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cutting Bevel angle for hardwoods


BobC

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I've been searching the forum for sometime now for recommended cutting bevel for harder woods. Can't find anything yet. I been working on Basswood for years now and know that for the harder woods (like Boxwood?) for instance, the angle should be around 20-25 degrees. My tool angles are setup for Basswood and approx. 17-20degrees. I did a little carving on White Oak in the past and broke the cutting edges at times. I was a beginner then and maybe made the mistake of prying causing the problem. I sure don't want to change my cutting edges angles everytime I carve harder woods. I look forward to thoughts/suggestions for my questions please?

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I am not an expert on this, and frankly, did not know there was a preferred choice. (Being self taught has disadvantages when I don't know the questions to ask.) I have tools of various bevel angles, and use them in different ways, all on boxwood and other hard tools. The key for the different tools for me is to keep them sharp. The widest angles (thicker closer to the cutting edge) seem to be used more as scrapers, though there are some tools that are just right for scrapers that have thinner angles, having a long angled edge and sharp point.

 

I use tools not like wood carvers who do bas relief or sculpture with a mallet. With the hard and dense woods, only a little wood can be removed with the tiny tools when closer in to the finished work doing details. Before detail work, the power tool is used to remove that which is not part of the subject, and then some larger (maybe 1/4 inch) gouges that are fairly acute (thin) and sharp, remove some wood in thin passes. I then move to the smaller tools Using the tools by hand you can learn to feel when the grain is being caught rather than being cut, and you just stop, turn the wood and work from the proper direction. If you pry, it will likely do damage to tool and to carving, as you seem to realize already.

 

Your question, when answered by those who know, will help me to learn too. Thanks for asking the question.

 

Janel

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You are right about the angles for hardwood being around 20 to 25 degrees. Keep in mind that some tools are more brittle than others. I know that my English carving tools are the most fragile at the edge while the Swiss tools are the strongest. You could keep a longer bevel, say 30 degrees and working small this would probably work out well. The other option if there is enough room for the tool to move is to make a paring cut, angling the cut across the wood instead of straight into it.

Good luck!

 

Mark

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Boggiecarving, Mark & Janel

As a common or garden woodworker/carpenter/joiner, apart from carving that is, I have learned from all my books and from what has been engraved on the plane blades by the manufacturers that the "standard" angle for grinding is 25 degrees and sharpening/honing is 30 degrees. For pine or other soft wood subtract 5 degrees and for hard wood you may find you need an extra 5 degrees. Morticing chisels (not used for carving ) are used with a mallet and are ground at 30 and sharpened at 35 degrees. For hand work try to stay around the 20degree mark BUT use and experience and the wood will dictate the final angle to use. 17 is more like a knife and works fine on soft wood but the edge will be fragile and unless the steel is well tempered the edge may chip easily. Dont use with a mallet!! Gently, gently Bently!

Love your chisels and they will love you back .... "until death do us depart"

Toothy

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