Saturday, 14 August 2010

Micro Carving Wood Tools

In the post "Strange Beginning's" I outlined how I started to learn to carve Wood Spirit faces.  In this short Blog I would like to talk about some of the tools that I  use, sharpening methods, books, sites and people that have helped me. I am still learning but have just about mastered the spirit face which was my goal. But we all strive to be better so the learning continues.  I do not intend to go into too much depth about the tools.  As other more experienced carvers will do that on other sites that are on my blog.  When you wander around the Blog sites that I visit you will see a man called Dave Brock. It was his inspiration and simple approach to learning to carve spirit faces that set the ball rolling for me. If you want to learn how to carve a simple wood spirit face please follow the link.

How to Carve a Simple Wood Spirit Face Pt1

There are three parts to "Carving a Simple Spirit Face".

Here are some of the books that I have bought or been given that have assisted me so far:

Tom Wolfe
Lora S Irish

Lora S Irish

Any way lets look at some of the tools that I use when carving into the shafts of potential walking sticks.  The most important tool is the humble Swiss Army knife.  I only use the small blade which I have been informed from a reliable source is made from Surgical steel? All I know is that I can get a razor edge on the blade, it always resharpens very easily too.

I have tended to stick to one make of tool that being "Flexcut" I find the tools good value for money, well made and ultra sharp.  They also always re-sharpen very well.  I have only purchased my tools from one supplier  Classic Hand Tools. See link below:

Classic Hand Tools

I can say from my experience that they give first class service to there customers. Delivery has always been very quick next day in fact.  I would recommend them to anyone looking to buy Micro hand tools for the first time.

I can put the tools into three groups:

V Tools




Well there you have the tools that I currently use to carve my faces.  One of the most important things about carving that I have learnt is to keep the tools sharp. The problem is that you get so engrossed in your carving that you forget to keep sharpening.  Its only when you are struggling or applying more power to the cut strokes that you begin to realise that the edge is getting dull. STOP.  Re-sharpen the tool. This is the point when you will cut your self..........applying to much pressure trying to get into awkward positions to apply the cut. I never bothered wearing a glove on the non carving hand when I first started carving!!! but let me tell you that when one of those razor sharp gouges slips it ain't comfortable!!!!!! I always wear a glove now. I always keep plasters in my carving box.  When ever you use a knife or sharp tool always have some first aid cover close by.  
When I have finished a carving I generally sharpen the tools that I have used.  I find that I always want to get straight on with carving next time, to have to stop to re-sharpen slows me up and potentially I don't give the tools the time they deserve.  If  I cannot or do not feel like sharpening after the work, I will not carve until I have sharpened the tools.  I set a period a side especially for sharpening.  You will always then dedicate yourself to the honing of the tool ensuring that the edge you have is at its best.  Actually I find it quite therapeutic honing the tools!!!  The V tools & Gouges have special faces and shapes to them, you would not be able to sharpen on a simple stone or leather.  Flexcut make a very simple but effective block that has all the profiles on that you will require to sharpen there tools.
I use this tool all the time although the photo may not show it.  It is simple just load the face that you want to use with the grinding paste and away you go.  I also sharpen my Bushcraft knifes a lot and wanted some thing to strop the knifes on so I made a simple little leather strop board.

This is made from half a cheap bread board about 11/2 cm thick.  I then popped into my local charity shop to find an old leather belt. Cut the belt to fit the size of the board, then epoxy glued the belt to the board.  You can see the board that I made with the grinding paste on.

I then turned it over and did the same again, this side never gets paste.  It is used as just a leather strop. Cost minimal works like a dream.
I never use a wet or oil stone to sharpen the tools.  Never let your tools dull so much that you have to resort to basic sharpening. Most of the time spent carving is matched by time sharpening so its important that you learn.

I hope that you have found this short article interesting.
Carving is fun but can be potentially very dangerous. Please if you have never used a knife or sharp tool before seek advice from someone who has and learn the do's and dont's before starting.  I sought advice please do the same. It only takes one cut in the wrong place to spell disaster. 



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