Sometimes when looking closely through the lens of my camera at a gifted artisan’s working hands, I see movements similar to the supple and exacting hand-motions of a musician. This is especially true when it comes to carving. Woodcarving requires a high-degree of free-hand skill. There are few opportunities to rely on jigs or fixtures. To master the skill, it helps to understand that it’s not simply how a carver slices the chisel’s cutting edge into wood grain, but also how tool grip and hand motion gets transmitted to the sharp end of the tool. If you’re like me, you’ll find this kind of closer examination instructive and inspiring. That’s why I made the video here featuring the Irion Company’s carving expert Brad Ramsay.

Brad is one these naturally gifted artists whose precise and flowing hand movements allow him to wield total control over his work. In this video segment we take a closer look at these motions as Brad explains how he uses his hands in a variety of ways to control his carving tools (chisels, gouges, or sweeps, etc). Among other subtleties, there are five (5) hand grips or motions worth examining in closer detail that increase carving control including; how to add power to your grip, how to use “skewing” motions to cut through difficult grain, how to lock the gouge into your palm & fingers by using your “pinky” or “little” finger, how to form a tool rest with your opposing hand, and how to choke up or down on your grip to alter your leverage and maximize control. — Keith (5 Minute Woodworking Video)

Brad Ramsay is the Irion Company’s in-house carving expert. The Irion Company specializes in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century.

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Some segmented turners use a technique called stack ring lamination to “extrude” larger wood turning blanks from pieces of flat wood stock. Cutting the precisely angled rings that make up this glued-up stack is part of the process. There are many ways to cut rings, but up-and-coming artisan woodturner, Mark Damron, has created his own custom tool designed to accurately and repeatably cut large rings at the correct angle and wall thickness with control and ease. This tool is essential to Mark’s large-scale work.

Mark is a toolmaker by training, so creating custom tools comes naturally to him. His custom ring cutting tool is accurate, easy to handle, and safe when used correctly. In this video, Mark explains the basic design of this tool and how he does the set-up. He then shows how each ring is cut. Watching Mark in action is a great lesson in creative tool design and use. Be inspired to create your own custom tools for your work. (3 Minute Woodworking Video)

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