Carl’s Carving Stand

Photo: Carl's Carving Stand (cbf_carving_stand)

Over the years I have seen and made a number of different carving stand designs. Here is my latest design. It is bare bones simple and works good! I really like it.

It allows you to easily carve any piece of work attached to a lathe chuck or faceplate.

You can make your own if you have a hack saw, drill press and basic metal working skills. No welding is required.

You can get most of the materials from your local hardware store. However, you will need to get a chunk of 1-1/4" by 8 tpi threaded rod from McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com). Photo: Carl’s Carving Stand 1

Experience with carving stands has taught me the following:

  1. You can just rotate the chuck or faceplate on the carving stand. You DO NOT need a fancy carving stand that allows you to rotate the shaft on which the chuck or faceplate mounts.

    Fancy carving stands that allow shaft rotation are a waste of money. If you just grab a piece and rotate it the chuck or faceplate that the piece is mounted in will rotate. Because, LOCKING the chuck or faceplate to a the carving stand shaft is impossible or not easy. Not worth the effort.

    Yea, sooner or latter the chuck or faceplate will completely unscrew off of the shaft and fall off. But, it takes like 10 turns to do that. Only a moron would do that more than once! You learn to screw the chuck or faceplate back on after you carve all the way around back to the beginning. Or you learn to screw the chuck on (rather than off) while rotating it.
  2. I often STOP and rotate a piece while carving it. Thus a carving stand should allow easy rotation of a piece. You should be able to EASILY lock and unlock the rotation.

    A simple nut under the chuck or faceplate is all you need to lock and unlock the rotation.
  3. I often rotate a piece WHILE carving. I carve with the left hand and rotate with the right hand. This allows me to carve long graceful arcs. Thus a carving stand should NOT require you to lock the rotation. Photo: Carl’s Carving Stand 2
  4. I never change the tilt of a carving stand WHILE carving and I DO NOT want it to change! Thus fancy carving stands that you can easily tilt are a waste of money or a huge pain in the back side.

    I set the tilt once at the start of each carving session and then almost never change it. Once in a blue moon I may change it while carving.

    Changing the tilt while carving may be desirable for some things. However, changing the tilt while carving a repetitive texture pattern is NO good. If you change the angle, it changes the cutting angle and that changes your pattern. It often screws up the repetitive pattern.

    Thus I DO NOT like carving stands that allow you to easily change the tilt and rotation with a single handle!

    I want to change the rotation all the time and I never want to change the tilt! The tilt and rotation should be controlled by two separate handles.
  5. Carving stands mounted in the Banjo on a lathe are often to high. You have to tilt the work way down or stand on your tippy-toes.

    I prefer to mount my carving stand in a bench vice on the end of a workbench or in a LOW auxiliary banjo on the lathe. See photos below.

Photo: Carl's Simple Carving Stand (carving_stand_steel_001) Carl’s Simple Carving Stand

My carving stand is bare bones simple. It allows you to easily carve any piece of work attached to a lathe chuck or faceplate.

The 1" post mounts in a woodturning lathe or workbench vice. OR you can just attach the threaded part of the carving stand directly to a wooded post, workbench or auxiliary banjo. See photos below.

The black handle allows you to tilt the carving stand to any angle you desire.

The orange handle allows you to lock or unlock any chuck or faceplate (not shown in photo) that is screwed onto the carving stand.

Photo: Carving Stand Parts (carving_stand_steel_002) Carving Stand Parts

My carving stand is easy to make. See above drawing for dimensions and materials list.

Click on the above drawing for a easy to print PDF with out the blue background.

See Make Your Own Carving Stand section below for more information.


Carving Stand in Lathe Banjo

Note: Commercially available carving stands allow thus. Thus, I am showing it. But, I don’t like it. I prefer to mount my carving stand in a bench vice on the end of a workbench or in a LOW auxiliary banjo on the lathe.

Photo: Mount in Lathe Banjo (carving_stand_steel_003) Mount in Lathe Banjo

The 1" steel post allows the carving stand to be mounted in a lathe banjo.

Note: Most lathes accept a 1" tool post. It is sort of a standard. There are some exceptions to the 1" standard in Europe. Mini lathes often using a smaller 5/8" tool post. When you make your own carving stand, you can customize it to use any size tool post you want.

Photo: Carving Stand with Chuck (carving_stand_steel_004) Carving Stand with Chuck

The orange handle allows you to lock or unlock any chuck or faceplate (not shown in photo) that is screwed onto the carving stand.

Photo: Wide Rim Bowl in Chuck (carving_stand_steel_005) Wide Rim Bowl in Chuck

The carving stand allows you to easily carve any piece of work attached to a lathe chuck or faceplate.

Photo: Ready to Carve (carving_stand_steel_006) Ready to Carve

The work can be tilted in the carving stand to any angle you desire.

Photo: Down Position (carving_stand_steel_007) Down Position

The carving stand can be tilted down to allow carving on the outside of a hollow form or vase.


Carving Stand in Workbench Vise

Carving stands mounted in the Banjo on a lathe are often to high. You have to tilt the work way down or stand on your tippy-toes.

I prefer to mount my carving stand in a bench vice on the end of a workbench.

Photo: Mount in Workbench Vise (carving_stand_steel_009) Mount in Workbench Vise

With a simple little 2×4 adapter you can mount the caving stand with a 1" diameter tool post in the end vise on a workbench. See photo.

Photo: 2x4 Adapter (carving_stand_steel_012) 2×4 Adapter

The 2×4 adapter is 5" long with a 1" hole drilled in it. See photo.

The 2×4 broke (split) after I started using it. I repaired it with some black duct tape. Better than new! The duct tape allows it to hing open for easy post removal.


Wooden Tool Posts

Wooden posts are easy to make and work good.

Photo: Wooden Post Alternatives (carving_stand_steel_014) Wooden Post Alternatives

"A" in the photo is the 1" diameter steel post in my plans.

"B" is a Hard Maple version of "A". Easy to make. Works ok. See photos below.

"C" is a 3/4" plywood scrap. 1-1/2" wide by 10" long. Easy to make. Works good. See next photo.

Photo: 3/4 3/4″ Plywood Post in Action

Simple and works good.

Note the 1/2" SPLIT lock washer under the bolt head in photo. When you tighten the black handle the bolt does not spin in the hole. It is not fool proof. But, it works most of the time. The use of a carriage bolt would also solve the problem.

Photo: Hard Maple Post in Action (carving_stand_steel_016) Hard Maple Post in Action

Easy to make. Good for occasional use.

Tightening the banjo down on the post will eventually screw up the post. You can then easily make another one. Or replace it with a steel post for heavy duty use.

Note the 1/2" SPLIT lock washer under the bolt head in photo.

Photo: Turning the Hard Maple Post (carving_stand_steel_017) Turning the Hard Maple Post

The hard maple post was made from a scrap piece of wood. The scrap was 1-1/4" x 1-3/4" x 8".

Mount between centers and turn a 1" diameter post that is 4-1/2" long.


Low Auxiliary Lathe Banjos

Carving stands mounted in the Banjo on a lathe are often to high. You have to tilt the work way down or stand on your tippy-toes.

LOW auxiliary banjos are easy to make out of wood or steel. You can position the work at just the "right" height. See photos below.

The "right" height is often a few inches lower than the height of a tool rest in the banjo. Thus your arms, when carving, end up working at the same relaxed height they would be if you were working with a turning gouge on top of the tool rest in the banjo.

Photo: 2x4 Banjo in Action (carving_stand_steel_018) 2×4 Banjo in Action

I made this after all of the other ones. I really like this one the best!

Super easy to make out of scrap wood. See photo. The upright 2×4 is 12" long.

Photo: 2x4 Banjo Details (carving_stand_steel_019) 2×4 Banjo Details

The scrap of 3/4" plywood on the bottom is roughly 1-1/2" wide and 4" long. It will drop thru the ways on most lathes. The 1/2" bolt is 3-1/2" long.

The 1/2" bolt that attaches the threaded post to the 2×4" is 3" long.

Note the 1/2" SPLIT lock washers under the bolt heads. When you tighten the black handle or nut the bolt does not spin in the hole. It is not fool proof. But, it works most of the time. The use of carriage bolts would also solve the problem.

Photo: No Workbench Vice. No Problem! (carving_stand_steel_022) No Workbench Vice. No Problem!

With some clamps the 2×4 banjo can be attached to any workbench or what ever. See photo.

Photo: Angle Iron Banjo in Action (carving_stand_steel_020) Angle Iron Banjo in Action

I made this one before the 2×4 one. I like the 2×4 one better. This one is overkill.

Photo: Angle Iron Banjo Details (carving_stand_steel_021) Angle Iron Banjo Details

Made out of SCRAP angle iron from my local steel supplier. 3" x 3" by 1/4" thick angle iron that is 12" long.

The scrap steel bar on the bottom is roughly 1/2" thick, 1-1/4" wide and 5" long. It will drop thru the ways on most lathes.

I made it out of 1/2" thick steel so I could drill and tap it 1/2" by 13 tpi. Thus, I can use an Adjustable Handle on the top with a 1/2"-13 threaded 2-3/8" long stud. McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com) item #6271K52. Note: The second adjustable handle with stud is not visible in the photo. It is hidden under the angle iron.

Note the 1/2" SPLIT lock washer under the bolt head.


Make Your Own Carving Stand

You can make your own if you have a hack saw, drill press and basic metal working skills. No welding is required.

You can get most of the materials from your local hardware store. However, you will need to get a chunk of 1-1/4" by 8 tpi threaded rod from McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com).

Here are some tips and hints.

Photo: Carving Stand Plan (cbf_carving_stand_blueprint) Carving Stand Plan

See drawing for dimensions and materials list. Click on the drawing for an easy to print PDF with out the blue background.

Photo: Carving Stand Parts (carving_stand_steel_002) Carving Stand Parts

See photo.

The "Bolt Notch" in the post locks the bolt head so the bolt will not spin in the hole when you tighten the black handle. You may need to grind your bolt head down a little if to large. If you get the notch to big then you can use a 1/2" SPLIT lock washer under the bolt head.

The 1/2" SPLIT washer in the photo goes between the two 1/2" washers in the photo under the black adjustable handle. Everything is 1/2" by 13 TPI (1/2"-13).

Materials (Around $45 on 10/2021)
1-1/4"-8 x 5" Threaded Rod  #98957A508
1-1/4"-8 Nut  #90521A275
1" x 7" (or longer) Steel Rod  #8920K231
1/2"-13 Adjustable Position Handle  #6270K43
1/2"-13 x 2" Hex Head Bolt
1/2" Split Lock Washer
2 of 1/2" Washer
3/4" x  2-3/4" x 8" Plywood (Handle)
Notes: 1-1/4"-8 = 1-1/4" by 8 TPI.
# = www.mcmaster.com part number

Photo: McMaster-Carr Order (mcmaster_carving_stand_order) McMaster-Carr Order

McMaster-Carr is www.mcmaster.com. See photo.

Note: Most Wood Lathe spindles are 1-1/4" by 8 TPI (1-1/4"-8). The SAE standard 1-1/4" thread size is 1-1/4" by 7 TPI (1-1/4"-7). It is NOT 1-1/4" by 8 TPI. This makes finding 1-1/4"-8 threaded rod and nuts very difficult. Ordering them from McMaster is often the best solution.

Photo: Straight Line Trick (carving_stand_steel_023) Straight Line Trick

Use the miter slot in your table saw to draw a straight line on a round piece of steel. See photo.

Photo: Bandsaw Trick (carving_stand_steel_024) Bandsaw Trick

Here is how I cut a straight line on a round piece of steel on my metalcutting bandsaw.

You don't have a metal cutting bandsaw? See next photo.

Photo: Hacksaw Jig Trick (carving_stand_steel_025) Hacksaw Jig Trick

Cutting a long straight line on a round piece of steel with a hacksaw is NOT easy. Here is how I use to do it. See photo.

The hacksaw blade is guided by (rides on) the yellow blocks in the photo.

Any hacksaw will do. However, a good one like the Lenox one in the photo makes life a lot easier.

See next photo for jig details.

Photo: Hacksaw Jig Details (carving_stand_steel_026) Hacksaw Jig Details

If I want to cut 1/4" off of the side of a 1-1/4" threaded rod then the part of the rod that will remain is 1" (1-1/4" minus 1/4" is 1").

Thus the yellow wood blocks in the photo are 1" thick. I cut them on my table saw out of scrap 2×4.

The scrap plywood behind the blocks is 1/2" thick. I screwed the blocks to the plywood from the back (the screws are not visible in photo).

The blue mechanics vice in the photo jams the steel rod up against the jig and holds everything in place.

One hand operates the hack saw while the other hand pushes the hack saw blade up against the yellow blocks. Slow and careful work is the name of the game.


1-1/4″ Wrench with Nut

Finding a nice small affordable 1-1/4" wrench is not easy. I decided to make my own out of plywood with a built in nut. This turned out to be a great solution!

Photo: Wrench Layout (carving_stand_steel_028) Wrench Layout

Layout the wrench on 3/4" plywood as per my blueprint plan. I just traced around my 1-1/4" nut.

Photo: Cut Out Wrench (carving_stand_steel_027) Cut Out Wrench

I cut the outside of the wrench on my little bandsaw. Then I rounded over all the edges with a 1/4" round over bit in a router.

Photo: Install the Nut (carving_stand_steel_029) Install the Nut

I cut out the hole for the nut on my scroll saw. I made it a little to small. Then I filed the hole until the nut fit in snugly.

The nut is epoxied in place with 5 minute epoxy.

I wrapped the handle with orange electrical tape to make it pretty. I then covered (coated) ALL of the plywood and electrical tape with 5 minute epoxy. This secured the lose ends of the tape and made a really nice handle.

I used good "West System 5 minute epoxy."


Oneway Live Center Adapter

Photo: Oneway Live Center Adapter Option (carving_stand_steel_030) Oneway Live Center Adapter Option

The Oneway Live Center Adapter converts any 3/4" by 10 tpi thread to 1-1/4" by 8 tpi. See photo.

If you don't want to purchase a chunk of 1-1/4"-8 threaded rod from McMaster then you could use the Oneway Live Center Adapter and a chunk of 3/4"-10 threaded rod or bolt from your local hardware store.

This is NOT a great option because you will not be able to drill a 1/2" hole thru a 3/4" rod. The hole is to big. You will have to scale down to 3/8" or 1/4" holes and bolts. This may or may not be strong enough.

If I went in this direction, then I would use a plywood handle with a 3/4" nut UNDER the Oneway Adapter. The Oneway Adapter would be semi permanently installed in the chuck or faceplate and spin with the chuck or faceplate on the 3/4" rod.

Note: This option is probably not worth the headaches. You are not going to save a lot of money. A chunk of 1-1/4" rod and nut from McMaster is only $20. If you do not already own a Oneway Adapter then it costs $45. Prices on 10/2021.


Photo: Carl’s Carving Stand 3

Exotic Wild Flower Wide Rim Bowl – 10/2021, 10″ Wide, 1-1/2″ Thick, 22 oz.

Available in my Etsy CarlFordWoodturner store at www.etsy.com/shop/carlfordwoodturner/.

You can also check it out on my CarlFordWoodturner Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/carlfordwoodturner/.

One thought on “Carl’s Carving Stand”

  1. Nice Work Carl. I agree with what you say about wanting to change just one aspect of the turning during your carving. I have opted for the Trent Bosh option. I use it frequently and find it works well for me.

    As always – great article!

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