Jump to content

Recommended Posts

It's not so much the brand of chisel, but how well it's sharpened that matters. I use a Lee Valley (Veritas) sharpening system with their jig and stone pond. I have water stones of 1000 and 4000 grit and add a micro-bevel on the edge. The back of the chisel is also polished to a mirror finish. Cutting with a well-sharpened edge produces the sound of a fresh apple being cut and beautiful shavings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an individualistic class of tools.  They are probably useful most often for shaping and hollowing hulls from the solid or from laminated components.

 

There is a wide variety of sizes and shapes - depending on the sort of cut you are making.  There are straight handle and palm handle.

 

You can spend a lot of money if you are of a mind.   A set may seem handy, but given the nature of what we do as opposed to sculpture carving, you may well have several blades that you will never use.   I advise waiting until you get to the point where you need one, see what is available and order one or two blades - until you get comfortable with this class of tools.

 

Good steel that will hold an edge is key.

U.I. Ramelson  and Flexcut both make a variety of chisels using good quality steel and an individual unit will not break the bank.

You can see the variety available at MHCrafters and Wood Carvers Supply,Inc.

 

Broken record here:  you can keep a very sharp edge for a long time using a scrap piece of leather and Flexcut Gold or rouge stropping compd.  The blade will last longer because you are removing a micro layer instead of measurable metal with a stone.  As a rule, you usually do not need to reshape an edge unless you you nick it by cutting something that you shouldn't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurt,

Small work requires small SHARP tools. Chisels generally refer to carpentry, cabinet making or sculpting, which are all meant for working larger pieces. Micro-carving tools are available, but they aren't useful for model ship joinery. I recommend using the common Exacto or scalple knives. Straight "chisel"shapes as well as gouges are available that are inexpensive but they are sharp.

 

Small joinery is mainly done with something like a # 11 Knife guided by a steel straight edge, otherwise the knife follows the grain too easily. Like all joinery, make the cut surface square to the main surface, otherwise the joint will have a gap. If you can't do this with a knife, use a sanding stick or a file.

 

As others have mentioned, sharpening is a good skill to develop. For Exacto and scalples I use a 1000 grit stone followed by a leather strop. Even if you throw away the blade, you need to determine when the edge is dull. A dull edge is round, and if the light is at the right angle, you can see a line of light reflecting off the rounded edge. Another method for testing sharpness is to try slicing the edge of a piece of paper. A sharp edge will slice of a 1/16 strip: a dull edge will not cut or plow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a follow-up on my comments about dull tools, the attached picture clearly shows the reflection of the rounded edge of this very dull carbide saw tip.  For a "nearly sharp" tool there will still be a line, but it will be much narrower and can only be seen if the angle of the light is just right and maybe only through a jeweler's loop.

 

post-17154-0-92512900-1460053503.jpg

Edited by lehmann
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Kurtrjohson,

 

I have to concur with druxey and Jaager... It is not so much the brand, but how sharp it is honed too.  Sure, some manufacturers use a better quality steel than others, and they hold a keen edge longer, but even a cheap Chinese chisel will hold a good edge for a while, if it is honed well to begin with.  The key is to get it sharp and keep it sharp.

 

I work with wood chisels on a daily basis, not just on model ships, but on other things as well.  I am not going to mention any brand names I prefer, since there are so many out there that are made of great steel.  I probably have close to 50 chisels of various makers, shapes, and sizes.  Of course, I also various stones on which I sharpen them.  I will say that I prefer a Norton water stone for my 4000 and 8000 grits, which I also use to sharpen the straight-razors I shave with.  Also as mentioned above, get yourself a strop.  About any old piece of leather will do.  For my razor, I have a regular razor strop.  For my chisels, I have old pieces of an old leather belt glued to a board, imbedded with stropping compound. 

 

If you have carved for 25 years, I am probably telling you nothing new.  But my preference is a sharp cheap Chinese tool well honed, to an expensive Sheffield tool that is dull.

 

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt, I appreciate your imput. I do use a leather stop that I charge with compound. I have seen some fancy sharpening systems out there, but am interestd in traditional ways. I really have always been very interested in hand tools, especially old ones and the proper use of them. My father drummed into me the proper care and way to use a particular tool. I have always been in awe of the apprenticeships that craftsmen underwent to learn their trades in the past. I used to rent a converted skiff house in the Thousand Islands on the St Lawrence River in upstate New York that was built around 1900 for vactation. The beams, etc. all had hand planed beading! The wood work was amazing in what was actually just a boat shed! I really didn't mean brands, but types like paring chisels, etc. I know amazing chisels have been made from old files by some people. That must be work.

 

Kurt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurtjohnson,

 

First, my apologies for misunderstanding your question.  And for me, it depends on the job I have at hand.  As I mentioned, I work with chisels on a daily basis to build things which I sell, and one of the main tools I use in that work is a chisel.  For relief carving for instance, I will use gouges, skews, a V-gouge and straight chisels mostly.  For rapid wood removal, I tend toward your average straight chisel, but also a gouge for certain areas.  For silver wire inlay, or any wire inlay work, I have some home made chisels that work quite well.  They are home made, because nobody offers them for sale that I know of.  And yes... Old files are great steel for making chisels.

 

It sounds like your skiff house may be timber framed, and if that is the case, they use tools identical to the old shipwrights.  Large chisels that were struck with a mallet.  It really depends on the size of the job you are doing, and what you are trying to accomplish.

 

It would help if we knew what project you are thinking of approaching, and then advice might be more easily acquired.  Are you going to attempt a model ship?  If so, what scale and how are you going to have to use these chisels?  For Boxwood or Pear, they are nice woods to cut/carve, but it depends on the cutting you are attempting as to what chisel should be used.  But I am sure you already know this.  I work primarily in hard maple, and that doesn't change my chisel, but it does change the way I work compared to nice, smooth basswood or boxwood or pear.  Maple can be quite jerky in it's grain structure.

 

The main chisels I use in my work are a straight, a gouge and a skew.  That will do probably 99% of the work you need to do to build a model ship.  The smallest ones I have are about 1/16th inch across.  These are custom made by me out of 1095 steel, and heat treated.  I have another set made by Dockyard Models that are about 1/8th inch across, and they are great too.  I bought them about 20+ years ago though, so I can't vouche for their current quality, since I have never had to replace them.  I still use that same set frequently.  Besides, now that I can forge small items, I rarely buy a small chisel these days.

 

Matt

Edited by MEPering
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robboxxx, if that is what it takes, I am not too proud to do the same.  If it were a tool I expected to last, I would use better steel, but if it is something for a one-off job, there is nothing at all wrong with that,  as long as it gets the job done.  I have done it, actually.

 

I have also made scrapers to do specific jobs.  Some people don't know it these days, but scrapers used to be used rather than sandpaper for smoothing wood.  And scrapers are much faster than sandpaper, if properly formed and burnished.  And they leave a finish that is hard to describe, which sanding doesn't.  In fact, I may choose to scrape the decks of my current model rather than sand it... I will have to think on it for a while.  Basswood would not be suitable for a  scraped surface, but I am considering sugar maple for my decks.  It depends mostly if I figure out a way to not have the maple show much figure.

 

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sometimes grind down a (thick) nail to a razor sharp point and use it as a chisel.

 

Masonry nails are very hard steel. I once saw an article where a guy had made a complete set of miniature turning tools from them. If memory serves the nails were something over 1/8" diameter and 3 or 4 inches long.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Some people don't know it these days, but scrapers used to be used rather than sandpaper for smoothing wood.  And scrapers are much faster than sandpaper, if properly formed and burnished.  And they leave a finish that is hard to describe, which sanding doesn't.  In fact, I may choose to scrape the decks of my current model rather than sand it...

 

Matt

Agreed, scraping leaves an almost polished finish on many woods. The problem is most folks (me included!) don't know how to sharpen a scraper properly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mtaylor... That is good advice, but I have a ton of hard (sugar) maple scraps lying about.  And silver maple would be fine, since decking really doesn't require that much strength.

 

Q A's Revenge...  There is information out there on beveling and burnishing scrapers.  It took me a bit of practice to learn to use a scraper properly, but I do prefer the finish to sandpaper now.  But learning to get the proper burnished edge was the harder thing for me to get right.  And I agree with your comment on masonry nails too... Though I don't know how well they hold an edge, but with the wood we use, it shouldn't be much of an issue.

 

Jaager...  It sounds like you might be having a couple of problems.  Perhaps your scraper is not sharp enough, perhaps you are using too much pressure on the scraper or the wood you are trying to scrape is too soft.  Soft woods can be scraped, but only very light pressure can be applied.  I did try it on a piece of basswood, and to my surprise, it worked when I used very light pressure.

 

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt,    I am working with Hard Maple, but what I was trying to say is that stropping = more efficient wood removal - it sharpened the scraper.  I am not using them to get a final finish - instead getting a smooth run for clamps, bilge strakes and ceiling.  When I cut inside bevels, I tend to leave the inside too fat after drum sanding the shape.  I am developing a different method of hull framing.  Getting the inside of the frames with a finished look  is the most time consuming step.  The sections joint at the station lines so the glue plane in in the middle of a paired frame.  Unlike standard methods an imperfect transition is obvious.

 

I guess I could try to design a small convex working surface for a finish sander at the end of a stilt - so that it can get inside the hull.  I recently bought a Wen Detailing Palm Sander. It is about 4x  or more the size that I need and a flat sole is no help for inside curves but it has screws to mount the sole.  I am thinking that it is a way  to mount a smaller sanding surface at the end of a "stick".  The machine was  $25 so I am not out much if it does not work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jaager... I have never tried stropping a scraper.  If the bevel is right and the burnish is right, I have never seen a need for it.  I will not say you are wrong for doing it, but I can't see a need, if you burnish them right.

 

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scrapers work by having a burr on its edge.  Do not strop them.

 

First, square the edge on a stone.  If the edge is badly chewed up, start with a single cut mill file, then the stone.

 

Then clamp the scraper in a vise (with wood or soft jaws) and burnish the edge with a harden rod at an angle of about 20 degrees.  You may need to push down with some muscle a few times until you can feel the burr.  The idea is to deform the corner into a burr.

 

Scrape some wood to see if you get very thin curls.  Hold the scraper at about a 15 degree angle but change the angle if the new angle gives you better results. If not, burnish some more.

 

Keep building and above all, have fun~!                        Duff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The steel does not have to be hard to begin with.  With a good torch, I did two chizels out of 3/8" iron square stock, then once I had worked them on an anvil after each heating to a good bright red, and got them shaped the way I wanted, one straight with a straight curved tip which I could curve up out of a cut, one of the millwrights taught me about taking a good can of oil and with heating and quenching about 10 times and then using an oil stone to smooth them out, I had smoothed them out on both sides where they were a good polish.  Then I did another couple of heat and quench on each of them Then I used a leather strop just like the barbers used and stropped them until I could shave with them.  By the way, most leather has a rougher but softer side that is good for the initial work before finishing up with the outer smoother side.  The process is called case hardening.  The oil quenching makes Carbon and Hydrogen go into the iron, making it very hard so it will hold an edge for a long time.  After I had the edges shaped and before the final hardening, I ground the handle area to fit into a couple of wooden handles for files.  I still have them, after 40 years.  I need to reheat and requench them a few times now to make up for what I have ground off at the edges with the oilstone and stropping so my case hardening goes back in from the faces like it was from the first finish.  Even those nails can be case hardened that way.  I used vice grips to clamp the work so I could avoid getting burned, even through the leather palm gloves I used. Also leather apron, and a safety shield to help keep any slag sparks from getting where you definitely don't want them to go. 

Edited by Walter Biles
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wood chisels are made of different steel and sharpening technics remains quite similar since many years. Comparatively with metal turning,  tools have evolved  a lot more in the use of different material from high speed steel, to carbide, ceramic  and diamond. These materials being harder than the steel of wood chisel, other sharpening  methods had to be developed. My prefered method is to use the diamond wheel. All sharpening operations can be performed in 1 step and in few seconds. And the results are as good than the traditionnal methods.

post-184-0-78752200-1461194104_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...