Here are some of the rules I have learned for carving small objects – i.e. those that are small enough to hold in your non-dominant hand while you use a sharp carving knife of some kind. In my case this was the Vesper knife I had purchased.
- The knife must be sharp – a blunt tool is a dangerous tool.
- Cut away from your body parts – it is almost always possible to hold the object in such a way that the knife is cutting away from you so that any slip of the knife will shoot off harmlessly into empty space.
- Use the thumb of your Holding Hand as a fulcrum – the Thumb can then be used to push the knife blade into the cut and at the same time the knife handle becomes a lever allowing you to rotate the blade through the cut with great strength and control.It is usually best to place your fulcrum thumb pad on the back of the knife handle just near its junction with the blade. Sometimes you may put it on the back of the blade but that is less comfortable.
Here is a picture that attempts to show what I mean.
- If you have to cut towards yourself you must control the blade with the holding thumb- The picture attempts to illustrate this. The very important thing is that the Thumb of the Holding Hand must never stop guarding and controlling the blade.Otherwise an uncontrolled slip can do you serious harm.
Note – do not have your thumb pad against the cutting edge of the blade or you with end up with a lot of shallow to deep cuts in the skin of your thumb pad. Have the thumb pad firmly attached as if glued to the handle of the knife just clear of the blade. This gives you the best chance of not slipping the blade into your body.It also gives you a lot of control over the direction,depth and speed of the cut.
- Always cut with the grain – or across the grain of the wood but never into the grain. Cutting into the grain will almost guarantee chipping , splintering or splitting the wood. This is of course more of a problem with some of the more “difficult” types of wood.
- Never cut with the tip of the knife buried in the wood – If you can not see the tip of the blade it can suddenly surface anywhere and possibly into some part of your body.
Now larger pieces are usually screwed down or clamped in some way to a work bench – and there are all sorts of purpose made carving clamps. Simple jigs can also be made for individual pieces . Most of the above rules still apply – but for the orangutang carving the 2 pieces were small enough to hold comfortably in my left hand ( as I am right handed) and I have used a knife carving approach.
Here is another preview of the orangutang.
Next we will go in to more about the specific shaping of the orangutang
-- David Australia