As regards the wood it is well for a beginner to get a fairly soft one, the best American white wood being very satisfactory. A white wood will show up the pattern best, and so is better for the eyes if working at night. Other woods to be recommended, when one is more used to the work, are holly, sycamore (both these are white), oak, American and Italian walnut, and teak.
If one wishes to design one's own patterns then it is necessary to have some knowledge of geometry, as generally geometrical patterns are used if the work is kept to chip carving pure and simple. Any small handbook on geometry would give sufficient knowledge to enable the worker to set out the patterns, and also it is important to know the way set-squares are used.
Before starting the work, get the size of the space to be decorated on paper, and put in the leading lines of the geometrical pattern, and then it will be quite easy to set it out upon the wood.
If the student does not care to make her own designs they can very easily be bought ready traced on the wood. Care must be taken to get a simple pattern at first as some are rather over-elaborated. Almost any shop that sells the white wood articles for decoration will supply them.