Any carvers here?

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Established Member
24 Aug 2008
Reaction score
Essex/ Suffolk border
If anyone here is a regular carver, I'd love to know the height of your bench/ carving station.

{..........Mike retreats towards a hot bath, clutching his back and looking for the paracetamol......}
It depends what you are carving.
When you get into the land of gouges there are more holding-styles-andgadgets than you imagine.

Unless you have full sized pieces in the round, (which I don't do) the normal bench is your friend.

Personally I try not to sit at work through preference, so carving lettering on large, flat boards can insult the back muscles whereas small pieces need to be lifted.

Many years ago, on a well-know auction site, someone was having difficulty unloading a really knackered and wormy Tiranti Scopas Chops - one of the good, pre-war ones with the brackets made of cast metal instead of the pressed steel you get nowadays. The wood was fit only for the fire, so I re-made this as an over-sized version and this, on top of my normal bench gets me up to a good carving height for most pieces that will fit in its jaws.

But, as I said it's down to preference, ingenuity and what you carve.

It depends what I am carving. I have a carvers vice for carving chair legs etc which sits on top of my bench and raises the work about 9". I have a carving arm for carving in the round which goes in my vice and will raise the work probably upto 18" above the bench. The third option for light carving is I sit on a stool and carve at bench height or slightly over. A slope helps. Also I try not to carve for long periods of time so usually no more than half a day per day.
Some carvers make a bespoke carving station so that you are carving at around chest to shoulder height.
Another factor is if you are carving kiln dried Oak then life can be pretty tough. I carved oak volutes for a cut string staircase. That was hard work both technically and physically. Whereas carving Lime or Mahogany is a pleasure.
I am not an experienced carver, but I suspect like many another find grabbing hold of wierd shaped objects tricky. Looking at both Chops and Parrot vices I wonder about the possibe use of the double thread heavy wooden clamps, sorry cannot think of the name, mounted in the bench vice. That would be adjustable for angle and height.
Then of course there is the tall leg vice.
Like the guys above need a range of different carving height. I spent a long time waiting for something I could modify , second hand, cheap, industrial , on the eBay.
Eventually I got a hydrolic factory workbench, only 1200mm by 600mm.
Pumps up like a car jack to whatever I need, Ive put a beech top on it with dogholes, full frontal vice, and the whole top tilts up towards me as well.
I love it.
Before I got it I did think about using two car jacks on top of each other to get a range of height ,with four legs that slide into bigger legs with holes to slot in dowels to set the height.
Just a idea.
Lots of YouTube videos on adjustable height benches.
I rarely carve anything not in the round these days Mike and have a heavy duty carvers vice mounted to a length of 4x4 which I clamp in the bench vice, I adjust the height and position of the work to suit and always carve standing, mostly the work is around bottom of rib cage height.
You just need to find a way of holding is solid and at any height that's comfortable, no right or wrong way.
Not much help really, :(
MikeG.":385soecc said:
PAC1":385soecc said:
........Another factor is if you are carving kiln dried Oak then life can be pretty tough.......

Yep, that's what I'm using.

I agree, Mike.
The thing is with oak is that, although it carves, in my opinion it does need careful selection. Paradoxically for this discussion, you tend to need the slowest growth and hardest wood in order to both cut cleanly and to gain and to hold detail. Softer growth tends to compress or flake off.
This is both taxing on the muscles and your tools.
However, it's rewarding........ look at some of the work in churches, particularly the surviving Misericords, all done on hard heart-wood.

Good luck
I don't have too many problems actually carving the oak. I just should probably raise the work up a little:


I have a chest high 4x4 bolted to the corner of my bench to fix face plates, jigs , vices to, or just lean work against. My bench height I found by standing elbow loosely by my side and forarm extended at 90 degrees. Sounds wierd but actually does give you the correct work height
Just checked, my bench is 37 inches high, standard bench seems to be 34? I'm 5'7 in my work shoes. When I work on a standard bench I always get back ache from leaning forward
I'm a budding carver use my bench and woodworking vice at present which is about 900 (3 foot) high I have just got hold of a Tiranti vice that I have yet to use am planning to sit this on top of bench when standing or on workmate for sitting

I have also carved hard oak block broke handle of heavy addis chisel
stuckinthemud":2zwt5y2c said:
Just checked, my bench is 37 inches high, standard bench seems to be 34? I'm 5'7 in my work shoes. When I work on a standard bench I always get back ache from leaning forward

Thanks for this. I'll measure mine.....
Chisteve":2v0uq3do said:
I have also carved hard oak block broke handle of heavy addis chisel

You are probably cutting too deep, take the wood off in skims, many cuts taken quickly is far better than big chunks that chip the cutting edge or worse
I reckon a man of your abilities could work out a way to cramp a bit of wood on top of the ends of two breeze blocks say on your bench Mike. Got any threaded bar sitting about and a hole or two in your bench? :wink:
Now you have a clampable surface at non bending height.
No carver but I did whack a bit of stone for 5 days once on a course. First thing I did going there as a bad back veteran was raise the height of the 'pedestal' which was made from... breeze blocks. :D Feels odd at first but it's perfect height. Only your arms taking the strain.
You'll be taking up watercolours soon at this rate.
As I said most of my carving is in the round however when carving relief I screw a lump of scrap and glue on the work with hot melt or d/s tape. I found the height with the bottom of the 4x2 resting on the floor about right for me and with relief work I prefer an angle maybe around 30 deg or so most comfortable. your height and posture decides, I'm 5'10" btw and the vice is a very heavy sturdy version.

Top plate of vice sits about 1100mm high in this position.


  • carving vice.jpg
    carving vice.jpg
    128.5 KB · Views: 30