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Miniature Russian carving tools

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I received a beautifully crafted set of miniature carving tools from Mihail Kirsanov on Friday. There are graduated small bevel-edged chisels in seven sizes, left and right skews in two sizes, U-gouges in ten sizes, a V-gouge and a large(r) skew. The are in a fitted box that includes honing blocks and fine-grit paper. I had the opportunity to give these tools a test-run and they perform beautifully. I can highly recommend these tools for advanced carvers. They are not inexpensive at USD290, but as these are hand-made to order only, this is not excessive. Be aware that Mr. Kirsanov can only communicate in Russian.

Kirsanov tool set.jpg

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Looks like great carving tools.
I also would like the email address and was wondering how payments and shipping are handled.

In particular, I like to see more details of the shape of each tool and if I could order some individually rather than a whole set. 

For 23 of those at $360 total I assume a price of $18 each would not be unreasonable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

They are a complete and utter steal at $300, this quality sold in the west would easily be >$1000. I've told him that but he says "my prices are normal for Russia". 


I've had mine for many weeks and I use them daily in the shop now. As good or better than any carving tools I own and I own lots of expensive ones. You should run, not walk to book a set with Mikhail. Only problem is his earliest delivery window is now October.


You can either get the pen handles like Druxey or more traditional palm grips. 


Biggest problem is sharpening, let's say it's not easy to maintain correct angles with these sizes. Take a look at the Carving from Belgograd topic for a discussion between me and Alexander, designing a sharpening jig. I received brass and some other things for my design, will be working on it soon.

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Important thing is don't think of them just as carving tools, think of them as the best micro joinery hand tools in existence, over half the set is straight and skew chisels, with the latter having left and right-hand single bevel tools in three sizes.


Speaking again about handles, if you intend to primarily carve with these get the palm handles as you see below. If you intend to use them for general ship joinery, get the pencil handles as they will be able to reach places these can't and will be more natural to people used to holding xacto knives.


I told Mikhail what I think he should do and I might do is pull the tools out of these handles, get a pencil handle set from him, and then modify the handles like graver handles with set screws to hold the tools. I first thought about cutting the wood part off on the lathe and then adding a threaded insert and switch between handles that way, but he has the tool a good 5cm into the handles.



My set:





This is what I mean about joinery, I decided to cut a rabbet on the stem for these inside planks, just because I could now with my spiffy tools. What you can't see is that despite the confined area and that the carved wood is cocobolo that never saw an edge tool it didn't hate, I was able to quickly cut a perfect rabbet that even has an angled bottom relative to the stem so it perfectly fits the square ends of the planks.




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  • 4 weeks later...

I ordered a set that was mailed on 4/4/17 and arrived Thursday 4/20/17.  Payment was easy with PayPal. 




They are beautiful.  The handles are unfinished birch and light weight.  It was $320 which included shipment (which was about $30). Mihail also sent a set of instructions on sharping and a set of photos.


I haven't had a chance to test them out but am looking forward to the opportunity.  I am extremely please with Mihail's product. My plans are to get another set with palm handles.  :-) 


Thanks Druxey for letting us know of this.  



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  • 1 month later...

I have had my set for a couple of months and I can honestly say they are the best set of chisels I have ever purchased. They are honed to perfection and come in just about every shape or size one might need. I have made great use of them and my model looks all the better because of them. Well worth the investment!

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On 6/21/2017 at 7:18 PM, vossiewulf said:

The only caveat about these tools if you need to know how to sharpen tools pretty well, they're not easy to sharpen while keeping the bevels flat, especially the very tiny spoon gouges. 

I can understand where you're coming from.  For full size carving tools, I had to purchase several different types of water stones and diamond sharpeners.   How on earth do you sharpen these tiny tools?  What do you use?

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1 hour ago, Julie Mo said:

I can understand where you're coming from.  For full size carving tools, I had to purchase several different types of water stones and diamond sharpeners.   How on earth do you sharpen these tiny tools?  What do you use?

First I found a watchmaker's screw driver sharpener that was just the right size for the straight chisels, so I can sharpen those easily. 


Otherwise I am using waterstone slips, although I'm thinking of using sanding film stuck to a brass backing. In the long run I'm making myself a brass jig with wheels that can handle all of them, including the gouges where you have to turn the tool as you move forward and back. I've designed it and drawn it out and have the brass and other bits I need, just haven't sat down to do it yet.

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I was also interested in a set of these and sent Mikhail an e-mail last week.  He responded that he would not be at home until October but would get back with me then.  Sounds like you and I are a little late with our requests.  I will either let you know then or send you his e-mail if you have not already received it.  Just let me know.

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  • 4 months later...

Fellow Modelmakers,


I am bringing this subject back to life for two reasons.  First of all to thank Druxey for his original post of introduction to Mihail Kirsanov and his fine chisels as well as Vossiwulf for the pictures and review that he posted.  Secondly, to let everyone know that these are available again for anyone interested.


After reading the original posts, I contacted Michael and attempted to order a set of these only to find that he was out of town and would not be producing them until October of this year.  By some stroke of luck, my feeble mind recalled this information and I contacted him in October and ordered a set.  As previously noted by others, the order from Russia was painless, paid with PayPal and received the chisels within 16-20 days of shipping.  I do not want to bore you folks with a reiteration of the past posts but these chisels are beautiful and far superior to anything I have seen offered anywhere else.  I have seen pictures of his model work and he is also a fine modelmaker as you would expect.  As mentioned before, there will be a learning curve on sharpening but Michael provides instructions for this by e-mail. 


Druxey has previously offered to provide his contact info if interested and I will do the same by PM.  I would also remind you as stated in the previous e-mails that Mihail does not speak English so you will have to use some form of translation software.  I found Google to be very easy to use. 

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