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Tool advice requested

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  • Tool advice requested

    I haven't carved in several years and am trying to start again. Previously I carved with a pocket knife and in a piece of firewood or two with carpenter chisels. I want to try using mallet tools in pieces of found wood such as driftwood or something picked up in the woods.
    I have a knife or two for detail work and even some gouges which belonged to my dad which were left a summer home in Tennessee by accident.
    I am starting from scratch here and welcome any advice. For those who do not know Grandpa may be busy between now and Christmas so progress may be slow.



  • #2
    Welcome, Bob. I'm a carver of small caricature carvings, so no input on the larger ones but glad you're returning to carving!
    Living among knives and fire.


    • #3
      07AD75C7-1A20-4AC7-BA38-957F51A01A9F.jpeg MTCW: So I do larger carvings 80% of my full size tools are Pfeil Swiss Made. I also really like Two Cherries, Stubai and Ashley Isles. Most of my tools have been bought used on eBay. I like buying large mixed bag sets and the sell off the tools I don’t want. Usually get my cost per tool down to a $5 to $10 each range.

      When I buy new it’s Pfeil from Rick Wiebe out of Canada the exchange rate works in your favor .

      Found wood. I like carving clean found wood and last weekend acquired some aspen logs I’ve cut and stacked to dry for future use. Keep in mind while all woods can be carved not all are woods are pleasant to carve.
      49046B5C-E641-4B91-9F37-74602B20E1E6.jpeg Driftwood? I’d be concerned about sand and dirt embedded in driftwood and how that would effect my tools. Razor sharp edges and abrasives don’t play well together. But they’re your tools so have fun.
      Last edited by Nebraska; 11-19-2019, 04:23 PM.
      Living in a pile of chips.


      • #4
        Depending on what you want to carve, I would get all the tools sharp as can be and go from there. See what you need once you get started. Since you're carving driftwood, I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on tools that will be getting worn out. I know it's said to buy the best tools for your money. Still, you could do what I did for outdoor carving on anything and everything, pick up used tools on eBay. Look here in the USA first, then over in the UK. There are good deals to be had if you spot the right ones to fill your needs. I usually set my price limit to $20 US total for one tool. I have picked up a tool here and there--sometimes a group because of one or two I wanted. A new handle, a bit of sharpening, and they were good to go You've carved before and you have old tools, so you know what to look for and what to stay away from. Good luck!

        Bob L


        • #5
          I quit using "found wood" out of logging block debris piles.
          Just too much risk of hitting a sand grain and far too much repair efforts needed.

          I confess that I buy all my cedar carving woods straight from a mill. Very clean.
          Brian T


          • #6
            Welcome back to carving! You may already have the tools you need. However, I would not recommend trying to use carpenter chisels for mallet-driven carvings. The corners of chisels tend to dig in and pull the tool to one side. That is the reason most gouges are curved, to keep the corners out of the cut. Even for flat areas, we often prefer #2 or #3 profiles. My personal preference is for fishtail gouges. Of the forty or fifty gouges I have, the only straight cutting edges are skews.


            • #7
              Many thanks for the advice. It was like an early Christmas, under some canned goods in a box were my wood carving tools, copies of WCI, Whittling, Carving in Found Wood and a Santa carving book.

              After several attempts to carve a block of basswood this summer I concluded the next tool I need is a small wood stove. I was using a Murphy knife without success. I now have a Whittling Jack and the Mimosa tree growing across the door of my shop is now a rough wind spirit and several blanks for future use.

              A nine year old has become, in the last couple of weeks, very interested in scenic HO train layouts so my time will be spent with this for a while.

              For now I will stick to small carvings with the larger project happening in the future.



              • #8

                Hello Bob and welcome back. If you go to the dark strip at the top of this page that says FAQ, click the woodcarverillustrated,com, it will take you to the WCI homepage. Click on (“How To “). You will find a lot of help getting started. Information on tools, safety and much more including a section with 14 pages of patterns and tutorials. There are a great group of carvers here on the forum that are willing to help however they can.
                Last edited by Randy; 11-19-2019, 11:19 PM.
                We live in the land of the free because of the brave!



                • #9
                  I suggest that you carve a small building or other feature for your HO-gauge train layout.


                  • #10

                    Hi, long time since I was here.
                    I like to take a stiff brush to get sand and dirt off. Rotary tool with a brush works pretty good. If the wood is medium to big, I use a pressure washer to get dirt and sand off. Sometimes I soak wood in a barrel of water to loosen up dirt.

                    I like to power carve with burrs like saber tooth and similar bits. They don’t get as messed up from sand and dirt.

                    With power carving you can carve wood you wouldn’t want to ruin your gouges on. You can power carve and get effects not normally achievable with blade tools.
                    My ETSY shop:


                    • #11
                      Agree with Brian ...good chisels can get major chipped....from rocks in found wood, plus sand and I have even hit metal inside the wood. I bought a cheap set which I call my junk set carve found wood, then I do not have worry about knocking a chunk off a really good expensive chisel. Until I find out how clean the wood it is not worth the risk....just have to slam the mallet harder that is