Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Carvers Friends Part Two

Following on from the previous post about my carving tools this post
Looks at the rest of the tools in my carvers tool roll. The final and third post will look at all the tools that have their own storage and don't live in the tool roll we have looked at in post 1 & 2.

So we are concentrating on the bottom row of tools in this post have a look at The Carvers Friends Pt1 to Se the top row.

This fella is the Flexicut Carving Jack. It's a pocket Multi carving tool that can go almost anywhere with you. (Caution, taking this onto a commercial airliner may get you arrested)

The photo shows it open with all of its blades out.

1. A straight knife blade
2 A straight chisel blade
3. A straight gouge
4. A skewed v blade
5. A skewed broad gouge
6. A skewed gouge

The blades lock open for use which allows you some heavy usage without fear of the blade snapping shut.

The next shot shows you the tool in my hand to give a sense of how large this is.

The blades are what you would expect from Flexicut and arrive sharp and ready to use, the steel used in manufacturing is very good and they hold a razor edge for what feels like a very long time. I tend to only dress the blades after heavy use.

Not the prettiest tool in the roll, but it's one of the best re quality of manufacture. It's a bit square sided for my liking and the 'wood' in the handle is like kitchen work top melamine.

That said its a great tool. I would not be without it.


Flexicut is an American tool company (unfortunately I have struggled to find a UK company that produces top quality carving blades so I'm forced to buy overseas). American styles of carving can differ from us; for example I carve right handed and tend to carve away from the body, which is a preferred European method. In the States they tend to carve into the body more, so when producing a tool like the Carving Jack the RH model for the European market would suit the Left Handed Carver. I bought a RH model first! I did try to get on with it but it's not how I carve, so I was required to buy a LH version. These tools are not cheap so if nothing else demonstrates my opinion of the tool the fact I was prepared to buy two should. These guys cost £115 a time.

There is a debate about how many carving tools you could buy instead of one of these, however you can't get away from the size and portability this gives you. I must say though I'm a bit of a collector and this is unique kit, it just so happens that I think it's extremely useful kit too.

If your a lefty and carve away from your body, or a righty and carve into your body and want to buy a barely used RH Carving Jack let me know, I have one in the cupboard I would be prepared to sell.

The next in the row from left to right are my mini drills. I have a collection of pin vice drills and archimedes drills. Excellent for boring pupils in eyes and starting off the nostril holes. With a range of micro drill bits these guys a invaluable.

The picture below has two Archimedes drills. The one on the left is a relatively cheap modern modellers tool bought locally fairly recently, the other is an old version in brass I picked up because I can't resist old tools like this. For smoothness of action, qualtiy of manufacture and just how it feels and looks, the old guy wins every time.

This shot shows a Multi chuck pin vice drill that's very useful. Each end unscrews and the chuck can be taken out turned over and reinserted to give a different chuck size.

Worth spending a little more on a quality one.

The next knife in the roll I don't use. Why is it there then?

This little guy belonged to my grandfather who used it for years, my grandmother gave it to me when I was 10 years old when my grandfather died. I am ashamed to say I lost the leather sheath it came in when I was quite young. The knife was bought as a souvenir when my grandparents went to Austria. It's not real antler but is plastic but the blade is good and keeps a good edge.

I love the way the blade has worn through the years of sharpening and I make sure it stays sharp just Iike grandad did.
One of my favourite knives for obvious reasons.

The next tool is an old find that used to sit in my cabinet makers tools through my career as a furniture maker over 10 years ago. I think I picked it up at a second hand tool shop, or it came with a second hand kit I bought for £50 years and years ago. Whatever, it wasn't used unless it was for putting a burr on a cabinet scraper.

When I started carving I sought it out because its a lovely size and shape and the blade holds a superb edge. I shaped the handle from a rough hexagonal to a smooth rounded and it's an invaluable member of the tool roll. Used more on the larger carvings it cuts clean and with little effort. It has no makers mark and has a feel of a hand made tool, this chisel may have been made by a carver years ago for a specific job, whoever made it did a great job and it's a pleasure to keep their tool working.

I love using old tools, tools that were probably hand made and by people who were proud of what they produced. It's like I'm giving them a second life.

The next run of tools are a set of knives bought for me for my 40th birthday as a gift from my two boys. They are great knives that are superb quality and well made.

A set of chip carving knives these fellas are the backbone of my kit. I have reshaped one of the blades to suit what I want, but the others remain as they were manufactured.

From the left then the first is a classic chip carving tool and allows the carving of detail, specifically the mouth and around the eyes. Very comfortable to use and very sharp. The blade is quite thick so it can withstand some heavy use too.

The next two are the same design but do different jobs. The first is a smaller version and is used for general carving and light waste removal. It's light and easily manipulated, the blade is shorter than its brother and slightly thinner too. It holds a wonderful edge and is one of the most used knives in the set.

The big brother doesn't look that different in the photos however when you pick them up you can instantly see and feel the difference, this guy tells you he's a waste remover and designed to do heavy work.

The next looks mighty similar again, however when purchased this guy had a curved blade similar to the teardrop knife in Post 1. I didn't find the shape useful and wanted something flatter. I decided to grind the blade flat and now have a really heavy duty waste remover that I use to strip bark and do some heavy waste removal. The blade is the thickest in the set and not likely to break under heavy abuse.

I suggest to people don't be afraid of changing the blade or handle of a purchased blade if it's not working for you. If your not confident to do so find someone who can do it for you, you will be surprised at how good a redesigned blade can feel and work for you.

Finally my favourite. This guy has a quirky handle and a very fine detail blade that's very thin and can flex. I use it to finish off faces to create the rounded smoothness. This blade is extremely sharp and on larger carvings helps shape the eyes and finer detail of the face. It removes minute and very thin shavings.

The handle actually makes it very comfortable and very easy to manipulate.

Two more to go.

This knife is a Veritas carvers knife that I got for Christmas a few years ago. I'm a fan of Veritas tools from back in the cabinet making days. They are a Canadian company that produce innovative and quality tools.

This is essentially a more robust scalpel blade holder that stores blades in the body of the knife. The blades are scalpel sharp and flexible. This gives it limitations, the blades don't allow heavy use without snapping yet the size of the handle suggests a knife used for heavy work.

I use this foursome detail work but find the handle too large sometimes to easily manipulate to create detail.

That said its a great knife and I use it for other general craft maybe more than carving. The range of blade shapes does make it very versatile and it will hold all standard scalpel blades too.

Finally there is the latest edition to the kit. Placed on my wish list for Christmas this spoon / bowl carving knife is Swedish in design and manufacture. It is a real bugger to sharpen, something I will need to learn.

I saw a post recently on bowl and spoon carving, and have done a post on the same myself since. I was so interested in carving bowls and spoons I just couldn't be without one.

I have to say that after use your hands are a mess! Blisters and bruises and if unlucky this guy will bite you too. The process of carving a bowl or cup is hard work, but almost impossible without a knife like this. I hope the hands toughen up soon. Have a look at this post on Kuska carving to get a better idea.

This guy has carved three now and it's getting easier as I learn the technique. As I type it hasn't cut me yet but I guess if you play with knives often enough expect a few nicks and cuts.

You are now saying that I've misses a tool from the far right! Well you are if your observant and spotted the final pocket with a black handle and a leather pouch. The pouch is for one of my knives and I store it there. The black handle is actually a potato peeler!

Why have I got a potato peeler in my carving toolkit you ask?

My sons are fascinated with the knives I have and want to copy dad when out walking in the woods. I always have a knife on me and am whittling away whenever in the country side. The safest way you can start your kids off with whittling is using a simple straight potato peeler. You don't have to sharpen it, it will strip bark in the same way a knife would and for green wood it will sharpen a stick to a point. What it wont do is bite your child and draw blood if used inexpertly. You employ the rules of knife use always even when getting them to use the peeler and when they are doing it as second nature you let them loose on a knife. I would recommend as a first knife you let them have a locking blade (opinel especially the safety knife that locks and has a rounded end, follow the link)

That said I also use the peeler to quickly remove bark from sticks etc it's efficient and can be quicker than using a knife. The peeler won't dig int the wood and removes the bark cleanly.

The photo is a stock picture but this is the sort of thing and costs about a pound from the local supermarket.

That's the tool roll that I use on a weekly basis. The last post will show the rest of my tools in the Carvers Friend Pt3

Your comments are welcome and any questions please leave a comment and I will get back to you.


~ Dave ~

1 comment:

ArtPropelled said...

Thanks Dave. Another enjoyable post. Interesting about the potato peeler for kids. I wish I had thought of this when my daughter wanted to carve several years ago.