Ergonomics in Chip Carving

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    Julie PrattJulie Pratt

    I started this topic because I think that it’s important to learn how to properly position ourselves, arms, wrists as we learn how to carve.  I just started the essentials course and can all ready see that I need to work on this.  I will add what I learn as I go.  I am interested in what everyone else has discovered and found helpful as well.

    Marty LeenhoutsMarty Leenhouts

    Hi Julie

    This is very important, body position and how you line up your forearm. I know you’ll get it and will look forward to what others might share in reply to your post.


    Mike QuistMike Quist

    Hi Julie,

    I recently shared some of my experiences with Marty and figured you might find it useful.  I started carving a long time ago and always carved in my lap.  Fast forward many years and I now mostly carve on a table (kitchen table or a tall carving bench I made for my shop).  One reason is that I had to have a couple of vertebrae fused in my neck (rugby/wrestling/weightlifting) about 10 years ago and found that carving in my lap was a bit tough for extended periods of time.  I still carved in my lap until I started carving some bigger pieces…a table worked much, much better for these pieces.  More recently, my eyes have decided to be a pain so having the workpiece up close has been a benefit.  I think I can get away with less than ideal form because I don’t have issues with strength (definitely have more power on your lap as you can put your shoulder and upper body into the cut) and because I already have a lot of carving experience.  I honestly do not feel that the quality of my carving has declined as a result of carving on a table/bench surface.  Once I get my eyes sorted out, it will be interesting to see whether or not I go back to my lap.  In the grand scheme of things, chip carving is really nothing more than making a few cuts and popping out a piece of wood…so, I’d try a couple of different techniques and do what works best for you.

    Hope this is useful,


    Julie PrattJulie Pratt

    I have been slowly working on the first course trying to develop good technique. I have been trying to be mindful to keep my arm, elbow and wrist in as neutral position as possible.  I noticed that in the beginning I was trying to work the blade as if I were drawing on the line.  I am using a lazy Susan turn table now and moving it to follow the lines while concentrating on keeping my wrist in a neutral position and engaging the blade in one direction.  I observed Marty doing this. It looks like he is just moving his thumb and blade down as he goes.
    I still am experimenting with the best place and position to put myself and my work.  I am also trying to rid myself of the death grip that I seem to have when holding the knife.

    Happy Carving all!


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