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The workbench

I'd like to think of my bench as a tool. 🙂

I've just started out and currently have a 6# bench vice that I used to hold my work. As this is on a preexisting tool bench you can image this get quite high for carving purposes.

I noticed in some of the videos Mary seems to have her desk built in such a way it has some notchings and an assembly to hold pieces so she can really get her elbows (and shoulders) into her work. Can anyone outline how I might recreate the same notches and assembly?

I really took notice in the Cardinal 'in the round' videos. Pretty slick.

Hi Rob,

That tail vice does work great for holding awkward projects. Here is one that Highland Woodworking sells:


Most benches now just have end vices, and often don't grip as well because they can torque. It really is worth spending the extra on a bench to get one of these tail vices if you want better flexibility. About 90% of my carving is used between 2 bench dogs, which also works great for these tail vices. But when you have that large, awkward shape, these work great.

My suggestion would be to purchase a Veritas, Axminster, or Wilton Power Arm holding device. These can all be mounted to a board which can then be either held in a vice, held flat on a workbench with bench dogs, or be clamped to the top of a workbench with clamps. What they allow you do to is rotate your carving in all three dimensions. The Wilton and Axminster are ball-end vises while the Veritas is not. They work very well for in-the-round carving but will work equally well in mounting a flat relief carving. They can also be fitted with home-made brackets to allow you to carve almost anything. If you've ever watched a Chris Pye video he uses a Power Arm with many different home-made jigs to hold his carvings. Since the holders are ball-end you can rotate the carving toward you and carve while seated if you prefer. Of course a beautiful beech wood carving bench is a great tool if you have the funds and the room.  I have a Sjoberg Sumo carving bench that is higher than a normal bench but it allows you to carve while standing without having to bend over at all.

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Here is the power arm from Record, I got this off of Amazon for $50.  It holds quite well and clamps to bench tops up to 4"+.  It has been a great value.

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  • Blacksmith-carving-2.JPG

Having only a small area in which to carve, I found the portable carving station by Frederick Wilbur on woodarchivist.com an excellent solution.

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