Chuck

Chuck's carving attempts - #11 blades and micro chisels

45 posts in this topic

I am starting a project log so you guys can see how to start one as well.  Just start a topic and name it properly.  Maybe include what your method is.....#11 blades or rotary carving etc.  I know that nobody likes being the first one to start so here it is to break the ice.  I urge all you guys who bought the blank sets to do the same....lets get some ideas and conversations started.

 

The photo below shows an extreme close up of my carving work to date.  These three lengths of acanthus leaves are needed for one side of the barge.  Once completed I need to carve another  set for the port side.  But those will be mounted upside down as they are a mirror image.

 

I am almost done with this set....Just a little remains on the center example.  I am using a #11 blade 98% of the time.  The close  up is pretty brutal.....warts and all you can see how the carving went.  It looks much much better when viewed normally and no finish has been applied yet.  I keep the other two that are finished close by as I work on this one because they must all look the same.

 

I also included the contemporary barge model so you can see how these three pieces will become the continuous length of carving along the side of the barge aft.  Its pretty typical of the acanthus leaf carving designs on any ship model.  I figured its better done in three small lengths than one huge piece....just in case a one-time error that ruins the piece I am working on....the other two will still be fine and usable. Each one took me about six or seven hours to carve in a few one or two hour sessions.

 

Chuck

 

carvingbarge.jpg

 

post-2-0-46220500-1464528855.jpg

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In this photo you can see two of three carvings placed on the model so you can see how they look when assembled...the third is still mounted on the carving base but you get the idea. I think I did apply Wipe-on-poly to that first one because it appears a bit darker.  

 

bargecarvings.jpg

 

My question is this,

 

In this photo you can see the surface quality of the pieces super close up.  It looks a little rough to me in spots.  I didnt scrape the surface at all while carving but you can still see some rough points and bits that werent completely removed in the corners and crannies..  I wonder if there is a way to sand pieces this tiny and fragile.  I have tried folding a piece of 320 grit sandpaper and cutting it with a point on the end but its still tough to get into and address the rough areas. I Just cant get to them.

 

carvingbarge.jpg

 

Am I just looking at them too hard under magnification and close up macro photos???is it much to do about nothing or is there some method the more experienced carvers use to smooth out the surface to rid it of irregularities and tiny splits or wood hairs.  I have seen the work of some master builders and carvers on ship models and they sometimes appear so crisp and smooth.   It could have been that they were much larger but I doubt it.

 

Maybe it looks just fine????  Buff it?? some sort of polishing or just apply some wipe on poly with a brush???  Feel free to jump in....these are the little gems I am hoping will get talked about as folks start their own logs.  I am the first person in line for any and all tips.  

 

I also wonder how those builders of the contemporary models got their carvings so thin...look at the contemporary model I posted.  Its the same scale.  I thought our blanks at 1/32" thick were thin but I couldnt imagine going thinner???  It makes me admire them so much more.

 

Chuck

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I'm not sure I see the rough areas that you are talking about, but I believe that the answer to getting a super smooth surface in most cases where sand-paper doesn't work is high-quality jewelers files.  Not the crap you get from MM or a hobby store, I'm talking about Valorbe or other comparable Swiss files which can be purchased in extremely fine tooth cuts and will produce a silky smooth finished surface.

 

If you follow the build log of Frank (Mahuna) in the scratch build section, you'll see that he has files for just about every situation you could come up with.

 

Of course, acquiring a comprehensive set of high-quality files is extremely expensive, so you would want to acquire them as you need them for different situations.  For getting into the tiny corners a good triangle file might be useful, and you can get these fine files with teeth only on certain sides so that you can get right up into the corner and only take material from the work-face, and not the edge.

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Lets get even closer.....This is what I see under magnification while carving.....you are so close to the details while carving it becomes hard not to obsess about the surface texture and I hope you can see the areas I would like to smooth out a bit but I am afraid to keep slicing and carving and wonder if there is another method.  I think files would be too large and tough to use as I cant see getting any back and forth motion while its still mounted.   Its fragile so attempting it after removal would most certainly break it...but who knows...it could just be my inexperience and that is how it should be done.

 

carvingdetail.jpg

 

Maybe I have to just get better with teh initial carving and that will just come with practice.

 

Chuck

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I do not know if this system would work with this kind of carving, but I would like to share my experience with carving used in Bonsai trees.

 

Sometimes you want to show a branch that has died back a long time ago in your design.  The Japanese name is called 'jin' (pronounce like the drink gin).  To do this you need to remove the old bark - which can be particularly troublesome if the branch is a real dead on, not a living one you kill of to make it look dead.

I use very sharp knives to remove this - similar to what Chuck has been showing with his #11 blade.  Obviously you do not wish to see the cut-marks (otherwise it looks artificial, not natural as is desired).

 

To remove the obvious signs, I use the same knife, hold the blade perpendicular to the surface so that only a very narrow point of the cutting edge is actually touching the branch (in this case carved piece).  Moving this sideways - under very gentle pressure - will even off the edges of the cut marks, thus giving the look of a smooth surface.

 

Will take some time, but I think it will give a very smooth surface - after all, is this not a technique used for scraping deck and hull?

 

Just my two cents, now I will have my wee dram.

Slainte

Peter

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Chuck, your demo looks great to me, and thank you so much for sharing and starting this blog. Are you just using exacto blades carved to the proper curve shape? If so, how do you go about doing that?

 

You can try adding minuscule amounts of putty and fine it down with a file or dremel. I think that at the scale you are working with that such details would be nearly impossible to see despite our desire to be as close to perfection as humanly possible.

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I think that would work for any area that the grain is going the right direction.  But when the grain is exposed it usually tears the wood and makes it rough.   It picks up the grain fibers.   I would say that more than half of the surfaces on a design like this run with the grain in a less than optimal direction but yes I will give it a try in areas that wont get shredded.

 

Thanks

 

Chuck

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Ahoy Chuck

 

It's like a lifetime ago-40 some years ago when I started out learning how to file and polish  form die's at work. It just takes lots of just doing. You will get a feel for it just like in your planking skills.And develope your own ways and steps and final finishing mediums. 

 

It's easier with steel because you have material that has no grain to deal with. You might try scraping with very small knife blades. Just like you make your moldings ,but in shaped areas and corners. I use small dental  scrapers for my plastic models and they work great on wood.

 

It just is that the photos show up everything your eyes do not see. 

 

Keith

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I am just using a #11 blade right out of the package.  But I do know folks who make their own micro chisels in different shapes.  That is above and beyond my abilities and time allotment for these so I am going to stick with whatever I can buy already made.

 

Like Keith said...I think its just my technique and stroke and its something that will get better with learned experience.   It would always be nice to find a trick or product that does the job....a silver bullet so-to-speak........ but I think its just a matter of learning the correct touch and the correct amount of pressure and angles while slicing.  

 

I dont want to over analyze my attempt because then you end up never finishing.  So rather than fall prey to "analysis Paralysis" I am just going to keep going and apply a finish.  There is always the next project and I will just find comfort that I will hopefully get better with more practice.  I find myself slipping into the paralysis and must fight that....its a horrible thing.

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Try a rotary brush on a Dremel???  I remember (again.. senior moment) someone doing that and it cleaned things up. But you will have to have a light touch.

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Try a rotary brush on a Dremel???  I remember (again.. senior moment) someone doing that and it cleaned things up. But you will have to have a light touch.

might work if you use a plastic brush.  The steel or copper brushes would imho be prone to create undesirable lines.

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Hi, Chuck.....

 

The carvings are much better than you whine about, but with practice they will get much smoother during the carving stage.  In the meantime, in order to get them closer to your standards of quality (and we all know how high that is), try this:

 

Take a sheet of 320, maybe even 220 if you want to live on the wild side, and cut some strips about 1/8" (3 mm) wide along the length or width of a full sheet.  Lay the strip down across the area you would like to improve, place your left thumb over the sand paper strip with just enough pressure that will allow you to pull the strip through. Move to the next spot that is causing you to lay awake at night and repeat the process.  Let us know how it works out.

 

Jim

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Hi Chuck - great work.

 

If you have a rotary tool you could try using a small ceramic stone for final shaping.  They're available in white, green, and pink.  The white stones are the finest.  All of these stones can be shaped using a small diamond sharpening stick, so you could bring them to a very fine point for getting into tight areas.  Most of these stones have 3/32 shafts, rather than the 1/8 found on Dremel, and can be found in a wood carving supply site.  They're used extensively by bird carvers and other power carvers.  I can send you more info if you want.

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Thanks,  I do know about those but never thought about using them on wood.   I finished the third leaf design needed for the starboard side of the barge last night.  I applied some Wipe-On-Poly and I am happy with how they look, so rather than continue noodling with these I am just going to press on.  I have 5 more carving designs to get done for the model.

 

Next I will mount these three on a piece of scrap wood so I can make a mold.  I will pull a bunch of castings in resin for those who dont wish to carve them for their model.  I just hope these masters dont get ruined in the process because I plan on adding them to the model shortly after.

 

carving examples1.jpg

 

Chuck

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Applying the finish made a big difference in their appearance.  I wouldn't touch a thing.  But if you want to fuss over your next set, I would suggest very narrow sanding sticks (320 or 400 grit) to use while they are still mounted on the backing board or a flexifile after they have been freed.

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I picked up a couple of packages of Alpha Abrasives brand foam sanding sticks about 1/8 square  x 6 1/2" long at Hobby Lobby - they come in a variety of grades one side is one grade opposite side is another grade, example 100/180, 120/240  - they come 12 to a package and are color coded for ease of identifying. They are good for small work. About $4.00 a package.

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Thanks,  I do know about those but never thought about using them on wood.

 

I've seen the bird carvings that Frank (Mahuna) has made, and I'm not sure there are proper adjectives to do them justice, so I'm going to say that they work really well on wood with the right artist driving.  :)

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Maybe....but I am going to leave it as it seems to look just fine after I applied the wipe on poly.   They are removed from the base so I dont want to mess with them at this point.  but maybe I will try on the others I have yet to start.

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