Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving

 

SAFETY FIRST:

THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF CARVING

Many beginners are afraid of hurting themselves, but with the proper glove and the right style cuts the chance of cutting yourself is much less. These will be discussed in another article called Wood Carving for beginners, style of cuts, knife skills.

DO:

Sharpen your knives before and during your project.  Sharpen yours every half hour or so, even if you don’t think it needs it. A sharp carving knife is safer than a dull one. Make sure your knives are sharp before and during the entire project

Using a dull knife will cause you to push harder than needed and it’s more likely to slip and cut you. Not only are dull knives more difficult to use, but they are also more dangerous because they slip easily.

If the blade gets stuck because you carved too deep into the wood, STOP AND BACK OUT OF THE WOOD. If you force the blade it’s going to slip and possibly cut you.

VERY IMPORTANT:

Make sure to use your wrist, not your elbow to control the knife.

You want to use a twisting motion with your wrist. DO NOT PUSH WITH YOUR ELBOW. This will give you more control and precise carvings. It will also reduce the stress on your arm and fingers.

WEAR A CARVING GLOVE:

Wear a carving glove on your hand that is holding the wood. I can’t express this enough. Please wear a carving glove or leather glove while doing any carving. If you don’t wear protection; you’re more likely to cut yourself.

We all want to enjoy our carving, and if your hands are protected by a glove that doesn’t compromise your dexterity or grip, you will be able to carve for longer periods and without fear of cuts.

Many carvers hold their work in their hands. Proper hand positioning keeps the holding hand safely out of the tool’s path, even if the tool should slip. Please be mindful of where your fingers are on your carving at all times. It’s best to keep your fingers well out of the way from where your knife will be to avoid getting cut.

It’s important to understand that wood carving gloves will stop a slicing cut, but no glove will prevent punctures.

Please remember that safety gloves offer protection for your hands, but they will only safeguard you to a certain extent. Most gloves will not protect you from a stab cut from the tip of the knife. Kevlar and Steel Mesh carving gloves are the most commonly used gloves on the market, but neither are puncture-proof and jabbing the tip of the knife into your hand will cause damage! However, both are cut resistant when drawing the knife blade across their surface.

Chisels are held differently.

Hold your chisels near the edge, not at the handle. This gives you control over the edge and reduces the risk of slipping. Some times you need to hold the handle to get to narrow spaces when this happens slowly rock the chisel from side to side as you gently push the tool forward. This gives the needed effect and gives you more control over the edge.

DON’T:

If you are doing any kind of Powder carving, it’s very important to NOT WEAR A GLOVE. The reason for this is, a glove WILL get caught into your burs and cause a great deal of damage to your fingers, hand, and other parts of your body.

I have firsthand knowledge of the effects of this. NO I didn’t do this myself, but a friend of mine did, the damage she received was quite saver. She not only broke her index finger in three places but gouged her hand very deep in several places needing 54 stitches to close her middle finger and hand back up. Needless to say, it was a very painful lesson to learn the hard way for her.

 

Don’t carve against the grain of the wood. You need to carve with the grain to have an even, smooth consistency and not tear out the wood. We will go over this in another article.

DON’T SPEED!

Speed doesn’t help you carve better, so slow down and enjoy it.

Never ever hurry! Almost all injuries are gotten by hurrying. Don’t Rush It!

It isn’t a race, you have all the time in the world to work on and finish your project. Carving isn’t known to be a fast-paced hobby. Take it slow and enjoy the process. Draw inspiration from the shape and oddities of the wood, and experience the relief from the stresses of work and family drama.

Just relax and enjoy your carving time. The hours will fly away as you carve. You’ll spend time carving thinking It was only minutes into your project, to look up at the clock and find it was hours. You get caught up in the project and don’t realize how much time has passed. But isn’t that the case with anything you enjoy doing? 

SUMMING IT ALL UP:

Here in Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving, We covered how to keep yourself safe while carving on your projects. In the next article, we will cover the various safety items to help keep you safe and cut free.

If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment please feel free to do so.
I would love to hear from you and help in any way I can.

Lynne Clay
Founder of Carved Fairy Houses

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8 Responses to Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving

  1. C says:

    Thanks for this article. You’re right, a sharp blade is actually safer than a dull one, since it is less likely to slip. Thats interesting that neither Kevlar nor Steel Mesh are puncture-proof. I would have thought they would be. 

    I appreciated your words about taking your time with carving. That’s a good mind-set and can also apply to other things in life, like making your business online. It’s a much healthier way to go about it than rushing all the time and trying to force things. 

    What’s the best knife sharpener? Also, can you get tendinitis from carving? Thanks!

    • Lynne Clay says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article on Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving. I too would have thought that Kevlar or Steel Mesh gloves would be puncture-proof, but all my research has shown the opposite. Their both cut-proof though. 

      Yes I love taking my time while carving. The minutes pass fast and turn into hours before I know it. Carving is my way of getting away from stress. It’s so peaceful.

      The best knife sharpener  depends on what kind of knife you have. Most Carving knives are flat edge tools so they need to be sharpened with a diamond encrusted sharpening plate. Most kitchen knives are double edge tools and need to be sharpened with a sharpening stone and oil. It’s a very messy job.

      I would think that you could probably get tendinitis from carving, but I would say it would take a long time for that to develop.  There is a twisting motion of the wrist with some of the cuts, but I believe you could do the other cuts that don’t use that twist and alter the twist cuts to avoid it all together. 

      I’m glad you enjoyed my article and hope you come back to visit again real soon.

  2. Jessica Stanley says:

    As a beginner of carving, it is good to know what I should and shouldn’t do while carving. Thank you for bringing up carving gloves. I could see how these could be very helpful in keeping my hands safe from the knife at some extent. Also, I almost always speed when trying to get something done, so it is a good thing to keep in mind to slow down and enjoy my time carving.

    • Lynne Clay says:

      Thanks for reading my article on Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving. I ask all my student to use carving gloves and thumb guards. I believe if you can’t carve safely you shouldn’t be carving at all.

      Carving is very relaxing if you take your time while doing it. The more time you take and practice you have the better you will carve, and the more details your carving will have too.

  3. Dane says:

    Carving is one of the my most interesting activity i have done for a long time. I have had series of injuries because I lack proper understanding of how it is done and sometime when we go carving I don’t weaar gloves to protect my hand, until I had a very deep cut in my palm and since then then I haven’t tried it again. After seeing these safety tips, I’ll love tontrybiy out again. Thanks for shating, I look forward to seeing the next post.

    • Lynne Clay says:

      Thanks for reading my article on Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving. I’m very glad you are looking forward to my next post. 

      I’m sorry to hear that you have received series injuries due to miss handling of your knife and not using any gloves. I’m very surprised that who ever taught you didn’t insist on you using protection of any kind. 

      Safety is the very first thing I try to instill in all my students. If you can’t do it safely, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all. There are so many different ways to make carving as safe as possible. Between Carving gloves, leather aprons, safety glasses, Thumb guards and masks you almost can’t be cut. If you use all of the safety tools out there you will be covered from head to knees. 

      I just hope you would consider trying carving again, this time using safety tools and a teacher to instruct you.

      Maybe even trying my step by step tutorials with the carving gloves and thumb guards. 

  4. Monarch says:

    Hello! Lynne,
    I really appreciate your way of thinking and your courage to tell it like it is. Now a days not many people would say something like, ” If you can’t do it safly, you shouldn’t be doing it at all.”
    I appreciate your dedication to the art of wood carving and your helpfulness to teach others. Many people will be motivated to try new things after reading your articles.You have a good knowledge about the subjects you talk about.
    Thank you very much for keeping us safe!

    • Lynne Clay says:

      Thanks Monarch for reading my article on Safety First: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Carving. I also want to thank you for taking the time to write a comment, I appreciate it very much.
      I’m happy you found my article both informing and interesting.
      I’m glad you like my way of thinking about staying safe while wood carving. I do truly believe if you can’t do it safely, you shouldn’t be doing it at all.
      It’s so nice to know I’m being appreciated for what I do here at Carved Fairy Houses, and that you think others will be motivated to try wood carving in the future.

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