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Reply by DS

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Posted on Advice please from those who carve

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DS

2131 posts in 1017 days


#1 posted 715 days ago

Dan, kudos for jumping right in and giving it a go!

Your deisgn looks promising, but, I cannot understate the importance of having proper tools and those tools being sharp. Did I mention they should also be sharp?

For the back ground smoothing, you would need a broad sweep wide gouge such as a #2 sweep about 3/4” to 1” wide. My personal preference is for Pfiel chisels carried by Woodcraft.

For the detaiils in the leaves and stems of your flowers I would use a veiner (#11 sweep) and a medium sweep chisel (A #5 or #6 maybe).

To make the petals and leaves pop, make an incision with a knife, or a straight chisel along the boundary between the high and low details, then relieve the low side with a medium sweep chisel. (I see one in your photo.)

For the best results, your chisels should be sharp. Most cheap chisels will not hold a sharp edge for long, even if you can get one to hold a sharp edge at all. A honing block, or strop should be your constant companion while carving. Every few minutes, give your chisel a whack on the strop to keep the best edge going. Remember, it’s the micro-fine razor edge that is doing all the cutting. If this is blunted, even slightly, it will tear instead of cut.

Your choice of wood, (Looks like Walnut to me), makes your task a bit more challenging as well.
You could try plasticizing the wood with some paint thinner and see if that makes the cutting a bit smoother. (There is a white formula odor-free thinner that works well.)
I usually use an old water bottle (label it thinner so no one tries to drink it) and drill a few small holes in the cap. I can then sprinkle a bit here and there as I go, letting the thinner saturate the wood a bit before I carve.

Plasticizing is initially a bit more messy, but helps in the long run as hands get tired after a while.

For sanding, there are several options. You can hand sand, file, or even buy a sanding brush that can mount in your drill. They are available in various grits and can speed things up a bit. They are handy for cleaning up leftover shavings that get stuck in the tight places.

There is a lot more that I coud point out, but, hopefully this gets you going in the right direction.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251


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