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Carving With Confidence, With An Emphasis On Safety

Author: Dan Schumacher

As a former sales and operations training consultant, my mindset has always been grounded in safety training.  When I followed one of my passions into wood carving, I was very excited to invest in my first set of tools; a spoon carving gouge and a straight knife.  Both were exceptionally sharp right out of the package. Upon carving my first project, I realized I hadn’t planned very well. Although the carving workpiece was secured, the tool skipped off the workpiece and my other hand just happened to be in the same direction as the knife (ouch)! 

On reflection, I realized I didn’t do my homework and discovered I was without the necessary safety accessories to compliment my tools. It’s on us to ensure our own success at learning and safety. So my next trip was back to the store to invest in some proper gloves, fingertip guards, tape and such to see what would work best for me.

In the world of training and development, we incorporate acronyms to make learning easier. I developed this flyer which you can hang in your workshop as a reminder to stay safe & have fun. 


S - Select your Space, Prepare your Self and your Tools

  • Prepare your space, start with a solid workbench, in an area clear of any clutter
  • Prepare yourself mentally. You’re taking on an artistic and fun project that takes time and experience to master. Practice, practice, and then practice some more
  • Prepare your chisels and knives by sharpening properly and secure the workpiece 

C- Charge your leather strops with polishing compound

  • Using strops to maintain a sharp edge will ensure an enjoyable carving session
  • Strop early and often

 HHave your safety plan in place

  • Ensure you have a way to call for help
  • Have a stocked first aid kit nearby
  • Set out and use the proper finger guards, safety gloves, tape, etc…
  • Wear proper shoes, as tools will fall

A - Allow for extra time

  • Don’t rush the work, and enjoy the process
  • Allow for setup, carving, clean up time and then re-sharpen tools 

A - Always direct chisels and knives away from yourself and anyone else

  • Be aware of the direction of grain with each strike or movement
  • Know when to change direction, and/or when to change your grip
  • Know how and when to use a mallet

 FFollow your instincts and have fun

  • Mistakes will happen
  • How you react and work through mistakes is what can make you a better carver
  • To avoid mistakes, I like to make prototypes before I begin major projects


About the Author

Based in Chicago, Dan is a commercial photographer and Woodcraft Artist.  His photography focuses on content creation specializing in editorial, fine art, food, lifestyle & travel imagery. Dan is also a maker & enjoys creating Celtic-themed woodcrafts.  You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook @chicagocelticcrafts.

1 comment

  • Steven

    Excellent acronyms and safety tips. I can wait to make my first chip with my new set of Schaaf chisles I got for this Christmas 2021.
    Apon reading Dan’s and other carvers advice, I’m wating for my honing block to tune thes up nice and sharp.
    Looking forward to hours of unplugged workshop heaven!

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