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Thread: Thinking of Hand Carving as a new hobby.

  1. #46
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    Well it sure looks like I've got a lot more grinding/sanding to do Based on your recommended blade angle. I thought I was good to go until I measured/calculated the actual angle of 17.8°. Time for a beer!
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Launier View Post
    Well it sure looks like I've got a lot more grinding/sanding to do Based on your recommended blade angle. I thought I was good to go until I measured/calculated the actual angle of 17.8°. Time for a beer!
    Remember, I'm NOT an expert at this, this is just what I found works for me. The larger angle distorted the wood too much to suit me. You think maybe I should loan you one of my two Hock knives to try? If so, send an email.

    I drank a beer in 1983 I think. The only think I drink now is water, and milk with my cereal. The urologist encouraged this after my kidney stone surgery.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Remember, I'm NOT an expert at this, this is just what I found works for me. The larger angle distorted the wood too much to suit me. You think maybe I should loan you one of my two Hock knives to try? If so, send an email.

    I drank a beer in 1983 I think. The only think I drink now is water, and milk with my cereal. The urologist encouraged this after my kidney stone surgery.
    John if those angles work for you then they'll work for me.

    I just received a Ramelson Stab knife. It wasn't expensive, only $16 on eBay with free shipping. I don't know how good the steel is, but for a stab knife I don't think it's that critical. Oops! I just opened the package & it's not the stab knife I ordered. They sent me a Romelson angled chip carving knife instead, I believe by mistake. The chip knife does look good, it has a thin blade with a very shallow cutting angle. Oh well, let's see what happens when I try to return it.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  4. #49
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    They shipped me the correct knife with sincere apologies and a prepaid UPS Return Label. I received it in two days. As for the second knife it did look good, so I decided to buy it. It's made of 1095 steel hardened to Rc 58-62. I might also comment that the two Ramelson knives I now have are well made; come with a 15° blade angle which leaves less metal to remove to get it down to a good thin cutting edge such as what John has on his blades; it cost much less than my other knife at twice the price; and the narrow point of the Ramelson Angled Chip knife does make it easier to cut small arcs and it feels comfortable when using. Time will tell how good they are. Have to say I do like the price.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  5. #50
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    Al, no one has mentioned Scandinavian flat plane carving yet. I liked the look and ordered a Harley knife from Del Stubbs at Pine Wood Forge. I also ordered Harley Refsal's DVD a few basewood cutouts and a couple books by Refsal. Started carving one of the figures and love it. After completing the first carving, I saw Refsal was giving a two class about an hour away. Signed up and learned at the foot of the master. If you are going to order basswood, I'd recommend Heineke. I've ordered from other places and the quality just wasn't there.
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    Life's too short to use old sandpaper.

  6. #51
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    Well today I had sharpened knives on hand & decided to try my hand again at developing some carving skills on some Aspen.
    The photo on the left is similar to the one in the previous post. I though I might do better the second time. - no improvement, actually worse, especially the bottom one compared to before.
    In the center photo I was encouraged a bit, but it was an easier carve - not so many small arcs.
    The photo on the right is my first attempt at letters. Only so-so on the smaller set at top - had the most difficulty on the turns, especially cross grain.
    Then I tried the same fonts, but to a much larger scale. Disaster - should have been easier.
    Some observation, thoughts & questions:

    • I find it very difficult to carve a side in one slice. I have to re-cut 1-2 times more depending on the depth.
    • Cutting 1-3 times per face of cutting leaves a significant amount of "residue and false faces" to trim & clean up which is difficult to do. I haven't developed a good way to make it look like one cut, especially on the deeper cuts. Looks like ****
    • I try to perceive the intersection point of the two cut faces but the deeper cuts still give me trouble.
    • I find the My Chip Carving Knife comfortable to hold & use on straight & slightly arced lines & larger curves, and the more pointed Ramelson Angled chip cutting knife more user friendly in tight curves.
    • However, when I do the tight curves (1/8" dia.) I basically hold the knife almost upright on the tip and rotate the work piece. It is not a slice, or drawn cut per se, more of a pivot cut by holding the knife stationary & rotating the knife around the point..
    • Unfortunately this has caused the small point of the tip to break off, no larger than 1/64" which then requires resharpening & stropping. The steel is made of 1095 steel hardened to Rc 58-62 which I think is good.
    • This also tends to break off a chip of wood.
    • I usually strop about every 10-15 minutes.
    • Bottom line is that I haven't developed a technique for making single clean cuts.


    OK, now that I've bared my soul what suggestions are there that would get me on track to quality work besides a lot more practice. I do want this to work.
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    Last edited by Al Launier; 06-20-2018 at 9:32 PM.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  7. #52
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    It looks like good progress, even if you are not yet satisfied with the results. I think cleaner cuts will come with practice. (Perhaps a "lot more practice"? )

    The books I've read said to always cut a side of a chip with a single plunge, multiple cuts will result in exactly what you found - problems on the bottom and sides. For a straight-sided chip I draw the outline of the chip first and usually put a dot in the middle to help me visualize the center. Then plunge down drawing the knife down the imagined back "corner" until reaching the bottom, rotating the knife all during the plunge for a large chip until when the point hits the bottom the cutting edge is exactly at the near corner, then pull the knife back and up along that corner. For a small chip I think I just held the knife at the near corner angle, still drawing it back during the plunge to cut the far corner at the right angle. It is better to cut too deep than too shallow. For curves, I draw the outline then a center line down the middle, also to help visualize where to put the point. I'd have to pay more attention, but I think I hold the knife with the bisection between the cutting edge and spine a little more vertical than with a straight-sided chip.

    I mentioned this before, but to help learn to visualize the position of the tip and edge when hidden in the wood I found it helpful to start with a good chip and trace over it pretending to re-cut it to see what hand position and motion was needed. I think once I put drew a line on the side of the blade with the knife to indicate the wood surface when the tip was in the right position while "tracing" an existing chip. (I have no idea what the experts did to learn or what methods they teach.)

    It's hard to tell from the pictures because of the lighting, but it looks like your chips might be deeper than needed. If so, that will make everything harder! Perhaps try adjusting the your hand position for a shallower angle and see how that works. I remember experimenting a lot with various angles. I would practice the angles on straight-sided triangular chips at first instead of curves.

    I've never broken a knife tip and mine are pretty thin. Sounds like way too much twisting force on the curve, perhaps from the chips too deep with the tight curves - just a guess without seeing the actual depth. The chips are also more likely to break on deep curves. I often do turn the piece while making long curves, pivoting the wood around the knife. I wonder if aspen is harder and tougher than basswood.

    You are making great progress. I'm certain this will work! I made zillions of goofs, bad cuts, chipped chips and such when practicing. I would make a bunch of practice cuts then mark the bad spots so I could try to figure out what I did wrong.

    proctice_errors_IMG_20150923_164257_577.jpg

    Looking at my practice boards again, I see something I may have done differently - I never once tried to carve a traced pattern. I filled practice board after board with practice chips, repeating the arrays of the same chip over and over until I improved and the cut felt natural, then tried more with variations in size and width. I did this with rows and rows of triangular chips (hundreds of chips) as well as free-hand curves. With the curves I could let the wood and the feel of the knife decide on the curve instead of trying to fit a pattern curve. When practicing I never tried any wood but good basswood.



    JKJ



    Quote Originally Posted by Al Launier View Post
    Well today I had sharpened knives on hand & decided to try my hand again at developing some carving skills on some Aspen.
    The photo on the left is similar to the one in the previous post. I though I might do better the second time. - no improvement, actually worse, especially the bottom one compared to before.
    In the center photo I was encouraged a bit, but it was an easier carve - not so many small arcs.
    The photo on the right is my first attempt at letters. Only so-so on the smaller set at top - had the most difficulty on the turns, especially cross grain.
    Then I tried the same fonts, but to a much larger scale. Disaster - should have been easier.
    Some observation, thoughts & questions:

    • I find it very difficult to carve a side in one slice. I have to re-cut 1-2 times more depending on the depth.
    • Cutting 1-3 times per face of cutting leaves a significant amount of "residue and false faces" to trim & clean up which is difficult to do. I haven't developed a good way to make it look like one cut, especially on the deeper cuts. Looks like ****
    • I try to perceive the intersection point of the two cut faces but the deeper cuts still give me trouble.
    • I find the My Chip Carving Knife comfortable to hold & use on straight & slightly arced lines & larger curves, and the more pointed Ramelson Angled chip cutting knife more user friendly in tight curves.
    • However, when I do the tight curves (1/8" dia.) I basically hold the knife almost upright on the tip and rotate the work piece. It is not a slice, or drawn cut per se, more of a pivot cut by holding the knife stationary & rotating the knife around the point..
    • Unfortunately this has caused the small point of the tip to break off, no larger than 1/64" which then requires resharpening & stropping. The steel is made of 1095 steel hardened to Rc 58-62 which I think is good.
    • This also tends to break off a chip of wood.
    • I usually strop about every 10-15 minutes.
    • Bottom line is that I haven't developed a technique for making single clean cuts.


    OK, now that I've bared my soul what suggestions are there that would get me on track to quality work besides a lot more practice. I do want this to work.

  8. #53
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    Thanks for the feedback John.

    In order of priority I'm going to first resharpen the blades as I'm not totally comfortable that I've spent enough time sharpening them. They do pass the thumb nail & hair cutting tests, but I think they could be shallower angled & better cutting.

    I do have to admit that I'm anxious to get on with this, but it's starting to hit home that I've not done enough homework. I'm going to do a bunch of triangular chips freehand to see how well I can control the depth of cut, then try the same on some gentle arcs. In doing these I'll try the dot technique & see how that helps to control the DOC. Also, I'm going to try some freehand cutting to see how that feels.

    One thing that troubles me is how to clean up a messy cut without re-cutting too deeply & to make a decent looking valley. I noticed when trying to re-cut that the blade didn't seen to want to enter the wood at an angle to the face of the original cut. This indicates to me that the blade isn't sharpened properly to engage the wood easily to shave into the side of the existing cut.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  9. #54
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    I had to take a break from practice to paint a number of kitchen chairs for the LOML. Yet, I was able to "work in" a project of my own which was to try making a chip carving knife for fine detail such as in script lettering. I made these two by grinding & pre-sharpening each end of a surgeon's scalpel I had on hand, cutting them in half, making the scales from an unknown piece of really hard wood, chiseling an inlet for the blade to seat in, drilling the rivet holes, epoxying things together & then riveting the scales from a piece of 1/8" aluminum rod I had laying around. Once the epoxy cured (18 hours) I put a final grind & stropp on the blades. I was going to chip carve my initials on the scales, but the wood is so hard I doubt if I could do it. Anyway, as ugly as they are I anxious to try them out after I get the chairs painted.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  10. #55
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    I'm back on the paint job. For some unfathomable reason the LOML thought painting the chairs was more important than playing with knives.


    As an aside, the scalpel was too hard to work with so I used my Mapp gas torch to it to soften it up so I could cut it in half & drill the holes. After I pre-ground it to near finish I used the torch again to heat treat it & then to draw it back so it wouldn't be so brittle. When I get to use it I'll find out if the tip breaks on me. The blade edge isn't as straight as I originally planned. I had dropped it after I heat treated it & of course it had to hit on the tip breaking off a bit of metal. So, it took a lot of time stoning to get some kind of point back. Time will tell.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  11. I was recently given a a few "carving" tools. I had a piece of 3/4 inch poplar that I cut off a saw mill cut off to make a square turning blank. The 4 x 11 inch poplar board became a whale. Not finished yet but surprisingly fair for a first attempt. I used a flex cut knife for the whole thing. Certainly not fine art but for a first real whittle....

    Last edited by Perry Hilbert Jr; 07-19-2018 at 8:55 AM.

  12. #57
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    Perry, I think you've made a great "stab" at kicking off a new hobby. Indeed it looks good.

    On the home front I'm still practicing on white pine boards & need a lot more practice before I'll attempt to carve initials, etc. on jewelry boxes, or other finished projects. However, my daughter recently gave birth to our first grandchild, and knowing that I have started chip carving, asked if I could carve her son's initial on a piece of wood so she could have it on her desk at work. Fortunately she chose the Times New Roman font which I was able to work on. Having tried the more elegant script fonts I ran into trouble with the small loops, especially the closed loops. I also found it difficult to carve the wide portion of some of some fonts due to having to cut wider vees. It was difficult cutting these features in a single cut per side which required me to go back into the cuts to clean them up. This usually turned out to be a mess.
    So yesterday I completed the little (3"x 6") plaque & hopefully she will like it. One thing I don't know how to do is to "highlight" just the lettering, leaving the surround area as a contrasting background. So, I tried staining the lettering & the board together, but that didn't provide the contrast I was looking for. Just leaving it natural gave a better contrast than the stain.
    What do you think? Please offer any criticisms/comments.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  13. #58
    I hope this won't be taken as blasphemy, but... We tend to forget that good enough is good enough and tend to lust after tools that have a big price tag, sometimes I suspect, more because of the price tag than anything else. So, I just wanted to say that all this talk of buying good tools to start and not buying cheap to try and so on should be tempered just a bit. Yes bad tools are bad tools and good tools are a joy to work with. That said cost isn't the only measure of quality. Sometimes inexpensive or moderately priced tools can be nice and sometimes even expensive tools can be a bad fit for a user or a job. Yes, there are cheap tools that are terrible and expensive ones that are worth every penny, but there are also sometimes good basic serviceable ones at a modest a price point capable of beautiful work.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Staehling View Post
    ...there are also sometimes good basic serviceable ones at a modest a price point capable of beautiful work.
    Good point. The problem I see is how to determine what tools are good before buying, whether inexpensive, moderate, or excessive in price. Published reviews are sometimes hurried, incomplete, or downright biased. The best way I know is to learn from the experience of a trusted person (or three). The overall cost could then be a lot less than buying several and experimenting for myself.

    For those with limited budgets, buying used (if possible) is a good option.

    JKJ

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