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This isn't about a carving tool, but a way to use a dull piece of metal to get small shapes out of a piece of softish wood.

Essentially, one compresses the wood. It appears that many people just use a dulled large nail. Leather punches might work. After compressing the desired pattern into the wood, the surface is shaved and sanded down to the level of the depressions. Then the wood is steamed, or brushed w. boiling water. This causes the compressed wood fiber to expand.

Most of the examples I've seen use lime or boxwood. The only piece of softish wood I have at hand is some soft maple. I used a very dull awl, and pressed in patterns of dots, and scored some lines. They popped right out. I wouldn't use the technique on any part of a stick that is likely to get wear, but it seems like it would be good for adding subtle detail to carved portions.

After Cobalt posted about Ian Norbury, I spent some time downloading lots of samples of is how-to videos. He used it, if I'm recalling correctly, to create raised veins on the back of a hand. I did some subsequent searches, and found the technique was well used by Japanese carvers making netsuke. Some of the examples are quite wonderful. The term itself is for raised detail, and is often used in conjunction w. other materials, such as ivory.
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