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Advice please from those who carve

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Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 08-07-2012 08:10 PM 793 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craftsman on the lake

2420 posts in 2190 days


08-07-2012 08:10 PM

I’m currently making a bed and am ready to assemble the bedhead. Of the panels on the bed, the center panel will hopefully have a carving I’m doing. If it absolutely doesn’t work out I’ll put something plain in it’s place. Anyway, this is the place I am in the carving. I’ve never carved anything before and my tools for carving are limited. If I decide to carve some other stuff later on I’ll spring for a few carving chisels.

The Question: Where do I go from here as far as getting this thing smoothed out. I can sand some areas but what about the nooks and crannies. I do have a few riffler files and a dremel with a few bits and sanding drums. Is there some technique that I’m not privy to? I see a bunch of carvers on LJ’s… Advice please?

Thanks, Dan

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.


19 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11478 posts in 1758 days


#1 posted 08-07-2012 08:22 PM

Lookin good so far CotL. Ive been gettin interested in carving myself. Youve got the talent part down for sure, it should make for a stunning headboard.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7192 posts in 2055 days


#2 posted 08-07-2012 08:23 PM

well dan im not a carver either, but its looking pretty good, and i will hope it will finish out well and to a place your happy with, i would like to see you add it to the bed…lets hope it works out huh….grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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Craftsman on the lake

2420 posts in 2190 days


#3 posted 08-07-2012 08:32 PM

Of course the woods in this bed are walnut, maple, and jatoba. Of those, the only one that is generally considered a carving wood is the walnut. But it’s a hard wood and probably not for a beginner. I’d have loved to use basswood but it would be for a stand alone carving and would not have fit with the scheme of this bedhead.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1172 days


#4 posted 08-07-2012 08:34 PM

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

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2645 days


#5 posted 08-07-2012 08:38 PM

Your dremel. Aside from the stones available you can also buy various diameter bits that are slotted to accept rolled sandpaper that can be held in place with either an interior cam or a small dental elastic.

Crisp cut crannies really, …………shouldnt need sanding

sometimes a folded piece of sandpaper over a home made wooden knife works too

When all else fails and you’ve had enough os sanding, a coat of dark glaze over the entire carving (between coats of finish)n then pulling all the glaze off except the “crannies” will help hide imperfections and actually add more depth of field

Good Luck and Nice Carving

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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Craftsman on the lake

2420 posts in 2190 days


#6 posted 08-07-2012 09:10 PM

Well, grocery shopping tomorrow morning. I think I’ll go a few extra miles to woodcraft and see what they’ve got. The sweep chisel sounds like a good idea. I could start my set that way huh? I’ll also look at what they’ve got for my dremel too.

I have a worksharp 3000 so things stay reasonably sharp. I have the fine strop wheel on to tough up the chisels from time to time.

Thanks all…..

Found this for any interested too.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1172 days


#7 posted 08-07-2012 09:22 PM

Just be warned, the price of good steel isn’t cheap, but, it’s surely worth it.

Nice thing about Pfiel is that they are good to go right out of the box. My set has only ever seen my strop, never a file, or a stone.

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

View hairy's profile

hairy

2109 posts in 2284 days


#8 posted 08-07-2012 10:36 PM

Lots of good stuff here. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/forum/

The short sweet answer is sharp tools make clean cuts that don’t need sanding. I know, easier said than done.

That’s looking good, I know you’ll work it out.

-- in the confusion, I mighta grabbed the gold ...

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Craftsman on the lake

2420 posts in 2190 days


#9 posted 08-09-2012 11:59 AM

I received my regular email advertisement form Woodcraft yesterday. They have a meeting of the carvers club meeting this evening. I might go check it out. Get some advice there too.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Surfside's profile

Surfside

3372 posts in 925 days


#10 posted 08-09-2012 02:36 PM

This is a good site for carvers: www.woodcarvingillustrated.com. A lot of great carvers hang around that site. I’m sure you can get plenty of wood carving advice there.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

16043 posts in 1618 days


#11 posted 08-09-2012 02:55 PM

Dan, I’ve a few months experience so take my advice as a grain of salt. I’m just pretty much a beginner. I love the Pfiel tools and that’s what I always try to buy. I also like the Henry Taylor tools. Woodcraft should have a beginners 6 or 12 piece set if you can afford it. The beginner sets will usually have what you need to do a carving like that and you’ll save a few bucks per tool. You can always buy one or two more tools if you need to to get a more rounded set. If you are going to put your first carving into a piece of furniture I would encourage you to do the carving several times before you carve the one that is going into the piece because you will improve each time and the experience will be good for you. You can do it – just jump in and keep your tools sharp..

helluvawreck
https://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1172 days


#12 posted 08-09-2012 03:52 PM

I don’t know why, but I get excited every time I get to buy more Pfiel chisels.
Heck, I’m excited just knowing someone else may be buying Pfiel chisels.

Why is that?

Oh yeah, I rememeber—I’m addicted!

There is nothing quite as satisfying as making a perfect cut in gorgeous wood with precision steel.
I love it!

-- "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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DS

2132 posts in 1172 days


#13 posted 08-10-2012 10:46 PM

So Dan, how did the carving class go? Were you able to test drive some chisels?

Please let us know how it went.

Thanks.

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

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1280 posts in 1048 days


#14 posted 08-10-2012 11:48 PM

I was going to say what has already been said – if your chisels are sharp the wood should require no sanding. How did they do it hundreds of years ago without Norton or 3M?

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Craftsman on the lake

2420 posts in 2190 days


#15 posted 08-11-2012 12:09 AM

Yes I was DS. I went to the carving group at Woodcraft. Nice bunch of guys. They were carving small items with knives but one of them went into the showroom and picked out three recommended chisels and Woodcraft let me use them for a bit. I purchased them.

Pfeil full sized 3/20, 7/18, nad a V 12/6. Boy are they razor sharp. All I need is some leather for a strop. And some honing compound. Wood craft is out of compound and I cam make a strop… thing is all shoes are some synthetic materials. Even my older work boots. Gotta find some leather.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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