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Vise or similar for small projects

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  • Vise or similar for small projects

    Hi! First post just starting out and I have got hand of some wood carving tools. I was wondering if anyone could recommend something to hold the a not-huge piece of wood in place. I am somewhat restricted in the space department, being a student and all.
    Thanks for all and any serious answers

  • #2
    How 'small' is your project...are you relief carving or carving in the round from a blank? Are you carving with mallet tools? If you could narrow down your question, you might get an answer that you are looking for quickly.

    I carve in the round from blanks or small blocks. I have not found the need for a vice or holder, and my biggest carvings are as big as 8-9" tall and as small as 2" tall blocks. I use a good carving glove, and a thumb guard...can't think of a more simple 'holder' than your hands if you are limited for space!


    • #3
      I recommend that you start carving with pieces you can clamp to a sturdy table or bench. This will allow you to become familiar with grain direction and other characteristics of wood and tools before trying whittling, which is a form of carving where you hold the piece and tool in your hands. Many of us may have started with whittling, but that was likely because all we had was a pocket knife and some wood we found in the forest. Since you have acquired some wood carving tools, you should learn how they function in a safe manner before attempting hand-held techniques.


      • #4
        The answer really depends on what you want to carve. I do mostly relief carving and have not yet purchased any type of real vise. I did buy one small one from a resale shop for $2.00, but have not yet had any use for it.

        For relief carving, the least expensive, but incredibly effective answer is a Bench Hook. There are many designs online, but the most simplistic one, in my opinion is on the Lora Irish site.

        I use the pegboard holder concept for relief carvings using a 3/8" dowel with lines of holes drilled into it. This video shows a good example, but does not go into how to design one. If you like the idea, I'll get my link for more effective instructions.

        For "in the round" carvings, I mostly hold by hand with a carving glove. The same for detail work on spoons. My greenwood work for rustic spoons is one gloved hand holding the wood, and a hatchet in the other hand.

        A good vise is just so pricey, and in my case, I would also need to upgrade my bench to accommodate it. I'm currently just working on a household table with my bench-hook-style setup, I would rather spend my money on really good quality tools and sharpening supplies at this point. Someday, when I invest in a heavy duty bench, I'll adapt my projects toward a good vise to attached to it.

        Let us know more about what you want to do and we'll all help where we can.


        • #5
          Wow, thanks for the great answers! I am interested in both relief carving and whittling, and my first project was a blend of those.
          The vise/clamp is for small projects like basically what random wood I can find, be it old construction material, firewood or branches or whatever. And yes, I intended to use the vise/clamp mainly for carving without a mallet. I have checked out some videos on YT about technique, two hand grip and so on.
          ​​Thanks again

          Edit: I have thought about getting hold of a log/stump and modifying it to some kind of tiny workbench. Good/bad idea?
          Last edited by Lurifax; 05-25-2017, 11:33 AM.


          • #6
            Log can work for your bench. Try looking up Poor Mans Vice, it can be made from steel plumbing fittings at the hardware store and can be made at an affordable price. Good luck
            Carve On,


            • #7

              take a look in the "shop tips" on the site of WCI. "shopmade work positionner" by Mike Pounders. Works very well for smal carvings. When you look for it in Google images you understand the clear instructions even better. I use it for knife and chisel work but not when a mallet is needed. Not usefull for relief carving in my opinion.