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Ergonomics in Chip Carving

Home Forums Chip carving technique Ergonomics in Chip Carving

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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    Julie 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 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 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 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!


    Julie Pratt

    It has been a while since I posted here so I thought would update my progress in hopes that it might help someone else.

    I bought an Ott-Lite to help with my lighting situation.  It eliminated the strain on my eyes, the glare on my project, and the pain in my back caused from bad posture when working.

    I started doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in my right hand and wrist.  It has helped a lot.  I am ambidextrous and found I can carve with my left hand because it is much stronger.  However,  I lack the ability to control my cuts and do fine detail when carving.  Strengthening my right hand has helped make the carving easier.

    I also have a Table-Mate adjustable angle table.  It is basically a higher tech version of the old TV trays.  I got the idea after watching Marty’s video last month. I tried over and over again to carve on my lap and was just having to much trouble seeing properly, getting the the right angle, and keeping my work from moving to much.  So, I move my work to the table.  I put my knife box that came with my kit on the lazy Susan and then put my practice board against it so the board was at angle.  This eliminated the slight pain I was having from working with my wrist in a downward angle all the time.  The new table replicated this angle and works better than the knife box.

    hope that this’ll help others find a solution as well.




    I am new to chip carving, but would love to learn the technique. With the little bit of practice I’ve had, I wonder if my fingers are just too short! It’s hard for me to keep my thumb joint on the edge of the knife handle as well as the knuckle of my index finger on the board. Is chip carving just for long-fingered folks?

    Marty Leenhouts

    Hello Mord and welcome to the MyChipCarving Community!

    Chip carving is a hobby for everyone, whatever size and shape your hands are.

    You’ll have to make some adjustments depending on how the knife sits in your hand. If you’d like to take a picture of your hand while holding the knife and post it here I’ll be glad to offer you some direction.

    You can DO this! I’ll be here to help as will other Community members 🙂


    Thank you, Marty, for your encouragement. I’m slooowwwwlllly getting there! Just have to keep practicing. I appreciate your willingness to work with each one of us.


Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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