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Tom.N

Best hand tool for carving bone and antler?

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I know there are many carversout there that use power tools for carving.  They maybe speed up the carving process, but to my experience they also speed up the mistakes, so I only use them for roughout. For the carving I prefer the old facion hand tools.  ( And if  the "old facion" hantools used by the old masters work for ivory I think they should also work well in bone and antler) There are stunning work done in ivory in the 19th and 20th century, and to create such masterpieces, the carvers must also be spesialists in making and mentain their tools. They can have a shank and handle in any form, straight or bend, but in the end it is the cutting edge that does the work. Every cutting edge is grinded and formed after the material it is intended for. And the form and angle of the cutting edge is important to work well. Something like a razor blade will having an angle of around 12- degrees, and it's chisel-ground so that's 12-degrees total. Utility knives will have angles anywhere between 15- and 24- degrees (30-48 degrees total). A chissel for woodcarving is grinded for an angle of about 22 degrees.  An axe will have something around a 30-degree angle, and for a handgraver used for cutting steel, a face angle of 45 degrees is a good starting point a.s.o.  But how do we grind and sharpen a "knife" for carving bone and antler? If I understand things correctly, the ivory carvers often use the traditional method called hidariba (Japanese), literally means "left blade" or "left knife"  ( If we look at an ordinary single-edged knife, the edge is on the right, but hidariba knife has the edge on the left. The hidariba is said to enable the carvers to carve precisely in thight places. But what does this knife look like, and how is the edge formed? How is it shaped? When I look at pictures it looks like the edge is  not flat like the ones you find on wood chissels, but more "rounded"?  And what is the best edge angle to make it cutt well? Any anformation about how to "replicate" the tool wil be of great help. 

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Hi Tom

As I replied to you query about abrasives I use scalpels for fine work.    I do not worried about the angles of tools.   My gouges are sharpened for the wood being used.   hard wood needs a bigger angle than soft woods like bass.     Do this by eye and on a whether it works basis rather than a measurement.      

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Thank you ukjohn.

When I carve wood in a little bigger scale I use ordinary woocarving chisels and gauges, and they work well, but when it comes to carving in miniature scale ( either it is metal or bone) I I usually make my own tools, (exept the v-tools that I find a little harder to produce in wery small scale.) I have tried scalpels and exacto knives, but to my experience the are to thin, and have a tendency to "bend" to side pressure, which  make it difficult to make a presice cut. When It comes to carving Ivory with traditional tools, The tools for carving ivory  have basically been unchanged for hundreds of years, Like you say, A cutting tool is sharpened for the material it intended  to cut. If it is to thin, it wil cut, but the edge will easely brake, and if the angle is to blunt, it will not cut well. If the shape and angles is not correct, the tool wil maybe "dig inn" or be difficult to control. A fried of mine once said "If you want to copy something, then copy from the best there is"  That is why I am asking if there is someone who knows a little about the old traditional  carving tools for ivory. That would be a good staring point for making our own tools. so we dont have to start from scratch. If the tools worked in Ivory, they will probably be well suited for carving bone and antler

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Tom, there are topics and posts from past years that discuss tool making of tools that work for the materials you are using.  My own tools will work for dense hard woods, bone, mammoth tusk, amber and horn.  Some materials dull the tools faster than others.

I will see what SEARCH term might bring up useful links ... try :  tool making

Lots of things show up, and you can spread out from there. 

Janel

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Thank you Janelhttp://www.asianart.com/articles/ivory/

I know a little about toolmaking, and I make the tools myself. The thing is. There is lots of information out there about "modern" toolmaking, and they are good, but if we look at history, there have been a tradition for carving Ivory, bone and antler for houndreds of years. The shanks and handles is of "personal" choise", but the "bussines" end is the cutting edge is another thing. Sometimes a small new information can carry us  a long way.. In the link below there is writings about a long line of Ivory carving, But as always we dont see the "business end" Sometimes a small detail in the shaping of the edge or another small detail in the carving process can carry us a mile in bether detail and brighter cuts  

 

http://www.asianart.com/articles/ivory/

 

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Thank you Matt for linking to that video.  It is an old one, my tools have evolved from that time.  The thumb as fulcrum basic action is used with my newer tools as well. 

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