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Starting out in the UK

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  • Starting out in the UK

    After watching a few videos on YouTube (Doug Outside) and taken a quick look inside the book by Harley Refsal, I'd really like to get into carving "Little Folk".

    Looking at buying knives here in the UK but I can only find kits by Flex Cut and they contain 4,5 and 6 knives. If at all possible I'd like to order a couple on knives from the US but have no idea what to order or where from. Most of the knives I've seen on YouTube are quite different in shape and the way they are ground, some have a shortish bevel where others seem to have a bevel that goes from the tip to the back of the blade.

    Any help or advice would be most welcome.
    Last edited by FiestaRed; 12-29-2018, 07:20 AM.

  • #2
    First I'd like to welcome you to the forum, there's a ton of information to be had here all you have to do is ask ( which is what you have done ) i believe you are correct in wanting to buy one or two individual knives instead of a set and then finding out that some of that set are not what you want for the type of carving you have chosen. A lot of the members on here use "Helvie knives " others favour "Drake knives" the choices are as varried as the individuals who use them. I own 8 or 10 various brands , but do 90% of my carving with a utility knife , just use small detail knives for doing eyes and other hard to get at places..... everyone's preference is different.
    Wayne
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    If you're looking for me, you'll find me in a pile of wood chips somewhere...

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    • #3
      Thanks for the help Wayne, I'll take a look at the Helvie and Drake knives.

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      • #4
        Hi FiestaRed
        Welcome to the forum
        I am with Wayne on choosing knives to carve with, my favorite knives are inexpensive chip carving knives from Lee Valley Tools, 90 % of my carvings are caricatures, I don't chip carve at all,there are some web sites that sell carving knife blades only, I think this is a good way to go, make you own handles to fit your hands.
        Bruce

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        • #5
          FiestaRed,
          You can buy individual Flexcut knives from Turners Retreat, they do mail order if you can't visit.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the welcome Bruce and the advice. Really appreciated.

            When I look at the Doug Outside videos, he talks about blade lengths and detail knives which at the minute means very little to me. If I were only to buy a couple of knives, what should I be looking to get started please?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by loftyhermes View Post
              FiestaRed,
              You can buy individual Flexcut knives from Turners Retreat, they do mail order if you can't visit.
              Thanks for that. They're not to far from me, I used to give woodturning demonstrations there many years ago.

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              • #8
                Google (wood carving shops UK) this is one that carries flex cut knives and others. https://www.classichandtools.com/aca...ng-Knives.html
                Randy

                WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!

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                • #9
                  Hi
                  do you know the following shops in your country? They sell flexcut and other brands in sets or individual. I have no experience doing business with them but know they exist.
                  Jos

                  https://www.toolsandtimber.co.uk/
                  http://www.ockenden-timber.co.uk/
                  Jos
                  Belgium

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                  • #10
                    Both new to me but thanks for the links, I add them to my growing list.

                    I'm also struggling to find stocks of Basswood here in the UK. Most timber places seem to offer Lime for wood carvers and I wondered what the difference was between that and Basswood.

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                    • #11
                      Lime is close enough for Basswood.
                      'If it wasn't for caffeine, I wouldn't have any personality at all!"

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                      • #12
                        Certainly some good advice already. Flextcut knives can be a little more "tricky" to sharpen than some of the others. Sharpening is certainly something you will have to master.

                        Doug Outside is a great source of information and exceptional for beginners and even older more experienced carvers. Another Youtube source are the videos by Gene Messer. Small character tutorials by sharonmyart source might be very helpful also. All free and well worthwhile. Have to admit Dougoutside is my favorite because he tends to explain what he is doing about the best.

                        Welcome and this is certainly the place to get answers...and don't forget to use the search feature on the forum.
                        Bill
                        Living among knives and fire.

                        http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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                        • #13
                          Two things that haven't been mentioned, a strope & finger protection .
                          as to blades=a good hefty straight blade & one of my favorites is a #3 gouge. Once you get started, you'll get a feel for what your needing,(then look at Wayne).

                          Oh, by the way, welcome to the site, as you can see a bunch of friendly guys with a ton of suggestions
                          . . .JoeB

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                          • #14
                            Joe mentioned a great point...finger protection. I'd like to add a carving glove. I think we all have scars from mishaps...well, at least I do.
                            Doug mentions how he got a severe cut while camping and he now has numbness. It does happen to the best.
                            Bill
                            Living among knives and fire.

                            http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FiestaRed View Post
                              Both new to me but thanks for the links, I add them to my growing list.

                              I'm also struggling to find stocks of Basswood here in the UK. Most timber places seem to offer Lime for wood carvers and I wondered what the difference was between that and Basswood.
                              Here's American basswood: https://www.wood-database.com/basswood/
                              Here's English Lime: https://www.wood-database.com/european-lime/

                              Blade lengths: I would suggest either 44mm (1.75 inch) or 38mm (1.5 inch) for a beginning carver. Anything longer I think is going to be more difficult to use. Here's the link to Helvie: http://www.helvieknives.com but they are closed until 4/1/19 for the holidays. When they reopen, you'll see that they have many different blade shapes, lengths, and handle shapes. Helvie knives are generally .033 inch thick, which is fairly thin. The thinner the blade (within reason), the easier it cuts the wood. A Thicker blade, such as Flexcut (.060, I think) will cut, but not quite as easily. I have both, and for small carvings, I prefer the Helvie blades. Since their shop is closed, I can't show you photos, but one they list as a detail knife in the lengths I mentioned above will do most of your carving. Since you are interested in Little People, look at the Don Mertz signature series by Helvie. Then take a look at Don's carvings, especially his Whittle Folk http://woodbeecarver.com As to gouges, I'd suggest the Flexcut Beginner set FR310 https://www.flexcut.com/home/product...nners-palm-set Conventional advice is to buy individual gouges when you need them, not as a set. However, I bought a set of the FR310 over 10 years ago and still use every one of them today. I have other gouges also (Pfeil and Ramelson) but the FR310 will work well. If you decide to get Flexcut gouges, get the Slipstrop also to keep them sharp. As to blade shape, I have blades with a straight cutting edge and others with curved up blade edge - both have their uses. I don't know if Helvie will ship to the UK or not, but best way to find out is to call Holli Smithson on the phone and ask her. You can specify blade length, style, and handle shape.

                              Speaking of strops, to keep your knives sharp, all you need is a good strop, unless you chip an edge or drop it on the floor and break off the tip. I'd suggest not spending money on a leather strop - instead take a scrap piece of MDF and glue a piece of cereal box cardboard to it with rubber cement (grey side up), then rub some of the Flexcut Gold compound on the cardboard. Always pull the knife across the strop so it's being pulled away from the cutting edge. The cardboard is thinner than leather, so it won't spring up as the blade edge passes over it and round the edge. Leather has a tendency to do this. Also, when the stropping compound turns black, that's good - the black is microscopic particles of steel honed off the blade. Black shows you it's working.

                              Claude
                              Last edited by Claude; 12-29-2018, 04:31 PM.
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