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Carvewright

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Hi all! I have been doing extensive relief carving for over five years now, usually bigger pieces. I now have a commission for 8 36"x42" door panels, each depicting a religious scene. In these panels I am doing a lot of small faces, and even smaller hands, feet, etc., and am quickly discovering that I need HELP with tools and techniques for this type of carving. So thought I'd turn to those of you who have been doing the small carvings and see if you had any suggestions. Specific questions:

 

1) is there a good source for the very small gouges and v-toos (less than 1mm)?

 

2) Is there a place to go for good descriptions of how to make small specialty tools?

 

By the way, all the panels will be done in mahogany (no choice there)

 

Thanks in advance for the conversation.

 

Richard Wright

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Hi Richard, I'll take your query as an opportunity to address the carvers at large. Part of the usefulness of this forum software is the search function which allows users to access past topics. This will be especially valuable as time goes on and the depth of information increases.

 

You'll find the search link at the top of all pages with some other links. In reference to your question, I did a search using the key words "tool making" using just the default search options.

What came up is a thread called "Making scrapers". This was a very informational thread containing a lot of info about scrapers, but other tools as well. There is a reference to a brand of small chisels: Dockyard.

 

By using the search function, we'll avoid redundancy and also foster a certain freshness and specificity to our questions.

 

I hope I'm not sounding preachy but i do think the search function can add to all our experience with the forum.

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One of my email carving friends has recommended these tools by Ramelson Tools:

 

"The Ramelson Tools : the ones I like are actually 1mm and compared to my Dockyard ones, are clearly of a higher quality steel and cutting edge. I thought the Dockyards were brilliant (like some of your members do) until I worked with the 1mm Ramelson's. The other thing is that the Dockyard V tools is set at 45deg and for fine lines, this is far too square. I now work with 30 ~ 35deg and these would be wonderful for the veins on the wings of your new work."

 

About the task of sharpening tools: "The DVD is really brilliant and US$25.00 is nothing compared to the frustration of not being able to maintain a good, sharp edge on tools, especially for the novices. There is a small clip available to see on the Ramelson site."

 

http://www.ramelson.com

 

I think that I purchased some of the larger but still small tools from Ramelson a while back, altered the handles to fit my smaller hand. Nice tools.

 

 

By the way, Welcome Richard!

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Thanks for the information on the Ramelson tools. I looked at their site and am ordering two to try. Does anyone know a good source for the Dockyards? I estimate needing a v-tool and #11 in something like a .5mm size. Has anyone used tools that small? What about smaller?

 

Thanks again for everyone's help and input, I really appreciate it.

 

Richard

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There are other suppliers for Dockyard too, I just don't remember at the moment. I've seen them in catalogs. Yep, just used... Dockyard tools wood ...as keyword search words and came up with other resources as well.

 

Would the .5 mm V tools might be too small to make and could be difficult to keep sharp? Don't know the answer to that one. It might also be too small for the opening of the V to actually allow the material to curl through?

 

Would a graver-type tool that has the angle you want with all edges absolutely sharp work for you? I use a solid three sided tool shape I have adapted to make tools of various widths of angles and lengths of points that gets used for both pushing and scraping. Now and then they are used to start or add veining. The wood or material must accept the sort of cutting treatment this tool would provide though, pushing through the grain.

 

When you consider what the V tool is used for, the angle of the V at the point is where the cutting work occurs, so the width at the isn't necessarily important to the point, right? (One assumes that the carver knows that the size of the tool must must be relative to the size of the job to be done.) When cutting a fine line, the degree of the V angle determines the width and depth of the line but this also must be considered in relationship to the depth the line needs to be when carved. A wide angle V will make a shallower and wider line, a narrower angle V will produce deeper narrower line or a very narrow shallow line. :) Is this making sense?

 

I have two Dockyard veining tools, which have lost their cutting form to poor sharpening technique, but when they are sharpened well, they work. The V angles are narrower/wider one to another. They are large at 1.5 mm, from the 1.5 mm set, for what I usually want from them, but they do the job. Smaller would be very interesting, if the tool was truly miniaturized. I just cannot imagine sharpening the two cutting faces equally.

 

I am curious about what else might be offered out there for this need...

 

Janel

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Carvewright- are you sure you want 0.5mm? That's about 1/50th of an inch. The pores on mahogany are that width. A knife stroke alone would likely part wood to that dimension. Are you sure you'd even see those cuts on something as comparatively large as a door? :)

 

Doug

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Thanks for the comments everyone, I really appreciate them.

 

Several of you have mentioned using a "graver", and I have seen that mentioned in several posts. Sorry to be so dumb, but what is a "graver" and how does it work? I do have a set of engraving tools (my uncle was an engraver) are they what you are calling a "graver"?

 

In retrospect 0.5 mm would be too small. I wrote that when I was frustrated with making detail in hair and faces work. Part of the problem has just been getting the tool into places I need to work. I do use tools as Janel has suggested when possible though, again, on this project, I have been breaking new ground for myself with the size issues. (That is not a bad thing, and I am learning a lot, just frustrating!)

 

I had not thought about the hooked knife but have an exacto blade with that configuration and after reading the posts gave it a try. I'll have to work with it to get the hang of it, but it looks like it will help.

 

Since I normally do larger carving, I rarely use a knife, so simply didn't think about it.

 

For my carving I use a double bevel on some tools but not on others. I primarily have it on those tools I will use upside down as well as in the normal position.

 

Thanks for the suggestions from everyone.

 

By the way, it is really great to have this forum, and so nice to find other carvers willing to share ideas and information. Kudos to those who set up and run the site.

 

Richard

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Hi Kathleen

 

Thanks for the infor and the sites, that is a help.

 

For you, and any others following this topic, I have also come up with another brand and source.

 

The brand is Two Cherries. They make rebular size carving tools, but now also have a micro line as well. The have v-tools at 1.5mm, and #3, #6, and #11 gouges as small as 0.5mm, as well as 1, 1.5, and 2mm.

 

Regular size Two Cherries are excellent tools. Sure hope thes micros are as well because they run from $26-33 !!!! They have considerably larger handles and longer blades than the DockYards.

 

One source is Mountain Heritage, online at

 

www.mhc-online.com

 

Thanks for the encouragement as well.

 

What sorts of larger carving do you do?

 

Richard

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Hi Kathleen

 

Your carving sounds interesting. I'd be interested in seeing some pictures. You could email me outside the forum if you would like.

 

If you go to the MHC site, and to the Two-Cherries tools, the first thing you get is a list with prices. If you clikc opn the name of the tool, you will get a picture. Hope that works for you.

 

Thanks again for the help.

 

Richard

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  • 2 years later...

I know this item is 3 years old but here goes anyway.

Dockyard makes 4 different V tools.

3 mm (90 deg ) V tool

2 mm ( 90 deg ) v tool

1.5 mm ( 90 deg) V tool

 

75 deg V tool between 2 and 3 mm in size.

 

They can be purchased as individuals from thecarvinggloveguy.com

 

I hope this helps somone

I am sure the project has long been completed that was asking about these tools.

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2) Is there a place to go for good descriptions of how to make small specialty tools?

 

that would depend on how adventurous you feel

the primary reason I took my current job (which isn't particularly well paid) was to gain the skills and experience to make my own tools

the transition from shaping wood ,stone or clay to shaping hot steel isnt that great, the basic tools not very expensive and there are similar support communities to assist beginners.

 

http://www.iforgeiron.com/getting-started/2.html

http://www.iforgeiron.com/blueprints/index.php

http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/

 

while most smiths aren't concentrating on small carving tools, basic knife making is the basis for chisel making, probably the most specialized "lost art" is that of the filesmith. The mysteries of metallurgy for tools isn't that hard to master.

 

the basics are use a high carbon steel, (spring steel, old files, ect) heat to nonmagnetic, shape in a swage for a V groove (a positive and negative die you grind), bury them in wood ashes, perlite of other nonflammable insulative material to anneal, which relieves internal forging stresses. Straighten and do the rough grind, trying to keep the amount of heat low, if you get a bit too much you might want to anneal it again. You then harden by reheating it to nonmagnetic again (what is known as the critical temperature) quench in heated oil that is near 100F. Polish and then temper using a torch, what color you temper to varies with what you want to carve.

 

Its obviously more complex than that, but its also that simple. The steel your starting with is the primary variable, a little trial and error, a little research, purchasing steel that is a known quality allows you to refine the process to the point which can equal anything you can buy.

 

 

hmmmm....guess it pays to read all the way to the end of the thread, or maybe just the date of the original post :P

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