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  • #16
    YouTube videos do not give you "firsthand experience" with sharpness. At our local woodcarving club, a new member was struggling with sharpening his knife. I handed him my knife and said "try my knife for a while." It was an instant "ah-ha" moment. He still didn't know how to get there, but he knew it was achievable.

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    • #17
      Some people don't have a club nearby (me) and have to try other resources. However, if there is a club nearby, then that would be the first option. I agree, Pallin.
      Bill
      Living among knives and fire.

      http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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      • #18
        Heinecke Wood Produces=good source for Basswood
        . . .JoeB

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        • #19
          Originally posted by jak61 View Post
          I have a couple Helvie knives I picked up from Marvin Daniels. Also a couple OCC knives that I use. I strop them quite often and they seem really sharp to me but as I have said earlier, its all new to me. Maybe my "sharp" isn't near sharp enough. Any pointers on how to tell proper sharpness?
          Go to https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...wer-sharpening and scroll down to #9. I p-osted a drawing of how carving knives should look vs. kitchen knives. It's possible that while stropping, you lifted up the back edge of the blade too far and your blade profile looks like the kitchen knife profile. One solution to that is to use a piece of cereal box cardboard (it's very thin) glued to a flat surface such as piece of glass, smooth ceramic tile, plastic coated piece of MDF shelving, etc. and rub some 0.5 micron stropping compound on it. Then, lay your blade flat on the strop and pull the blade along the strop away from the cutting edge. Do this 20 times on one side, then turn it over and repeat for 20 times on the other side. Try to hold the blade so that the back of the blade is almost touching the strop - I hold a finger on the blade to keep it pressed to the strop. Thinner blades like Helvie blades will flex, so if you put pressure on the handle to hold it against the strop, the tip will lift up just a bit. Take a rest and do the 20 one side, 20 the other again. Another rest, and do it again. When you've done all of these, take a piece of basswood and see it it cuts any easier. The point is to get rid of a secondary bevel or rounding of the edge that may have occurred and end up with a blade that is flat from back to edge.

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

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

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          • #20
            I suspect the problem may be the wood. Wood varies in how it cuts according to where it was grown and how it was dried and how old it might be. Heinecke generally provides better wood than what you buy on EBay. The other might be that you are still learning to carve, in that your muscles haven't built up and learned how to cut. People make it look easy, because it is easy after you've carved a few years! I bet your knives are just fine as I have the ones you mentioned and they come sharp and are usually easy to keep sharp, just don't dig and pry with them!
            '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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            • #21
              Some people like carving pine. Construction pine is sometimes a yellow pine with little to no straight grain and lots of knots, and sometimes wears sap that is messy. I personally like to carve what Lowe’s Home Improvement calls white wood. I can usually get it with plenty of straight grain, and it’s more accessible to me than basswood, if I’m in a hurry to get started. I prefer the basswood though.

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              • #22
                Question: What kind(s) of carvings do you like to do? The answer will help you to pick woods.
                I don't want to do exquisite detail. So I don't carve alder at all and never detail in birch.
                Western red cedar and yellow cedar are just fine by me, many eastern carvers would not give those woods a second look.
                Brian T

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                • #23
                  I'll echo what others have said: carve what you enjoy carving. A lot of carvers like doing caricatures and other things that they then paint. Basswood is great for that because it's relatively soft, holds detail very well, and takes paint well, too. In general, basswood is probably the best wood for that kind of carving. But if you're enjoying yourself working with the pine, go for it! Don't feel like you're "doing it wrong" because somebody tells you that you're using the wrong kind of wood.

                  Wood carving is a big enough hobby for everybody. Not everybody enjoys making basswood carvings with lots of details, and then painting them. For example I find detail frustrating, and painting tedious. I can appreciate the skill that others have in carving and painting detailed caricatures, but it's not my thing. I prefer carvings that show off the beauty of natural wood. Basswood, for all its good qualities, is pretty boring to look at. There's a whole world of beautiful woods to discover, and I'm an avid explorer. Does that make me less of a carver? I certainly don't think so!

                  As far as I'm concerned, there are only three rules to wood carving: 1) Be safe, 2) Sharpen your tools, 3) have fun!

                  Jim

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                  • #24
                    I'm also pretty new at this but I have tried a few different woods and formed opinions. Like most I started with Basswood, I'm on a budget so it came from Amazon. Decent to carve but I find the cheaper Basswood to be nothing like those videos where Basswood cuts like butter. If you choose Basswood and can afford it buy from a good source. Tried some Tupelo but found it very hard, brittle and generally a pain if not worthless to carve with a knife, some say it's best for power carving. Lately I've been carving Mahogany and really beginning to appreciate harder woods, Cherry is next. The grain is consistent and tight, my knife cuts are crisp and the surface shines on longer slices. Takes detail very well but patience and more frequent stropping is needed.

                    For those who wonder how I have Mahogany and Cherry on a tight budget, they are left over from a solid body guitar and dulcimer I made ages ago. Also have Purpleheart but It's probably in the Tupelo category for carving difficulty, have to try it.
                    Last edited by Squid-61; 06-26-2020, 09:10 AM.

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                    • #25
                      We all do what is best for us including the selection of wood, knives, gouges, etc. Some power carve and some don't.

                      Have you tried butternut yet, Squid?
                      Bill
                      Living among knives and fire.

                      http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by woodburner807 View Post
                        We all do what is best for us including the selection of wood, knives, gouges, etc. Some power carve and some don't.

                        Have you tried butternut yet, Squid?
                        I have not. I think I can get it at Woodcraft.

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                        • #27
                          It has a beautiful grain and color and carves quite well Squid. You might want to put it on a list of woods to try. JMO
                          Bill
                          Living among knives and fire.

                          http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Squid-61 View Post
                            Also have Purpleheart but It's probably in the Tupelo category for carving difficulty, have to try it.
                            Be careful with the purpleheart. I tried it a year or two after I first started carving, and ended up turning the blade on my knife. The wood is hard. Take very thin slices, and don't try to make a deep stop cut with a single pass.

                            On the plus side, I got a lot of practice re-shaping an edge. Took me hours to fix that knife.

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                            • #29
                              jmischel
                              I used it for the head-fret board of a dulcimer and do remember it being a challenge to carve the scroll and that was with power tools.

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                              • #30
                                I have woods I love and ones I hate, what I love another person may hate to carve it.
                                Gamekeyssale | Game keys | gamekeyssale.com

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