Chuck

Carving tools, books and carving woods discussion

62 posts in this topic

Linden was used for shields in Anglo-Saxon times, and it's possible that this was because it was soft enough to receive a blow with an edged weapon without splitting, and perhaps (if you were lucky) trap it in your shield so you could have an uninterrupted 'go' at your opponent.

 

I swear by pear wood for carving, ever since I was given some when I was a teenager. I haven't tried other fruit woods, but I find the fine grain of pear suits my purposes very well, (though carving the faces of 1:50 scale figures is pushing the outside of the envelope a bit, even for pear wood).

 

By the way, is it just me, or do other people have trouble with the screw thread continually coming loose on craft knives like the one at the bottom of Chuck's post of 19 October? I've found it so annoying I got a proper surgical scalpel. The No. 11 blade is the same shape as on the craft knives, and a scalpel works much better for me. Only problem is the occasional broken blade (I'm pretty hard on them).

 

Steven

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One of the most important things when woodworking is how to sharpen your knives and chisels so they can do the job.  The old saying a dull blade is dangerous is very true.  I found this book very helpful in achieiving that edge

post-227-0-30133700-1477233230.png

David B

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Chuck, like you I use a No 11 blade for nearly all tasks.

However you might find some of the other blades available may be worth exploring.

Very occasionally I use a 12D blade.

 

The nice thing about these is that they have a cutting edge both sides.

You can then alternate the side to better suit the shape you are dealing with.

They also seem to have a tighter / sharper angle at the very end allowing better angles of approach.

 

Nick

post-4201-0-46638200-1478871244.jpg

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I have a couple of those...just havent tried them yet.

 

I am still hoping we will get some folks that will try shaping these pieces with a rotaary tool....it would be nice to have a comparison.  Also 

 

You guys are free to carve any design and start a log here as long as it is for ship model related items.   Carving with any tool is very different when you are working at these scales and it is a very different experience than carving full size or even double the size of these blanks.  I know we have a lot of traditional wood carvers out there and once you try carving something as small as these you will see how differently you must approach it.

 

So feel free to carve anything you like....just no folk art old men with a cane....that stuff is not relevant to carving items meant for a ship model at 3/16" or even a 1/4" scale.    But if you have a trailboard or another design you want to carve for your ship model...feel free to start a log and get some input from the others. 

 

I am very happy to see more logs being started...thanks for the interest.   I am also thinking about starting another area on sculpting using polymer clay for those who wish to try that medium to make more complex designs or even the same ones we are doing here.  Just have to find the time to start that one up.  And I will do so if you guys think there is sufficient interest in it.   I am trying to develop this area more so it covers many aspects for creating the decorative elements for a ship model.....whether they are carved or sculpted.   

 

Chuck

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Word of caution with blades that have two cutting edges : One carving technique is to use the thumb of the opposing hand to help "power" the blade along; most carvers who use this technique place their thumb on the back edge (spline) of the blade. Double edged blades can result in some very severe cuts - doesn't take a lot of force to cut yourself with these carving blades. I know - had a few accidents myself.  So be careful.

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Chuck, I would love to see something on polymer clay.  I was considering making my figurehead with it (when that time ever comes).  

 

There is also a regular #12 blade (aka tonsil knife) with the cutting surface only on the inside.  Personally, I would rather load two scalpel handles to get the same effect as the #12D (#12 and #15 or #10).  Much safer.

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Before the Dockyard tools - the suggestions involved making your own from steel rod

or knitting needles.  Amazon sells packs of steel rods - some quite small.

The heating and blacksmithing and grinding edges onto rods as well as Rockwell scale tempering

and quenching is getting into a whole new set of skills.  Dockyard did most of that for us, but if

they are gone, the tools can be home made.

 

As far as wood -  I have my eye on genuine Boxwood and Dogwood.  One that I not been able

to source is Hawthorn.   There is a material that flashed in our world a while ago, but did not take

for some reason:  an ivory substitute - Targa Nut. 

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Hi, Jaager.......

 

Indian Hawthorne is very plentiful here in the States; it is commonly seen as "hedges".  The problem is finding a hedge that needs to be cut down and that it has large enough diameter branches to be useful.  It would be easier to locate some dogwood trees that either need pruning, or that had died for one reason or another. Again, finding usable sizes becomes a problem. Another very good carving wood to consider is crab apple; very similar to boxwood (have not tried any, but have been told this).

 

Jim

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Before the Dockyard tools - the suggestions involved making your own from steel rod

or knitting needles.  Amazon sells packs of steel rods - some quite small.

The heating and blacksmithing and grinding edges onto rods as well as Rockwell scale tempering

and quenching is getting into a whole new set of skills.  Dockyard did most of that for us, but if

they are gone, the tools can be home made.

 

As far as wood -  I have my eye on genuine Boxwood and Dogwood.  One that I not been able

to source is Hawthorn.   There is a material that flashed in our world a while ago, but did not take

for some reason:  an ivory substitute - Targa Nut. 

 

Dockyard is gone but I understand that Ramelson picked up their micro chisels line - See Woodcraft catalog - the Ramelson chisels look an awful lot like the Dockyard ones.  Also The Woodcraft Shop in Iowa still has Dockyard chisels in stock (till they run out)

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Dogwood I have.  A relative owns a tree farm in Caroline Co. and I have Dogwood and Holly from there.

The Holly has a yellowish tinge so even if there was interest in marketing that difficult species, the available

strain does not seem to be a desired one.  For me, even the billets that have Blue Mold should be usable,

since the pure white version is not really appropriate for any ship timber. 

The Dogwood was about as large as that species gets, so my billets are fairly large.  Not large enough for 

frame timbers at 1:48 or 1:60 scale, but I could use it for most any other part.

 

I am not sure that Crab Apple is all that different from regular Apple wood.  One species that may be surprisingly

useful is Bradford Pear.  It has anything but fine tight grain,  but it is much harder than Black Cherry to carve, 

does not want to split, and has a wax-like nature to it.

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Chuck could well be right about Basswood at very small scales. Most of my figure carvings are larger that 2", but I am using European Linden which some say is tighter grained and a bit harder than U.S. Basswood. I would like to carve a few crew members/officers for my current build and they would be about 1-1/2" high, so it will be interesting to see if the Linden will be suitable for that scale.

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Barlett pear is a variety of eatable pear.  It is actually a variety of Pyrus communis - the tree that is

the source of what is called Swiss Pear.  Swiss Pear is not a tree name or growth location, it means that the wood

has been steamed.  I believe this oxidizes the polyphenols in the wood - in any case - it turns the wood into

a relatively uniform pinkish color. 

Bradford Pear is a cousin that is a horticultural specimen.  It does not produce significant fruit, but it is urban hardy,

attractive flowers and grows relatively fast.  Was or still is popular as a street tree.  It has one unfortunate characteristic -

 the branches leave the trunk at an acute angle - rather than horizontal.  The more vertical form looks good and is

predictable from design point of view.  The problem is that when the larger trees experience wind storms, the branches 

peal like banana skins.  A good way for us to get a lot of sizable lumber stock.   The other part - if you self harvest it -

because of the branch angle,  it is difficult to get much stock with right angle grain for knees or breast hooks.

 

Actually, I think most any species of Pear would produce excellent wood for our purposes,  the problem is obtaining it.

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I am going to try and carve one of the blanks from Yellow Cedar.  Its beautiful stuff and I just got some from my supplier.  In case you want to try it check out his site.  He also mills boxwood and a whhole bunch of other stuff.  His prices are fantastic.  So far I am more than happy with the quality and respoinsiveness of this guy.   Hopefully once he gets his site up and running it will be even easier to place an order.n  As far as I know, he is the only supplier of milled yellow cedar on the web.  

 

http://www.woodprojectsource.com/

 

Right now he doesnt have any items listed on his site as in stock because he is just finishing it up.  It should be real soon because he never had a website before and I convinced him to build one.  But you can contact him at any time because he is open for business.  But thanks to some prodding from me he is starting off by adding the woods we prefer.  But he mostly caters to local wood carvers which apparantly there are a lot of.

 

Here is an example in Yellow Cedar of a carving and my test build of the barge.  Compare with teh cherry version behind it.  I really like it for what we do.  Its softer than box but harder than basswood yet the color is beautiful and since I took this photo the color has deepened and it looks almost identical to boxwood although a bit more yellowish....but not an obnoxious yellow at all.

 

cedarcarving.jpg

 

AYCparts.jpg

 

Chuck

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So far so good.  The wood is extremely flexible...I would compare it to holly but softer.   I made a test piece of planking...let me take a photo of it.  Back in a few minutes.  ;)

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Heres a close up of my planking experiment with Yellow cedar.  Very tight almost inconceivable grain.  holds a sharp edge and no need to stain it.  There are two 1/32" sheets below it that I will cut a few carving blanks from and give it a try.  I just have to find some time to do so.  I applied one coat of WOP.  The seams were simulated with a #2 pencil.  I like it.  :)  I havent tried making frames but it is certainly a great replacement for planking....either for boxwood or even holly.   It will darken over time.

 

ALSO....its about half the price of Boxwood and Holly (give or take).  A bit more than Cherry or Maple but I think its a much better wood.  It really does cut like butter with a #11 blade.   Hopefully the same will be true when I carve it.

 

Chuck

 

cedarsample.jpg

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This is very nice looking Alaskan Cedar wood.  Must be a cousin of Port Orford cedar that grows from the Oregon coast to Central Oregon; it also has a fine grain and very easy to work with. I am working with a piece right now for a Robin (bird) carving that looks almost like basswood. I would have included a photo, but it does not pertain to ship building. Really nice stuff.

 

Jim

 

p.s. Michael Mott used Port Orford Cedar to plank one of his model ships and it looked fantastic.

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I love that yellow Cedar. Wish I could get it here in Norway. The discussion about pear reminds me that I have a couple of large sacks of it in my shop loft. I got it from my BIL when he cut down his backyard tree about 30 years ago. Unfortunately he cut it into short logs, but I cut it into smaller chunks, stored it and forgot it. It would probably be ideal for carving small figures. It was also interesting to learn what Swiss Pear actually is. Thanks for that info Chuck. Your Cedar deck looks great.

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I love that yellow Cedar. Wish I could get it here in Norway. The discussion about pear reminds me that I have a couple of large sacks of it in my shop loft. I got it from my BIL when he cut down his backyard tree about 30 years ago. Unfortunately he cut it into short logs, but I cut it into smaller chunks, stored it and forgot it. It would probably be ideal for carving small figures. It was also interesting to learn what Swiss Pear actually is. Thanks for that info Chuck. Your Cedar deck looks great.

Mike, I love to help you with those short pieces of cedar, but I cannot figure out where you live. Kleppe Norway is way up north. Are you sure you don't have north and south mixed up B)

What is an American doing in a place like that? Do you mind visitors?

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Mike,

 

Swiss Pear is not a variety of pear.  Pyrus communis is the common European Pear.

It is used as root stock for fruit pear varieties? The tree itself does not produce desirable 

fruit but is a horticultural specimen?  If the wood is steamed, it turns a uniform pink.

 This treatment is the "Swiss" part.  I believe that the wood from any type of pear -

Asian or European is excellent for any part of a wooden ship model: from keel and

frames to spars.  If your stock did not split and check into useless fragments as it

dried or bark beetles did not mine it out , you may come to regret shortening the pieces.

Most any pear wood has a color that looks good as keel, frames and planking.  It is

hard, tight grained,  does not easily split if you carve against the grain -  and seems

almost ivory-like in consistency.

 

 

When I posted earlier about Bradford Pear not having tight grain, that was the wrong term,

what I meant was that the tree grows rapidly - so the bands of Spring and Summer woods are

wide.  For some parts it is possible to have what shows be grain free - all of one season.  I have a bit of 

Boxwood from an old hedge that had grown very slowly.  The rings are very narrow and very

close together.

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Yellow cedar is actually a cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis).  However, while cypress is usually associated with shrubs, yellow cedar trees can be huge.  

 

http://vancouverislandbigtrees.blogspot.ca/2013/05/worlds-largest-yellow-cedars.html

 

You could probably build a model out of one branch.  (There's a few growing down the street and I keep my eye open after wind storms)

 

These trees can produce large clear timbers and boards.  It's also hard and rot resistant.  As a result it is a very good material for ship building, especially planking.    

 

I've done carving in yellow cedar and it is hard and fine grained, so it holds details very well, and has no pores, as hardwoods have.   Fairly uniform in color, but may get mineral streaks. It is dense, similar to black walnut, so expect your finger tips to get sore when carving.  The grain is generally straight, but can get some swirling.  Can have a quite pungent smell, as are most cypresses and junipers  (Tennessee red cedar is actually a juniper).  

 

Overall, a yellow cedar should be a very good wood for model shipbuilding.  Actually, it's the only wood I've seen that can be used on full size and well as model ships.  Many years ago I stored away a large box of yellow cedar cuttings, and some 2x4's that showed up in a load of Douglas fir boards, with the intention of using it for a plank on frame model.  If I need more, a few local sawmills cut it and it is stocked locally.  Prices for good grade boards are similar to hardwoods, such as red oak.

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I lived in Sitka Alaska for 30 years and I been tryin to tell you guys to try Alaskan yellow cedar. You have to select your wood carefully as not all of it is carving quality. It will also stand up to Steaming if you want to bend it. That"s a really nice carving there Chuck.

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The German Nautical Journal, 'Das Logbuch' has a very detailed article on carving a ship's stern. Even if you don't read German, the detailed pictures are worth a look. Several pictures show what tools are used for the type of carving.

 

If you mouse over the pictures you can click on them to enlarge them.

 

http://www.arbeitskreis-historischer-schiffbau.de/mitglieder/themen/schnitzkurs-1/

 

Marcus

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If anyone needs some inspiration to do some practice in order to improve their carvings, by all means check out the website below.  Alexander is a world class shipbuilder and a very accomplished carver.  Most of the work shown is in the round, but worth a look.........enjoy.

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/5412-carving-from-belgorod/page-1

 

Jim

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