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Good Knife (not just for Beginners)

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  • Good Knife (not just for Beginners)

    We occasionally get visitors to the carving club and I usually let them try some of my tools so they can see what feels good and what cuts good, what is comfortable for them. I have been thinking about getting some additional knives for beginners to use, something with a shorter blade than I prefer, and I looked at a variety of knives just to get an idea on what was available. I have several Shipley/OCCT knives and they were a good price. But I decided to go with the Helvie Economy model that were just a little bit more ($28). Helvie has never let me down and I figured I might as well get something that I would use myself, a knife that I know will hold up for everything. I got the medium detail blade in a single finger groove oval handle that feels great and cuts smoothly, even in some stubborn Arkansas basswood. The way it cuts is what I want beginners to experience, so that they know what sharp is, that they understand that they really can carve, with the right tools! The finish and quality of these knives are exactly the same as every Helvie tool, so don't be fooled by the Economy label. I told myself that I might eventually get around to maybe carving or decorating the handles a little bit, and possibly selling them as a Helvie knife with a decorative handle for a substantial markup. But I'm just kidding myself; I have a hard time letting go of good knives!
    'If it wasn't for caffeine, I wouldn't have any personality at all!"

    http://mikepounders.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-...61450667252958
    http://centralarkansaswoodcarvers.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    That is awesome, Mike! Like I have said before, I am the poster child for buying cheap tools in the past. I learned carving on my own and from books before I was able to get hooked up with some more experienced carvers. I would have loved to have had someone set me down and give me advice on what a good knife would be and how it should feel going through wood. Would have saved me some grief and dollars in the long run!

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    • #3
      Could not agree more. I have a 1 and 1/2 medium detail economy in walnut helv.jpg . Great knife.

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      • #4
        Hats off to you Mike for thinking off the new comer! Your right . You can’t go wrong encouraging the Helvie knife. Economy knife is just a plain handle, blades are all the same quality. The medium detail is s good size and versatile choice to learn with.

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        • #5
          Surprisingly they look alot like the ones I make out of hacksaw blades, only a bit more meat on them, but those handles are great. I make some of my smaller ones mine so I can roll them over to cut with the back side. And Mr. Mike your idea of letting your visitors "try out" your knives is great!! Thanks for sharing..
          Chuck
          Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!

          https://mewe.com/profile/5d6f213642db757a5dfb3223

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          • #6
            I got one of those at RWR in 2017 and use it a lot. Great knife!

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

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

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

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            • #7
              Don't have any of the economy models but I sure do agree about Helvie. Very comfortable to use, super sharp and very tough. Floyd Rhadigan said that although he's hard on knives, he's never broken a Helvie blade. Great knives for beginners and experienced carvers.
              Terry

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              • #8
                You can’t go wrong with a Helvie!

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                • #9
                  I'm in total agreement that you can't go wrong with a Helvie. I've been using Drake knives for quite awhile but as I've aged a bit of arthritis has crept up in my right hand. The Drake hands are really nice but just aren't right for my grip. So, my son wins the lottery and gets 3 Drake knives for Christmas. I have ordered 3 Helvie's to go with my 1.25" detail knife. All with One Groove Oval Pakkawood handles. A 2" roughout, a 1.5" detail and a special mini 1" x 50 mil detail knife.
                  I hope that handle will help. What do you think Mike?

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                  • #10
                    While crooked knives are probably most iconic for the carving tools of the Pacific Northwest,
                    The bladesmiths also produce straight edges. Caribou Blades, North Bay Forge and Kestrel
                    are examples.

                    I do believe that every carver owes it to themselves to buy a blade and create a handle that fits them.
                    Brian T

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TxClint View Post
                      I'm in total agreement that you can't go wrong with a Helvie. I've been using Drake knives for quite awhile but as I've aged a bit of arthritis has crept up in my right hand. The Drake hands are really nice but just aren't right for my grip. So, my son wins the lottery and gets 3 Drake knives for Christmas. I have ordered 3 Helvie's to go with my 1.25" detail knife. All with One Groove Oval Pakkawood handles. A 2" roughout, a 1.5" detail and a special mini 1" x 50 mil detail knife.
                      I hope that handle will help. What do you think Mike?
                      Handles are really just a matter of preference and it can be hard to know what feels good without holding them. Unless you can evaluate a friends or someone in a carving club, you may have to try a few different styles to figure out what you like. The students in my last class liked them, but some wanted a smaller/flatter handle and some liked a much larger handle. Some liked a straight handle and some liked a fish tail shape. Helvie does go to some shows and seminars (check their web page) but they are a family business out of Indiana and you may have to go to them rather than them going to your state.
                      'If it wasn't for caffeine, I wouldn't have any personality at all!"

                      http://mikepounders.weebly.com/
                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-...61450667252958
                      http://centralarkansaswoodcarvers.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        I think you can "go wrong" with any knife if you assume it will work perfectly for every carving task, without sharpening, forever and ever. The fit of the handle may be fine for whittling (paring) cuts over extended periods of carving, but not if you switch to plunging stop cuts, incised curves, etc. All knives have their limitations, as well as good features. Rather than choosing our favorite, we should become more aware of when our knives are not performing well and what to do about it.

                        I do applaud Mike Pounders for exposing his students to a good knife to start this process, however.
                        Last edited by pallin; 10-24-2019, 04:57 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Do any dealers have these knifes?

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                          • #14
                            Sorry talking about the Helvie knifes

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                            • #15
                              Using soft wood, carving your own prototype handles is fast and very revealing for size and shape.
                              Even pine or spruce will do. You need to feel the size and shape.
                              Then you spend your money on a good blade from a good bladesmith
                              and carve the handle from hard woods of your choice.
                              I think that you'll find it means a lot more when you carve with that knife.
                              Brian T

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