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Beginner Carving Chisels

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Forum topic by Don Broussard posted 09-29-2016 12:49 AM 364 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don Broussard

3020 posts in 1714 days


09-29-2016 12:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: carving tool

Any recommendations on a starter set of carving chisels? My wife went to a carving clinic and she LOVED it! I’m thinking of investing in a starter set.

Your recommendations are appreciated. Thanks in advance.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!


15 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3205 days


#1 posted 09-29-2016 01:49 AM

was she doing chip carving or ‘relief carving’?
I did a carving class for a week – and for those that are new, it was recommended to get the “chris Pye” 7 piece set. not the letter carving set.

IT is pricey – they are made by Auriou.

I might be tempted by the Ramelson set at woodcraft – - but have no idea how good they are. but the set is 56 dollars.

Might ask what she used at her class – - maybe there are good used sets on e-bay – - but maybe she found 3 or 4 chisels that she did 90% of the work with and start there instead of a set???

your mileage may vary

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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DrDirt

4169 posts in 3205 days


#2 posted 09-29-2016 02:13 AM

Saw on the Lumberjocks – trade and swap tab – - a two cherries set being sold

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/181162

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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CFrye

8740 posts in 1302 days


#3 posted 09-29-2016 02:17 AM

That is exciting, Don! Looking forward to seeing some of her art!

-- God bless, Candy

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

879 posts in 2280 days


#4 posted 09-29-2016 05:32 AM

I’ve used various versions of the Ramelsen beginner set. They work, the steel seems to be decent, but it’s much better to get full-size tools. Various online instructors (Chris Pye, Mary May) give recommendations on what to buy at the start. Generally they suggest staying with known brands, basically anything made in Europe. Some people have had good success buying Chinese gouges on E-Bay (ones made by blacksmiths), prices are very low, especially un-handled. You can also save a bit by buying Flexcut with the interchangeable handle system, although personally I think that would get tedious.
Two Cherries makes excellent tools, but if you’re not going to chip carve that set has a lot of unnecessary tools (including the straight and skew chisels).
In my experience carving gouges are among the hardest tools to find used, and when you do prices are often close to retail.
Mary May suggests as a (very basic) starter set (https://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool/all-about-tool-selection/):
5 or 6mm v-chisel #3, 6mm #3, 14mm #5, 14mm #7, 6mm #7, 14mm

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2192 posts in 943 days


#5 posted 09-29-2016 01:34 PM

Many good brands. I prefer Pfeil.

I do not recommend buying the sets they sell, but instead buy individual tools.

I really like fishtail gouges.

Check out Mary May she has a good info on buying first set of chisels.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View UpstateNYdude's profile

UpstateNYdude

695 posts in 1445 days


#6 posted 09-29-2016 01:48 PM

Another vote for Pfeils

-- Nick, "Choking to death on bacon is like getting murdered by your lover." - JG

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2223 days


#7 posted 09-29-2016 05:17 PM

You are going to get the usual recommendations for German and Swiss carving gouges which is fine. But they are VERY expensive. I am going to make a recommendation of another source of excellent carving gouges that are more reasonable and equally as good in my opinion.

http://www.woodcarverssupply.com/

Look for their “Mastercarver” brand.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

2633 posts in 2571 days


#8 posted 09-29-2016 09:51 PM

I have Pfeil and Henry Taylor (HT) palm chisels. The HT chisels have sizes pretty much in between the Pfeil which is why I bought them. I prefer the Pfeil over the HT. Seems that the HT chisels have a steeper bevel. I’ll play with them a little and will possibly change that. Also, the shanks are rectangular and have sharpish vertices. I’ll probably modify that with a radius. Neither brand is cheap, but unless you lose one, they’ll probably last you a lifetime.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View pontic's profile

pontic

51 posts in 71 days


#9 posted 09-29-2016 10:10 PM

All good suggestions. Carving is a very personal thing. Depends on what type of carving you do. Relief, chip, Intaglio, Full blown sculpting.

If you are going by a book or manual then get what they recommend. Remember it’s more important to know how to sharpen the tool you own than to desire another one. First step of carving is how to hold the tool the second step is how to sharpen it. Carving tools must be what I call “wicked sharp”. Otherwise they are just useless. especially when carving stuff like cherry or pine. Carving is like eating caviar best enjoyed in small bites. Don’t take too big a bite of the wood at once. All this being said I use mostly “Swiss Made” tools. I still have the ones I got back in 1983. They still can hold a wicked sharp edge. I also have a few Pfeils and some flexi -cut sweep gouges. I say start with a 37 sweep gouge and a v parting tool. Keep them sharp and work with basswood to start. then move to some type of mahogany. Use a utility knife to do your undercuts.
Hope this helps.

-- drpurvis@aol.com

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3020 posts in 1714 days


#10 posted 09-29-2016 11:08 PM

Thanks for all the great insights! I appreciate the recommendations for Pfeil, Henry Taylor, Ramelson, Mastercarver, Chris Pye set. All worth checking out, and I will do that.

My wife made a small coin tray at the class. She (and me, for that matter) doesn’t have a clue about what she might make. Maybe some spoons or shallow trays. The instructor was using some carving tools he made himself—that may also be an option.

Coincidentally, there was an episode of “The Woodwrights Shop” on this weekend, and Mary May was a guest. She showed how to make carved cookie molds. My wife was duly impressed.

Dr. Dirt—I did see the Two Cherries set posted on LJs. I know they have a good general reputation, but I don’t own any Cherries items currently. Those are under consideration and I know not to dilly dally with that decision.

Jeremy—That link to the Mary May beginner set is broken. I’ll see if I can find an unbroken link.

pontic—I think she’ll have to do some studying and practicing before deciding which technique to do. I’ll have to look up “Intaglio” when I finish this post.

Thanks again for the input! It’s much appreciated.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2223 days


#11 posted 09-30-2016 12:18 AM

”The instructor was using some carving tools he made himself—that may also be an option.”

Not recommended for a beginner. Having made two complete sets of carving tools myself for a total of 62 gouges, it is a LOT of work involving metal working, heat treating, grinding, polishing, and sharpening (a LOT of this) and wood turning. And then there is the proper shaping of the blade and proper angles of the cutting edge. If you or your wife have these skills and related equipment you might try one to see how it turns out. I only did it as I have 60 years of woodworking and metal working experience with the proper machines and tools. You can see what I have made here. http://lumberjocks.com/Planeman40/projects

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3020 posts in 1714 days


#12 posted 09-30-2016 12:24 AM

Planeman—I followed the link to your carving chisel sets. Thanks for the link to your amazing work! I wasn’t very clear in my comment that “that may also be an option”. He mentioned that he could make my wife a few chisels to start working with. I am certainly not set up to make my own chisels at this point.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

879 posts in 2280 days


#13 posted 09-30-2016 04:35 AM

The link again, without the closing parenthesis: https://www.marymaycarving.com/carvingschool/all-about-tool-selection/

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View BenjaminNY's profile

BenjaminNY

53 posts in 865 days


#14 posted 09-30-2016 01:42 PM

Narex, has carving chisels that are solid and reasonably priced.

I have the Pfeils and they are great but the Narex ones are great too and much cheaper.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3020 posts in 1714 days


#15 posted 09-30-2016 08:02 PM

Jeremy—Thanks for the correction. If I had looked a bit more carefully, I would have seen that! I’ve printed out her recommendation for a starter set. Just what I was looking for.

Benjamin—I’ll have to add Narex to the list.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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