Tools and Tips
Often the new carver is tempted to buy tools in
"sets". Beware !! Reasons not to purchase sets include:
- sets contain tools you may never use or need
- sets may be made up of non-quality tools
We have purchased a few tool sets over the years,
but use care. We recently bought a set of eye punches, which proved to be a
"good deal". A few guidelines include:
- Know what you are purchasing! Is it a quality
- Avoid the temptation to get a "real
- Do you really need a set, or just one tool?
On my one-piece sculptures, there are areas that
diamond and carbide cutters just can't reach. Instead, I use micro tools. They are
unbelievably good for hard to reach areas.
-- C Ashely Gray
What is a blank?
A blank is
cut from wood. It has a definite form ready for wood sculpting. This blank could be
cut out on a band saw, scroll saw, or chain saw. It is ready for shaping and
detailing. Another form of a blank is called a duplicate or "roughout",
which is done by a machine to aid the carver in speeding up the carving process. The
machine removes about 90% of the wood, allowing the carver to carve the details. The
roughout is favored by some instructors because it speeds the teaching process in short
- Always hold the elbow of the stropping arm out from
the body for better control while stropping.
- Knife sharpening starts with the blade flat against
the strop. Stroke with firm pressure pushing the blade away with the sharp edge trailing.
At the end of the strop, roll the blade on the unsharpened edge (top) and pull to the body
with pressure. Continue using only a few strokes on each side of the blade. Rotate the
strop and continue on the unloaded side. If this does not result in a razor sharp edge,
repeat the process.
- If a razor edge does not result, this means the tool
was used too long between stropping, the edge was nicked, or it cut sanded wood.
- Most new knives have a hump or bevel in them. The
best cutting edge should have a "V " shape from cutting edge to top of
the blade. For a "V " shape, hold the blade flat against a stone and wear
this bevel off the edge. Strop the edge afterwards.
After completing a carving, I like to go over the
entire project to clean up rough spots. I find that I do a better cleanup if I set it
aside for a day or so. This technique creates space between the project and myself. Often
I can't see the forest for all those trees!
If the project calls for woodburning details, be
sure to remove the char. Char is produced when burning wood and needs to be removed
from the project before sealing the wood. Use a soft bristle brass brush for the char
removal. Carving supply houses have them. The shoe polish section of the supermarket or
drugstore often yields a suede brush that does as good a job.
Wood Carver's Association published an excellent article in their December 1996
newsletter. The article presents techniques it took this carver years to learn on his own.
While carving, keep a soft bristle brush in your
carving box. Use this to remove chips and carving "dust". The particles often
lead to picking a project in an effort to remove a chip or fuzzy. A tooth brush will do!
When using acrylic paints to finish a carving, thin
the paint. Use 3 parts water to 1 part paint for the first coat. Make adjustments in the
concentration on subsequent coats depending upon the effect you are trying to achieve.
World champion waterfowl carver, Jim Sprinkle says:
- "Thin is In;
Thin, Don't sin;
When in Doubt,
Thin It Out."