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Wood Carving and Hand Problems

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  • Wood Carving and Hand Problems

    Anyone experience carpal tunnel? How do you manage it with carving as a hobby? I love carving it improves the quality of my life. I really don't want to have to stop. Thank you. K

  • #2
    Funny you should mention that! Last week my hand started acting up after some serious chip making. It's an old problem that keeps coming back to visit. The first thing that I do is to rub it down with Voltaren and/or Blue Emu. Given that I'm also on blood thinners I have to go easy with the topical NSAID's so that means using very little Voltaren so after perhaps 24 hours with the NSAID, I switch to the Blue Emu. The second thing that I do is wear an over the counter wrist support 24/7 until the pain stops. Then I just wear it to bed at night. Most folks do a lot of twisting and turning when the sleep and a wrist support lets the hand have a chance to rest and heal without subjecting it to middle of the night abuse and further injury. It also helps if when the hand first begins to throb to use an ice back for ten to fifteen minutes and then after a day or two apply heat packs for the same amount of time.

    Capture.png

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    • #3
      I used those braces after I was diagnosed, but ended up having release surgery on both wrists. It took about 5 years to get my hand strength back to almost where it was, prior to surgery. It didn't stop me carving, I just had to use less force until the pain receded.

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      • #4
        Reconcile yourself to the idea that all activities eventually come to an end. Maybe not this week or year. I once enjoyed gymnastics (and was good at it), mountaineering, hang gliding, space exploration. I am ninety years old and gave up all those things.
        Carving may be one activity that you can continue until you keel over onto your workbench, but don't count on it. As suggested, you might try drugs, or surgery, or self-hypnosis. Some of these are not advised with sharp tools in your hands. Find some other options like reading, exercise, or travel that you can fill the time between carving sessions. Maybe write your life story. . .

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        • #5
          Yeah, Pallin, you're right.

          1. I've decided that my bird hunting days are over. Sell the shotguns, decoys and ammo. That's some 60 years in the forests and fields of Western Canada. Many trashed pairs of boots.

          2. I think I'll surrender my Driver's License. I would be a liability even if I could get up into the Burb.

          3. I got the handle size for wood carving tools figured out. At the same time, I realized I've been losing my grip strength. My fault for not carving in a more consistent routine. Got the heavy work done on a dozen carvings so the fine whittling part sure occupies my attention as I see them come together.
          Brian T

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          • #6
            I was wrong to emphasize things I've completely given up. Perhaps the criteria should be "age appropriate." Adjust your carving activities to lessen their impact on your hands, wrists, and body. Make sure the tools you use do not put stresses on you. Try other forms of carving.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
              Anyone experience carpal tunnel? How do you manage it with carving as a hobby? I love carving it improves the quality of my life. I really don't want to have to stop. Thank you. K
              I wonder if a smaller wood size would help. I was having trouble with my hand a few years ago, so I bought some wood 1" x 1.25" x 12". This makes three 4" blocks for carving small figures.

              My reasoning was as follows: If I carve with smaller pieces of wood, then I won't have to push the knife so hard, as there is less wood to remove. Maybe that will help my hand?

              I don't know if my theory worked, or if my hand just improved on its own. But the problem went away.


              Rodster

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              • #8
                I deal with arthritis I have not had to stop but I have tune to power carving for much of what I do. I had to learn to let the burr do the work. I still do what hand work I can. I take shollow cuts move slower and stop and rest before it hurts to much. Stopping when it hurts and resting for a few hours some times lets me keep going. I do not try to use alot of force. lots of small slices. I do ware a restsupport much of the time too. It is sill fun and taking more time may be improving some of my work.
                We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi
                https://www.pinterest.com/carvingbarn0363/

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                • #9
                  I guess I have an odd situation...I have arthritis in both hands (I was a potter, had to give that up as I could no longer work the clay), but my hands don't hurt while carving, they hurt like crazy later. Seems counterintuitive.
                  Arthur

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rodster View Post


                    I wonder if a smaller wood size would help. I was having trouble with my hand a few years ago, so I bought some wood 1" x 1.25" x 12". This makes three 4" blocks for carving small figures.

                    My reasoning was as follows: If I carve with smaller pieces of wood, then I won't have to push the knife so hard, as there is less wood to remove. Maybe that will help my hand?

                    I don't know if my theory worked, or if my hand just improved on its own. But the problem went away.

                    Great suggestion! That's why I stick to my bears and little people.

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                    • #11
                      It goes without saying that we all get to the point when we can't do everything that we did in the past and the older we get the greater these restrictions come. The most important thing to keep in mind is that we need to do what we enjoy for as long as we enjoy it even if on occasion we have to work through the discomfort and sometimes pain. For losing those things that we like to do also brings with it changes to our emotional and mental health. Personally I sometimes feel as useful as a screen door on a submarine. I drive but can't manage the old long distance trips any more. I can't mow the law or work out in the yard or perform all the preventive maintenance and construction projects on the house as I used to. If I drop something and bend over at the waist to pick it up my wife goes ballistic as she never knows if I'm going to get so lightheaded that I pass out. But on the upside I still try to performs small jobs around the house; I spend more of my time helping my wife with daily chores like dishes, making the bed, and folding clothes; and I still get as much carving in a week as I can even if something hurts like hell. As an old martial arts instructor told me years ago when my age was starting to show, " You just have to work smarter!"

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                      • #12
                        Yes Eddy, I fully agree...for I donot know if my right knee will 'go on' while dancing (the left one has already been replaced and metallic ), I will give chipcarving a real chance next year and booked several classes .

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                        • #13
                          If you like Carving the way you say you do you will find a way to do it , I went to Power Carving , it's a little Messy but gets the Job done . I am Fortunate that I don't have Wrist or Hand Problems but my Age has slowed me down and Weaker, that Includes Weaker Eyes also. I use Magnifiers when needed , I find a way to keep Carving , the Benefits are to Great. Merle

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Arthur C. View Post
                            I guess I have an odd situation...I have arthritis in both hands (I was a potter, had to give that up as I could no longer work the clay), but my hands don't hurt while carving, they hurt like crazy later. Seems counterintuitive.
                            Oh yes, Somewhat on the counterintuitive BUT still a bugger. I just found today that I cannot use get this ! , "Chop Sticks" . Dang now that is mess and with the shaky part doing it's job. Bigger spoons and forks.
                            Chuck
                            Chuck
                            Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!

                            https://woodensmallthings.blogspot.com/2021/01/

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