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Master Grip 12 Piece Set, Worth $100?

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Forum topic by Ted posted 05-02-2014 02:32 AM 6657 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


05-02-2014 02:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: carving tool chisel

I’d like to get started in carving but really clueless about chisels and what are good brands. Master Grip sounds to me like some made in Taiwan cheapies that won’t hold an edge in the softest woods, but this set looks tempting. The only information the seller provides is that it’s a brand new set, never been used.

Would this be a good starter set, or just a costly lesson in what not to buy?

Seller is asking $100

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.


22 replies so far

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lightcs1776

4153 posts in 1115 days


#1 posted 05-02-2014 02:53 AM

Ted, I don’t have a clue about carving tools, but after seeing your Rex carving, you definitely have the talent. Good luck with the tools.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


#2 posted 05-02-2014 03:00 AM

Thanks Chris… that was actually the inspiration. I enjoyed making that even with about a dozen tries. The two biggest issues I ran into were dull tools and cutting inside curves. I thunk to myself what I really need is a curved chisel! :D

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#3 posted 05-02-2014 04:18 AM

I would also look carefully at the Mastercarver Hand-forged tools for the best cost/value.

http://www.woodcarverssupply.com/Mastercarver-Sets/products/136/

The reason for this is after carefully looking at these tools at their website, they appear to be from the very same hand-forged rough forgings that I bought from China ( http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-62pcs-ASSORTED-LOT-WOOD-CARVING-TOOLS-Wood-Chisel-/390830123849?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5aff4a6b49) and have been working on making my carving set (62 tools) for the past five months. My forgings were ordered direct from China (a set of 62 for $150) and as I said, were rough. I had to grind, polish, and sharpen each to a razor edge. I am finished with all of the forgings and I am now making the handles from Purpleheart. From having to spend about three hours on each forging to prepare it for the handles, I gained an appreciation of the quality and hardness of the cutting edge. That hardness is why it takes three hours to prepare one forging. a LOT of slow handwork!

The seller I bought from is a Chinese luthier’s supply company (see above link) and here is what they say about the forgings:

“The southern Chinese city of Donyang has been one of the major centers of wood carving in China since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907AD). Our cutting tools come from the best blacksmith in Donyang. He still uses the centuries old traditional methods with these tools. The larger carving gauges have conical tangs to keep the handle from splitting when struck with the traditional iron mallet(socket chisel). The cutting edges are remarkably durable. The smaller detail carving tools are made of a single layer of carbon steel (C60) with the harness of (RC 58). The large carving gauges are made of double layered steel and have a cutting edge whose harness is over (RC 60). As with Chinese tradition, the blade is only coarsely finished by the blacksmith. Those willing to take the time to hone it to perfection, will be rewarded with extraordinary life-time carving tool at an unbeatable price.”

I researched the city of Dongyang on the Internet and the research backs up the above statement of origin. Considering what Chinese master carvers have been carving from rosewood for hundreds of years, I figured these tools will do the job for me. Rosewood is as hard and tough as carving a brick!

Planeman

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

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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


#4 posted 05-02-2014 04:40 AM

Planeman, I think I’ll follow your lead :)

That sure is a much sweeter deal…. all those shapes and sizes, wow! But even more importantly is your comments about spending 3 hours on each iron, and appreciating the hardness of the steel and the cutting edge, got me to thinking. I’m looking at a quick shortcut to grabbing some tools and diving right into making wood chips, when I really should take some time just to learn the tools—handle them, sharpen them, make my own handles and basically enjoy the journey. Thanks for sharing the info.

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

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Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#5 posted 05-02-2014 05:24 AM

Making my own tools gives me a lot of satisfaction and to a degree, saves money. But you pay in time which many have little of. I am retired and 73 and have plenty of time, plus things like this keep me out of the bars and whorehouses :).
If you do try this, you will need a bench-mounted belt grinder (I have an old Delta 1” x 36”) and figure going through a few belts! The rest is handwork with coarse through fine water stones, Arkansas stones, and a good strop. A Dremel tool with some diamond discs from Harbor Freight also helps. But the satisfaction of making something I will use is what I enjoy. I’ll tell you one thing, by the time you have sharpened 62 chisels from scratch to a razor edge you will have sharpening down pat!

Planeman

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

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AnonymousRequest

861 posts in 1010 days


#6 posted 05-02-2014 06:10 AM

Tedster, I personally would rather carve wood than sharpen knives. I certainly wouldn’t pay 100 for that set. If you could get it for 50, that might be better to have tools to start with. The thing is about buying “sets” is you may only end up using 2 or 3 of them. The only sets I would highly recommend are DOCKYARD micro tools and sets of small files, both used for detail work. The best way to get started is buy the tools one at a time as you need them. Quality carving tools are that quality. If you bought Chinese forged tools and have to spend hours making them usable, you got hosed. Period. The company is selling unfinished tools to people who will accept that. I’ve been carving since ‘83, never heard of the company and certainly would never fall for Chinese marketing gibberish.. I have Pheil Swiss Made, the best in my opinion. They come razor sharp. I mean razor sharp. Two Cherries is excellent as is a number of German tools. Some of these tools you’ll have to hone them in initially, but not regrind them and finish them. That’s just plain silly. Buy quality tools or you’ll learn the hard way. Another thing, you’ll see guys with hundreds of tools in the background. I assure you, they have 10 or 20 go to tools to get the job done everytime. The rest they seldom, rarely or never use. Eye candy. Not meaning to offend anyone, but the advice you’re getting is bad, IMHO.

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Loren

8295 posts in 3109 days


#7 posted 05-02-2014 06:39 AM

I like Flexcuts and have had an assortment for many years.

Later I bought a boxed set with a couple of handles and
about 20 cutters for something like $130 when my other
carving tools were in another state.

Pros:
- very sharp out of the box
- lot of profiles for the buck, though I only use about 6 of them.
- can be used with power carvers
- because they flex one tool can get you both into an excavation and out of it.

Cons:
- they won’t stand much grinding in many of the patterns since the
smaller tools especially tend to flare at the ends.

For getting started in carving I really do recommend them. They
have good brand recognition and resale value too. I have other
carving tools. I don’t carve much but when I do I use the
Flexcuts a lot.

I’ll not argue with Planeman about the value of those China
chisels. They sound like an amazing value if you have the interest
in preparing them. Carving is funny though because you can have
a lot of gouges in different sweeps but in practice use only
a few of them most of the time.

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AnonymousRequest

861 posts in 1010 days


#8 posted 05-02-2014 06:43 AM

Loren, thanks, Flexcuts are good tools as well, forgot them.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#9 posted 05-02-2014 02:51 PM

Yes, the German and Swiss carving tools are super and I have some. And if you have the money at $35 to $45 per tool to buy them, great! And for people with money and no time and want to get on with caving wood they are fine. On the other hand, there is some personal enjoyment with making and using your own tools as seen by the number of people making their own workbenches and wooden planes. As for the mindless “cheap Commie crap” attitude I see so often here and at other chat sites, I am old enough to have seen this before with the “cheap Jap crap” of the 1960s and 1970s. A little later in the 1980s we began to praise Japanese products for being better made than our USA made products and Japanese-made products soon were out-competing our products. Then the wage level in Japan slowly rose and Japanese products became expensive and by the end of the 1990s American made products had been improved and were competitive again. The same thing is happening in China now. And soon their low wage employees working in sweatshop conditions will be demanding more (It’s happening already. Presently there are worker’s unions forming and some strikes in progress.) Many of their lackluster products of the past have recently become the equal of any in the world and will be getting even better as they progress. I have a 12” Chinese-made Harbor Freight $36 table saw blade on my Hammer K3 48 ‘x 48” sliding table saw that I will put up against any $140 USA made saw blade! It has been on my saw for a year-and-a-half now. It runs true, leaves a silky smooth cut, and stays sharp! Give it a few more years and soon the Chinese products will be like the present Japanese products, excellent and expensive. Then the world will move on to cheap Vietnamese products, cheap Indian products, etc. and the same process will repeat itself. It is Capitalism in action! And it makes rich countries from poor ones for those who practice it.

Planeman

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

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7171 posts in 2038 days


#10 posted 05-02-2014 03:24 PM

Let’s see here, 35 – 45 per tool for a well made import times 62 pieces
of rough DIY China import is around 2480 on average.

So, 150.00 there about’s for the Chinese set of 62 is the way to go.

You also have the luxury of making your own chisel from the Chinese set
as you can grind custom grind the detail to your liking.

Great thread and discussion.

Planeman nailed it. And so it goes….... history repeating itself.

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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


#11 posted 05-02-2014 04:17 PM

I would like to go all three routes… Flexcuts, fine European carving tools, and inexpensive Chinese blades which are formed of a good quality steel but need sharpened and fitted with a handle. I would also like to get some sort of power carver that fits the Flexcuts blades. I have no issue with made in China products as long as they’re not cheap imitations of other products.

All the info you guys are sharing is quite welcome and appreciated, but my real question was whether the Master Grip tools are a good buy, and the short answer is no… I can do much better.

As for spending countless hours shaping, sharpening and honing the edges of unfinished blades, I see that as a project in and of itself. Set the wood aside and don’t even think about what I plan to make with these chisels—the tool IS the project. Granted, it doesn’t give me a nice carving to show everybody what I did, but I can appreciate the journey as much as the destination itself.

I would also like to have a Flexcut kit and a small assortment of fine European chisels and gouges, ready to cut wood right out of the box. It would be nice to jump right in and start practicing on my carving.

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


#12 posted 05-03-2014 02:28 PM

Waho, you make a good point (pun intended) about shaping the Chinese set, as it appears many of them are multiples of the same basic profile.

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#13 posted 05-03-2014 10:28 PM

Tedster, you are very right that making the carving tools IS the project! And you are correct that the set of 62 Chinese irons are of a certain curve but at different sizes (radii). This is usual among carving sets. And it is true that just for basic carving you can make do with just a few tools. My suggestion is to go back and look at ALL of the finished carving tools offered on the Wood Carver’s Supply website (http://www.woodcarverssupply.com/Mastercarver-Sets/products/136/). These are ready to use tools, though like most edged tools I’m sure could use some finished final sharpening. You can buy one of the smaller sets and then add on later. Be sure to look at these tools and their price and then go to Woodcraft or somewhere similar and look at the price of German and Swiss tools like Two Cherries and make up your mind. You live in Chicago. There must be a few of these woodworking stores there. Examine the actual tools up close and note their cost. I agree that the German and Swiss carving tools are the top of the line. If you can afford them, by all means buy them! But if you want what I believe to be excellent equivalent tools at a price savings, it is my opinion that the Chinese-made Wood Carver’s Supply tools would be a good buy. Also note that the seller of the Chinese carving tools also offers smaller sets of FINISHED carving tools. Remember, this seller is a luthier’s supply and has all of his offerings on eBay listed in his “store” (http://stores.ebay.com/Charming-SONG-Violin-store?_trksid=p2047675.l2563). Here are his other chisel offerings:

Heavier “socket-type” chisels:
Smaller set: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sharped-8-pcs-ASSORTED-LOT-WOOD-CARVING-TOOLS-Chisel-guitar-make-tool-/271472405687?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f35042cb7
larger set: http://www.ebay.com/itm/12pcs-various-wood-carving-tools-Chisels-guitar-make-tool-/271454238975?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f33eef8ff

Lighter ””tang-type” chisels:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/30pcs-ASSORTED-LOT-WOOD-CARVING-TOOLS-Chisel-/271450770427?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f33ba0bfb

Also, a good used chisel set from eBay would be another money saving consideration.

Good luck on your decision!

Planeman

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

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Ted

2785 posts in 1672 days


#14 posted 05-03-2014 11:44 PM

Planeman, I like your way of thinking. The fine German and Swiss tools would be nice to have at least a few of them, but my budget dictates they will have to wait. Also, it would be good for me to get my feet wet and figure out what shapes I would use most, before investing in the higher end stuff.

I’m watching a nice basic set right now, which I’ll post if I win them. They are old, good quality, sharp, and would save me a lot of money compared to retail prices. The MasterCarver sets are nice, but these used tools will get me started carving, and the Chinese set will get me started fine tuning my own edges.

So a couple hundred invested in carving tools is enough for now. I’m also looking toward getting a lathe and either a scroll saw or a band saw… and I’ll need lathe chisels and accessories… hope I have enough left for some wood! :D

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

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waho6o9

7171 posts in 2038 days


#15 posted 05-04-2014 02:54 AM

I purchased a couple of gouges at a garage sale that were neglected but

not too messed up and I made a profile in maple and adhered some leather

to it. Then I applied some green compound and honed away, after a couple

of days there was a razor edge on the gouge.

A dowel makes for a nice profile for the inner face and a table saw was use
to rough out the half moon and the rest was done with a file.

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