First Cuts

Before you tackle the various projects it is good practice to familiarize yourself with the chisels and the six basic techniques. The following exercise is also ideal to test the sharpness of the chisels.

  • Secure a piece of timber to the work surface and, with whichever hand you feel most comfortable, hold chisel No. 4 in the fist position. Slide the chisel through the timber in the direction of the grain, making sure that you anchor. Remove small scoops at a time, moving the chisel with controlled arm weight only. If you find that you need to apply body weight, you are trying to remove too much timber in one go.
  • Next carve across the grain using the sliding technique, attempting to remove timber from different directions. If you need to carve further than your anchor hand will allow, relocate it rather than raising it to finish the cut. This will ensure a ‘breaking system’ is in place at all times.
  • Now apply the tapping technique in a number of directions. Try to produce clean scoops, formed by a number of taps, without any visible chatter marks form the blade.
  • Using the same hand to grip chisel No. 4, change to the pinch position and set in a cut with the chisel shank at 90 degrees. Remember to use controlled arm weight only with the motivating hand, while anchoring the chisel with the other. Now revert to the fist position and slide the chisel towards the convex side of the first cut. The aim is to remove a clean segment of timber with only two cuts. However, if more cuts are required or if small fragments of timber are left behind, you need to practice the technique.
  • Repeat each stage again, but this time hold the chisel in the opposite hand. With perseverance the techniques will gradually become easier.

Test your techniques and the sharpness of your tools on a block of timber. Make cuts in all directions both across and with the grain