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Chuck

Simple carving techniques for first-timers using a rotary tool and burrs

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I have started another pinned topic to make finding info on these two different approaches to relief carving easier.  I am way out of my element with both methods but I know we have many members who are very experienced with rotary carving and this is the place where those techniques and questions can be discussed.

 

I realize that many will have a preference to one or the other but this group aims to talk about both approaches with some in-depth discuss.

 

Feel free to begin the discussion.  I am also going to reach out to folks we all know that are experienced with miniature carving with a rotary tool and with chisels and blades with the hope they will take part in the group and have a try at carving the blanks available from the NRG.  Watching them progress will benefit the group a lot so please do also encourage them to participate.

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I would say that this topic is just in time for me, because I am nearing the phase of making carvings for my next project. I have today purchased a Marathon Micromotor unit with Contra Angle handpiece from ebay in order to use it for learning carving. I have no earlier experience at all of carving work, and thought to start practizing rather with a rotary tool than knives or chisels. So I am waiting very eagerly many tips and advice from those of you who have already practice of using this tool.

 

It is a pity that the guru among you, Janos, has stopped writing here, because as far as I have notized, he is the best carver I ever have seen, and would have had a lot to give and teach us beginners.

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I would be grateful to learn how to better carve, sand, shape the solid wooden hulls that come with model kits.  The before and after pictures are always there, but the work practices are not.  I do know that there are plenty of clear instructions, but I am a visual learner and seeing is learning.

 

Chuck A.

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Chuck (achuck49),

 

I think this is intended as more of a discussion for ornamental carving. To get help with carving solid hulls, use the search feature to look for finished solid-hull kits in the kit logs section, kits such as MS's Phantom, Kate Cory, or Newsboy. There should be some pretty informative logs in the lot somewhere.

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Hi, Sam....

 

If you are using a Dremel rotary tool to carve with, no, you won't have much control using that tool.  I started a topic some time ago asking for help and comments as to what type of rotary tool to use for carving, and the best recommendations were for the Gesswein micro motor rotary tool.  As it turned out, I managed to find a very old and very used (not abused) Gesswein that had some slight vibration and overheating problems.  I sent the tool out for rebuild, and for the price of $100.00 the tool was totally reconditioned and is now like new.  Add the $50.00 I paid for the tool, the total cost was much less than a new model costing $350.00.

 

The Gesswein runs very quietly, even at high rpm, and zero vibration felt while holding the tool.  I am able to hold a small carving with one hand and carve using the other hand and the tool is very stable (kind of like using a pencil to draw with.  My Dremel has since been relegated to sanding work.

 

Jim

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Perhaps this is a bit naif, but to start carving with a rotary tool is also a bit 'lazy'.
I am sure that people like Bill Short did not buy expensive motors and bits to find out if he liked carving wood.
I looked at some of the prices for sets such as offered by Gesswein and others and I decided to hold off for a while: like, a long time.

Meanwhile I like to see what rotary tools can do and keep buying lottery tickets.

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This is my first attempt with carving. As I said earlier, my new project needs some simple carvings at the stern. After having read all tutorials available, I chose to use rotating tools for this work, because it feels easier for me than to use knives and chisels and the quality of carvings might be better, at least for me with no previous experience.

 

So the first thing was to obtain suitable wood for this work. Having read from different sources that boxwood would be the best choice, I started to look for that. Soon I found out that this kind of wood couldn`t be found anywhere in this country. So I ordered a lump of good looking boxwood fron the supplier in the UK.

 

Next I thought to start from the most difficult thing, the letters for ship`s name. These are very small, about 3,5 mm high, and preferable made with old type font. Laser cutting was first tried with fonts found in Corel Draw. They were scaled and sent to laser cutting company, but results were not at all acceptable. It was not possible to have these small letters not to be burnt by the laser, and removing the unevitable char from them would have been almost impossible. So next I turned into my dear old cnc router, and after some testing and changes the results were improving until acceptable. Letters are cut from 0,6 mm thick boxwood, letter height is 3,6 mm and they were cut with dia. 0,3 mm cutter. The font was found from the CADCAM program`s (Vector) font library.

 

A nice picture of red deer was found in Internet, scaled down with Corel Draw and printed on paper. This was glued on 2 mm boxwood and cut with a jeweler`s saw, and edges rounded with the rotary tool, using old dentist`s cutting bits.

The remaining parts were also cut of 2 mm boxwood and "machined" with rotary tool.

 

Finally all parts were glued into the stern of the model and stained with light walnut color.

 

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post-17638-0-25176200-1482055588_thumb.jpg

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Before finding this topic I was originally going to use small stick on letters for the quarter board of my model of the Howard W. Middleton (see separate log -

However with the inspiration this topic brings I will see what I can do as a first-time carver using a #11 blade.  I took some pictures today of the original 12' x 9" quarter board (1.5" x 3/32" scale) that is mounted in our beach club house.  Looks pretty basic compared to what Moxis and others have done so I should be able to make a reasonable attempt.  Looks like boxwood is the wood of choice.  If anyone has any ideas on where I can get my hands on a small quanity of 3/32" wide strips that would be much appreciated.

 

Larry

 

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Posted (edited)

My current project is a plastic model.  I am making a number of carving masters for casting resin duplicates, in an effort to enhance the kit.  I learned carving while attempting to do various reliefs in wood, mostly for furniture projects.  The number-one thing I learned was that the design that one is working from must be proportional to whatever space it is intended to enhance; if the outline of the thing isn't balanced, then the finished carving - no matter how finely worked - will not be the best that it can be.  So, my advice to this thread would be to take as much time as necessary drawing your carved work - whether your medium be pencil/paper/eraser, or digital - to make sure that the design works well with the lines and scale of your ship.

5af6245917618_SheerCapOrnaments.thumb.jpg.06d675742eb1b0fed725874be5906feb.jpg

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These dolphins are sheer rail end-cap ornaments, in white styrene.  Unlike the process of carving wood, where you are mostly shaving wood away, with the grain - after first cutting in the primary outlines of the design - with plastic it is mostly a process of scraping away material in a series of micro-bevels that will appear rounded to the naked eye.  In diameter, these dolphins are about the size of a U.S. quarter.

 

Wood or plastic, though, the outline of the thing is paramount; your shaping and modeling can be relatively limited, or as elaborate as you please; as long as the outline is proportionally good, though, then the carving will show well.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Ken,

Not the same.  A CNC machine (in this case) would me a mill with computer control instead of manually moving the table.

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As it's getting chilly here in Nebraska, I thought I'd ask some questions about burrrrrrrs (bad pun)

 

I was looking around at possibly purchasing some burrs, there are diamond burrs, titanium coated diamond burrs, tungsten carbide burrs, carbide burrs... what type do you recommend to carve reliefs in wood?

 

Also, there are all different kinds of shapes of burrs. Examples: Ball, Cone, Rounded Cylinder, Flat Top Cylinder, Tapered, Needlepoint, etc. What does each type do? Do I need them all or are there certain ones that I would use the most?

 

I know these seem like really simple questions that a quick Google search would provide the answers, but thought it would be good to have the answers on this forum.

 

 

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love the pun Zack....

 

Your question covers the waterfront, but here's my 2 centazos.

 Start small and cheap.  If you were to get everything listed in your post, you would need a second mortgage.

 

Carbide burrs are adequate for our work, even used ones from your dentist.  Dentists must always use new in order have adequate defenses in law suits. So he/she may donate a few to you if you ask.

 

If you have Harbor Freight or similar in your area, get their $10 packages of diamond and carbide burrs, which have various shapes and start making some dust.  You will start to get a feel.  Don't rush, you are in learning mode.  Buy your next set or type of burrs based on your feel=your new found knowledge.  

 

Comments on the types:  When you need to remove A LOT wood, use a round head tungsten carbide, they have real teeth but will set you back $20 each. Buy only when in need.  Diamond burrs are good for smoothing as they remove only small amounts of wood.  Your new feel will tell you which shapes you like the best.  Same for the carbide burrs.

 

Your homework is to search this forum for other comments, especially Chuck's intro on relief carving.

 

Best wishes on you quest and please keep us postsed

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 I think Richard is correct. You just have to start to get a feel for what each size and what each speed of the machine you are using does to the wood. Definitely need to use some type of hardwood as basswood is definitely not your friend. 

 

During the recent NRG conference there was a demonstration and lecture on wood carving. The following pictures are of his set up. One of the interesting things to note on the second picture on the very bottom right corner is a ball bit that he has filed off most of the cutting edges to leave just 4 instead of the eight or 12 or whatever number is in a regular ball.

 

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Some thoughts on wood carving in miniature:

 

These are personal observations on the subject! 

 

There is a difference between machine carving and edge tool carving. Not that one method is necessarily better than the other, but the finish is quite different in appearance. An bladed tool leaves a crisp edge with a burnished surface. A rotary tool does not. If you look at the older 'Admiralty' style models, the carved works on them were all produced with small gouges and blades. If you try to emulate their appearance using a rotary tool, they will have a different look and feel. Of course, you may be quite happy with that look - it is  a personal choice. 

 

I have found that it is all too easy to remove more wood with a rotary burr than one intends! A well-sharpened edge tool is far more controllable. 

 

No matter what tools are used, many carvings look 'wooden': stiff, boxy and awkward. This is particularly true of figures. Some knowledge of human anatomy is very helpful, as well as being able to carve in deeply enough to lose the original rectangular shape of the piece of wood one is carving. Studying and analyzing really well carved work can teach one a lot about the subject.

 

Lastly, good directional light is a huge help when carving. It will show the pattern of light and shade as you develop the piece. Many woodworkers' suppliers run carving workshops where you can learn the fundamentals and get guidance. I believe that Admiralty Models will run a ship modelers' carving workshop late next spring. This will be announced on MSW when details are available.

Pegasus quarter badges.jpg

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Very true....I will also add that with the advent of polymer clay also becoming more popular for making ship model carvings,  this too creates a more rounded appearance.  A simple way to make your rotary carvings and clay sculptures emulate a more chiseled appearance would be to just go back at your carvings with a sharp chisel afterwards to finish it up.  This will give you the same look if that is something you are after.  Simply chiseling away at edges and surfaces once you finish will make them look as though they were carved with a sharp blade to begin with.....this is of course more easier said than done!!

 

Wonderful carvings Druxey ....simply beautiful.

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