The Simple Things
FOUR KNIFE GRIPS TO GET YOU STARTED: ALWAYS BE AWARE OF WHERE YOUR FINGERS ARE IN RELATION TO THE BLADE
STRAIGHT KNIFE: PUSH CUT
Hold the knife in your dominant hand, and use your other hand to support the workpiece. Bring your thumb from the workpiece to the top of the handle where it meets the blade. Push away from the body, which will allow you to apply the exact amount of pressure required for the cut, while using your dominant hand to grip the knife and control the direction of the blade. This cut can be performed either standing or sitting. Whichever you choose, work close to your body for maximum control.
STRAIGHT KNIFE: DETAIL CUT
This cut is useful for when you are getting down to the finer details of a project. Using the knife in your dominant hand and holding the workpiece in your other, bring the thumb of the supporting hand to the back of the blade. This position will change depending on the size of the workpiece and the depth of cut required. For example, on a small piece, your thumb might be near the tip of the blade giving your maximum control. Using a similar motion to push cut, apply pressure with your thumb and guide the blade with your dominant hand.
STRAIGHT KNIFE: PULL CUT
Support one end of the workpiece in your hand, and the other on your chest (wearing an apron or protective shirt). Start the cut in front of your supporting hand. Applying even pressure and keeping the blade flat to the surface of the wood, draw the blade towards yourself. You’re aiming for maximum control with a view to where the blade is going to stop. This useful technique allows you to work longer lengths of wood while delivering controlled and even, straight cuts. Cutting towards yourself may seem foolhardy, but if done safely it is like any other technique. Keeping your hands and fingers behind the blade is crucial.
CROOK KNIFE: SCOOP CUT
Hold the crook knife in your dominant hand with the tip of the blade facing straight up. Supporting the workpiece in your other hand, present the bevel of the blade to the surface of the wood. Using the thumb of your dominant hand as a support at the back of the workpiece, roll your other hand back away from yourself while making the cut towards yourself. During carving, the thumb of your dominant hand should act as an anchor point, making sure it stays below the edge of the workpiece out of the way of the blade.