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Some Basic Carving Safety

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  • Some Basic Carving Safety

    Some Basic Carving Safety If You Are New;
    When I started carving I did not know much about carving safety and I paid for it. If anyone reading this wants to add to the list please do. I am sure I have not covered everything. There is no real order to this list, it is just my thoughts. But I encourage anyone that is new to carving to consider them.
    1. Sharp tool
    It is true that a dull knife or tool is a dangerous tool. Learn to put a carving edge on your carving tools. Not all the tools you can buy for carving come with a usable cutting edge. Buy the best tool or blades you can afford. Some of the tools with replaceable blades such as box cutters and X-Acto are sharp and can be a good choice while learning to sharpen your tools. I would not use the cutters with retractable blades. If you can find a carving club within driving distance you can learn much from them. There are YouTube’s, DVDs and books on sharpening.

    2. There are different safety issues with the use of mallet tools and the smaller palm tools. Starting with mallet tools. I would suggest getting the book or DVD of Chris Pye’s. He goes into detail on grip and how to uses these tools. Make sure your project is secure when working on it and learn to use both hands when not using the mallet. While mallet tools are larger than palm tools many carvers use them for all their caving including small detail. But as a rule the carvings are larger or secured to a vice or a surface with their use.

    3. Palm tools and carving knives fit in your hand and a mallet is not used to push it though the wood. The cutting edge is pushed though the wood by the use of your strength. It is hard to use both hands for control. Often the carving is being held in one hand and the tool in the other while carving small objects such as caricatures. Determining how much pressure to be applied to the tool can be tricky. This is determined by a number of factors. The sharpness of your cutting edge, the density of the wood you are carving and the depth of your cut. Density can change from one 1 inch to another on the same piece of wood. You can be pushing hard when the density becomes less and the tool can pass though the wood faster and farther that you wanted or expected. This can result in injury. I strongly encourage the use of a carving glove or cut resistant glove. They will not stop every cut but will protect from most of them. These range in cost from $10 to $100. Most of them are Kevlar, Kevlar & stainless and stainless steel. I would recommend the ones with some type of rubberized or leather palm. You can hold the work more securely. There are also thumb and finger leather guards.

    4. It seems that tool awareness (knowing where the cutting edges) is common sense but you will be surprised how often carvers are hurt because they were not are not paying attention to where the cutting edge is. They will set a knife or tool down in such a way that when they reach for it again they can be cut or stabbed.
    5. They will have a tool in their hand and reach for something in a shirt or apron pocket not considering the length of the blade or chisel. This has resulted in many cut chins and necks. Not long ago I reached for a small piece of sandpaper just above where I was sitting. I had a carving knife in my hand, as I picked up the sandpaper with my finger I loosened my grip on the knife just enough that it slipped out and bounced off the work bench I was sitting at and resulted in 3 stitches in my stomach. Making it a habit to set a tool down in a safe place before doing anything else will eliminate many problems.
    6. You also want to pay attention to the path of the blade, if it slips where could it go? Hand, wrist, forearm, face. chest, leg? Think before you cut. If you are new and get in to good habits it will minimize the chances of bad cuts. But cuts are part of carving for most of us. So invest in a good first aid box and learn how to treat a cut.
    7. Wearing eye protection is very important. You will be surprised how far a small wood chip can fly when it pops of a carving, with both chisels and knives.
    8. Many woods can have a toxic issue causing breathing, eye or skin issues. Dust protection most often when sanding is important. Read up on the woods you are working with. A simple dust mask will solve most breathing issues.
    9. If you are using power rotary tools such as a Dermal tool or Foredom, dust protection is a must. Be very careful when working with any kind of bone. Bone dusk can be dangerous.
    I hope if you are new that you will consider these things as you begin carving. Carving is fun to do. It is like eating chips, once you have done one it’s hard to stop. Just adding simple decretive carved features can add to the pride we take in making things. It is just a matter of getting started. Give it a try if you haven’t. Get some pieces of basswood pick a simple design and learn to carve it. It can take your mind off this crazy world.

  • #2
    Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

    Carvingbarn, New, seasoned, somewhere in between, It is good to stop a renew your sense of carving safety. Thanks for tanking the time to write down your ideas, it's alway good to refresh . . .JoeB
    . . .JoeB

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    • #3
      Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

      It's important to differentiate between whittling and carving with gouges or palm tools. When whittling, either work with the tool traveling away from you or limit your action to the length of your grip as in using only your fingers to pull the tool toward the work. When carving with gouges or palm tools ALWAYS clamp your work. NEVER hold the piece in one hand and push the tool with the other. With gouges, always keep two hands on the tool or one hand on the gouge and the other on the mallet. With palm tools NEVER have your free hand in line with the direction of the tool. Always work by pushing the tools away from your body. To get into tight areas, turn you work. I have taught classes to children as well as adults and the only serious accidents I have seen are when these rules are not obeyed.

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      • #4
        Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

        *Never try to catch a falling chisel or knife....the blade will go right into your skin like a pin cushion.
        *Never think that you got a carving glove you will not get cut....a stabbing cut will go right through that glove so you must use caution at all times.
        *Do not swipe away flys with the knife in your hands....more then likely to stab yourself instead of the bug. For some reason a bug on your face is automatic reaction...and getting him off fast without thinking is a norm...you be shocked how many people almost stab themselves this way.
        * Never wear baggy clothes when using a dremel or other power tools....the tool can jump from the carving to your clothes....and get tangled into your clothes and cut into you skin.
        * Always have a lap protector if you carve on your lap instead of a table.
        * Never carve when you are tired, time to stop when you get exhausted.
        * Do not text and carve.
        * Always have a first aid kit near by....just in case you do cut yourself.

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        • #5
          Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

          A couple more things, if you plan on going in the direction of the wood carving tools of the Pacific Northwest:
          1. Carving clamped down or not, the typical fist grip on a crooked knife means that the blade is coming towards you at chest height.
          Heavy bib chest protector is essential. Never make hogging cuts when shallow cuts will do the same thing.
          2. Carving clamped down or not, you must think about the run-out path for both an elbow adze and a D adze. An over strike, a miss and only a bone in your leg will stop it. Never make a big sstrike when several shallow ones will do.
          Brian T

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          • #6
            Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

            Are these like "Ten obviously painful truths that we're all told when we first start out and soon forget", only to be reminded later the hard way?

            There ought to be a vaccination that all carvers could get so that our bodies could overrule our very forgetful, simple minds!

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            • #7
              Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

              It will never happen to me.
              Brian T

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              • #8
                Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                As always, RV... a marvelous compendium of bounteous pontification...

                AND, folks, as D stated, first aid kit....and don't forget to add cyanoacrylate to your kit... Superglue, Crazy glue, or whatever trade name is at your disposal.
                Yes, emergency rooms are equipped with commercial, sterilized, BILLABLE quantities of this marvel of modern medicine. The key to stopping blood flow is to push the separated tissue back together and keep it there.... Steri-strips and bandaids are good, until you flex, that is of course if the cut is not in the way of opening or applying some type of temp suturing. Couple of drops of cyano, squeeze it closed, hold for a couple of seconds... Be prepared... it is gonna STING... LIKE CRAZY...make ya wanna say bad words.... Remember to breathe... it will take your breathe away. Cyano set is quickened by moisture, the liquid in your body (even the red stuff) will set it pretty fast.
                My suggestion, if you haven't tried the miracle glue, the next time you get a minor cut (if there is such a thing with carving tools...) grab the super stuff and practice....please try not to glue your fingers together....
                Remember, cardiovascular leakage is NOT your friend!!!

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                • #9
                  Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                  At the end of the day, I healed. Never come even close with an adze. Never want to. I'm still annoyed at wrecking/cutting some nice shirts because they don't heal.

                  For me, the times of greatest risk are taking tools out of tool rolls and putting them away. A lapse in concentration = come so close so many times. Keep my gloves on.

                  I've reaqd about using CA instead of sutures = cosmetic value. The ugliest have to be staples.
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                    The only times I have had an injury is when I was not paying attention to safe common sense practices. I will go years with no injuries. Then get over confident. I will tell myself that what I am doing is not safe and I better be careful. Just before I am reaching for the first aid box and saying a lot of words I had learned in the Marines. :-)
                    Last edited by Claude; 03-24-2015, 06:57 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                      good post I did something similar and well nvm.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                        Mobjack... There is a limited to \"Super Glue\'s\" \"superness! It works great on cuts and lacerations that aren\'t too deep (do not required multi-level adhesion) but it has it\'s draw back where there is flexing involved. Any part of the body that when moved puts torque on a wound, may better be served by a good old fashion stitch.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                          In a previous thread on this topic I made the suggestion that, if you cut yourself you are doing something wrong. If, like RV, you nick yourself just taking tools out of a tool roll, perhaps you should devise a safer method of tool storage. First cuts may be part of learning, but second and third cuts are just stupidity.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                            Yeah, it is stupid. It\'s the end of the day and I\'m tired. So easy to get distracted. Sliding one tool down along another, all edges up.
                            All I had to do was remember not to take my gloves off until the gouges and skews are in the roll pockets. For some reason, out to start was never risky.

                            The crooked knives are all stored quite differently = never see an exposed edge while all the handles are there in the open for the picking.
                            Brian T

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                            • #15
                              Re: Some Basic Carving Safety

                              First cuts may be part of learning, but second and third cuts are just stupidity.

                              It has been years since I have hear you make,..... one of your put down remarks.....and here I thought that you got your angel wings!!!! What a disappointment.

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