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Forum topic by stefang posted 02-25-2015 04:01 PM 1722 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


02-25-2015 04:01 PM

I want to buy some Flexcut chisels specifically for figure carving. I will be carving 2” to 12” high figures and I would appreciate it if any of you with figure carving experience using Flexcut tools could suggest which chisels would make a good all around selection.

I can buy Flexcut palm tools in sets or individually at my local tool supplier who has a very wide selection. Past experience tells me that it is probably best to buy them individually so I pay for only what I need, but I’m not too worried about the cost if you think a set would be preferable. I have standard carving chisels, but they are difficult to use for figure carving with their long handles and long shafts.

The only palm tools available to me locally are Flexcut and Pfeil. the Pfeil chisels are for linoleum cuts and I don’t know if they are ok for wood too. They have round palm handles and they don’t look as comfortable to use as the Flex cut ones so I am not considering those, but if you have a different opinion please let me know. I will greatly appreciate any good advice you might have to offer.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.


21 replies so far

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Druid

1295 posts in 2255 days


#1 posted 02-25-2015 08:00 PM

Hi Mike,
My suggestion would be to consider getting a combination of fixed handle carving tools, along with some interchangeable style gouges. I do not know what you might already have, so the following is what I would suggest as a starting point for someone with no tools on hand.
For the fixed handle straight blades, I would suggest 2 sets to start with . . . The KN500 3-Knife Starter has a good starter selection for basic carving, and the KN400 Detail Knife Set adds 3 smaller blades for detail work. Since these are all straight blades, you will obviously want to add some gouges, and for a starting point, I will suggest the SK107 11 pc. Craft Carver Set. This is a set of interchangeable blades with one handle, so the cost is a bit lower than a matching set with handles, but I would recommend purchasing at least one extra handle (also available in a set of 3) so that you do not have to change the handle every time you need a different blade. Several slightly different styles of handles are available to suit your preferences. Later on, as you decide to try different projects, you can also add just the particular additional blades that you require. I also have the RG100 14 pc. Power Gouge Set, and these blades fit a manual handle as well as my power carver.
As a bit of a bonus, the first 2 knife sets that I suggested also include a bar of their Flexcut Gold Polishing Compound, and from my experience, this is tops for maintaining excellent cutting edges.
If you want a bit of portability so that you can carve wherever you go, I can recommend the Carvin’ Jack which includes 6 blades. There are 2 versions of this model to consider. The JKN91 Right-Handed or the JKNL91 Left-Handed. Take a close look at the photos of these on the Flexcut site, and you will see that the V and scorps are facing opposite directions on the 2 models. In my case, I am right-handed, but I prefer to carve away from my body, so a left-handed version would provide the correct orientation for my preference. The one that I have is a right-handed version, and I really enjoy using it now that I have learned to carve (carefully) towards myself. There are also several other “Jacks” with different blade combinations to consider.
Another point that I will add, is that these carving tools come razor sharp, and ready to carve, so you do not have to do any preparation when they arrive. Many carvers do not realize that some brands do not perform final honing on their carving tools so that their customers can do the final sharpening to their own preference.
I know that you only asked for “starter” information, but I thought I would add some further suggestions for future reference.

Waiting to see your next carving.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#2 posted 02-25-2015 10:18 PM

Thanks much John for this detailed info. I will check then all out tomorrow (late here now). I have quite a few good standard carving gouges with different sweeps and various types and sizes of chisels and I also have a good chip carving knife and a Swedish Sløyd knife, but it’s the palm type tools I need the most right now. I think a small ‘v’ chisel, and a couple of small gouges could handle most of the work I’ve done so far, but I will undoubtedly need more as my skill advances and for different types of projects. I think probably 3 handles might work best for me no matter how many chisels/gouges I buy. The jacks are very tempting too as they are a whole carving kit in one tool, so I will give it some consideration before I decide. I’ve seen a carving video where a Flexcut jack was used and it looked very effective. Thanks again, and I will let you know when I finally decide.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Druid

1295 posts in 2255 days


#3 posted 02-25-2015 11:44 PM

Hi Mike,
If you want another example of work done with a Carvin’ Jack, one of my projects was done using mine.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/46046
Hope the information helps.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

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Schwieb

1797 posts in 2921 days


#4 posted 02-26-2015 12:53 AM

Hi Mike,
I wish I could offer some advice but this sort of carving just has not been my thing. I’ve always admired this and have several Flexcut knives the I love as marking knives and have a small set of 6 Pfeil chisels that I inherited from my Dad that are treasures to me. I think each chisel has a specific purpose and the more you have the merrier. It’s sorta like tools, clamps, planes, etc. How could you have too many?

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#5 posted 02-26-2015 10:07 AM

John Loved your walking staff. I too have a soft spot for the Celtic knots, though I have only done a marquetry one so far. I can’t understand why I am missing your projects. You are on my buddy list, but I don’t think I’ve gotten all the notifications which I rely on to keep up with what my friends are doing. I will have to keep a closer eye on it as I don’t always browse through all the projects these days as there are so many.

Ken Kind of like Clamps. My wife’s uncle has about 50 carving chisels/gouges and I know many carvers even have a lot more. Relief carving especially requires a wide range. That’s one of the things I like about figure carving, you don’t need so many different tools for that.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#6 posted 02-26-2015 08:00 PM

John, Again, much thanks you for your advice on the Flexcut tools. I did buy the 11 pc set plus a palm handle, a detail carving knife to supplement my chip carving knife and sløyd knife and a honing set to use when away from my shop. The set contained just what I wanted/needed and I doubt I will ever need more, at least for figure carving. They feel wonderful with the palm handle, so I already know I will love these tools. Here’s a pic of my haul:

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Druid

1295 posts in 2255 days


#7 posted 02-26-2015 10:27 PM

Great news Mike. You will also find that the honing guide will keep those keen edges at 100%.
Enjoy.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#8 posted 02-26-2015 11:20 PM

Thanks John. One thing that was a little funny was that I tried one of the chisels in the palm handle at the store and we almost couldn’t get it back out again. It says easy to change blades in the ads. I’m sure that will change with use. The only thing I didn’t like about the set is the storage. I will have to make a box with room for everything. No big deal, it should take an hour more or less. It’s way too easy to cut yourself with the existing pouch. Please don’t ask how I know that.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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grizzman

7796 posts in 2763 days


#9 posted 02-27-2015 12:14 AM

i know a guy who knows the stock market really well, i can ask him about BANDAID stock….let me know…LOL

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

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Druid

1295 posts in 2255 days


#10 posted 02-27-2015 07:07 AM

Ok Mike, I won’t ask, but here’s a photo of an accessory that was included with my Power Gouge Set that I mentioned above . . .

Sounds like you could use these, but I don’t have a part number for this item. Sorry, although I did mention “razor sharp”. ;)

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#11 posted 02-27-2015 09:53 AM

Don’t worry, I got bandaids with my Tormek machine, plus I have a roll of store bought on my bench, but I haven’t cut myself carving after I bought a carving glove and made a thumb protector. I actually nicked myself 3 times fooling around with that Flexcut tool roll. Once at the store and two more times at home just taking them out of the tool roll.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Druid

1295 posts in 2255 days


#12 posted 02-27-2015 08:02 PM

Just to clarify, I’m not employed by Flexcut. So, when I state that these are extremely well made tools, I’m stating this from practical experience.
Happy carving Mike, and I’m sure that we are all eagerly looking forward to your next project.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

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mpounders

821 posts in 2355 days


#13 posted 03-03-2015 04:17 PM

I like the Flexcut palm tools,but I am not a fan of changing blades. However it is pretty easy to make your own handles for the blades in your set. I prefer Pfeil, but in the full size. My first teacher preferred the full size tools and just held them by the shaft for close up carving. Your flexcuts will be fine for what you are doing, but I don’t care for any of their knives. The blades are too thick and the handles on the big multi-tools are not very comfortable.

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

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stefang

15512 posts in 2794 days


#14 posted 03-03-2015 04:58 PM

Thanks much for your input Mike. I agree that changing blades is not great, so your advice to make my own handles is good. I have already used them a bit and I’m very happy with them.

I was using my Pfeils before but I found it uncomfortable holding on to just the shaft. I have arthritis so I really need something big and comfortable for my hands. I’ve been using the Flexcut detail knife with the ‘S’ shaped handle and that is working out well so far. Before that I was using my Pfeil chip carving knife, but my hand kept going completely numb with that one because of it’s skinny handle. I also am using my Swedish Sløyd knife a lot. It is very versatile with not too short pointed blade and holds an edge very well. Great for both roughing and detail work. I looked at the Flexcut Jack with all the different blades and decided against it for comfort reasons and it’s limited sizes and sweeps, although I know some like it a lot.

I feel pretty well set for figure carving for now, but since I’m new at it I don’t know yet what I will be wanting/needing in the future. I do know that I am really enjoying the work a lot, in fact much more that I could have hoped for.

I got Pete LeClair’s caricature book to learn more about it. Here’s a head I carved from his lesson. I’ve changed details to make it look different than his project character, but I did use his techniques and followed the lesson pretty closely. This one is just for learning purposes. I think he is a very good teacher.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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Carvingbarn

18 posts in 640 days


#15 posted 03-03-2015 05:35 PM

I used flex cut for many years and they worked well. I have gone to Drake palm tool they fit my hand better. Like Mike said changing blades can get old. And after some time they just do mot fit as tight. I do not know what you have. But Flex cut offers a 9 piece set ( FR405) that was the first palm set I had. It is a very good basic set. I am sure you would find all the chisels useful. Or you could use it as a guide in picking tools. For your smaller carvings you may want to pic up mini set of V tool and gouges.
Randy

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