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Tom.N

Scraping and finishing question

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Books about smale scale carving often speaks about using abrasive papers og different grit in the finishing stage .  The problem ( as I see it) is that any abrasive paper also remove a little material from the carving, and when we work with small scale it is a chanse that it wil take away the "crispness" in small details. When we work with small scale in bone or antler, and maybe carve a face that is ( for exaple ) as small as 10-20 mm , the details in this face is  very tiny, and it is a danger that anny abrasive paper can make a lott of truble. But is it necessary to use abrassive paper to have a good finish? If the scrapers are well made they could maybe do the work?  To make a "picture" of the idea, I will refer to metal engraving. For example if we engrave silver, and the cutting edge of the graver is not perfecly smooth, any "scratches" in the cutting edge will be transfered to the metal. (It wil be like trying to smooth a surface with a Hacksaw blade teeth down) On the other hand, if the edge of the graver is well honed, it will produce a nice bright cut. Maybe  the same idea will work well on scrapers used on bone and antler,  and all we have to do is polishing ?  I am asking this questions because I wonder if the old "masters"  that made the ivory masterpieces in the 19th century use any abrasives. It would be interesting to hear your upinion and experience about this.

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I have a life long aversion to using abrasive papers on any carving.    I believe that a carving can loose it's detail and shape to easily when abrasive papers are used    I prefer a tool finish.   For small work I use scalpels.    These are available in Uk from Swan Morton see http://www.swann-morton.com/product_range/1.php.    They come sharper than I can resharpen and cheap enough to throw away.   I have carved bone and and oak with them gently.   If the surface needs a higher smoothness, I use them as a scraper.    They have a tendency to break when used as a scraper as the blade is then where it joins the blade

See my work on www.jawoodsculptor.co.uk

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I have avoided sanding papers lower than 400 grit.  My usual approach is to use certain of my tools as finish scrapers to gently plane of a whisper of fibers until the surface is just about right.  The tool must be very well sharpened, and as you pointed out above, no dings or irregularities in the edge, or it will show on the surface of the material.  If the material and the subject needs to be more highly polished then I will use micromesh cloths to bring a gloss to the material. 

On occasion I will use 400-600-1000-1200-1500-200-2500 grit wet/dry sanding papers.  I also use toothpic-sanders as shown to me by Cornel Schenider - angle cut a round toothpick, and glue on a tiny rectangle of sand paper to the ends.  I use the above grits, as well as lower ones.  To keep them identified and separate, I have marked each pick with the corresponding colors and or line that indicate the color system that I use to keep the pieces of sanding papers separated in divided containers.  I use old film containers, which might now be a thing of the past with the digital photography age upon us now.

The picks are used in tiny spaces and on tight edges that would not work for the shaving action of the smoothing tools.

Hope this helps.

Janel

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I have long sight and have to use x4 to see detailed work.      I have the approach that if I cannot see any blemish, then it does not exist.  I do not look too hard as I have not enough time to chase 100% perfection, there is always something else to do that is more exciting

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Thank you ukjohn.

To me the "tool finish" is ok on a litle larger work, but when it comes to miniature carving  I think that "toolmarks" can make a big fifference. For example if we carve a human face only 15mm abross, the eyes is only 3mm wide. In this scale it is little room for toolmarks. I have looked at your carvings.Nice work :-)

Thank you Janel.

It looks like you manage to come to a high finish with only scrapers alone, and do the final stage with polishing :-) The "tootpick"method looks promising :-)

 

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