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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've got some cash together after selling a piece of unused sports equipment and I'm finally in a position to buy some chisels. I was sort of set on some Pfeil intermediate sized ones but having read a review where the tester states they are suitable for women and with those with small hands I'm a bit wary because I have some right shovels for hands!

I'm also tempted with some vintage chisels as there seems to be a few sets of old Marples, before Irwin bought them out, on Ebay at the moment and in it's heyday Sheffield steel competed with the best.

As for what I will be carving it will mainly be some relief stuff no larger than A4 and possibly some lettering on stick handles, definitely no characatures or animal heads etc because I know my limits and they don't particularly appeal to me.

I know there is a chance to buy second hand chisels from car boots etc but y sharpening skills are poor so effectively I'm looking at stuff requiring honing only, not reshaping and removing loads of metal!

Problems problems.....
 

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This ties in to where joining a club will save you money. There's a huge difference between a properly sharpened tool and one that's not. The only way to truly appreciate the difference is to see it for yourself. One of the things my wood turning club does is have a sharpening class periodically. I wouldn't be surprised if a carving club did something similar. You'll also get a first hand look at what other members in the club are using for tools. They may also have tools to sell.

Rodney
 

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Do you have a professional sharpening shop in your area? If you do, you may only need to visit it once or twice a year, depending on how good the chisel is, and how hard you use it. Day to day use only requires stropping, or minor honing. Those are something everybody has to do. You really must have basic sharpening skills.

Looking at the Pfeil website, I see that what they are calling "medium" size are rather short. They are about the same size as ones I got at age 16. But almost all the palm tools I've used have been very close in size. Not enough to make much difference. As I've mentioned before/elsewhere, I sometime use mallet sized tool by hand, just because they are at hand and sharp for the moment. My hands are perhaps a bit larger than usual, buy the flexibility of my fingers (now decreased) and the strength of my grip have been more important than the tool size.

At this point, I'd suggest you get a selection high grade tools. As you find which are the most valuable for their shape, go look for some top grade tools.
 

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I've had a couple of carving classes from guys who are very good. The biggest thing I learned was sharpening. You can carve just about anything that inspires you, from a down home rustic toy to a classic acanthus leaf to a statue of an Indian; what ever. No one will criticize it, it is your creation. But if you use poorly sharpened tools that leave a bad finish, they will pick it apart.

As for the chisels, when I was starting carving; my instructer Joe Dillet, who had a column in a nationally known magazine and made a business of producing custom mantles, suggested 3-4 chisels that he primarily uses. A #3 chisel, a #5 chisel, a #9 chisel, a 60 V tool. I don't remember the width right off.

I have acquired a few more since, some of which I hardly use. If your concerned about a blade perhaps a club member will let you handle his/hers.
 

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Sharpening is a problem that all carvers have initially, freehand sharpening is definitely a skill requiring lots of practice, but if you take freehand out of the equation and use jigs and guides it becomes easier.

There are two stages under the heading of sharpening

1 The hard grinding of a damaged cutting edge to get back to an edge to sharpen

2 sharpening and honing the edge to give a razor sharp and polished cutting edge.

The most important part of the process when using machine sharpening is to prevent overheating of the steel to prevent removing the temper,l therefor quenching in water is paramount in the process and should be done approx every couple of seconds to be sure, also has you go down in grit size of sharpening medium there is greater heat generation.

That's the scary bit over.

I purchased all of my standard carving chisels from car boot sales and made a right mess of trying to make them into good chisels

I looked at all sharpening systems available Tormek, and derivatives,. and thought great but I can't afford one so I decided to make my own for the smallest outlay, looked at all systems and applied parts of all the principles into my cheap portable (I spend the summer at the coast In the caravan) system, and oddly enough it works.

The system is based on a horizontally spinning abrasive with an adjustable tool rest to set the sharpening angle

Plant Furniture Tree Leaf Table Window Cloud Sky Wood Land lot

Wood Automotive exterior Thumb Auto part Nail Cylinder Liquid Gas Rectangle Electric blue

The set up and a damaged chisel resharpened using this,(The blue tac is not an integral part it's my third hand for photo)

This was my initial set up, the abrasives are varying grades of velcro backed carborundum disck on a backing disk easily swapped without affecting set up I even did a stropping one by gluing a piece of leather to a 500 grit pad .

This has been updated by the purchase of a chisel holding clamp (Record tools app £12) this allows the curved contour of the gouge to sit in the tool rest so that you are turning the gouge in perfect sync with its shape.

The sys. is cheap (but not nasty) it works, it also gives the added advantage that you can buy a or some cheap chisels and practice, ie sharpen cut off resharpen, this also allows you to asses how much pitting on an old chisel is too much (you can;t get an edge.

Hope this has been helpful .

If anyone would like a more in depth piece on how I made it please ask I will be more than happy to do so
 

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I would also encourage you to seek out a club or guild. They are great places to learn the basics and you will see the tools that are used by those that do the work. You will get a better Idea of what tools you really need. I spent a lot of money in the beginning that I did not need to spend guessing on the tools I should have.

I fined the Pfeil intermediate sized tool a very useful choice for me. While I have a very good selection of carving tools, I use them on sticks and small carvings more than the lager mallet tools. They are 2 inches (50mm) shorter than the full size.and I find it easier to work with in small ares than the larger tools. While used tool can be fine tools I would not start with them is you are not skilled in sharpening More often than not they require some work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Common sense has had to prevail and I'm going to a meeting of the local branch of the BWCA at the church hall in the village I live in on Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully I can gain some advice and guidance on not only chisel selection but also sharpening.

I do have a wetstone/drystone combi grinder, one of the old Nu-Tool jobs from Screwfix but the problem has always been presenting at a consistent angle. There are some good tips in last months Wood Carving magazine on grinder mods so I'll have a bash at those. I also have a spare twin wheel grinder I can put honing wheels on if necessary. The damage I have caused some good wood working chisels trying to sharpen freehand doesn't bear thinking about although I managed to rescue them somewhat the other night!

Thanks everyone for your help and patience, Lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, the problem I have is consistency of angle. There is however a similar method where you use a fixed bar and using a Tormek or Record chisel holder slide the chisel across emery cloth fixed to a granite slate or a piece of glass, that looks appealing because it is slower than a powered version and I am less likely to foul things up!
 

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Yeah, the problem I have is consistency of angle. There is however a similar method where you use a fixed bar and using a Tormek or Record chisel holder slide the chisel across emery cloth fixed to a granite slate or a piece of glass, that looks appealing because it is slower than a powered version and I am less likely to foul things up!
When using a support bar if the height is adjustable to set the angle especially when using the chisel holder on the blade blacken the angle face with a marker pen put to the abrasive and do a light grind, check the mark on the bevel and adjust accordingly.
 

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Hi
The answer to consistancy is practice
While under instruction years ago i purchased a new unsharpened gouge worked on it for two hours took it to my carving master with pride his comment it will be ok once you have sharpened it. These things dont come easy why do we all look for short cuts?
 

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Hi
The answer to consistancy is practice
While under instruction years ago i purchased a new unsharpened gouge worked on it for two hours took it to my carving master with pride his comment it will be ok once you have sharpened it. These things dont come easy why do we all look for short cuts?
We get habituated to just going to a store and buying something ready made. Quick & convenient sells. And when something breaks down, its often cheaper just to toss it.
 

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I'm happy to spend time learning my craft as it were, I don't expect my early carvings or sticks to be show winners. What I do know is that after a lot of trying I just can't sharpen consistently freehanded. I sat down and worked the problem out in my head with regards to using a wetstone grinder which I have a cheap version of, and inadvertently proved to myself that the chisels would be hollow ground (it was news to me but hey, I'm new to this game!), and if anybody wants to see the maths diagram it's at the bottom of the page.

What I have done is ordered a short tool jig (Triton version, very cheap) and some 12mm steel bar. I plan to use the wetstone grinder for re-shaping etc and my sons Japanese water stones for general sharpening and honing etc. To ensure the angle is correct I'm going to make a "sledge" as demonstrated in this months Wood Carving magazine which they use for the Scary Sharp method except I'll be using stones and not abrasive papers. Happy days!

gallery_801_113_1408744.jpg
 

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Why a wet stone. Flat oilstones wear to correct angles. you cant get a carving edge with a wet stone as described, what about the inside angle ??? When a gouge is correctly honed you shouldnt need to use a stone at all just strop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Why a wet stone. Flat oilstones wear to correct angles. you cant get a carving edge with a wet stone as described, what about the inside angle ??? When a gouge is correctly honed you shouldnt need to use a stone at all just strop.
Well the wetstone grinder will be used as described for when major material needs removing, the water stone from 800 grit onwards for further refining the surface and a strop for finishing, the strop of course will be used periodically during carving as I already do with my whittling knives. Why buy oil stones when I have wet stones, good quality ones, or am I missing something here?
 

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Wet stones v oil stones I dont know I was taught traditional english carving methods which have served me very well
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wet stones v oil stones I dont know I was taught traditional english carving methods which have served me very well
That's cool, I know from experience that the wet stones produce some great results, and seeing as they're in the family it saves me buying an equivalent :)
I envy you, in a nice way, your having been schooled by someone who knows their trade. I have a great respect for the traditional craftsmen and their methods but I've got to work with what I've got. My grandfather was a cabinet maker, but somehow it skipped my dad and me :)
 

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Wet stones v oil stones I dont know I was taught traditional english carving methods which have served me very well
That's cool, I know from experience that the wet stones produce some great results, and seeing as they're in the family it saves me buying an equivalent :)
I envy you, in a nice way, your having been schooled by someone who knows their trade. I have a great respect for the traditional craftsmen and their methods but I've got to work with what I've got. My grandfather was a cabinet maker, but somehow it skipped my dad and me :)
Chris Pye has a great group of on line how to videos on carving ,tools , sharpening an more. You can sign up for a month at a time. I have learned a lot from them.
 

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Referring back to power grinding/stropping a damaged tool ,my system was loosly based on this :-


There are also video's of it being used for V tool and stropping.

The main difference in my version is using a stropping flat disk stil lusing the tool rest , you can also use the short tool guide as mentioned earlier, I use the record one.
 

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I'm happy to spend time learning my craft as it were, I don't expect my early carvings or sticks to be show winners. What I do know is that after a lot of trying I just can't sharpen consistently freehanded. I sat down and worked the problem out in my head with regards to using a wetstone grinder which I have a cheap version of, and inadvertently proved to myself that the chisels would be hollow ground (it was news to me but hey, I'm new to this game!), and if anybody wants to see the maths diagram it's at the bottom of the page.

What I have done is ordered a short tool jig (Triton version, very cheap) and some 12mm steel bar. I plan to use the wetstone grinder for re-shaping etc and my sons Japanese water stones for general sharpening and honing etc. To ensure the angle is correct I'm going to make a "sledge" as demonstrated in this months Wood Carving magazine which they use for the Scary Sharp method except I'll be using stones and not abrasive papers. Happy days!

gallery_801_113_1408744.jpg
wWhich cheap wetstone grinder ? got mine from Aldi, bought some Tormek bits, tool rest and clamp and short knife jig. I make my own carving knives and use this for the blades.
 
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