How you hold the tool is the final part of controlling the turning process. One hand should hold the handle while the other holds the stock. Which hand you use to hold the tool will depend on the cut you make, as well as your preference for left- or right-handedness. There are a number of different grips for each hand, which also depend on the cut being made. The grip can vary at different stages through the cut.
The control hand is the one that holds the handle’ It provides most of the force and the movement required to make cuts and create shapes. The hand holding the stock is the support hand. This should fine-tune the cut, while keeping the tool firmly on the rest and holding the bevel against the wood. It can pull or push the tool as required.
For the control hand, there are two grips:
1. Power grip. Hold the end of the handle with the fingers wrapped round the handle and the thumb running along the top, pointing to the stock. The thumb on top gives more flexibility of movement than with the thumb wrapped round. This grip is used when removing lots of wood on large simple shapes, straight lines and large curves, where there is little or no twisting needed to make the cut.
Variation: The control hand is held against the hip for extra power and stability.
2. Flexi grip. The narrowest part of the handle is held between the fingertips and thumb. In this grip, the tool can easily be rotated. This is for delicate detailed work, where the tool has to be twisted to cut shapes such as beads and coves.
For the support hand there are five grips, with variations.
1. Fingers. The simplest grip is with straight fingers resting on top of the stock, so the hand does not touch the tool rest. In this position, the tool is held firmly on the rest and the fingers can either push or pull the tool, and hold the bevel against the wood.
Variation: If the cut is a short one, or a direct entry is being made, the heel of the hand can be fixed on the tool rest (as if it were glued), while the fingers are placed on top of the tool to move it backwards and forward.
2. Back grip. Here, the stock is held underhand (the hand under the tool) between fingertips and thumb. The thumb is behind or on top, fingers in front, hand not touching the tool rest. This grip is used for large, simple shapes.
Variation: The back of the hand is placed against the rest. The tool, held between fingers and thumb, can easily be pushed, pulled or twisted to make short cuts. This grip is used for detail cuts.
3. Hook grip. The index finger is hooked under the tool rest with the stock held between fingers and thumb. There is a tension between the index finger and the fingers holding the stock, pulling the tool down onto the rest. This gives good flexibility for fine control on detail cuts.
4. Thumbs up. The back of the fingers are against the tool rest (not touching tool), with thumb on top of the tool. The tool is pressed on the rest while it is pushed and pulled.
Variation: For bowl rim support, the thumb is placed on top of the stock while the fingers can support the thin bowl wall. The side of hand is on the tool rest.
5. Sheer grip. A particular grip for sheer scraping cuts, the forearm is laid in the tool rest and can slide along it. The tool is gripped with the fingers (not the hand), full around the stock, with thumb on stock (a mirror image of the flexi grip). The movement becomes a whole body movement as the tool is slid backwards and forward across the wood.