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  • Making your own tools

    Has anyone else out there tried to forge carving tools as was illustrated in the last WCI? I realize that they couldn't put in every detail but there were a few things that were given much too little detail. I have forged about a dozen tools so far and have learned that it is not as easy as the article would have you believe. If nothing else, I have a new appreciation for my Cape Forge and Pfeil tools! A few things I learned are:
    1. Forge it thick, grind it thin.
    2. Grind all of the scale off before reheating and forging the final shape.
    3. If you have trouble sharpening a vee tool, don't even think about making one.
    4. When forging a gouge, make sure the thickness is uniform all the way around the sweep or you can't sharpen it.
    5. Forge the sweep at least 1' up the tool. Forging only on the end doesn't give enough tool length.
    6. 1-1/4' oak dowel rods cut into 2' sections make a good palm tool handle. Be sure to round over the end.
    7. The same techniques work well on forged knife blades. Remember to forge thick, grind thin.
    I would like to hear from anyone else who has tried this. :P

  • #2
    Re: Making your own tools

    ???I have never attempted to make any tools, don't think I could.
    But, keep up the good work, sounds like you know what you are doing.
    Rando

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    • #3
      Re: Making your own tools

      Capt'n,

      I have not tried yet but I have it in the back of my mind to give it a try. Are you of the opinion that you get a better tool making your own or save enough $ to make it worth while? Or is it just fun? What type of steel are you using?Here is a site showing how to make tools from saw blades.

      http://www.scavm.com/gouges.htm

      good luck and keep sharing your discoveries.

      Dave

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Making your own tools

        : I am using W1 drill rod, which is a high carbon tool steel. I buy it at a local industrial supply. As for making quality tools, well, Mike De Punte at Cape Forge has nothing to fear from me! I have managed to make some usable tools but mostly the flat ones, like a bull nosed chisel, a spear point chisel, and some fairly good carving knives.

        Adding to the list of lessons learned, I humbly offer the following;
        1. When grinding prior to hardening the tool, make sure there are no sharp corners, deep scratches, or irregularly ground thicknesses. When you quench it, all of these can cause it to crack or warp.
        2. Do not overheat the steel. Getting it too hot will cause the metal grains to grow, making the steel brittle.
        3. And just for Grumpy, do not handle the steel until all of the red color is gone.

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        • #5
          http://www.scavm.com/gouges.htm

          good luck and keep sharing your discoveries.

          Dave
          [/quote]

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          • #6
            Re: Making your own tools

            Captain, Making your own tools, knives in particular, is only worth it if you have the right materials and tools to do that.
            For examle, if you want to make knives that are equal or better in quality to anything you can buy, You start with Kobalt steel which is used by machine shops to make lathe cutting bits. Onle little chunk that is Half by half byfour inches is available in the machine tool market for around $35.00 last time I checked. This will make about 3 knives if you are careful. Kobalt steel will grind without tempering and getting brittle. I have not done this myself yet, but I am pumping a friend of mine for the details in case I want to try it. He makes Kobalt knives and sells them for $30.00 each. I have one of his Kobalt knives and it carves much better than any other tool that I know of. Not even three cherries or Pfeil tools are made tthis way. Waldgeist

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            • #7

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              • #8
                Re: Making your own tools

                Is W1 ready to be ground and pollished (respecting not overheating it) and set in a handle? Or is it just a good choice to use for the forge and hardening and tempering? I made a knife a few years back from an old file. Ground, polished, spot heated the tang to drill holes for rivets, shaped a nice cherry handle and shaved a sliver of wood so thin you could read through it. You know what happened the first time it hit the floor... :'(

                Dave

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                • #9
                  Re: Making your own tools

                  I just read with some amusement your article relating to forging carving tools. I have a friend in Eau Claire Wis who has experimented with forging carving tools for years. I have a set of tiny left and right bent shaft skews that are my pride and joy made by him and a carving detail knife he made from a concrete nail which I love. Am sending him a copy of your comments and respnses. Thank you for your thoughts and help to us poor lost soles... incidently, way back when, it was common for a carver to forge for himself a specialty tool when one was needed. Harold

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                  • #10
                    Re: Making your own tools

                    I have three old planer blades that I would like to make into knives and , or carving tools but I don't know if they would be the right kind of steel.If anyone that knows anything about this would tell me something it would be greatly appreciated.groozier PS The blades came out of a twelve inch Rockwell delta planer,if you need this info.
                    Lance Brooks


                    To GOD be the Glory,Amen.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Making your own tools

                      Dave, the W1 rods are easily cut with a hacksaw so I assume they are not hardened. You can buy hardened and ground flat stock but it can get pretty expensive. W1 is extremely easy to work with (see the WCI article on this) and makes excellent blades, chisels, and gouges. The gouges are NOT as easily made as the other two!

                      Harold, I met a man in a Woodcraft store in San Antonio who taught himself to carve and now runs a business with 10-12 full time carvers doing architectural carving work for local churches. They make all of their own tools from files! Oh, yeah, he also owned the Woodcraft store!

                      Groozier, The plane blades would make great knives but I don't know how you plan to cut them into smaller pieces. An abrasive disk grinder would work if you kept the steel cool. Most of us tend to think that the metallurgy of the steel is the most important part of making a good knife, but my experience suggests that the proper taper and thinness of the blade are equally important. When I grind the finish taper on a tempered blade, I make 1 pass on the abrasive belt and immediately dip it into water. If it turns blue, your blade is ruined. Good luck!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Making your own tools

                        so how are you forming your gouges? Grinding or forging? speaking of ginding do you need the same shape grinding wheel as the tool profile? this guy makes a block to form gouges http://www.scavm.com/gouges.htm
                        do you think he has a good idea?

                        I wish I could remember all they taught me back in 7th grade when I took a year of metal shop. I do remember forging from round stock a hex shank screw driver and filing the final shape (we didn't get to use power tools till 8th grade) and getting it ready to insert into a handle. I was just about finished polishing it with the last grades of emery cloth and was carrying it my back pocket with some emery to work on as home work and decided to go to a rock concert. The police at the door said it could be used as a weapon and said I could get it back after. Of course after checking several thousand people through it was hopeless to find it afterwards. Needless to say I didn't get a very good grade on that project. :P

                        Dave

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                        • #13
                          Re: Making your own tools

                          P.S.

                          I just sent in my subscrition to WCI and don't have the recent article and no news stands in these parts carry it. :-/

                          Dave

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                          • #14
                            Re: Making your own tools

                            8) Dave, I do it the way the article suggested. Got a 3/4' x 3' bolt and drilled a 1/4' hole through the threaded area. I ground a 1/4' groove in the bolt head about 3/16' deep. I then bent a 1/4' diameter piece of the drill rod into a horse shoe shape, inserted one end through the hole, ran the washer and nut up tight to hold it, and adjust the other end so that it sat about 1/8' above the groove in the bolt head. You then heat the rod, forge it flat, reheat and insert the flattened end between the rod and the groove. Several light hits applied while rotating the drill rod will form a gouge shape. The article shows forming only about 1/2' on the end but I found that forming 3/4'-1' give you more regrinds. Make sure you forge the metal to a uniform thickness all around the sweep. Now, let it cool and use a dremmel to grind the inside and outside smooth. Harden and temper it, then, sharpen as any other gouge.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Making your own tools

                              I have made a few nice gouges out of spade drill bits. I ground them on a grinder being careful not to overheat. Then I polished and shaped them. They work fine and I have the satisfaction that I made them. I don't worry so much about ruining them as I can always make more. I have used one for years and it is one of my favorite tools to go to. It seems to stay sharp a long time. It still has the stamp of 1/2' on the blade.
                              Jim McKinney

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