View Full Version : Double Sided Tape for Carving Hold Downs?

Scott Springer
02-25-2009, 11:22 AM
Greetings Everyone,

I don't post much here but I was thinking of carving a tropical fish and coral "motif" but wanted to carve the fish individually.

I wanted to cut out the rough shape with my bandsaw and then carve the details. Some will be thin so I don't want to screw them down to a backer board.

Has anyone used double sided tape with success for holding down parts for carving? I've used it for routing templates and it's worked well but don't know about the lateral forces applied during carving. Thanks.


Mike Henderson
02-25-2009, 11:32 AM
The problem you may encounter is with an unsupported edge. That is, when you carve downward around the outside, the wood is not supported there and you'll get tearout (or worse, breakage). It's best to support the carving completely. I use a piece of cardboard from a tablet and glue that to the carving and the backer board. Release it by sticking a chisel at the joint and tapping the chisel.


David Keller NC
02-25-2009, 12:03 PM
Scott - What Mike's suggested is a very common method. While I'm not sure it makes sense to buy it just for this purpose, hot hide glue works incredibly well for this purpose because its grip is easily reversed with steam from a clothes iron in case sufficient glue soaks through the paper and bonds the carving to the backer board (which sometimes happens).

There was a thread on the SAPFM website not too long ago that offered a couple of other neat ideas in this regard - one was to pop a carving glued down with kraft paper to a backer board with hide glue into a microwave on low power for a few seconds, which releases the glue uniformly. Another method was to use hot beeswax to stick down the carving wood to the board. When finished, one takes a picture-framing wire (or a broken high E string off of a guitar) and heats it up, then you just pull it through the beeswax under the carving, which releases it.

Finally, one other very good method for work holding larger relief carvings is with a dedicated carver's easel and wooden wedges. The advantage to something like this over clamps or hold-downs is that it secures the entire carving down to the board without anything sticking up that gets in the way of full access.

Charlie Schultz
02-25-2009, 12:18 PM
What is a carver's easel? I googled "carver's easel" and nothing came up.

Scott Springer
02-25-2009, 12:32 PM
Thanks for the information gentlemen. Regardless of the method, I was planning on backing the entire carving so all edges would be supported.

I was thinking about the easels but I will probably be doing some small pieces so that was why I was contemplating using double sided tape. I might try some as an experiment but will also try the glue and cardboard and see how they work. If I get to it soon enough I'll post my results. Thanks!


Carlos Alden
02-25-2009, 1:03 PM

I would guess that glue is better, but I've used double-sided carpet tape, not for carving but to attach thin boards to backing boards to run through my jointer. Very secure, and it takes a concentrated effort with a sharp chisel to get it off. This stuff has some pretty strong stickum.

I would think if you really had carpet tape right under the edges of your piece it would be secure enough for carving.


Mike Henderson
02-25-2009, 1:42 PM
I think Carlos is right but I would not like the glue surface right by my carving because it would hold the swarf (chips).


David Keller NC
02-25-2009, 5:15 PM
Charlie - A "carver's easel" is basically a jig made of plywood (though I suppose you could make it out of something else) that consists of a large rectangular piece that has a 1" thick frame mounted to its surface. Inside that frame, you use strips of plywood and wedges or cams to lock the carving in place as you work on it. Most that I've seen (and the one I've made) mounts to a 30 degree undercarriage that's then mounted to your bench. That allows comfortable seated carving on flat, bas relief carvings.

I believe there's a description of one of these in Onian's book, but I'll have to look it up.

If I get a chance, I'll photograph the one I made and post it later tonight.

Charlie Schultz
02-26-2009, 6:23 AM
Thanks David. I found this article by Fred Wilbur at FWW which seems to describe what you're doing.


David Keller NC
02-26-2009, 11:15 AM
Charlie - That's almost precisely what I have, and his photographs are much better. One comment - I made my first one out of exterior plywood. That was a mistake - too many knots and voids that made the edges fragile (for use with carving moldings). Considering how much you may use this tool, it's worth it to build it out of birch plywood or "apple ply". Obviously, this a case where you want veneer core plywood, not MDF core - MDF flexes too much and doesn't hold screws well.