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Magnifying glasses

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I've old eyes - short and long sight and an astigmatism; the lot! I find I can only work on netsuke with my glasses off, but my eyes start to ache after about 45 minutes, so magnifying glasses are in order. I bought some x3 clip-ons, but they're worse than useless, though my hand-held x8 magnifier is great, if useless for a carver. I note that Janel uses the changeable lens clip-ons that rest at a distance from the eye and am wondering about investing in those, if I can get them at a higher magnification than x3. I'm also not averse to a table model, or one that rests on the collar bone or jewellers' loupes, but I'm not keen on the visor types.

 

Does anybody have ideas about what works and what doesn't?

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I started magnification with using a goose-neck 4-5 inch diameter magnifying lens. Later, as now, I use a higher power set of lenses with seamless bifocals that focus at the primary carving distance for the bifocal and the top area is for arm's length so that the carving bench/tools are not warped and blurry. They do come off when I walk anywhere. This system changed to seamless after using the "executive" style of distance over bifocal half and half lenses when the optometrist could not get the style right anymore.

 

In combination with the antique loupes I get 8.5-10 x. The lenses of the loupes are prismatic and made of glass. I don't know what I will do if something happens to those old friends.

 

statement_photo_ww.jpg

 

I, also, am curious to learn about what others use with success.

 

Janel

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Did you have yours fitted by an optician, Janel? My optician at the daft end of Glasgow said that "people don't ask for these, so, no, we don't do them." After searching the city, I found that no optometrist supplies them. Gah!

 

If I could get something up to the order of x8 over the counter, I'd be happy with that.

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Guest Clive

I use a couple of opivisors.. various magnification, with the option of a optiloupe attachable single lens. For the really tiny stuff I use a large stereoscopic Dissecting Microscope.

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The loupes are antiques. The special glasses are ordered through the optical department at Walmart, of all places. I like the optometrist there. He knows what I do as a carver, has seen me cry when I was told that I needed bifocals after 40+ years of no glasses, and is willing to attempt to meet my needs to help me to see what I am doing (carving).

 

It is just a prescription, but a stronger one, plus the adjustments for my particular astigmatism. The earlier bifocals with the seam became difficult for the lab to produce. Perhaps the equipment changed over to the more popular seamless varieties. Who knows. I hope that you find a willing and able optician to make what you would like for magnification aids.

 

Clive, the optivisor can have an additional lens mounted to the frame for greater magnification? Could a modification be made to add a second one on the other side of the frame?

 

Janel

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Guest Clive

I'm not sure I'm following you Janel.. What type of modification do you imagine would be needed?

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You described "with the option of a optiloupe attachable single lens". I assumed that this was a single lens for one eye could be attached, but maybe you mean a single lens that both eyes look through together. I have no experience with optivisors. So I wondered, if it were a single lens attached for a single eye for greater magnification, if a similar second lens could be added to the other side. Really, I just need to look it up and look at what you are referring to. Sorry for the confusion.

 

Janel

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I use a pair of 2x non-prescription reading glasses along with a 4x Optivsor, giving me 8x total magnification. The focal distance is about right for carving, but as Janel hinted at, tools on the bench are a bit blurry...

 

Kelly

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You can google headband magnifiers and lots of sites give assorted types of magnifiers.

try

www.yourableshop.co.uk

www.helptheagedshop.co.uk

www.theloupestore.co.uk

www.visionenhancers.co.uk

www.richardwardopticians.co.uk

and many more.

 

regards

john

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Many thanks, people. Your suggestions gave me a lot to think about and I've gone for a multiple lens headband, where the lenses can be combined for x8-ish magnification and which can be worn with my everyday glasses, or without. We'll see if it works.

 

Thanks, John, too, for the list. The Loupe Store is the best for UK supplies, I think, and is where I've bought the lens headband; they'll also issue refunds or change the piece if it isn't suitable.

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The headband visor with interchangeable lenses up to x8, light and single loupe came yesterday and I can wear it with my glasses. It works fine for me and is relatively cheap at £21. 40. OK, so the headband plastic feels a little brittle and may not last a lifetime, being from China via Germany, but the lenses are calibrated well and it's light to wear. The next step up in the range (German) costs between £129-£179.

 

If I need anything of a higher magnification, it'll have to be a microscope, so I'll see what can be done with this set, first.

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Hi Freda,

 

Sorry to be so late on this thread, but I've been on a long road trip.

 

I got my opthalmologist to make up a prescription for the close vision bifocal portion of my glasses, adding a little magnification to that, and also calculated for the working distance I normally use for carving. Then I had that prescription put into a set of carving glasses, the entire lens, not just the bifocal portion. Basically ending up with prescription magnifying reading glasses. I wear those with one of my optivisors for carving and engraving and it works very well. Since this is a single-vision prescription, set in an inexpensive frame, the don't cost your first-born male child like bifocals do. I also choose safety glass, rather than the lighter plastics, for better scratch resistance since we're using so many abrasives in the studio.

 

One hint, though - don't wander around the studio with these glasses, they only work for close carving! Don't ask why I know to warn you about this...

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Hint taken, Tom, as I got up to make a cup of tea yesterday without removing the band and wondered what was happening...

 

I gave up on the optician route as mine seemed so unhelpful and no others in the city could help. That says it all about the state of miniature carving, or jewellery making, even, in Glasgow. As I can wear the band with my varifocals anyway I reckon I'm not damaging my vision. I never realised the whole thing was such a performance, though.

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Hi Freda and Tom

 

I have been interested in this whole discussion re magnification. I have been using loupes made by Lactona which were given me when we had our dental units fitted. I have 2 sets a 2x and a 4x magnification. I also use an Optivisor with 4 or 5x (I think :blush: ) and a 10x lens. Both these are used with my varifocals. Lately my optician has given me a pair of bifocals with the reading portion set for my carving distance and the upper portion set for arm length/computer distance. I would like a microscope but on my pension it is beyond reach.

 

Thanks for all the advice and, yes, walking around with the magnifiers on is a definite no no :o:huh::blink:

 

Toothy

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Greetings all,

Adding a new message to an old thread- hope that's ok!

I'm returning to carving after a 2 year hiatus due to health issues, and am looking at upgrading some of my tools. For magnification I currently use a combination of reading glasses and an optivisor, switching from one to the other depending on what I'm doing, and occasionally wearing both.

I am curious- has anyone here tried the CraftOptics magnifying telescopes for carving? I wonder if the magnification is strong enough, and generally what folks think of the product. The price point is sure a lot lower than Zeiss models.  I'm wondering if they occupy a quality middle-groound between the two.

I haven't seen an optometrist to discuss custom lenses, but am considering that as well. Thinking about what kind of information I'd need to have ready to have a productive discussion about that. 

Thanks in advance for any feedback!
Bonnie

 

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Hi Bonnie,

As my eyes aged into needing glasses and bi-focals, my optometrist and I worked out a second set of glasses for carving that had at first, split level (upper/lower) prescriptions.  The upper part focused on the desk top for tools and general surroundings to be okay to look at, i.e., arms length or less.  The lower part would focus 10-12 inches, where the carving was generally taking place.  As time passed, the seamless bi-focals became good to use, and my prescription strengths increased, so we switched the glasses to seamless style.  I now use such lenses for the computer work as well, but again a different distance that works at the desktop for writing or for reading the computer screen.  

For extra magnification, I use antique binocular loupes that together with the carving lenses provide about 10x magnification.  You can see me wearing them on my avatar to the left of this message.  Light weight and I can see around them to my bench top.

They are called Be Be Binocular Loupes, and can sometimes be found/purchased on line as antiques.  

Janel

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Thank you, Janel!

That info helps-  Having the combination carving focal length as well as a tabletop focal length in one sounds like a good option. It's becoming very apparent to me that I need to pay more attention to my posture wile carving to avoid strain from hunching over too much while trying to get close to the piece with magnifiers that have too shallow a focal length.

I will have a look around for the loupes you mention as well-

thanks!
Bonnie

 

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Figure out how to use a "carving peg", and use an office chair that has the ability to adjust the height.  I have found that different positions are beneficial depending on what I do as the carvings progress.

I use a piece of cedar 4" x 4" that is screwed to the bench top from underneath the bench.  An ~ 45° angle is cut back so that the wood comes to a thick point.  The soft wood has been shaped by years of carving, and is used to be the brace when holding and doing the carving.  The adjustable chair keeps my back and neck from too much bad posture.

Janel

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Thank you Janel,

I will try that too.  The office chair I use has a height adjustment, and I add or subtract folded towels for comfort and height adjustments, depending on what I am working on at the time- whether I am carving or sawing or drawing.

I carve at a jeweler's bench, and am thinking that I'll have a custom bench peg cut that is more like the shape of the one you describe- bigger, broader and angle. Finding a piece of cedar or similar wood on the softer end of the spectrum shouldn't be too difficult. I suspect retraining myself to use one of those, and being more mindful of the "clench" factor will help a lot. I mainly hold the piece in my hands for carving now, using the standard bird's mouth bench peg to rest my supporting hand's wrist on. I have a bad habit of holding a lot of excess tension in my hands, neck, and jaw while carving. More and more I am realizing that I can't let these bad habits continue if I want to carve and be healthy for many more years!

thanks again,

Bonnie

 

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Hi Bonnie,

Your set up sounds enviable.  My workbench peg is set so that I can rest my forearms on it while working, or as I need to.  

I have mentioned recently the stuff that I use to reduce the strain on my hands.  It is called Scotch Removable Mounting Putty.  It is white.  There are others that are yellow or blue.  I like the neutral non-color.  This allows the small piece to be stuck in place while removable and easily repositionable.   My holding hand is more relaxed and more free to work with the carving hand as fulcrum and guide.

The peg does not have to be a 4 x 4, that is just what I had on hand at the time.  The jewelers bench peg should work just as well.

Here are a couple of images from a netsuke carving class taught by Komada Ryushi in Tokyo that I visited some years ago.  They show a portable setup using a small vise that seems to be reposition able. Looks interesting.

2carvingclass15.jpg

2carvingclass19.jpg

 

 

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A link to a brief video of Komada Ryushi in Washington, DC earlier this year: http://www.npr.org/2017/04/01/522120453/in-the-art-of-netsuke-tiny-toggles-tell-delightful-stories-of-japan?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=202706

An example of how he uses a portable carving peg for demonstrations, and how he holds his tools while working on a piece.

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I got this a couple years back at Office Depot, 50 or 60 $$ it has led lights around the lens worked well for me. I needed both the light and the magnifier .

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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Nice!  Better than I thought it could be.  It is good to see the workspace through the lens.

Janel

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