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  • wood carving tools

    I am a complete newbie. I draw, and i would love to carve some ornamental pieces as well as wooden headed dolls. I found some wood carving sets on ebay, some more expensive than others, and some that were only 9.99 that stated they were 'good for boy scouts' Does anyone have any ideas on what pieces I should look for, begin with? I remember my dad carving with me when i was a lot younger, and he had a u shaped tool to remove larger bits of wood.. also, were there any books that yall started with that you'd recommend? Thanks quite a lot. christi

  • #2
    Re: wood carving tools

    Christi, The reason those tool sets were good for Boy Scouts was that they are not allowed to swear. Most of the stuff I have seen on ebay is junk made in China or India and not worth wasting money on. True, good tools are expensive but well worth the money. Poor quality tools are difficult to use, come poorly sharpened (which means you have to do that first) and don't hold an edge. I purchased a set of laminated carving tools, made in Japan and called 'Power Grip', from www.woodcraft.com to carry with me when I travelled. A set of 5 was about $25 and they are very serviceable tools. They come razor sharp, and hold an edge well. For doing small carvings, you will also want a decent knife and I would recommend getting a Murphy knife for about $9. Murphy is the brand name. Its a good idea to buy or make a leather strop to hone the edges of the tools. Now, find a carver who can show you how to keep these tools honed, and you are in business.

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    • #3
      Re: wood carving tools

      Although I will probably catch heat from the older carvers,
      I would suggest that you buy an X-ACTO set to start out with.My reason being, you don't have to learn how to sharpen,they are fairly inexpensive, by trying the selection of different blades you can figure out what kind of blades you like cheaply,and (heaven forbid) should you find you have no talent for carving they come in usefull around the house.
      Once you get hooked, then follow the previous suggestion and buy GOOD tools, but also learn how to sharpen (practice on the x-acto blades you will dull)
      Most importantly BUY A CARVERS GLOVE to protect your hands and fingers from slips.
      You can buy x-acto at almost any hardware store
      happy trails
      grumpy560

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      • #4
        Re: wood carving tools

        Right on, Grumps! I know several carvers who use nothing but X-Acto knives. They offer a variety of handles and blade designs to fit anyone's needs... and you don't have to waste time sharpening. Some of the carvers buy the #11 blades in 100 packs and they are ready for a bunch of projects.

        An offshoot of the X-Acto is the Warren knives. They cost a little more but they can be resharpened and the variety is much the X-Acto line. One of the top bird carvers in our area says the only knife you need is an X-Acto with a #11 blade.

        Good Luck...

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        • #5
          Re: wood carving tools

          Maybe I'm just a fussbudget but I don't find X-acto and Warren blades to be sharp enough. Because they grind a taper on the very edge of the blade, it leaves a shoulder between the edge bevel and the flat part of the blade. That means the shoulder must force the wood fibers apart as you cut and that makes carving harder for me. I much prefer flat ground blades that taper uniformly from the edge up to the spine. I have re-sharpened a few Warren blades so that the shoulder is ground away but that's a lot of work to make a $4.00 functional.

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          • #6

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            • #7
              Re: wood carving tools

              In reply to captain bandaid, I know you're right ,but, if this person is totally new to carving, then they probably don't know how to sharpen yet. Thus the suggestion to use x-acto.
              These blades (although not perfect for woodcarving) will still be a better cutting edge than what they would have otherwise. Once they see the fun in carving, then they will seek out better tools and sharpening skills, but they won't spend the money on just the idea of ' I think I can do that'.
              Also like I said before, if they find that carving isn't for them ( heaven forbid) then they will still have a usefull set of knives around the house for other craft and wallpapering jobs.
              My wife has pretty much taken over on my x-acto knives when she needs something sharp, thus sparing my carving tools from misuse.
              grumpy560

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              • #8
                Re: wood carving tools

                No argument from me, it was just my personal observation. In fact, I have a set of Xacto knives and gouges from the first time I tried carving. I got so frustrated with them that I quit and did not take it up again for 15 years. I do still use a knife I made from an article in WCI that uses an Xacto-type blade. It is a good detail knife. But if you want a set of GOUGES that come out of the box SHARP, then the Power Grip set is pretty good. Warren sells these too, and you could probably get the gouges and a set of Warren knives by stopping by their website.

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                • #9
                  Re: wood carving tools

                  Captain,
                  It's o.k. to argue (within bounds) I read a saying in Chip Chats that asks the question, When was the last time you learned something from someone that agreed with you?
                  Different ways of solving problems is what this board is all about.
                  grumpy560

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                  • #10
                    Re: wood carving tools

                    Right On!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: wood carving tools

                      Thanks Captain.
                      It just occured to me that nobody has answered this lady's second question,
                      As for myself I saw a couple of carvings at someones web sight and said 'I can do better than that'. Once I proved to myself that I couldn't do better,
                      I started searching for how to and tutorial sights on the net. Unfortunatly, I have since crashed my computor and can't name any sights at the moment that have tutorials, I do know they are out there.
                      I did several carvings from these, then tried improving on them before ever buying a teaching book. The first one I bought was by Tom Wolfe on woodspirits and walking sticks. If this is something you would like to start with I would recommend this book. It is well photographed and shows each step without leaving a lot to guess-work like a lot of them do.
                      Tom Wolfe also has several other books out on different types and styles of carving . Who's book really depends on the type of carving you want to try.
                      grumpy560

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                      • #12
                        Re: wood carving tools

                        If you were to click on the Calendar of events you just might find a carving show in your area. Most of these shows have dealers with reasonably priced, open stock gouges for sale. Most, if not all will put a good working edge on them for you at a reasonable additional cost, while showing you how to sharpen. Also most of the carvers at these shows are more than willing to help a newcomer get started. Some shows have seminars. and you might even find out about a carving club or guild close to your home! Pineyknot

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                        • #13
                          Re: wood carving tools

                          My only comment is, in 26 years of carving and buying tools, you get what you pay for. X-ACTO may be allright for now while you are learning. But there is nothing like the pride of owning and using good quality tools that will last forever. I have a custom made detail knife that I got back in 1976 I sharpen it when I bought it, and it has not been sharpen since. I run it on a leather strop every 10 minutes or so as I carve. It would put a Surgent's knife to shame. Just my opinion, I love top quality tools!
                          Visit Easton, Md's Waterfowl Festival November 8th 9th and 10th.

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                          • #14
                            Re: wood carving tools

                            Woodbutcher,
                            I'm with you! A quality tool will alway perform better than a bargain (?) tool. I remember trying to learn to play the guitar. I bought a modestly priced one, thinking that 'if I don't like it, I haven't lost a lot of money'. Phooie! I struggled for several years with that thing and finally got to play a professional instrument. It was so well made it was a breeze to play and sounded a lot better. There is a reason that professionals buy professional grade equipment: It just works better!

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                            • #15
                              Re: wood carving tools

                              Christie, as an OLD Boy Scout, let me make a recommendation!
                              there is a Scout knife called a 'Whittler's Knife' and has been made by several manufatures over the years, and sold through BSA. It's a three blade folding knife, about three and 1/2 inches long. One blade is a sharp pointed one, about three inches long, another is a short pointed blade about an inch and 3/4, and the third is what they call a coping blade, which has a short blade with a squared off tip. It is made of good carbon steel, sharpens easily (comes that way to start), and folds up small to carry in your pocket, so your tool kit is where ever you are!

                              These guys sell for about 24 bucks through the Boy Scout offices, but you can find similar knives by Camilus, Buck, Schrade, Uncle Henry, and probably four or five others, but (believe this or not) they usually sell for 10 to 30 bucks more than the Scout knife, and are NOT any better, unless you don't want to be seen carrying a Scout knife!

                              Another couple more good starters are the 'Murphy' bench knife, and a similar knife 'Whittlin' Jack'. Murphy is US made and sells for anywhere from 8 bucks to 15 bucks, depending on suppliers and is a good by at either price, but obviously a better buy at around 8. Whittlin' Jack is a little larger handled so better suited to someone with a hand the size of a catcher's mitt, like mine, and is a Chinese import. I like it anyway. You can find these in Craft stores sometimes, and in some catalogs for around 8 to 12 bucks plus shipping. If you don't mind a big handle, another good buy!

                              If you check the carving catalogues, you will find 'starter' kits with a benck knife, a good piece of wood with the pattern included, and directions for carving and sharpening, all for around 25-30 bucks. another good buy for beginners.

                              Run a search, on-line for woodcarving supplies, and you will be treated to a hundred or so on-line catalogs.

                              Good luck, have fun, and buy a glove or thumb guard!!

                              Al

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