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Unlucky wounds...

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Yesterday I was cleaning out photos on my phone and ran across this jem from this past winter. I had just started carving and had some horrible "starter" tools from Narex. Needless to say, cheap, dull tools really do inflict damage! I have since switched to Pfeil.


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Does anyone else have similar events/stories? Or am I the only unlucky one? 😉

Oooh. Beginners "un" luck. In over 25 years of carving I only needed stitches once and that was not even carving. I was scraping off excess newspaper and glue from the back of a carving. Of course I was holding onto the carving with one hand and scraping along the edge of the carving with a nicely sharpened tool with the other hand. One mis-step and 6 stitches later. Better to be safe and always clamp tools to the bench, no matter what you are cutting.

I had a fellow make an interesting comment at an art fair where I was a demonstrating artist.  He stated that he bought $300 worth of carving chisels and then spent $5,000 dollars getting the tendons in his hand repaired in the first week of carving.  I have always tried to adhere to my grand dad's philosophy, " If you are careful, you won't get hurt."  Very simplistic, but effective.



I've had two years worth of various wounds, although no stitches.  A little neosporin and super glue lol.  I've since switched to pfeil tools and so far so good.  But.... It's only my second day using them lol! I've also taken Mary's advice to heart and am way more careful with my hand and body positions.

I've been carving for 3 years and have drawn blood twice (but no need for stitches.)  Both times were when putting my tools back into my tool rolls.  Will be careful after carving as well...  I believe Mary's advice about keeping both hands on the tool when carving and keeping the work piece securely clamped are the secrets safe work.  Stay safe out there folks!

That tool roll will get you!  I have only been cut badly getting tools out or putting them back in the tool roll.  I finally built trays and dedicated a drawer in a shop cabinet to my carving tools.  No more getting sliced by the tool next to the one I want!

I think packing and unpacking the tools in a tool roll is the only time I get cut these days. However, I'm embarrassed to admit that the other day I took out a Foredom grinder (sort of like a dremel on steroids) for the first time in years. I had a lot of tricky undercutting to do on an extremely fragile carving and gave into the machine...

Anyway, I was using a small, pointy bit with nice little metal spikes that really removed the wood nicely, even though the sound of it reminded me of being at the dentist, and it made more dust than my shop ever has. I was holding the carving in my left hand (which I always recommend NOT to do) and grinding away with the Foredom in my right hand. In a moment where I was getting relaxed and oh-so-confident with my new technique, it skipped off the wood and went right into the fleshy, soft part of my finger just past the fingernail. It removes flesh even better than wood!

So... me thinks smartly... I won't let this deter me. I will put on a kevlar woodcarving glove. Why I didn't do this in the first place, don't ask me. I continue along, and the Foredom slips again and goes right into the thumb of the glove, catches it, winds around twisting the glove as far as it will go, and the motor grinds to a halt. Fortunately, my hand was protected by the glove, but it torqued the Foredom so aggressively, that it no longer works. Now I'm sending it off to get it repaired. Fortunately I'm not heading to the hospital for stitches. But it is costly anyway. T

his is why I like hand tools and stay away from machines! They don't like me.

If you have ever learned the basic 4 rules of safely handling firearms, you'll remember that one of them is "Never point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy."

We can simply substitute chisel/gouge for gun. .... or the converse "Never let any part of your body get in front of a chisel or gouge's edge."

...and... I too cut myself more now when putting the tools away than when using them.

Two tips for living with wounds... It seems they are inevitable, or at least the little nicks that come from simple tool handling.

  1. Keep your tools sharp as surgical scalpels. That way those little nicks and slices are VERY smooth and clean. They heal very much much faster than ragged tears.
  2. Keep a pepper shaker at the bench. Pepper is a wonderful coagulant! After a short little sting, you're quickly back to work ... before the enthusiasm bleeds away.
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