Mighty Handily

Mighty Handily

Gaining the Upper Hand

Published: 7/15/20
By: William Watters

We all use our hands, but in this job, and our work outside of the studio, we tend to use our hands in more strenuous ways. This strain not only applies to hand tool work but also while working at the computer. I have experienced more hand pain recently, mostly in my fingers but also in my forearms and shoulders. I have found some common techniques that can help ease pain and improve strength and mobility.

Your upper back muscles connect to your shoulders and your chest. Stretching and strengthening your back muscles can help relieve upper body and neck pain and also aid in mobility.
Exercising all parts of your hand will also help you avoid creating an imbalance between the muscles that help you open and close your hands. Overworking the muscles used to close your hands, could lead to tendinitis.

You also need to be conscious of the strain you are putting on yourself. Next time you are holding a tool, be mindful of how tight you are holding the tool. Do you need to be grasping it as much as you are? One of the lessons I learned when cutting dovetails is how tight you are gripping the handle of the saw. In most cases, it’s too tight, causing unnecessary fatigue and tension that causes the saw not to track as you would like. I learned to grasp the saw like you hold a baby bird, firm enough not to let it escape, but not so firm that you squeeze the life out of it.

Hopefully, these exercises will keep you making things well into the later years of your life.


Hand exercises



– What else can you do while working to relieve strain on your body?
– Are there things that could aid you in eliminating strain?
– How can you use other muscles or parts of your body to relieve strain?