You're carving downhill with the grain into a hollow. But you can't go uphill on the other side because it's now against the grain and you tear it up a little. So you carve from the opposite side of the hollow and try to meet the first cuts smoothly at the bottom. But you don't quite; you tear up the grain a little on the other side again. Mmm. So, back to the first direction. But this cut doesn't quite meet at the bottom either for the same reason. Back to the second. And back and forth, trying to get a smooth transition down the bottom of the hollow - and you end up going deeper and deeper, and tighter and tighter, and the panic is rising...
I've called this the 'submarine effect'. We're going down!
Well, here's the rule you need to stop this happening. It's simple. It's a rule that will allow you to carve the most awkward grain.
| 06 February 2015 14:59
Daniel - I'm afraid there is no ideal height for a carving bench. It depends not just on your own height but exactly what you are carving. (For example, even now after years of carving, I sometimes add blocks under the legs of my bench to lift it.) The rule of thumb is said to be placing the bench surface a couple of fingers lower than the height of your bent elbow from the floor when you stand upright, and that's probably as good as anything. A detachable 'upper bench' is a good idea if you want to occassionally use the old, low one.
| 04 February 2015 15:40
I have a flat bench. It's fine for most things, but I find it's too low for carving. It's 35 inches floor to bench top. I think I'm going to make a carving extension, a sort of upper bench. I built my lathe stand so that the spindle is just at the height of my elbow, which is ideal. What is the ideal height for a carving bench? Many thanks. dan
| 16 October 2014 17:30
Amazing to watch Chris. I've been making furniture since? well, I'd rather not remember that far back. Inadvertantly I have used this cut quite a few times but, no one has ever shown me it or described it's use or abilities in all that time. I now see it is crucial in any situation where we're not simply cutting in straight lines, something I rarely do. Every training programme, every apprenticeship scheme (do they still do apprenticeships?) should have this very close to the top of the list. Thank you so much.
| 24 August 2014 07:01
Awesome Chris I kind of knew about this although I was wasn't practicing it. The more I tried to clean up the worst or distorted my sculpture became. I think the slice cut is so paramount.
| 07 August 2014 10:49
Steven - You're welcome! This technique is BIG. A real pearl. And now you have it under your belt, you need never fear any awkward grain again!
| 06 August 2014 22:41
I wish the simplicity and effectiveness of this technique had been revealed to me long ago. I certainly would have saved a lot of time sanding and scraping! This is near miraculous. Thanks Chris!