Keeping chisel close to body

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Forum topic by MrOrangeKitty posted 04-13-2017 07:55 AM 743 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrOrangeKitty's profile


8 posts in 1256 days

04-13-2017 07:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question


A number of sources say that it is important to keep the tool close to the body in order to gain control. It seems to me that most tool handles are too small for this. I have a set of Benjamin’s Best, for example. The handles are 9” long. In order to have the handle against my hip, I would have to stand next to the lathe.

I sense that I must be missing something. There seems to be a disconnect being the advice being given and the tools that are available.

4 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2890 posts in 2982 days

#1 posted 04-13-2017 10:42 AM

What is the total length of your tool with handle?

Nice to know info:

using body support less fatiguing than muscling a tool with arms alone. No a tool doesn’t always need support from your torso or hip due to short handle. Their are turning situations where support holding tool handle under your forearm will work while body over the lathe. Have to use some common sense, size of the tool & handle, comfortable grip, body stance, body movement as you are turning, and what are you turning.

-- Bill

View mrg's profile


870 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 04-13-2017 12:53 PM

The tools you are referring to are the beginner set. For pens, spindles, flutes etc., you don’t need to rest the tool against your body. Turning larger bowls and such you will be using a larger tool with a longer handle. For bowls you will want to do the dance with the tool against your body, it gives more control doing more aggressive cuts. It also allows you to control the tool better when cutting into the end grain coming around.

Look for a AAW chapter by you and join. You usually can do 3 meetings before being asked to join. Club members are more than willing to teach you technique etc. Also check out a class at Woodcraft or your local college or high school.

-- mrg

View OSU55's profile


2657 posts in 2836 days

#3 posted 04-13-2017 02:13 PM

Putting a tool handle against the torso or other body part is about steadying the tool and using the body to guide the tool along the chosen path vs just using hands to achieve a better and more accurate cut. If you have the steady hands of a brain surgeon it wouldn’t matter, but most of us don’t. If you want longer tool handles, just glue on an extension with an m&t or dowel joint.

View LeeMills's profile


702 posts in 2148 days

#4 posted 04-13-2017 03:03 PM

You can have very short handles, I have some only seven or eight inches long. As Wildwood stated you “tuck” these to your forearm and hold your arm to your body. Spindle tools are typically shorter because your are making cuts, such as rolling a bead, where a long handle would hit your body. They are also typically more refined cuts than some face work. Bowl gouges typically have longer handles which you can tuck the handle to your body but IMHO it is more for needed leverage than control. Many/most spindle tools you hold at the bulb where with bowl gouges it would be held at the end of the handle.
Stuart Batty has several very good videos. He has three on Stance, aka “Dancing with the Lathe” and he also has two or three on tool handle length and overhang over the rest.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

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