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Thread: A carving detour

  1. #1
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    A carving detour

    I love woodworking. I have since I was a kid. But I have to admit, there are time when looking ahead to a project that will span several weeks or require an outlay of cash for material causes more stress than I think a hobby should. There are times when I think I just need to take a break when a hobby starts to feel like a job.

    And so, I decided to just tinker around with carving. In particular, after watching some videos on spoon carving, it looked like an enjoyable way to spend some time.

    I am not a carver, and I don't have much of anything in the way of carving tools.
    Some years ago, I made a small chip carving knife and a small gouge both from O1 steel.
    20210724_143751.jpg

    I had some small scraps of black walnut laying around. Unfortunately all bone dry, but I figured it was a place to start.
    No pictures of the carving process, I just split out the rough shape with a chisel as I don't have a hatchet at the moment.
    My goal was just to have some fun whittling away without any sandpaper or worries.
    20210724_144008.jpg20210724_144017.jpg

    Ok for a first try? I'm not sure, but it was enjoyable.
    Using the gouge to hollow out the bowl worked OK, but I could see how the hook knife used by spoon carver would be nice to try.
    Carving the outside of the spoon with my one carving knife worked OK as well, but I could see how a longer blade would have made it easier.

    And so the detour started.

    Sometimes I think I enjoy trying to make tools more than I enjoy using them.
    I still had some O1 steel laying around, and so I thought making a hook knife might just be a fun project after all.
    20210717_155058.jpg

  2. #2
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    I have a rough idea of what a hook knife should look like.
    As with most hand tools, though, I suspect the outward simplicity is deceptive. I have no doubt lurking behind this simple appearance are fine details that can make the difference between a good tool and a frustrating one.
    So while I took some time to investigate what spoon carvers like or dislike about different hook knives, I didn't want this to turn into yet another worrying point. I figured I would just take a best shot and refine later as I gain some experience.

    Cutout with a hacksaw
    20210717_160454.jpg20210717_161424.jpg

    I figured it would be easier to create the curved bevel before I put the hook into it, so rough shaped the bevel with a bench grinder first.
    I left the tang uncut because I thought I might need more meat to grip when it came time to bend the hook shape.

    20210718_102348.jpg

    More shaping of the bevel and squaring up the edge of the ricasso with a file.
    20210718_103430.jpg20210718_111107.jpg

  3. #3
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    I put my mini propane torch forge together from fire bricks and angle iron around 15 years ago.
    It has fallen into a bit of dis-repair, but did the job ok.

    20210718_111848.jpg

    Sorry no pictures of bending the hook or heat treat. To much juggling of torch, pliers, vise and blade to hold a camera.
    I clamped the tang of the blade in vice grips. I clamped a 1/2" diameter shaft vertically in my vice. I heated the blade red and anchored one end against the 1/2" bar by pushing against it with a piece of steel levered in the 1/2" opening in the vice with I wrapped the blade around the bar to the shape I wanted using the vice grips.
    I know thats a rube goldberg description of the way I did things, but the end result was blade with a hook in it.
    I wanted a bit of a progressive curve to the blade that would allow both shallow and deep cuts. I didn't come out as smooth a curve as I hoped, but will be OK I think.

    I then hardened and tempered the blade.
    20210718_143631.jpg20210718_143616.jpg

    Then cleaned up a bit with sandpaper.
    20210718_155415.jpg20210718_155425.jpg20210718_155435.jpg
    Last edited by Jeff Wittrock; 07-24-2021 at 8:01 PM.

  4. #4
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    I happened to still have some left over Honduran rosewood. I love using it for handle material because of its hardness. I do have to be a bit careful as I know from past experience that I am somewhat allergic. As long as I am making shavings and not sawdust, I have had no problems.
    20210718_160245.jpg20210718_161014.jpg

    I over sized the hole for the tang since the rosewood is so hard and will split easily. I plan on epoxying the hand in place in any case because of the way I will be applying twisting forces to it.
    20210718_162926.jpg

    I decided to use an octagonal shape instead of turning the handle. I don't have any experience with hook knives to draw from, but I am guessing that I will prefer the octagonal shape when applying a twisting motion to the handle.
    I started by planing to a straight, octagon shape.
    20210718_164431.jpg20210718_165359.jpg

    Then I planed a taper towards both ends. I also used a knife to bevel and round both ends.
    20210724_123139.jpg20210724_135107.jpg

    I thought it would be easiest to do the final sharpening with the handle, so I epoxied the blade in place.

  5. #5
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    I didn't take any pictures of my sharpening setup.
    I ended up using PSA adhesive sandpaper wrapped on a round form (copper tube) to flatten the back (inside curve).

    As it turns out I really couldn't "flatten" the back. When I bent the hook into the knife, the inside curve took on a convex shape in cross section. If I make another, I will put a hollow grind on this surface before forming the hook.
    For the outside bevel, I used a granite tile with PSA adhesive sandpaper to start with, then finished up with my water stones and just a touch on the buffing wheel.

    As a first test, I decided to try and clean up the inside surface of the spoon I started with.

    Before
    20210724_143908.jpg

    After cleaning up with the hook knife
    20210724_164137.jpg

    Its hard to tell from my poor photos, but I was able to get a much smoother surface.

    It is always hard for me to judge the success of a tool I make if I don't have anything to compare against.
    I have to say I am happy with what I ended up with though, and I look forward to trying some more carving.
    Last edited by Jeff Wittrock; 07-24-2021 at 8:44 PM.

  6. #6
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    Looks great Jeff.

    Spoon carving is a lot of fun and the wife and even the kids all like them. A lot of mine were sold at a farmers market.

    A few of my favorites are used in the kitchen.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
    That does look like fun. Thanks for posting it.
    And, like you, I really enjoy making tools that I'm going to use myself. (Though mine never compare in beauty with what Derek comes up with. )
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
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    Next will be a "sloyd" knife. Not a traditional sloyd knife with a squared off tip, but more along the lines of ones I see often used today.

    I rough cut the blade from the same piece of O1 used for the hook knife using a hacksaw. I'm pretty frugal with the O1 I have on hand so drilled a string of holes along the bottom of the tang that I could fit the hacksaw blade in. This kept me from having to cut all the way across at the back of the tang. Was it worth it to save a bit of steel? I think so.

    20210724_172547.jpg20210726_192556.jpg

    Filed to shape and holding it for size reference. I made the blade just a little under 3.5".
    20210726_192611.jpg20210726_192651.jpg

    Next will be filing in the bevel. I have done this freehand before, but it is tough to do it cleanly especially since I want to run the primary bevel almost all the way to the spine. I'm going to take some time to make a simple filing jig for the next step.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Looks great Jeff.

    Spoon carving is a lot of fun and the wife and even the kids all like them. A lot of mine were sold at a farmers market.

    A few of my favorites are used in the kitchen.

    jtk
    Just curious Jim, do you usually use green wood?

    When I see videos of someone using a hook knife on green wood I am envious of how nice a smooth and clean it seems to just scoop material out. Even so, I was surprised at how well it worked on dry walnut I had on hand. Just for fun, I tried it on a scrap of honduran mahogany and it cut very well.
    On a piece of hard, dry, red oak... not so nice.

    I need to scrounge around for some green wood. None on my property unfortunately.

  10. #10
    Nicely done Jeff. There is great satisfaction in making your own tools, particularly if you can make something that is needed but not available commercially.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  11. #11
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    Just curious Jim, do you usually use green wood?
    When it is available yes. Though you need to be aware some woods are not good to use with food service. Search > food safe wood

    Be careful with a hook knife. My first one broke trying to work on a piece of dry ash.

    Many of my spoons were made with gouges. Some were turned on a lathe before making the bowl:

    Spoons, Acorns & Owl.jpg

    Those are made of apple and ash.

    Some were more whimsical:

    Owl Spoon.jpg

    A lot of fun to be had.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wittrock View Post
    Next will be filing in the bevel. I have done this freehand before, but it is tough to do it cleanly especially since I want to run the primary bevel almost all the way to the spine. I'm going to take some time to make a simple filing jig for the next step.
    Really enjoyed this.... Would love to see a picture of your filing jig, I am having trouble imagining it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    Really enjoyed this.... Would love to see a picture of your filing jig, I am having trouble imagining it.
    Andrew,

    This is a video I where I first saw someone use a filing jig for a knife blade:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9iNDRwwBQQ

    I started out by blackening the edge and scribing a center line using a marking gage. This is the line i will file down to from each side.
    20210801_101013.jpg

    I didn't happen to have any eye bolts laying around, so instead of an eye bolt, I just cut a slot in vertical plywood for the guide rod to slide in.
    In order to adjust the bevel angle, I simply clamped a piece of wood across the slot at the desired angle.

    I just used electrical tape to hold the file to the guide rod. I have seen people use hose clamps.

    You can see two pins placed in the jig above the blade. The one close to the tang serves as a stop for the start of the ricosso. The second, close to the tip just keeps the blade from inching back as I file.
    There are mirror image holes for the pins when the blade is flipped over to bevel the opposite side.

    I was able to hold the jig in place on my bench using the wagon vise.
    20210801_102453.jpg

    It did take a while. I'm afraid this file is a bit fine and small to remove this much metal.
    20210801_114241.jpg

    After filing the bevel on both sides, I used PSA sandpaper stuck to the file to remove the file marks using the same jig and angle.
    20210801_150025.jpg20210801_150036.jpg

  14. #14
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    heat treatment and tempering done the same as the hook knife using my makeshift propane and firebrick forge.
    I didn't bother cleaning the 'bluing' off the spine after quenching. I rather like the bluing anyway.

    I decided to turn the handle instead of making it octagonal. I thought it would be more comfortable. I just planed flats on the side to make the handle a bit narrower in cross section and for something my hand can register against. I like the appearance of the handle on the sloyd knife carried by blue spruce, so this looks much the same.
    20210808_102919.jpg20210808_103303.jpg20210808_103159.jpg

    The bevel is quite a bit shallower than anything else I have, so I will soon see how well the edge holds up.

    I guess this is all more knife making than woodworking, but I do find there is little I do that doesn't transfer over to other disciplines.

  15. #15
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    Thanks, very helpful.... And it looks like it came out very nice!

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