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  • Help me get started - tools?

    Hi everyone,

    I was all set to buy some carving tools and get started on some small projects - I would like to make everyone something 'by hand' for Christmas 2002 and I know I need to get started sooner than later!

    I visited woodcraft (our local store in the area) and left with more questions and uknowns than I had entered with! My wife suggested I look at the web and this site has already been of great influence.

    I still don't know however what type of carving I want to get in to - power or hand, large or small. I think I would prefer to do the carving by hand but I don't seem to see very smooth hand carvings (is it possible to get something as smooth as what a power tool provides?).

    Can someone point me to a summary of what the different types of carving methods are and how they compare?

    Also, apart from Woodcraft's good courses, does anyone know of anything in the charlotte, NC area?

    Thanks!
    Chris.

  • #2
    Re: Help me get started - tools?

    Chris, There is a terrific Folk School in Brasstown, NC
    I have been there three times; and it is a 2600 mile trip for me. I would return in a minute if I could; but things are busy right now.

    http://www.folkschool.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Help me get started - tools?

      Power carving doesn't necessarily make your carvings any smoother (some types of carvings should not be smooth), but it will make it faster! It is hard to decide which area of carving you want to stay with until you try all of them. Scandinavian carving wants the knife cuts to show; Chip carving is only done by hand (I think, I am a bird carver); Relief carving goes both ways, some like it smooth and some like the cuts to show; Carving-in-the-round also goes both ways as far as smoothness.

      I did relief and Scandinavian carving before I tried birds and wildlife. I like relief carving, don't care as much for the Scandinavian style and can't get past bird carving (in-the-round), I enjoy it so much. You may even find that you prefer burning in the design more than carving it.

      Whichever style you decide on, roughing out with power is a big timesaver. You will enjoy any style, so you can't go wrong.

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      • #4
        Re: Help me get started - tools?

        Chris, you might try checking you local library for books on carving, as you haven't decided what type you want to do yet.

        If you go to any search engine and type in 'woodcarving' you will find hundreds of sources for supplies, patterns and equipment. somewhere you will surely find an online catalog that wil offer a 'starter' kit for between 30 and 40 bucks. It will include a block of wood with pattern, a good quality bench knife, instructions to finish the carving, and I'm sure you will then start to get all sorts of catalogs in the mail.

        Just my personal opinion, but most any good harware store will stock a Case, or Schrade, or Camilus 'whittling knife.' That's a whole tool kit you can fold up and carry in your pocket. They sell for around 30 to 40 bucks, too, but you can buy one at a Boy scout supply store for around $24.

        Next would be a mid-priced bench knife. Murphy knives are good quality as are Whittlin' Jacks for under 10 bucks, and flexcut makes one for around 30, depending on where you buy it. These are hard to pocket!

        Try to find a woodcarving club in your area. check the local newspaper social notes, they post our meetings every week.

        Al

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        • #5
          Re: Help me get started - tools?

          hey Chris,

          what I am getting from your post is you would like to carve stuff by hand but prefer a smooth finish. (btw most peeps I know still consider power carving to be hand carved, just a different method to get there. Trade lingo I guess)

          There are plenty of carvers that carve their piece with gouges and if they are looking for a glass smooth finish use sandpaper, scrapers, rotary tools, or their fingernails if that is what it takes, to finish it. I guess I would include myself in that group although I prefer a slightly tooled finish. your question is open to interpretation and the final answer is to do it the way that makes you happy. That's my two cents that may be worth one and a half :P

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          • #6
            Re: Help me get started - tools?

            Power carving can be pretty expensive to get started. I continue to suggest the 'Power Grip' set of gouges that Woodcraft and others sell. $25 for the set of 5 and about $40 for the set of 7. They are fairly inexpensive, have honed edges out of the box, and seem to work pretty well. Get or make a leather strop and buy a stick of jewelers rouge to keep your edges honed. The Murphy knife is good but needs to be honed to be really useful. The FlexCut knives are about $16 and come fully honed. And don't forget to buy a carvers glove or at least finger protectors!

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            • #7
              Re: Help me get started - tools?

              Thanks everyone for the great tips - I think I'm going to go with the latest suggestion and buy the 5 piece power grip set, plus murphy knife, plus a protective glove. I found the Charlotte woodcarvers club and will go and watch there this coming Monday night!

              Curious what anyone thinks of the 'Razor sharp Edgemaking System' that Woodcraft sells to sharpen tools. Anybody?

              Thanks again all!
              Chris.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help me get started - tools?

                I have begun to forge my own carving tools and when I get to the point where I have to grind the edge for the first time, I think I could use some power equipment. I still use a soft Arkansas stone to shape, a 800 grit waterstone to make the edge, strop on silicon carbide and polish on Yellowstone. It takes me about 30 minutes to get a razor edge this way. However, I very rarely take a finished edge back to the stone. Frequent stropping keeps them 'shaving sharp'. Remember that the coarser the grinding media, the faster you eat away the edge and that could shorten the life of the tool. Spend your money on a good strop and USE IT!

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                • #9
                  Re: Help me get started - tools?

                  Hi Captain - Are you using the technique outlined in the WC issue no. 18 to make your own carving tools? I'm curious about what the heck drill rod is and if it's readily available.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help me get started - tools?

                    Bandaid,
                    that article pushed me to actually finish what I started months ago. I found the local supplier (industrial supplies, mill supplies, etc) that carried drill rod. Drill rod is W1 tool steel which is basically iron with 1% carbon and .25% manganese. The stuff sells for about $2-$3 for 3 feet depending on the diameter. I made a 'micro-forge' out of a single refractory brick (find a supplier of refractories in your area and buy what is called an IFB, insulating fire brick). I drilled a 3/4' hole about 4' deep from one end. Then I drilled another hole from the side, intersecting the first hole. I put my propane torch up to the hole on the side and fired it up. After heating the inside of the brick for about 3 minutes, it will heat up a 5/32' drill rod to cherry red in about 20-30 seconds. I already owned an anvil and other smith tools from a previously aborted attempt to do this. The drill rod quenches very hard and tempers nicely at 425F in my oven. The tools I have made so far work very well!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Help me get started - tools?

                      Hi Captain - Thanks for filling in the blanks. Your idea for the mini forge is quite an innovation. Making your own tools sounds like a great way to get those unique shapes that we require from time to time.

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                      • #12
                        www.anvilfire.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Help me get started - tools?

                          Capt Bandaid...

                          That miniforge idea sounds great for making small tools. Are the holes drilled perpendicular to each other, or is one at a slight angle to exhaust the torch flame?

                          ???
                          --&&Brian E&&

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                          • #14
                            Re: Help me get started - tools?

                            Chris,

                            If you are going to carve figures mainly with a knife, you might start out with 2 flex cut knives, one large blade, and a detail blade. Also get a 6mm V gouge, and a 4mm #9 or #11.

                            If you are going to carve figures with chisels you will want all of the above + #3, #5, #7, #9, #11, #2 in both 6mm, and 13mm, and select smaller tools 2mm V, 2mm #11. If you are shopping at woodcraft a Macaroni tool is nice.

                            Regardless of which tools you buy, do yourself a favor and buy good quality tools. You will spend less time sharpening and more time carving.



                            --&&Brian E&&

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                            • #15
                              Re: Help me get started - tools?

                              kaiserb, The current design has the holes at right angles. I found that the side hole needs to intersect the main hole about 2/3 from the front of the brick. This lets you insert the tool past the flame and allows you to heat a longer piece. I am toying with the idea of making a 'door' for the entry hole and drilling a vertical hole from the top near the front to exhause the hot gas. I think this would heat up the hole better but I haven't tried it. I have also considered drilling the side hole at an angle so as to send the heat forward. Still experimenting, though. Today I built a plywood and 2x4 stand to hold the torch and the IFB. It's crude but it works and if anyone wants the plans, I can e-mail them to you.

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