I saw this surface on a bench and I would like to attempt to recreate it: enter image description here

I have the vague idea I could try to do this with some kind of chisel, but I have no idea how to get started or if I'm even barking up the right tree. Any pointers would be much appreciated.


By hand
You could do this using a gouge (a type of chisel with a curved cutting edge) but it would require that its edge be very sharp indeed* to get an acceptable surface inside the scoops. In addition to getting the gouge sharp enough initially this will require frequent upkeep of the edge during the job, as often as every few minutes depending on the hardness of the wood and how well it is cutting.

Freehand routing with a round-nose bit might achieve this but it would require unerring attention on the part of the operator O_O

In either case some practice pieces will be required! Even with that I wouldn't expect to get a really nice result first time.

*Sharpening a gouge to an equivalent level to a straight-edged chisel is something that many find much more difficult, some guidance that will help achieve the necessary sharpness (there's really only one standard to aim for, hair-poppingly sharp) is given in a previous Answer, How do I sharpen curved tools like gouges?

  • I strongly suspect the larger gouged areas are where the craftsperson building this made mistakes and cut through to one of the adjoining areas. If so, even the person who made this struggled with the necessary precision. But hey, fixing your mistakes -- and in this case, turning them into lovely features -- is perhaps the most important part of the trade. May 9 '17 at 13:23
  • @CharlieKilian It does look a bit like that! But I think we can take it that it is intentional as all the pieces in the set this is taken from have similar larger scoops distributed across the surface.
    – Graphus
    May 9 '17 at 17:05

I believe you will find your answer here:


Custom tools were used and a lot of time. Best way to replicate would be print out a similar patter (or copy his). Trace it onto the surface and start carving. You will be carving out the lines and leaving the raised sections. Then, if you want to speed up the process. Use a rotary tool like a Dremel.

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