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Modeler12 carving attempt - Me too; I am willing to try almost anything.

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I've ordered Chuck's pieces but while I am waiting for them, I decided to experiment with a scrap piece of Swiss pear, 1/8 inch thick. 

I have a few chisels and a chip knife, but the following was done with a 11 blade. This is my first real try at 'carving' and it is fun. As was said before, the close-up pictures show a lot more 'flaws' than I could see. 

In the real world, a touch up with sandpaper would be fine I think.

At first I rounded off the corners of the round hole.


Then I decided to try to cross two ropes. Here is my first try.




Edited by Modeler12
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Somewhere I read that the light you use during carving helps to show the shadows. Fluorescent lights tend to equalize or diffuse the carving whereas a direct spot light enhances the shadows. Of course, the latter also shows the defects more.

The first picture was taken under my shop lights; the second with incandescent light from above.

post-246-0-71245800-1479423094.jpg   post-246-0-92543100-1479422380.jpg


Under cutting the 'ropes' also helps to create more of a 3D effect.

Edited by Modeler12
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I finally received the laser cut pieces and started with the small flower design. Again I used a number 11 Exacto knife with some background lighting to help with the detailing.

Being new to this, it was slow going but I learned a bit about what to do with the larger pieces. Ignore the background scratches because the next step is to dissolve the glue and touch up the final piece.


Of course, the laser cut perimeter on these pieces makes life a lot easier, but that may not be the case in the future. So, I tried to do this from scratch. I took a piece of .020 inch thick Swiss pear copied the design and gave it a try with the #11.

This is just a start and not very impressive. The #11 blade just does not handle cutting the perimeter of this thicker piece. Meanwhile I ordered some carving knives and will use those when they arrive.


I have to be careful how I orient this design, because now it looks like a horny lizard taking a flower to his beloved.





Edited by Modeler12
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Just in case some of you were wondering; Kralingen, my birthplace, is a district in Rotterdam. Carl also came from Rotterdam, but not as nice a district :rolleyes:


Most of the time I was carving these designs with the tip of the #11 blade. I learned very quickly that you don't prey the wood loose, you have to cut and slice or break the tip. 

I also strop the blade frequently to keep the tip very sharp. I took an old leather belt and glued it to a piece of scrap wood. Some white chalk and a few strokes back and forth is all it takes.

post-246-0-83231100-1480021114.jpg   post-246-0-48111000-1480021130.jpg

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OK, here is the result of a couple hours (on and off between turkey and desert) of 'carving'. 

At least for the turkey I did not have to use a #11 blade.


Now that I look at this picture, I see a few spots that need some touching up.
Then I am going to try to remove this piece by soaking in alcohol, like Chuck suggested.
The hardest part was to be careful with the thorns (or side brackets). They are easy to break off.

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Thank you, Chuck.

Your idea of using alcohol to loosen the pieces worked very well. I dabbed the two pieces a few times and after about two hours they came sliding off just fine.
I wonder if bourbon would also work. :huh:

I think the solution to the problem Joost had is to use the white Elmer's glue, the kind kids use. 'Carpenter's glue' could be harder to get rid off.


It turns out that the small piece lost its flower. I must have cut too deep at the intersection.
But if I were to use these pieces, it would be a simple matter to glue it in place.


I think this concludes my first 'carving' experiment. Thank you all for your interest and comments.

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Ken, you are right, but than again there is good bourbon and the stuff I drink (sometimes).

With all due respect to Chuck, I think that making this kind of ornamentation from scratch (no laser cutting) would be my next endeavor. I started to do this with a piece that was a bit thick and found that the #11 blade was not able to cut uniformly to the outline. Now that I have some small chisels (bought and made from small files) I might try this again.

My ultimate goal would be to do some 3-D carving like we all admire and have seen done by some great artists here.

All it takes is practice, practice and more of the same.

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Back to books.
I came across a very useful book by Lora Irish. It is 'Relief Carving Workshop' and provides lots of good information about tools and how to use them for beginners. She explains how to use chisels, knives, gouges, etc. The book has a practice board with several square sections that allows you to practice the various techniques. Although it is intended for larger pieces, I find learning about the tools and how to use them interesting and helpful.


Each of the 25 examples are explained with more pictures of how and what.


PS The author allows you to copy this for personal use.

Edited by Modeler12
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So, I started to do the beginner's carving exercise.

I happen to have a piece of basswood that was close to what was called for.

It had a few squares missing but, in general, the ideas I had in mind were ok,
I started with a set of tools from Flexcut that include a couple of knives and some carving tools.

Here is my first attempt of carving some squares per the 'book'. I will eliminate a couple squares because of the duplication.
post-246-0-24496000-1480736599.jpg   post-246-0-43277000-1480736611.jpg

The first was taken with fluorescent light above and the second with an incandescent light from the left side.

Whow. What a difference :angry:  :angry:


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Perhaps I am going too deep into this discussion with the trial cutting.

But let me explain my situation about 'wood working' tools for carving>

I have collected a few chisels, bought some 'dogs', but settled on a few that I have used over the years.

Now comes Chuck and his promise to make us all into expert carvers of micro sculptures:
and what do I have to work with?


The two to the left are part of a series of wood-working chisels, not carving chisels (and there is a difference).

But I have used them for my carving attempts. 

Then I decided to buy some 'micro carving tools'.
I know a better way is to buy individual tools as-needed, but for a novice I took the plunge.


Those are the ones I am now using for the 'practice board' mentioned above. I am slow, so bear with me.
The 1.5 inch squares in a piece of basswood could not be easier to cut you think.
Hold on. I stripped a couple of those borders very nicely and will ignore borders for now. There is also the issue of grain direction!!

The idea with part of the board is to carve concave and convex surfaces. The more I did this, the braver I got and went deeper. I am getting the hang of those gouges, not pretty but satisfying.



Edited by Modeler12
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Here are a couple more of my trial board carving.

I am a bit shaky and that does not help. It takes a steady, continues cutting action when using the chip knife. 

The cross grain try to the far left was done with a V-gouge and the results also leaves a lot to be desired.

But a little more practice should be in order.

post-246-0-87797900-1480888903.jpg   post-246-0-54970400-1480888914.jpg

I think I will leave the rest for later. This is not the right place for this discussion.

Edited by Modeler12
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In just a week or two I have learned a lot about carving, including how to hold my work piece to the table.

At first I used a piece of plywood with two 'fences'. That was awkward and it kept on slipping on the table, while clamps were in the way.

A search through our linen closet yielded a rubber mat, the kind used in showers or bathtubs to prevent you from slipping. It has suction cups on the back side and the front is non-slip -- ideal for the glass top of my desk. The slight pressure from carving is enough to prevent the work piece from sliding. But yet, it allows me to rotate the work with no effort.


The piece you see is basswood but because it is a section of a branch, the grain runs all over the place making this a bit more of a challenge. The design is a tulip (in honor of Carl, of course).
Here is the practice board I showed earlier. That was a good lesson.


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Looking good Jay.  Two things you might consider to hold your work, first is the rubber honeycomb shelf liners, they're easy to cut, about 1/8 inch thick available in most  kitchen gadget stores and some grocery stores (at least here in the states) and the second (which I prefer) is a bench hook like the one in my post # 12 above - last 3 photos. It's a piece of 1/2 inch cabinet grade birch plywood about 12 inches square. Not the notch cut in the back piece and the short block on the left, these allow you to angle the piece and the opening between the block on left and back panel allows the shavings to be cleared out easily.  You can make the bench hook any size you want - I have several in various sizes for woodcarving, general woodworking and model ship building.


I use both; I put the shelving liner under the bench hook - protects the "furniture" and keeps the hook from moving around.  No clamps needed. Of course the bath mat works also.

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Thank you Jack.
For the flat pieces of wood I am working with right now the bath mat works fine for me. 

When (and if) I get into shapes that do not lend them to 'flat' carving, I will definitely consider other ways to hold the work piece.

Your 'bench hooks' are what I was referring to when I talked about a piece of plywood with fences. As you noted, the problem with that is still one of having this platform slide around. When the part involves 3D shapes the bench hook, or slanted tray, sitting on the bath mat should work fine.

I might also mention that the bath mat is large enough so the carving tools are not lying on the glass desk top. The two strops in the upper left corner were made from an old leather belt. One piece was wrapped and glued around a piece of 1/8 inch plywood and is used for the small gouges.

Edited by Modeler12
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One more thing about carving tools. Earlier I showed the set of knives and gouges that I bought from Flexcut. They work extremely well, hold an edge quite long and only need an occasional stropping. The only one I seldom use in the set is the curved knife.

However, for detailed work I needed some small chisels. I ordered a set of four Flexcuts ranging from 1/16 to 1/4 inch wide. Again they did a nice job of cutting away the background material for the tulip that I am playing around with. I am referring to the narrow channels between the leaves and flower. They still need some 'cleanup work'.

post-246-0-58647500-1481423380.jpg    post-246-0-82241400-1481423396.jpg
I am not trying to sell the brand, I know Flexcut tools are expensive. But now I have what I need when it comes to relief carving. 

The 'practice board' has moved to a larger design as you can see. The actual tulip will be fun to bring out next.

btw. The grain direction has given me some hick-ups.
But after a while I got used to the idea of grain in this piece.
Notice that the center of the branch is in the bottom left corner of the tulip. It is a dark patch. 

Edited by Modeler12
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Ok, final picture and some comments about grain direction.


I thought it would be 'cute' to carve this using a slice of a basswood branch.
Never again!!!  (well not in the near future if I can help it).

Although my knives and gouges were very sharp and cut through wood like butter when the grain was 'right',
in this case the oval shape of the growth rings made it very difficult to go 'with the grain'.


For relief carving of ship decorations I will keep this in mind.

For carving solid figures, if I ever graduate there, it was a lesson learned.

BTW I will do a bit of sanding around the perimeter, give it a coat of sealer and call it 'Tulip #1'.

It's yours Carl.

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Very nicely done Jay.  Came out really well.


Regarding grain - it's not just the circular grain you encountered in that branch piece. It can also occur in straight grained blocks. I've seen the grain change just as I carve deeper into a block when I am carving figures.  I have to be constantly aware of which way it is going and adjust my carving accordingly.  Also there is a big difference between air dried wood and kiln dried wood. Kiln dried tends to be harder to carver in my experience than air dried.

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Sorry, I need to explain one more thing about grain direction


After I applied a coat of Tung oil to the tulip it really showed the problem I have had with this thing. 

The center of the 'trunk' is clearly shown on the back of this piece,

and it translates to the front. Carving was difficult......and I simply could not get rid of the pimple.
That reminds me of my younger days :rolleyes:

post-246-0-34617300-1481773287.jpg   post-246-0-07840200-1481773303.jpg   post-246-0-89344100-1481773314.jpg


So, for relief carving stay away from this kind of wood.

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It actually looks very nice with that grain! Feels like that "flower growing through asphalt" pictures. Rough wood - and a gentle flower emerging through it :)

With a proper backstory, this piece could be more interesting than something carved on a "proper" wood where grain is barely visible. 

And the pimple is a nice touch, not a thing to get rid of!

Edited by Mike Y
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I bought the same book (Complete Guide to WoodCarving) Jack12477 mentioned in one of his posts.

Learned a lot from that one. Also have Bill Shorts book.

Knives? Use a variety of tools for different projects. Blade #11 for tiny items and also surgical knives I have left over from grad school.

Chisels for larger items.

Bench hook is an important tool and very handy. Kevlar tape around my fingers.

I will show my project in the next few days. I am carving the VOC emblem from the Dutch East Indies.

Also practicing figures for the Staten Jacht - Utrecht.



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