A cam-do carving hold-down
Drill a series of 1⁄2 " holes, set apart 2" on center, into a piece of 3⁄4 x12x18" plywood (or larger if desired). Then, make at least two T-shaped pins from 11⁄4 " lengths of 1⁄2 " dowel and 3⁄4 " lengths of 1" dowel such as those shown above right. Drill a 1⁄2 " hole 1⁄2 " deep into the center of the 1" dowel lengths and glue and insert the 1⁄2 " dowel pieces. From 3⁄4 " solid stock, cut a cam according to the full-sized pattern above, and drill a 1⁄2 " hole as indicated. Glue a 13⁄4 " length of 1⁄2 " dowel into the hole in the cam so 1⁄2 " 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