Relief carving and Chip Carving Safety!

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Forum topic by Micah Muzny posted 09-12-2013 08:09 PM 1407 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Micah Muzny

185 posts in 1701 days

09-12-2013 08:09 PM

What is recommend for chip carving and relief carving for a beginner? I intend to keep all my fingers and vision, so what do you suggest is good to stay safe but doesn’t keep you from working effectively? What kind of gloves if any? Sharp tool obviously! Eye glasses! What else?

3 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2648 posts in 2891 days

#1 posted 09-13-2013 12:42 PM

Chip carving I have not done but relief carving can be dangerous if done wrong. I have done relief carving with mallet and gouges and with push gouges. When using these methods keep your hands on the tools NOT on the wood. A slip while pushing a gouge and holding the wood can draw serious blood.

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View MyChipCarving's profile


604 posts in 3094 days

#2 posted 09-18-2013 10:44 PM

Hello Micahm,
Chip carving is very safe when the knife is held properly. I’ve been chip carving for 28+ years and have never cut myself. No thumb guards or carving gloves are needed.
Look back at my Lumberjocks lesson –
This will show you how to chip carve safely.
Have fun!

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View LSIrish's profile


53 posts in 1880 days

#3 posted 09-25-2013 02:41 PM

Hi Micahm,
As a chip carver and relief carver I personally don’t wear gloves. I find that they limit the movement of my hands and fingers to the point that gloves become more dangerous. In relief carving I use a two-handed grip. One hand holds the knife and gives the pull or push pressure and the with the other hand I place a finger against the tool shaft to direction the motion of the cut. Since both hands are used it is extremely seldom that I have any tool slip during a carving session.

Now … as for safety!

1. Make sure your knives and tools are truly sharp. A dull blade grabs the wood and causes you to use more force then necessary. Pushing against the knife blade can make it slip when the blade suddenly is freed from the dull area.

2. Wear Shoes!!!! I have dropped tools to often to note – probably at least once a carving session. Since I carve standing up that dropped tool is headed directly down to my toes. It only takes one time of pulling a round gouge out of the top of your foot to learn to Always Wear Shoes.

3. Get in the habit of putting your working tools in a specific place on your work table. The only cut that I have experienced in 25 years of carving came from reaching across my table for a different gouge. When I did I accidentally ran the back of my hand over a blade that I had put down and got covered with chips.

So … I ended up at my Doctor’s office to get stitches. It was just a day or so before Thanksgiving. He asks me how I cut my hand and I told him “I was carving.” “Oh? Turkey or Ham?” With a big sheepish grin I told him “Basswood!”

4. If you are going to carve in your lap – something I love to do while with my family in the rec room – get an extra heavy terry cloth towel for your lap. The texture of the towel helps to secure your wood, it catches the chips wonderfully, and it protects your lap and legs if your tool slips.

5. One more suggestion, if you have pets keep them out of your carving room while you are working. I have 10 cats … yea! ... and after one came flying up off the floor to land right on top of my carving I realized how very lucky he and I were that I had just put down my knife. I love my cats, but for that couple of hours they can play in another room.

Hope that some of these ideas help.

Lora Irish

-- Join me on my Wood Carving Blog!

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