Protect Your Hands!
Q: When I'm carving, the heels and sides of my hands scuff on the edges of the sharp grooves. Sometimes this is quite painful and, to be honest, it's putting me off carving!
Are your hands so calloused after all these years of carving that you don't notice it?
True, my hands aren't the delicate petals of my youth but, still: Sharp is sharp!
It depends on the type of carving you are doing, obviously, but if you are not used to working with carving tools, or just have thinner or more delicate skin, you can definitely suffer. Mostly it's the little finger and that side of your forward hand that take the punishment as they rest and rub on those sharp edges and corners you've just created in the wood. And these wooden edges can be knife-edge sharp.
Unashamedly, I adopt several measures to protect my hands in such instances, wrapping my pinky in tape for example, but the very best thing I've come up with over the years is this, what I call:
Simple, white cotton gloves. Cut the thumb, index and middle fingers short only, leaving the ring and little fingers of the gloves intact - that's the bit that protects the heels of your hands; the open fingers alow normal sensitivity to the tool. (Note that word 'white': coloured gloves can transfer dye to your wood.)
Not only will they protect your hands but they will also help keep your carving clean by stopping sweat, oils and dirt from the bench rubbing off your hands onto the wood. Don't forget to wash the gloves now and then.
That's it! Simple but very effective.
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