Jump to content

Making carving tools


Guest DFogg

Recommended Posts

Guest DFogg

In lieu of posting the images on the site, I thought I would just post a slideshow and then answer any questions. The steel I am using is 15N20 a Swedish high carbon steel that is very tough.

 

Making Carving Tools

 

You can cut and shape the blades anyway you want and using a cheap handle like the Xacto it is affordable to mount and change any number of these shapes. Anyway, thought you might be interested.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Don, that' great!

 

1- What are you cutting the screw with? Do you use it to hold materials while cutting?

2- Please tell us about the torch heating and the next shot of the numbers. I'm assuming that you are using a kiln of some sort to hold a temperature...

3- What are you going to carve with this special knife? Wood, metal, etc.?

 

Photo three shows a useful looking little vice/clamp. Is it a common tool, or any suggestions where one might be found?

 

Thanks for the slide show. Food for thought.

 

Janel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DFogg

31548959_1ef470b126_o.jpg

 

The screw is the base of the collet for this knife. Xacto makes it and they sell for around $2. I just widened the collet so it would take the slightly large stock I am making the blades from.

 

To heat treat small thin blades like the ones you would be using in carving all you need is a plumbers torch. After you have your blade profiled and ground or filed to shape, hold the blade by the tang with a pair of vise grips and pass it back and forth through the flame until it gets a nice even orange color. It will come up to temperature quickly and when it does, immediately quench it in a can of canola oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil whatever.

 

Hold it in the oil until it cools to the touch. Then pop it into an oven at 425F for one hour. I use a toaster oven, but have a very accurate digital controller running it. Don't trust your oven settings they can be off a lot, you need to temper at 425F and no hotter. I would use several independed thermometers so you know that you are at the right temperature.

 

After an hour take the blade out and let it cool. You might want to make up several blades at the same time to be efficient.

 

The clamp that is holding the blade while I filed it is just a pair of vise grips. If you go to industrial supply like MSC you can buy them and the steel to make your blades.

 

I made up several blade shapes, but the one I wanted was a pull scraper, really narrow to do the bottoms of flat panels. It is pictured as the first blade in the layout picture and basically just has a hook on the end. The curved carver was just a shape I wanted so I made it and another that was ground on the straight edge of the same shape.

 

There is a lot more to heat treating, but you don't need to know any more than this to make good tools. With a few simple tools you can make all the specialty cutters that you need, when you need them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have found that when making my tools I prefer to just harden the tool and forget about the tempering as they hold the edge longer. But you do need to put your edge on the tool before the hadening. Is there a reason you use such oils? and don't some metals quench better in water then oil? thank you for the information you make some beautiful things.

Ragnar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DFogg

Water quench will work, but it can crack your blades and in these thin pieces oil is plenty fast enough.

 

I always temper my tools. For a few points in hardness you gain an amazing amount of toughness. Also on a very thin edge it is more prone to chipping when it is full hard. It is a matter of preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had good results tempering in an alcohol flame(keeps the steel clean so you can see the color).

You pass the steel through the flame back and forth slowly until you see the color change. I take it to a light straw. Not as precise as the oven, but it seems to work well. I use reflected light to watch the color. In other words, not direct, strong light, but you do need to see it well.

 

Does the light straw jibe with your temp, Don.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DFogg

Yes, tempering is a function of time and temperature. The method Jim describes will work, but the oxide colors are really unreliable and it is easy to get the blade too hot.

 

When you are grinding an already hardened blade it is important to not allow it to get too hot for the same reason. If you show color you can take the hardness right out of the tool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding is that high-speed steel (HSS), as distinguished from carbon steel, is unique in that it is designed to maintain hardness while running red-hot, during lathe turning, for example. This means to me, that you can grind it without worrying about losing the temper. I've found this bears out in practice. It makes it very convenient to shape and sharpen a tool and get to work. The down side is that you have less control over the hardness and toughness, but when cutting the materials I use(wood, ferrous and non-ferrous metals) I get a very fine edge that lasts a long time. I do occasionally make a tool from carbon steel (blank stock or old files) and harden and temper them and I think all carvers at some point should know how to do this. Working with the properties of the steel is a rewarding and semi-mystical experience.

 

Again, it's always a matter of balancing your needs.

 

Don, does my explanation of HSS seem right? Is it air-hardening? You are the Wizard Of Ferrous. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DFogg

You are right, HSS has been designed to maintain its hardness at higher temperatures which makes it suitable for rotary tools, milling cutters and lathe tools. Heat treating this type of steel is complex and requires control and equipment that is beyond the normal shop, but fortunately we can regrind and adapt existing tools for our purpose without worry of ruining them.

 

A handy tool is the simple bench grinder. You can find one at Harbor Freight for very little money. If you add a green silicon carbide wheel you can grind carbide tools and anything else. The rocks that come with them will wear out fast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

I am in the process of buying some new tools but enjoy making things too so I am going to have a go at making some basic tools.

 

The metal I was going to use was some old industrial hacksaw blades.

 

These are broken fragments that my father has kindly donated. They are Eclipse hacksaw blades (blue colour) and he has ground the teeth down to make his own scrapers (and the evolution continues hopefully...).

 

They measure about 115mm by 30mm and must be about 1.75mm thick.

 

I was hoping to snap off fine fragments in a vise and then carefully create the shape by hand with files and then stones.

 

I have made similar shapes before but out of stainless (small scrapers and small parts for a speargun) and I think that this steel is high carbon grade so am anticipating it to be hard as nails...

 

I was not planning on heat treating it, just simply shaping, sharpening and seating in a wooden handle with some slow cure West System epoxy that I have kicking around.

 

If anyone has any advice or has tried this I would be grateful for any input.

Cheers

Ed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello EDWARD-- Using this type of used metal, it would suprise me if you can file it. You probably would end up ruining your files.

 

A better plan would be to grind it, dipping it contiunely in cool water, trying never to raise any color in the blades(NONE) while grinding. We have used these old hack-saw blades for everything and have had real good results.

 

Just some thoughts..

 

Chuck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks

Chuck I tried grinding a smaller thickness of hacksaw blade (0.7mm) and used the method you describe (alot of water dipping).

It is hard metal but grinds up pretty quickly .. never in a rush :blink:

 

Might try some of the thicker blade at the weekend when I am less busy.

 

Don't have a water stone at the moment but managed to get a reasonable edge with an oil stone.

 

It's a start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...