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Power carving tool selection for (exotic) hardwoods

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  • Dileon
    replied
    All my wood is an exotic hardwoods that comes from a master wood crafter that makes furniture. One the foredom flex shaft and other flex shafts are not a good resource due long hours on hardwood and very hard on a shaft so you have shaft breakage and hard on the motor....most people who carve hardwood use the flex shaft for very small carving. I have four flex shafts the hex shaft is a must to reduce breakage....and today they are only used for sanding. The craftmen do not like them for that reason...in fact, one was down at my house downgrading and get rid of three of them. I said no, I had one too many myself.

    Exotic hardwoods depend on what kind of wood you are using and if they are very carvable. Some are hard as rocks. I today use a drill to make holes and chisel those areas. Chisels shaped to hardwood and only top-of-line chisels work which are expensive...most woodcarvers here use only the swiss Pfeil here in the islands. The hard part is each exotic is carved differently. So choose one wood and stick with it. Power tools I have are for rough out, include die grinder with sabruu tooth burrs only, angle grinder with woodcarving attachments mostly donut burrs. And I use dremels because they are cheap tools and can be easily thrown in the trash and replaced...only for design work using kutzall and sabruu tooth burrs both of these the teeth do not break off easily. All of this costs a lot of money. Sanding papers various kinds, and attachment. All of this takes time, money, and willingness to learn how with patience. You will need a bandsaw to cut your wood to shape.

    The pattern you shown is cutting to shape I would be using a die grinder with various sabruu burrs to shape, or the chisels. and note the sanding will take longer than the shaping you will need lots of different kinds of sandpapers and holding devices plus sanding wheels and woodturners sanding items such as Sanding Discs with 1/4 Inch Shank Backing Pad and Soft Foam Buffering Pads this is where I use the Foredom for this kind of items. It not real to think one tool will do it all...it is an investment and it will grow as you learn. Also, the design work you want to do is not so much carving as it is woodcraft work ...I would also plug into their forums. I am sure you can find good advice on them. .

    Leave a comment:


  • Bojam
    replied
    Originally posted by pallin View Post
    From your description of production plans, it would seem better consider a CNC machine.
    You might be right - the handheld Shaper Origin CNC router is an interesting machine/tool. But I'd prefer a more 'manual' approach. Ideally I'd like to carve with gouges and skews, but the hard and abrasive nature of the local woods here leads me to consider power carving with a flex shaft type tool. I fear spending most of my time sharpening if I go the hand tool route!

    I dont have the $$$ to splash out on a CNC machine anyway, so let's rule out that option.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bojam
    replied
    Originally posted by dogcatcher View Post
    How about using a power converter, dropping the 220v to 110v? Can you still use these, or are they not available?

    Here is a older review of cheaper flex shaft rotary tools. Review of cheap flex shaft tools - Woodcarving Illustrated
    I've pretty much discounted using a power converter. Don't need it for other machines/tools so not a worthwhile investment for this particular purpose. Would rather select from the available options in 230V. Thanks for the review of cheaper flex shaft tools though!

    Leave a comment:


  • Bojam
    replied
    Originally posted by mpounders View Post
    Any of the Foredoms that will work with your voltage are fine, but buy some extra shafts in case you break some by being too aggressive. I prefer a foot pedal speed control as I can get exactly the speed I want, without having to reach up and adjust something on the bench. The bigger burrs the guy was using on the door will require a hand piece that accepts 1/4" shaft burrs and the larger burrs run about $50 a piece. Carbide is a good buy. You also see him refining the curves using a sander, and sanding drums and sanding pads are also useful for shaping larger pieces. I also like using a hand held electric die grinder. It has a powerful motor, no shafts to break, and it takes 1/4" burrs. A little more cumbersome than a Foredom, but more power. I also use an angle grinder with various sanding discs. The coarser grits can really remove some wood!
    Thanks for this info. Food for thought! Carbide bits aren't cheap but worthwhile given the nature of the woods here. I have a carbide tipped bandsaw blade for resawing and all my circular saw blades and router bits are carbide.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bojam
    replied
    Originally posted by Glenn Jennings View Post
    220 volt? where in the world are you? Converter is definately an option. In New Zealand we run on 240 volt and I have bought stuff in from America that runs on 110 -120 volts which works fine with a converter.
    In fact it's 230V (50Hz). I'm in French Guiana, one of France's overseas territories located north of Brazil in the Amazonian region of S. America. Would rather not use a converter. Foredom's are available in 230V but not the TX model. Mastercarver also available in 230V.

    Leave a comment:


  • Brian T
    replied
    What's the frequency, Glenn? I know in Australia, it was 50Hz (60HZ here in North America) and that does have an effect as a % on many kinds of electric motor speeds.
    Since it's amps that does the work, those transformers have to have the capacity to drive the new appliance.
    A Foredom shouldn't take much. I have seen Dremels that look like Foredom clones.

    I can "create" 240VAC in my kitchen with modern Canadian wiring code but not for the faint of heart.

    Leave a comment:


  • Glenn Jennings
    replied
    220 volt? where in the world are you? Converter is definately an option. In New Zealand we run on 240 volt and I have bought stuff in from America that runs on 110 -120 volts which works fine with a converter.

    Leave a comment:


  • dogcatcher
    replied
    How about using a power converter, dropping the 220v to 110v? Can you still use these, or are they not available?

    Here is a older review of cheaper flex shaft rotary tools. Review of cheap flex shaft tools - Woodcarving Illustrated

    Leave a comment:


  • pallin
    replied
    From your description of production plans, it would seem better consider a CNC machine.

    Leave a comment:


  • mpounders
    replied
    Any of the Foredoms that will work with your voltage are fine, but buy some extra shafts in case you break some by being too aggressive. I prefer a foot pedal speed control as I can get exactly the speed I want, without having to reach up and adjust something on the bench. The bigger burrs the guy was using on the door will require a hand piece that accepts 1/4" shaft burrs and the larger burrs run about $50 a piece. Carbide is a good buy. You also see him refining the curves using a sander, and sanding drums and sanding pads are also useful for shaping larger pieces. I also like using a hand held electric die grinder. It has a powerful motor, no shafts to break, and it takes 1/4" burrs. A little more cumbersome than a Foredom, but more power. I also use an angle grinder with various sanding discs. The coarser grits can really remove some wood!

    Leave a comment:


  • Bojam
    started a topic Power carving tool selection for (exotic) hardwoods

    Power carving tool selection for (exotic) hardwoods

    Hi all

    New to the world of carving and first post here. I've been working wood for 18 months or so. No prior experience, change of path after leaving the world of research/academia (in forestry/agroforestry so have an appreciation for wood science and production systems).

    I'm basically self-taught, with the help of the online resources, and have been making peices of furniture and decorative items like profiled frames for pictures and mirrors, boxes, childrens toys, etc. I have a pretty well equipped workshop and work in a hybrid style - i.e. combining machines (bandsaw, jointer/planer, etc.) and power tools (routers, track saw, etc.) with hand planes, scrapers, chisels, etc. I'm really enjoying the work and learning a craft and my skill levels are improving. The aim is to start to market my work and hopefully generate a reasonable income over time.

    Anyway, I've been thinking it would be nice to add some decorative relief texturing/carving onto the faces of frames, box lids, cabinet doors and the like. My initial inclination was to go the hand tool route and invest in a good quality set of Pfiel (or similar) gouges and skews. I like the idea of being able to turn off all the noisy equipment and spend evenings carving without disturbing the family or neighbours. But the woods I work with are furniture grade hardwoods. And the advice I've read on here is that these are difficult to carve and especially so with hand tools. Also, we live in French Guiana (north of Brazil in Amazonia) and the woods available here are exclusively tropical hardwoods - i.e. generally pretty dense and abrasive (though obviously with a fair bit of variation between species). So learning to carve with "softer" woods isn't an option available to me.

    So, power carving. Possibly a rehash of previous discussions so please forgive me for that. But I guess my circumstances are quite particular. Thinking of investing in either a Foredom or MasterCarver type setup. From what I've read here, the Foredom TX motor might be the best option given the hardness of the woods I work but that isn't possible as it seems to be available only in 110V, not the 220V we have here. I don't want to go down the voltage transformer/converter router. So that leaves the Foredom SR motor (discounting the LX as I want to be able to run tools at higher speeds) or the MasterCarver. I'm not entirely sure what the key considerations are here when weighing up these two options or, indeed, whether there are other alternatives I should be considering.

    To be clear, I'd like to be able to texture material - e.g. like this - and also to do some relief carving like geometric patterns and such.

    Any advice would be very much appreciated! I suspect someone will come on and say that this will be difficult and I should take classes. Noted but that isn't an option here and I am quite prepared to make use of online resources and spend the time practicing and figuring stuff out. Maybe when we're back in Europe sometime I might be able to do a short course but for now I'd like to invest in a sensible set up that is durable and likely to meet my needs now and in the future and get started.

    Thanks in advance
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