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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. There is no real order to this list, 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. 11man Dr
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 your sticks. Sticks are fun to make. 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 our stick. It is just a matter of getting started. Give it a try if you haven't. Get some 12" pieces, pick a simple design and learn to carve it. It can take your mind off this crazy world.
 

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Great info CV3!

I am going to add a couple obvious safety suggestions I read in the book Wood Spirits Beyond the Basics.

"It is not advisable to carve in your lap unless you use a board across your legs. If your knife slips you will know why, fast"

"Always put down your knife BEFORE you scratch your nose."
 

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Sound advice, you cant go wrong wiith it.

things i always do before i start anything is put on a leather apron ,i never start anything without doing this and it has become a habit,second is clean the protective glasses , and hang the dust mask around my neck ready to put into place before i start , would strongly suggest that you make all these into a habit .After all we all have devloped bad habits and its easy to form good ones

Then just enjoy what your doing, you dont have to be a great sculpture but think what you want to achieve, and keep challenging yourselfs on what you make .If you just do the same thing you skills like the design you do will not improve.Theres loads of things that will fit onto a stick which makes a good decorative object.

Look at the mistakes you make be realistic in what you want to achieve learn to handle tools , ask yourself would it be better had i used anothr tool rather than the one i used? most of all ask your self did i enjoy that ? and dont limit yourself just to the odd scrap of wood because its there if you want to improve paste a image from the computer onto some wood ask yourself does it look right or what should i leave out or add on? but have fun
 

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excellent topic CV3, just to add when using Fordom, dremmel etc wear leather gloves and a leather apron, a rotary tool likes nothing more than grabbing hold of a jumper or soft glove I know from experience not only that it also costs a new flexi drive insert.

I do a lot of in hand knife carving and have learned to contol the blade with the thumb of mo other hand to help with blade movement.
 

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Let me put a plus on the recommendations for wearing a carving glove, having bandages and super glue close at hand, and having something across one's lap. I have an apron w. a leather panel, but works even better for me are 2 large place mats w. heavy fabric faces and about 1/4" of rubber padding inside.

I'm not using power tools just now, but if using power tools, not only is a face shield a good idea, but ear protection also. High frequency hearing goes first, and the whine of a rotary tool will leave your ears ringing in a hurry.

Its obvious, but not always easy to do, but make sure to have any cutting edge moving away from your body whenever possible. When putting a tool down, place the sharp edges pointing away.

While it is impossible to avoid using chisels, gouges and knives, I'm mostly using rasps and rifflers. Not as quick, and rarely as clean cutting, but almost impossible to do more damage than a bit of skin scuffed off. And no sudden chips of wood ripping out of a carving.
 

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The only times I have had a injury is when I was not paying attention to safe conman scene practices. I will go years with no injuries. Then get over confident. I will tell my self that what I am doing is not safe and I better be careful. Just before I reaching for the first aid box and saying a lot of words I had learned in the Marines. :)
 
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