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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carving Work Station

Before posting step-by-step progress on the several projects I have started. I thought I would begin with my not-so-new-anymore, work-space and later, the clutter of tools that have now encrusted this work-space. I have stayed with the lap-bench idea that I have been happily using for some time now. The overall size of the bench has been increased proportionately all round to gain more work clutter space.

The lap-bench now consists of a torsion box with the part circle cut-out in the centre, the same as before. A bench peg has been added to the centre, as in a jeweller's bench, so that my hand fretsaw and piercing saw can be used when needed. The use of a torsion box construction keeps the weight down and the extra thickness makes for a useful storage opening at each side.

The carving-tool-holding, arc-shaped box at the back, is pierced with openings to hold various carving tools and more holes have been gradually added to suit needs. The front of this tool box/rack is fitted with perspex to allow the tool profiles to be seen — Yes I know.., but it might be a useful idea for someone who agrees with the 'less is more' principle. This is the one paradox that just doesn't work for me. Not with tools, materials, projects, interests or in design! I wish I could add 'useable space' to that list but that would be no paradox just simple contradiction.

The use of this type of bench suits my needs and most usual carving methods very well. Most of my carving is Welsh lovespoons  and other miniature carving work. These projects are first cut to shape with a scroll saw and band saw and then carved with palm tools and knives. With this carving method the work is held in one, protectively-gloved hand and the carving tool is used in the other. The principles involved working this way relate closely to conventional carving but that would take quite a bit of explanation, which I will leave to another time.

One of the great benefits of this set-up is, I can do the bulk of the work with this very portable bench, seated in an arm chair, with the company of family, through the after-dinner hours of television. The addition of an old towel attached under the bench and at the sides, plus being held up at the front with an around-the-neck clip-on strap, collects chips and can fold forward over the work on the bench top at the end of the session. 

A second towel can also be used to cover the whole set-up and when tied up in a parcel, with a length of light rope, the whole lot can be carried away and can easily be transported, as-is, on the back seat of a car for club attendances and shows.

When I am working with this lap-bench at home I can place it on a small folding table drawn up close to the chair. Or if the bench peg is removed, sit the bench across the arms of the armchair. When at a club or other event it is possible to get by with just a chair with the bench across the lap. A second chair or small table is best though. 'Less is more' people could do perfectly well with a smaller version of the bench and just the chair.

For convenient lighting when at home, a folding LED light wedges nicely in place at he side, providing a raking light to carve by. More about this 'painting by shadow' aspect of carving later. That pretty much wraps-up the carving station set-up. I don't do much conventional bench carving with conventional carving tools but I have begun to venture into this a little and have experimented with ways of incorporating these methods with the current set-up, more about this next time.


  1. Wow! I too use a "lap table" for most of my carving projects. I love it. I must say though that mine is much more crude and you have given me a bunch of ideas! I now plan on adding the neck apron, some holes and notches to hold knives and other tools of mass destruction. Instead of a lamp type light I have a small battery operated LED reading light that is VERY lite and exceptionally bright. Thank you so much for taking the time to write the post and your exceptional bench and ideas.

  2. This is a great idea,I use automach power chisel,dremal tool and mini roto tool ,I can build mine for me with built in electrical outlet and extension cord holder...WCH

    1. A torsion-box construction would certainly accommodate your electrics in a neat way Walter.

      All the best for its construction.