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Is it me, my knife, or my wood?

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  • #16
    It funny, but the Flexcut that I've for a while and have been sharpened and stroped ?? time cut just fine for me. As a matter of a fact, my assorted sizes of #3 gouges get the heck used out of them.
    . . .JoeB

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    • #17
      My three goto knives are a flexcut roughing knife, a OCC Tools "medium" detail and a helvie small detail knife. All work well. If I had to use just one I would use the flexcut since it can remove large pieces if needed and still has a good point for getting into the small spaces. I doubt the problem is your knife if you are keeping it sharp. I'd look at the wood. Also remember that Doug has been a carpenter for many years and probably has a grip that makes the wood appear to cut much easier than it may for you and I.

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      • #18
        Check the total included bevel angle. I'll bet it's the knife edge.
        A Stanley #5 Jack plane blade can be incredibly sharp at 30 degrees.
        But that is useless to push for hand work edges.

        Any knife over 15 degrees might be carving sharp but certainly will be a chore to push.
        Most knives are about 12 degrees, creeping up to 15 degrees total included bevel.
        Brian T

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        • #19
          Wood from the upper part of a branch will have tension wood, the weight of the wood will be stretching the fibers. Wood on the underside of the branch will have compression wood, just the opposite of the upper side of a branch. After the wood has been sawn, the pieces of lumber travels on the green chain whereit is graded and marked. Graders do make errors and those of us who purchase the wood pay the price for any errors they make.

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          • #20
            The Reaction wood in conifers is compression wood.
            Rare to see branches big enough to be worth milling for anything.

            The Reaction wood in angiosperms/broad-leaf trees is tension wood.
            Would not surprise me at all to learn that the very cheap basswood is, in fact, branch wood.
            The very best will be main stem wood from trees growing on level ground.

            Switch to birch or alder or poplar/cottonwood.

            Brian T

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            • #21
              OK, question----Tension VS Compression woods, which is easier to carve? The Tension?
              . . .JoeB

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              • #22
                Both of them will be a lot tougher than regular wood anatomy, particularly when dry.
                I'll bet that you can't find much, if any, conifer branch wood in the marketplace to do the experiments.

                Reaction woods have extra layers in the cell walls. Commercially, the wood will warp, cup and, twist
                as the two kinds of wood anatomies work against eachother as they dry.
                Another snag is that in a chemical digest for wood pulp for papers, the reaction wood chips will not digest as fast as the ordinary ones.
                Much more pulp cleaning and waste from the crap.

                Bigger issue here is likely spiral grain that puts a corkscrew (genetic?) in the entire tree trunk.
                Makes them a nightmare in a saw mill as well as drying defects.
                I split all my carving wood from bigger split pieces like posts and shake blocks.
                Any defects like spiral grain go over my fence for the neighbor to burn in his firepit.

                This all is what makes me think that cheap basswood is milled from big branches.
                One face could be really soft (ordinary wood) and the other face of the block could be boney from tension wood.
                What about it? Straight grained or not?
                Brian T

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                • #23
                  exotic I carve often have grain that goes all over the place, .....some are impossible to carve unless with a power tool and then only some burrs will cut it. New carvers, I think it is a combination of both on how to sharpen ....sharp enough to cut and the wood quality. All are a learning curve that takes patience.

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                  • #24
                    I think one of the hardest things for a new carver to learn is to recognize when the grain changes. He's been carving "downhill" and doing fine, and all of a sudden he pushes a bit too much and the wood splits because the grain suddenly changes to "uphill" It has taken me years to be able to recognize the feel of the knife/gouge when that grain change occurs.

                    Claude
                    My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/beadman1

                    My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/

                    My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Claude View Post
                      I think one of the hardest things for a new carver to learn is to recognize when the grain changes. He's been carving "downhill" and doing fine, and all of a sudden he pushes a bit too much and the wood splits because the grain suddenly changes to "uphill" It has taken me years to be able to recognize the feel of the knife/gouge when that grain change occurs.

                      Claude
                      The last two Santa's I carved I called them Satan's because the wood grain switched on me. (not nice for a new carver!) No they did not end up in the fireplace but became learning tools.

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                      • #26
                        Great attitude!
                        . . .JoeB

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                        • #27
                          One more thing to do = "learn" the wood. Wood density and grain direction are 2 different parts.
                          I carved an old slab of western red cedar burl. Never again. No chunks popped out but I did draw arrows
                          to remind me of grain directions!
                          Brian T

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