Having Control While Carving

Understanding how to apply drive and braking action to the cutters will allow for better control and cleaner cuts. One hand provides the force to drive the blade through the wood, while the other hand is providing a braking action, preventing the blade from skipping out of the cutting area.

The handle of the cutter should rest in the palm of the hand that will be pushing the blade. The thumb or forefinger of the other hand should be near the front of the blade providing a downward motion, applying resistance to the drive hand. A gentle braking pressure allows the blade to move forward and a heavier braking pressure slows or stops the carving action.

Securing the block is essential to safety and controlled cuts. A “ bench hook” offers an easy and versatile means of maintaining control of the block while carving. A bench hook is a flat panel larger than the block with lips mounted to opposite ends and sides of the panel. With one lip hooked on the edge of a table, the opposing lip provides a brace for the block being carved.

This is an excerpt from the booklet "Reduction Woodblocks" with tips and guides on creating reduction woodblock prints.  Available from the DCArtPressBookstore.