer or small rubber mallet. Do not drive the chisel into the wood as though you are driving a giant nail.

Using these tips and working your way carefully around each section of your cabinet front will produce quality results of which you can be proud. If you want or need additional help with your custom chiseled cabinets, consult a custom wood work professional, such as those at A B Cushing Mills Ltd.