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About dondougan

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    sculpture, mixed media, stone

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  1. By the way; I came across a number of these tools posted on the internet — mostly to show the user-crafted attachments they had made, but a few used ones were listed as for sale on ebay for half of the list price or less -- but usually over $100 US. I think Wilton started making these back in the 1940s. Many of the postings were from gunsmiths and they all have the Pow-R-Arm permanently attached to their workbenches. In addition to the hydraulic version Wilton makes (or made) a slightly less-expensive version with a lever-arm mechanical locking device. There are also similar tools made by other manufacturers, generally somewhat smaller in scale, mechanically locked, and supplied with a ready-to-use bracket for attaching your wood carving block (seems to be aimed at the duck decoy carver market).
  2. A ‘new’ holding tool for the studio. About twenty years ago I was given a brand new tool (first image - manufactured circa mid-1960′s) still in the original cardboard box but without any paperwork. I had seen one of these holding devices when I was an undergraduate and put it on my maybe-someday (when I have lots of money) list of tools to buy. So when I was given a thirty-year-old but never-been-used Pow-R-Arm I was excited. I went out and bought some hydraulic oil to fill the piston chamber and then discovered the two rubber seals were dry-rotted and the piston would not hold pressure. After checking the local hardware and plumbing stores for replacement seals to no avail I sent a letter with a drawing of the seals to Wilton asking for replacement parts for the #303 and never got a reply. Shortly after I packed the tool up put it on a bottom shelf in the studio and forgot about it. Twenty years later dealing with a small termite infestation in the studio I had to take out some old wooden shelves and rediscovered the tool under about a half-inch of dust. After taking care of the termite problem I decided I might try to re-engineer the Pow-R-Arm tool and make it work with some machined clamping since the hydraulic was not workable, and added a couple of mechanical screw locks on the pivoting ball. But I also decided to try for replacement parts from Wilton again, but this time on the internet — a resource which I had not had twenty years ago. Sure enough, I was able to find the tool (current price brand new a bit over $430) and the page indicated replacement parts were available but the parts web-links on the Wilton site did not work. I called their customer service department up and a very patient and diligent employee spent about 45 minutes while I was on the phone to figure out what was wrong with their website and help me. He couldn’t fix the website, but he did finally dig out a paper copy of the parts-list (last printed in 1973) to get the part number for the replacement seals so I could order them. The parts with shipping and handling charges included were about $70. Pretty steep, but after all the time invested on the phone I figured if I could get my ‘free’ $430 tool working it would be worth it, so I ordered the parts and waited for them to arrive. Meanwhile, as the tool comes from the factory ‘as-is’ it is not usable as a holding device — no sort of clamping jaws or brackets included except for the two threaded holes in the pivoting bracket to accept a pair of 5/16″ bolts. These two bolts are intended to attach user-made custom-fabricated brackets to hold to the workpiece. The brackets are custom-made to suit the specific holding needs of the end user of the tool — some users attach a small machinist’s vise, others attach a wooden-jawed handscrew, or others weld-up custom brackets with holes for attaching the work piece with screws. As I planned on using the tool to hold a variety of small sculptural workpieces (from netsuke-sized carvings to full-size wearable wooden masks with weights less than 10 lbs. each) I did all of above, as well as made a ten-inch extension arm for use with the three screw-on brackets I’d made to hold wood for carving. The netsuke-carving bracket was made from an old chrome-plated zinc-alloy plumbing fitting. I also made a larger/heavier base (laminated a 2-inch thick marble slab between sheets of plywood, with 2x4 feet) to increase the overall tool weight by 25 lbs. so the tool would be stable even if not screwed down to the benchtop (I have three worktables in my studio so I wanted it portable). After using it a couple of times I modified the handscrew so it could be inserted into the vise without slipping by cutting a groove in the butt end to fit over the vise jaw slide -- this allowed for quick changes between soft jaw work or using the steel vise jaws. I also glued some leather tips on the handscrew jaws to soften the clamp for when working delicate materials — like the alabaster rabbit. Fabricated as well was a bracket similar to the netsuke bracket but with a larger faceplate. Designing and fabricating the parts out of material already in the studio took me about three days, and by the time I’d finished the modifications the seals arrived. Installed them and I had a great new piece of studio equipment. Sure wish I had it to use twenty years ago …
  3. www.thecarvingpath.net/topic/2868-whats-on-your-bench/ scroll to the last post by Lachlan (pix attached below)
  4. "... cerium oxide as a first choice for polishing obsidian..." I can vouch for cerium oxide as polishing obsidian. I use it as a paste applied with a rubber wheel (backing disc from an old disc sander made to fit on an electric drill, or the rubber drum from a drum sander). Splatters everywhere, but gives a beautiful polish. I usually just follow 600 grit. Don
  5. Hi Will, I neglected to say in my more technical reply that I enjoyed seeing your design -- nice work! You don't think the patina nature gives to your work will only add to it? I sometimes leave pieces outside next to my studio for years (seriously) just to achieve the patina that only nature can provide. Of course (according to me?) I always work the piece some afterwards too -- so as to contrast the patina with polished or tooled areas. And then I usually bring the piece inside and stop letting nature have her way . . . you know, give her an inch and she'll take a mile . . . But employing the molding/casting method does allow one to have one's cake and eat it too, doesn't it? Enjoy your cake (eat a bite for me), Don www.dondougan.com
  6. Hi Will, I use many different methods to remove the white lines on my stone carvings. The hand-sanding method allows the greatest degree of control, and is what I have used the most often in the 34 years I have been carving stone. You do use silicon carbide paper, correct? And wet-sanding is much more efficient than dry. Though I use Foredom and Dremel tools for many things, this ain't one of them. Those little abbrasive-impregnated rubber wheels work great on metals and non-pourous materials, but a not much use on stone. The 'flap-sanding' method will work, but it is not any faster than hand sanding on limestone and just not worth the trouble 90% of the time (IMO). And I'd avoid using buffing compounds on the limestone -- you'll never get the residue out of the pores -- though it does work on less-porous marble. One hand sanding method you might try is to use flexible rubber forms to wrap your sandpaper around rather than something rigid -- a ceramicist's rubber rib works great. However, if you are just trying to get rid of the "ugly white lines" on limestone (or true calcium carbonate marbles) you need not sand them at all -- especially if the loss of a little bit of control over the surface is worth the time you save by not doing all the tedious handwork. Try a little bit of muriatic acid with a small (cheap) artist's brush. This needs to be done outdoors or under a ventilation hood (be hard to breathe if not). I do it in the driveway with a water-hose handy, but not when it is raining -- the acid fumes don't disperse when the humidity is really high and you'll spend most of the time coughing and trying to breathe. The acid will etch the surface of the limestone, leaving the stone the same color as the polished (well, sanded smooth because Indiana limestone doesn't really polish, does it?) areas. The acid-etched areas will be rougher feeling than the sanded areas, so it is best to do the acid work before the final sanding stages, and then final sanding can be done to blend the surface smooth right up to the crevice proper. No one will notice the roughness if you do it this way because the crevice is too small for their fingers to touch and the visual clues will not show except in very strong light (crevices will usually be in shadow, right?). Wet the limestone with water beforehand so the acid won't make a hard/sharp etch-line on the surface of your stone (hard to remove later). Make note of the areas that need work before wetting it, as wetting it will hide the telltale whiteness. Brush the acid on over the areas needing work -- it will fizz as it etches, when it stops fizzing apply more. If the surface of your piece is wet-down then even if you splash some acid on areas where you don't want it you can rinse-off before the surface is etched too much. Rinse the entire piece periodically and dry it off to see if the white is gone -- a blower-nozzle on a air compressor line works great for this, but towels and a heat-gun will too. If you want to take your time and be less-likely to damage surrounding surfaces on the carving then dilute the acid further with water before applying. I sometimes use a little bit of acid when wet-sanding by hand on surfaces that are hard-to-get-to. Muriatic acid is 20% solution of hydrochloric acid -- the same kind that's in your belly. You can purchase it by the gallon at building suppliers or local big box for $5 or less -- it is used for cleaning mortar work on bricks, concrete walks, pools, etc. I usually don't wear rubber gloves unless I have a cut on my hand (stings like salt!), but I always have running water to rinse off while working. Safety glasses will help the odd splash from burning your eyes (that stings too!). Keep an open box of baking soda handy to neutralize acid spills quickly, but limestone dust also will . . . <grin> Now all that has been said, I have one more observation to make. If the birdbath is going to be used, the white lines (inside) will disappear in a few weeks, and (assuming it will be placed outdoors) the white lines and your 'polish' will disappear in a few months with acid rain. Good carving to you, Don www.dondougan.com
  7. Hi Steve, I'm a stone carver and use diamond blades & tools a good bit. Recently I cut a bunch of aluminum pieces with one of my dry-cut sintered diamond blades — 'gumming' it up a good bit with aluminum deposits on the surface. I just turned around and cut up some travertine (spring-deposited limestone about as hard as medium-hard marble), and the aluminum was completely gone in less than two minutes of cutting. Whatever it is worth, Don www.dondougan.com
  8. Thanks for the brine info Don, since I usually most often am making fairly robust stone carving chisels I use water for quenching, and the relatively few-and-far-between times I am making something more delicate I use oil. The one or two times I tried quenching stone-carving chisels in brine I couldn't discern any appreciable difference in the end result between that and plain water, notwithstanding what I read from the authors of the books on the subject. I'll fix my technique page to reflect your input. Just goes to show the pitfalls of trying to provide as thorough instruction as possible while being self-taught -- books don't always tell you everything. I rarely have the luxury of toolmaking at a real forge - usually I am using a torch - so when I am reshaping I rely on grinding rather than forging techniques. When you say "brine is usually reserved for medium to lower carbon shallow hardening steels" does that mean when I have - say - a piece of toolsteel that is an old lawnmower blade, or a cheap imported screwdriver or file (as opposed to recycling higher-quality brand name tools made with better steel), that brine would be a better quench for the new tool I make out of those? The perennial student - Don www.dondougan.com
  9. I forgot to add in my previous answer to your query about a page on my website that describes the basic processes of making carving tools with high-carbon toolsteel that I provide to students in my carving classes. No pictures of tools or step-by-step instructions. http://dondougan.homestead.com/CarvingClas...Toolmaking.html
  10. RE: "any images of your work you could share . . . in Who's Who." I posted some little carvings of animals on the Who's Who thread, but here is a piece. www.dondougan.com
  11. A netsuke collector with a very modest collection of a half-dozen old netsuke, I have been a lurker in years past but I registered today to answer a tech question on another thread. To introduce myself, I am a sculptor working primarily in things weighing hundreds of pounds or fractions of tons -- but I have also carved some small netsuke-sized pieces (animals) for nephews, nieces, and other relatives. Attached are three of the netsuke-sized pieces: 2" bunny done in Tennessee marble, 2½" camel done in Indiana limestone, and two views of a 3" bat done in deer antler and mounted on a piece of unpolished black marble. The eyes on the bunny are Spanish black marble inlays while the eyes on the other two are brass escutcheon pins. I like to work primarily in stone, but I also work in wood, glass, bronze, iron, plastics, ceramics, handmade paper, etc., etc. I am a real pack-rat when it comes to materials. Most of my larger and more stylized or abstracted works all are for sale in galleries and exhibits. Examples of my non-animal works are posted on my non-commercial website: www.dondougan.com I do not show or sell my animals -- they are basically for my family's (and a few friend's) private enjoyments. I do sometimes use them as examples in carving classes I teach.
  12. I couldn't find these in the last post, but here are a couple other toolmaking suggestions: Larsen, Ray. TOOL MAKING FOR WOODWORKERS, (Bethel, CT: Cambium Press), 1997. Blacksmithing for the woodworker — the book covers tool steels, forging equipment and techniques, safety, finishing, heat treating, and design considerations. Step-by-step instructions for a skew chisel, a hollowing adze, turner's hook tool, and a mortising chisel. Illustrated with B&W photos. Though the book is intended for woodworkers, the basic information in the book also applies to stone-carving tools. Bertorelli, Paul (editor). FINE WOODWORKING: ON HAND TOOLS, (Newtown, Connecticut: Taunton Press), 1986. Reprints of 38 articles about different aspects of hand tools which appeared in FINE WOODWORKING magazine between 1975 and 1986. Topics include basic blacksmithing, heat treating, toolsteel, Alexander Weygers, chisels, using & restoring antique tools, and fashioning a set of carving gouges. Other topics are the making, sharpening and use of a wide variety of handtools: spoon bits, auger bits, doweling jigs, files & rasps, wood threading, scrapers, sharpening and making several types of saws, layout tools, tiny tools, axe handles, spokeshaves, and drawknives. Again, though the book is intended for woodworkers much of the information would be of interest to someone making stone-carving tools. As you may have surmised from reading the above descriptions, I work in stone among other materials. I also make a lot of my own tools for carving stone, wood, plaster, and for modelling clay and wax, etc.
  13. "An excellent book is Alexander Weygers MAKING OF TOOLS" Weygers, Alexander G. THE MAKING OF TOOLS, (New York: Van Nostrand Rheinhold Company), 1973. The author was trained first as an engineer/blacksmith, and later became a sculptor/engraver. He approaches the making of the tools from that viewpoint. Very thorough, including setting up a small forge and illustrated step-by-step instructions for about fifteen various types of tools for wood and stone carving, for metalworking, and for the kitchen and the garden. He has also authored a book about blacksmithing: THE MODERN BLACKSMITH. I agree Weygars is a good one, but you also might try this: Petrovitch, Joe. CUSTOM TOOLS FOR WOODWORKERS: DESIGNING & MAKING YOUR OWN, (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books), 1990. The author is a woodworker and he approaches the making of the tools from the woodworker's viewpoint. However, the basic information in the book would also apply to stone-carving tools. Very thorough, including setting up a small forge and illustrated step-by-step instructions for about seven types of woodworking tools.
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