A Few Quick Tips
1. Keep your hand from resting on the work during cutting. Only the tip of your thumb should come in contact with the wood. Letting your thumb ride along with the stroke lets you guide the cut both in direction and depth.
2. Try to keep your wrist straight during the curved cuts. Make the curve with your elbow, not the wrist. This will make the lines smoother and avoid sudden angle changes in the curves. Treat your hand, wrist, and elbow as one unit! This is extremely important when you are working on long straight border lines.
3. Gang cut your work whenever possible. If you have a long line a similar triangles to cut, make all of the Position One cuts first, then return for Position Two cuts, and finally the third cut. Using gang cutting will keep the triangle even and straight, avoiding variations in the work.
4. If your hand has begun to tighten up on the knife or even hurt, STOP! Take a few minutes to hone the blade. This gives your hand a chance to relax. A relaxed hand makes a smooth cut. And, of course, you can never hone your knife too many times during carving.
6. Personally, I do the worst first. For some patterns there are cuts that I find myself holding my breath as I make them. I prefer to get those chips out of the way quickly. The hardest work is then accomplished while I am very fresh and excited about the project.
7. I keep a practice board in my kit. Before I begin work on the project I will make a small line of chips on this board, just to loosen my hand and to get the feel for the condition of the knife blade. This only takes a few moments and has often avoided miss-cuts at the beginning of any session.
8. Have fun, that’s what it’s all about.