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Thread: Help with knife suggestions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Texas
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    Help with knife suggestions

    First let me say I do not consider myself a carver, I would call myself a guy who cuts wood in an effort to make something that resembles something someone might recognize. So, I do some relief carving to embellish turnings and some flat work. I have a small set of pheil tools and a mallet for this and for the most part they do what I need. Next, I work a 7 days on and 7 days off schedule so I decided a couple years ago to start carving spoons when I'm out of town. This is ongoing and I enjoy this. I have 3 hook type knifes with different sweeps and two soyld knives. They are made by Del Stubbs at pine wood forge. They are fantastic tool I just keep them honed and they stay nice and sharp. Now to the question. I caught the bug for carving these little country type fellows. Hillbillies,wizard type dudes etc. Best I can tell this is called chip carving although I kind of think it is whittling. I want to add this to my spoon carving when out of town so I have been watching some you tube videos trying to figure out what I might need. For heavy roughing in I think one of the soylds will be fine but I think I need a knife with a straight blade. Through my research They have all kinds, detail , med detail, small detail, roughing etc. Lengths starting at one inch up to about 1-3/4 I don't think I want to do more than a couple. The size I want to carve would be from 2x2x6 inch blocks down to 1x1x4 possibly. I do want quality good knife that strops well. I have heard of Helvie, OCC and several others. I'm hoping I have outlined this enough that you folks can see what I'm trying to do. So any suggestion are welcome thanks for reading this post.
    Dean

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    North Little Rock, AR
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    80
    Chip carving is more a decorative form, removing small chips in decorative patterns to form geometric designs and such. What you are describing is more likely flat-plane carving, which is a type of the broader category of caricature carving. Helvie has an almost over-whelming selection, but typically detail-roughing out usually refers to the length of the blade and the thickness of the blade. A roughout blade is usually thicker and sometimes longer to make removing large chunks of wood more efficient and less likely to break the blade during the process. Detail knives can get quite small, to allow you to turn and reach in small areas. Here are three of my Helvie knives. The one on the left (with multi-color handle) is one I consider a roughout knife. The blade is 1 3/4" long and is thicker than the others. The handle is 5" long and a little over an inch thick. The middle knife is more of a detail knife, with a thinner blade that is 1 1/2" long. The shape of the blade and the thinner handle allow it to get in certain areas and make turns that the other knife is too big for. The final knife has thin flexible blade that is 2 1/4" long. I use it an a lot of long knives with thin blades for detail knives also. The longer blade allows me to reach and make delicate cuts in deeper areas on carvings. You can choose whatever handle style you think you might like and you can actually call and speak with Rich Smithson at Helvie Knives and he will help you with your selection or even customize one for you. His wife and him make every knife that goes out. I also like OCCT and Drake, but I own more Helvies than anything else! Hope this helps a bit.
    IMG_2823.jpgIMG_2824.jpg

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    SW Missouri
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    16
    Good advice from Mike (an outstanding carver). Agreeing with, and adding to, what he said:

    Carving purists will tell you there are three types of carvings: in the round; relief (sometimes called plaque); and chip carving. John Jordan provides a very good description and examples of chip carving in the thread " Thinking of Hand Carving as a new hobby. " He also shows what a chip carving knife looks like, which is much different than your typical "whittler". Many carvers who make spoons will chip carve the handles. You may want to research this and see if that interests you. A chip carving knife may be in your future.

    I also own Helvie knives... more than I need and fewer than I want. Excellent quality. If you have the budget, you won't regret the investment. Like Mike, I also have Drake and OCC Tools, along with several Ron Wells (hard to find) and others, including home-made.... more than I admit to my wife. ;>) (real carvers are knife collectors at heart... welcome to the vortex)

    With all the "fancy" knives I own, my go-to knife is a bench knife made by Murphy with a 1 7/8" blade. This might be of interest to you if you have a limited budget, as it is relatively inexpensive. It has good steel (important for any knife .... ability to hold an edge) but not any better than my other knifes. The real difference is the handle. With the type of carvings I do, I carve the end-grain often and hold my knife like a pencil with the sharp edge up. (weird... I know) The smaller, less bulky handle of the Murphy allows this, while other handle designs don't. I guess my point is: comfort of a knife handle is probably as important as the quality of the steel in the blade. You will find this out if you plan to carve several hours a day (sometimes all day, like I often do).... especially if you have old hands like mine.

    I would suggest you find a carving tool supply house or a local carving club and try a few out and see what feels good to you.

    Another thing to look for is the shape of the sides. Most general purpose knives have a slightly curved (convex) side. This allows you to cut curves easier (going in then out of the wood). Some knives, like the Wells, have flat sides. Not very good for curves, but very handy if you like flat-plane style carving. The only knife I use that has a convex side is a 5" Schrade locking folder that I use to clean cottonwood bark.

    The width of the blade (measured from cutting edge to back) is also something to consider. Smaller blades makes tighter curves.... duh, right? I don't use larger blades often but will if I have a lot of roughing out to do. Since you already have two Sloyd style knives, they may suffice for roughing out. I don't own one, as they are too big for me.

    The length of the blade (measured from handle to tip) is also a factor in knife selection. A lot of detail knives are short and narrow when new. (All my short bladed knives came from other carvers who thought they were worn out.) Like Mike, I have long, thin bladed detail knives that allow a long reach in tight places. A must-have for my style of carving. (I've attached a photo of end-grain carving that is done totally with my Murphy and long-bladed detail knife.)

    Another thing to consider when selecting a knife is the profile. Some (Murphy) are made with a too-rounded-for-me profile. I like them as pointy as I can get them without sacrificing strength, so I have to grind them to shape. If you like to use knives as a pry-bar, thin and pointy is not for you. (Even chip-carving knives will have different profiles.)

    A lot to consider here. Hope this helps and sorry if not too clear. Please ask if questions. Whichever knife you choose, the real secret of carving is the ability of the knife to hold an edge and your ability to put one on it! Any time you spend learning to sharpen will pay off big time down the road... another reason to visit a carving club.

    Good luck.


    DSC03363.jpg
    .... Dave

    Old carvers never die.... they just whittle away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    This is what is normally called chip carving, some of my first practice boards and some turnings:

    practice_comp.jpg chip_carved_goblet_c.jpg BOC_C_Jack_01_IMG_6687.jpg

    JKJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Texas
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    Mike and Dave thank you for your insight. Dave that rose is truly beautiful. I am wanting to do those little characters. I have been researching I am am going to say what I am wanting to do is flat plane carving. The rose is something I can only dream of being able to to at this time. Possibly if I take to this through time I may try something more intricate like that. I played with the soyld knives and they hog off material good and I played with some v cuts and stop cuts. These work good but I can tell I need a straight blade to make points with.So I think I will go for the helvie or OCC. And pinewood forge makes one I'll look at but I have heard of people chipping them easy so I think Dels spoon type knife are excellent but I'm thinking helvie or OCC. Anything else you got would be great as I know nearly nothing about doing this. books, DVD suggestions anything you got would help.
    John, that is what I always thought of as chip carving but I did not know for sure. Flat plane is what I think I'm wanting to do. I do some carving on hardwood I call relief carving but I'm not very good at it yet. I'm just looking to have a little something to do when I'm out of town.
    Dean

  6. #6
    Hey Dean,

    Did you know that Del also makes straight sloyds? I have two, and they're beauties.
    He also makes a Helvie style harlequin knife.

    As for other options-- you can get a violin knife from Hock, or you can contact Stan Covington for a nice handmade kiridashi.
    I have the kiridashi, and it's truly something special...but very different from any western knife.

  7. #7
    Also, if you fly a lot, you may want to get a bard parker scalpel handle (the red plastic one) and #25 bard parker blades.
    These are favored by dentists/dental lab techs for everything knife related.
    They're also favored by quite a few luthiers for stuff like lute rose carving.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Texas
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    Thanks Matt I know del's knife are excellent. I suppose the best route is to contact him by phone and have a little conversation. I have decided to order his stubby harley knife to start I'll keep the others in mind. I'm sure the sloyds"curved" that I have do pretty good chucking off the big stuff and to some concave cuts fairly good.
    Dean

  9. #9
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    Mar 2017
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    Forest Lake MN
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    Get the harley knife del sells. I think what you want to do is flat plane carving and that knife is the ticket for it.

  10. #10
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    Thanks brandon, that is the one I ordered.
    Dean

  11. #11
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    Mar 2017
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    Forest Lake MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean S Walker View Post
    Thanks brandon, that is the one I ordered.
    Awesome, it is a great knife, this was my last falls project that I did just with that knife and a v tool. tablut 3.jpg



  12. #12
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    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    6,594

    game on 9x9 grid?

    I give up. What game is that?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Forest Lake MN
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    280
    Tablut, an old norse game. There are also variations with larger board and more peices

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