Workshop tip: Rotating mount makes carving easier

I’m working on the carved shells for a four-drawer, Newport-style block-front chest. Most types of carving require that you constantly alter your angle of attack—for better tool control and better lighting. This simple mounting jig lets me rotate a workpiece quickly to any angle without changing my body position. I start by attaching the workpiece to a backer board, using thinned liquid hide glue and kraft paper (from a paper bag) to create a strong but temporary joint. Next I screw on a round block, which fits into two shopmade auxiliary jaws in my bench vise. By the way, I use the same setup when carving larger projects like signs; I often attach those with screws only.

I made the angled jaws from scrap 2×6 lumber, making two 45° crosscuts and then a series of 90° cuts to clear out the center section. I cut notches at the bottom to keep the jaws aligned on the vise bars and lead screw.

carving mount pieces

The jaws grab the round block in four spots at once, and require very little pressure to hold the workpiece securely. I also drill a couple of holes through the backer board, so I can use a knockout punch to pop off the finished workpiece safely. Cleaning off the remaining glue and paper is easy: Just moisten the surface and use a scraper.

—HANK BEAMER, Middleport , N.Y.

Illustrations by Dan Thornton
From Fine Woodworking issue #301

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