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Thread: first carving chisels

  1. #1

    first carving chisels

    If one were to get their fist, oh, 1/2 dozen chisels, what would be the starting set that you would recommend?

    I'd specifically like to learn to carve shells (concave and convex), acanthus leaves and eventually ball and claw feet. Looking to take that next step.


    best,

    Joe

    p.s. already have a pfeil 7L 20 and 30

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    545
    If you search, you'll find dozens, or more, answers. I'm no expert, but they all seem similar to me though they each differ in the details. (I think probably the differences come from from the scale of the work and the set the carver started with themselves.) The beginners set Mary May recommends, and she carves the type things you are interested in, is:

    #12/6 V-Tool 6mm wide
    #3/3 3mm #3 Gouge
    #3/6 6mm #3 Gouge
    #3/14 14mm #3 Gouge
    #7/14 14mm #7 Gouge
    #8/10 10mm #8 Gouge

    I found that on her website or an article she wrote long ago and have lost the reference.

    (You may want to check out her site. She runs an online school with step by step lessons that gets rave reviews. I haven't done used her school, but have seen her present several times, both on the Woodwright's Shop and in person at a session at WIA. She explains things very well, though I need a *LOT* more practice before I'll call myself a carver.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,304
    I'm just starting out myself. In another article I found, Mary May listed the tools she uses the most and always takes with her (for classes, etc). They are:

    #1/10mmn
    #1/14mm
    #3/3mm
    #3/6mm
    #3/14mm
    #4/12mm
    #5/5mm
    #5/14mm
    #7/10mm
    #7/14mm
    #8/6mm
    #8/10mm
    #10/5mm
    #10/8mm
    #11/1mm
    #11/3mm

    Having the same beginning carving subject interest as you mentioned, I went with the list David posted.

  4. #4
    Thanks guys, for the advice and links. Yes, I am guilty of not searching first. Mea Culpa!

  5. #5
    What David said. I took a class with Mary May last year. I know you didn't ask but I will say I very quickly discovered sharpening PROPERLY so you don't ruin the edge is quite different than the normal sharpening we do. Looking at both Mary May and Chris Pye IMO Pye has the best sharpening information and I like the convex stone he developed much better than the tapered cones. I learned to like the Arkansas oil stones and DiaSharp flat plates. Learning to strop is a must, too.

    I agree with the basic set Mary May advocates. I prefer fishtails in as many tools as possible.

    I think the best strategy is to choose simple carvings and build your tool set as you go.

    As for brands, after quite a bit of research, I started with (and plan to stay with) Pfeil. I'm not saying they're the best but they are quality tools.

    Chippingaway.com has the best prices on Pfeil that I have found anywhere.

  6. #6
    Thanks! Again, good info.

  7. #7
    I have been a full time carver for nearly 30 yrs now carving all types of architectural pieces and when I started for the first several years I used 20 chisels. None were near the sizes suggested and for good reason.

    Since the the question was for 6 chisels ironically enough I did a tutorial on just what can be carved using only 6 chisels. I carved this green man which is approx. 18" x 11" in 1"+ stock.
    besides the facial features many elements of architectural (and general ) carving is found.
    The chisels I limited myself to for this carving were:
    3/5
    5/8
    7/6
    8/4
    11/5
    12/5
    and a knife/x-acto type blade .
    Using larger chisel is frustrating and limits you in so many ways that I would not recommend them. Actually the other professional carvers I know rarely use larger chisels that are being recommended for their day to day work.
    On my blog I have a tutorial covering this carving as well as a listing of "tools I can't live without " which encompasses 20 chisels that I could use to make a living carving. Which I do.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The Woodworking Studio

  8. #8
    And since the op mentioned shells ( and others ) here are a few I did with the smaller chisels than suggested .
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The Woodworking Studio

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Clinton Township, MI, United States
    Posts
    1,550
    Mark,
    could you please let us know the url of your blog? Tried looking at your website, but no joy.
    Thanks,
    Mike
    From the workshop under the staircase, Clinton Township, MI
    Semper Audere!

  10. #10
    I didn't post it because I believe that isn't allowed on this site. To a moderator is this true?
    The Woodworking Studio

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Essex, MD
    Posts
    411
    Brian Holcombe posts links to articles he writes on his blog all the time from the Neanderthal page, and the mods are OK with that - I think it's competing fora they have a problem with.

  12. #12
    OK Karl, I'll give it a go.
    www.woodcarvingblog.wordpress.com
    Im sure there are more graceful ways of posting that but it should work . I carve, I don't compute! Ha. Hope you find it interesting at least .
    Ive never met Doris by the way. I got the site. She set it up and takes care of it from Germany and posts her carvings and stories . I just carve and post because I enjoy it. She helped make it happen for me.
    The Woodworking Studio

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Clinton Township, MI, United States
    Posts
    1,550
    Mark, thanks for posting this. I find your work a great inspiration. I am sure others do too.
    Mike
    From the workshop under the staircase, Clinton Township, MI
    Semper Audere!

  14. #14
    Wow, thank you Mike. Very generous of you to say this. It's an assortment but hopefully someone might find something useful there between Doris' and my posts .
    The Woodworking Studio

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Essex, MD
    Posts
    411
    Fantastic work Mark, thanks for posting the link. It will be on my top list of woodworking places to visit, keep up the excellent posts
    Karl

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