1. Make sure you are in a good physical, mental, and emotional space to carve, and that your environment is calm, quiet and conducive to focused work. Someone who is distracted, tired, hungry, too hot or cold, dehydrated, frustrated, or otherwise unready to focus should not be carving. Likewise, if light is waning, if it’s very noisy, or if other environmental factors may lead to reduced focus, carving is not appropriate.
2. Ask permission to take out your knife and make sure an adult is there to help you.
3. Find a spot with plenty of space from other people; this is your ‘blood bubble’. Your extended arm holding your (sheathed) knife should not be able to reach any person around you.
4. Sit down cross legged, kneeling, or seated on a chair or log. These positions will help you make sure that your carving does not drift above your legs. Your legs (and all parts of your body) should always be behind your knife’s blade.
All the following practices help children carve without body parts being in front of or within reach of the knife blade.
1. Always carve a double arms-length away from others. Hold your arm extended and double that distance to the next person.
2. Always carve away from yourself. Reposition your wood as needed to carve different areas. Make sure your legs are not beneath the knife blade. If this is challenging, carve to the side of your legs.
3. Always carve away from your holding hand. Make sure your holding hand is clearly between your knife and your body, safely behind your knife’s blade. It should never be beneath or in front of your knife blade. This proper placement ensures that if your knife slips or your wood breaks, your hand will not be cut. (Note: While this rule is essentially the same as #1, we include it separately because this is where young carvers tend to need the most correcting.)
4. Always keep your eyes on your work. If something calls your attention elsewhere, put your knife in its sheath.
5. Never stand up or walk with your knife unsheathed. If you need to stand up, sheath your knife and put it in a safe place. When you return to carve check with the adult who was watching you to make sure it is ok to continue.
6. Do not saw back and forth with your knife. Carving knives are not saws and should not be used with a sawing motion, as this can cause your blade to slip.
7. Remove thin layers of wood only. Do not use strong force to remove large pieces of wood, as this can cause your blade to slip.
8. When finished, look CAREFULLY as you return your (dry and clean) knife to its sheath, keeping your fingers behind the blade. Return your knife to your backpack. Knives should never be left on the ground or allowed to rust.
Knife Use and Knife Safety Policy
1. Before having or using knives, participants under 18 must have written permission in the form of a signed Knife Use Waiver or parents/guardian must have given consent via our online registration form.
2. Participants must be at least 8 years old to carve at Two Coyotes programs. This means that carving MAY begin as early as age 8, but not that it necessarily will. We make judgement calls about readiness for new tasks and challenges based on children’s developmental stage and not solely on their age. Carving activities are always at the discretion of our staff.
3. Children attending programs who are age 8 or older are welcomed to bring their own non-folding or locking-blade knives and store them in their backpacks, NOT on their person. The instructor to carver ratio is 1:4 at this age.
4. Teens attending programs which begin at age 13 or older are welcomed to bring their own non-folding or locking-blade knives and store them in their backpacks. They may be permitted to keep knives on their person for particular activities, and with instructor permission. Carving activities at these programs will take place at a 1-6 instructor to participant ratio. Program managers and seasoned program coordinators may adjust this ratio to accommodate very experienced carvers ONLY when those carvers are under their direct supervision, and they deem it safe to do so.
5. When instructors have determined that children are ready to carve, knife safety will be formally presented and taught to those children at each program before carving activities commence. All participants must receive training before carving, and training will be repeated each season. Before each carving opportunity throughout the program, children will reiterate the most essential knife-safety bullet points.
6. If a participant is not able to follow safety instructions, or if their knife is not safe to use because of rust, dullness, knife-type or any other reason, a Two Coyotes instructor may take their knife from them and return it to a parent or guardian at the end of the program day. If the participant is unable to listen a second time, they may not be allowed to bring a knife to future program days.
Knife Type and Care
We recommend non-folding knives with protective sheaths. Folding knives that do not lock in the open position are considered unsafe and are NOT recommended and may not be allowed at Two Coyotes programs. If a child’s hand cannot comfortably fit around the handle, the knife is too big. We have knives we deem appropriate to lend to children during program hours.
Knives should be carried in the sheaths, within a backpack or other pack. Although instructors may carry a sheathed knife on their body, participants are not allowed to do this for safety reasons. Blades should be maintained as sharp and free of rust or nicks. Dull blades can be dangerous. Make sure knives are always returned to their sheath dry and clean. Clean your knife with warm soapy water and very carefully wipe off any dirt or grime with a dry rag, then add mineral oil. If your knife has acquired some rust, gently remove with sandpaper, sharpen, and apply mineral oil. Knives should be completely dry (or oiled) before returning to the sheath.