Paterae are popular forms of decoration with a multitude of uses. They stem from classical architecture and were later used to decorate furniture. A suggested application would be to set them into the legs of tables and chairs. However, on their own they also make interesting gifts. Paterae can be made in many different shapes and sizes. Once you have mastered this one, why not try designing your own? The project incorporates skills learned from the berry and waterleaf mouldings which will be required to to form the flower centre and the petals.

1. Cut out a blank of the dimensions given in Fig. 18. Then glue the blank to a board following the detailed instructions on page 32. Once the glue is dry, you can then clamp the board to your work surface, ensuring that the grain runs horizontally in front of you as shown here.

You are now ready to start the shaping process.

2. Use chisel No. 4 to shape the blank, leaving the edge square and approximately 4mm (1/8in) deep. Form the dome with chisel No. 1, holding it in the ‘fist” position and using the tapping technique. You may also find it useful to refer to Cutting Directions on page 15. 

Any imperfections can now be smoothed away with sandpaper. 

You may wish to use a lathe to reach this stage if you have access to one.

3. Use chisel No. 3 to set in a circle 13mm (1/2in) in diameter in the centre of the dome, Carve away the wood to form a dish shape 25mm (1in) in diameter, around the central circle, at a depth of roughly 6mm (1/4in). Leave the inner circle untouched at this stage.

To form the petals, mark eight divisions around the circumference of the flower with dividers and a pencil. Divide the sections once again and draw straight lines through the centre of the disk to link each of the new marks. This will give you sixteen separate divisions, evenly spaced, eight of which are linked by lines.

4. Round over the centre button with chisel No. 3. You may need to deepen the dish around it a little more. Try the tapping technique and remember to use the right hand to carve to the right of the bench and vice versa for the left (see Basic Techniques section).

Next drill a series of 2mm (1/16in) holes to form the eyelets of the flower, using the method shown on (Making your own Tools section). The holes should be located on your long dividing lines exactly 15mm (5/8in) from the centre. Form the outline of the petals using chisel No. 4 by setting in shallow cut lines, linking the short marks to the longer lines.

5. Carve a litle wood away from either side of the pencil lines that fall between the petals, forming central ridges and making the petal shapes prominent. Then extend the drill holes into teardrop shapes with chisel No. 1. Point them down towards the petals using a punch define the shape further (Making your own Tools section)

Now cut a shallow dividing line down the middle of each petal using chisel No 1. Make sure this line radiates accurately from the centre of the flower.

6.  Use chisel No. 4 to hollow each petal from the outside edges down towards the centre line forming a V shape with rounded sides. As you work, gradually deepen the centre cuts with chisel No. 1.

Use chisel No. 3 to shape the small petals, which are located between the larger ones. Cut along the outside edge of each small petal from the central ridge down towards the larger petals in an arc shape on both sides, creating a more pointed tip. Complete this shaping process with a number of small cuts to avoid splitting the larger petals. 

7. With chisel No. 4 round the shoulders over the eyelets down towards the centre cut lines on the larger petals. Continue to deepen the central line on each petal with controlled cuts. Try to achieve a consistent depth with all the petals. 

Now ease a pallet knife underneath the completed flower, freeing the edges first. After releasing the flower, scrape the base with a flat chisel to to remove any remaining traces of glue or wax. You can now back off and finish the flower following the methods described in (Carving Techniques section). 

Here you can see the completed flower, and further below is a whole collection of different styles.


For this particular style of patera I chose walnut as it is relatively easy to work, The wood is also an attractive mid-brown colour which complements most pieces of traditional furniture. However, as you can see from the many different designs shown below,

it is possible to choose from a wide range of woods the one most suited to your purposes. The appearance of the patera can be dramatically transformed simply by selecting a a dark or pale wood or one with an interesting grain pattern.