For safe and effective carving of flat workpieces, you must secure the carving in a way that frees both of your hands and doesn't mar your masterpiece. It sure would be nice to have a hold-down that adapts to any carving.
woodworking technique shop tip

Drill a series of 12 " holes, set apart 2" on center, into a piece of 34 x12x18" plywood (or larger if desired). Then, make at least two T-shaped pins from 114 " lengths of 12 " dowel and 34 " lengths of 1" dowel such as those shown above right. Drill a 12 " hole 12 " deep into the center of the 1" dowel lengths and glue and insert the 12 " dowel pieces. From 34 " solid stock, cut a cam according to the full-sized pattern above, and drill a 12 " hole as indicated. Glue a 134 " length of 12 " dowel into the hole in the cam so 12 " of dowel protrudes from each face. Now, you can hold a carving of most any shape between at least two pins and the cam. Clamp the board to your workbench or hold it in your lap, whatever's the most comfortable to you.
—Gordon Humphrey, Victoria, British Columbia