My life is all about woodcarving, mostly relief woodcarving. I started when I was 18 years old and knew right off: woodcarving was for me. Carving became the true passion of my life, and I am very fortunate to make my living, for some 65-plus years now, at what I truly love.
When I want to carve a small relief of something, say a shell, I start with my drawing (or pattern), transfer it to a piece of wood and band saw the outline out. Now I have an odd-shaped piece of wood, 1" thick (or less) that I need to secure firmly so I can carve the piece well, but how? A vise does not hold odd shapes very well, and I don't get full access to carve the sides. A screw through the back may not have an area deep enough to hold the piece well. Double-stick tape has always slipped on me. How do I secure an odd -shaped, small piece well enough to get full access to carve my shell well?
I have a simple solution. Spread waterbased Elmer's® glue (white glue), on the bottom of the project: my shell. Cover this surface with a layer of newspaper, then another layer of glue, and then a piece of scrap wood like a nice-sized piece of plywood. Clamp together and leave overnight.
The next day you can clamp the sized piece of plywood any way you feel most comfortable with (in a vise, between bench dogs, etc.), and carve comfortably and safely. When you have finished the carving, you can remove it from the plywood by pushing a knife into the paper between project and backboard, and working the knife all the way around until the carving pops free.
Of course, the project doesn't have to be a shell. I have carved many decorative pieces this way. No screws, no crushing vises, no handmade holders, just comfortable carving. Remember, have fun in the wonderful world of woodcarving.
This article originally appeared in the Woodworker's Journal eZine.
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