When I was carving the lettering on a recent spoon, I paused to set up the camera behind my shoulder. I used the timer to take a few photos as I worked a section, and they show some of my typical hand positioning.
When working a spoon handle, there’s not a lot of support on the piece itself for your hand, so the leg becomes an additional support. The spoon needs to move as much as the knife, so the left hand participates in the dance as well.
Here’s another shot of the same grip seen in the first photo. The knife is stable in the hand with three points of pressure and can be handled nimbly and with good visibility. Feels a bit like carving with a fingernail. Notice that in all of the photos, there is at least one finger in contact with the spoon and/or my leg. That is critical for control. These points of contact act as pivot points or fulcrums or a combination of the two.
Above, I’ve come to the upper end of the left side of the A and am carefully slicing to touch up the root of the v channel and the junction at the apex of the A. It takes time and is good training in patience and focus.
Here’s a version of the grip I typically use for the first side of the v-groove. It’s a more powerful grip. Leverage and downward pressure into the wood are critical in order to have control. That’s important for both executing the cut well, and also for safety. The blade remains firmly engaged in the wood as it makes deliberate progress. It wouldn’t hurt anything to have a thick piece of leather over my leg I guess, but control is even more important.
Whatever the letter, it’s these same sort of cuts. And it’s about considering various sizes, situations, and materials. In the little video below, I’m working at a bit of a larger scale (so that it’s easier for the viewer to see) and in basswood. If I wanted to carve at that larger scale in the same maple as the spoon above, it would make more sense to remove some material from the central portion of the letters with a v-tool before using the knife.
Tom Hepworth shot this video during Spoonfest last August. Hard to believe that eleven months ago we were all gathered in England. I’ve referred to the video before, but in case you missed it:
Isn’t it refreshing to see that British-American cooperation 244 years after the breakup letter was signed?