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Problem Carving Too Dry Wood?

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  • Claude
    replied
    I've carved a couple of spoons from purpleheart and it's a real bear to finish. Roughed them out with my Dremel, then sanded. Problem with power sanding is the Dremel is too fast - purpleheart is an oily wood, and a fast moving tool will turn it black in an instant. I also made a pair of earrings for granddaughter. She said she wanted purple hearts, so I made them heart-shaped out of purpleheart. Had to be hand sanded with small pieces of sandpaper so it didn't turn black from frictional heat.

    Claude

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  • Dileon
    replied
    Carve exotic hardwood, some of it has to be fresh wood from a just-cut tree that is not dried out, easy to carve if wet, but dry forget it. I keep it in trash bags to keep it wet until work is finished. The worst thing about this method is cracking in work...which means a slow dry out after carved. So far no cracks...

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  • Brian T
    replied
    badfish: Dishes like that should be used for unique condiments for meals.
    As hard as they were to carve, so should their justice be on the table.
    They have earned a noble position.

    One night with Vietnamese Salad rolls, maybe a honey/garlic/HoiSin or a Crunchy peanut soy.
    Tomorrow, a heavily smoked Spanish Mediterranean sea salt (Matiz) for a little pinch on fish.

    Just remind yourself that African carvers seem to get along just fine, doing ebony and using broken glass instead of sand papers.



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  • badfish29
    replied
    Thank you Brian!
    I sure hope the next one will be easier. That little hunk of wood just about broke my spirit.. Even using the 50/50 water/alcohol mixture only made it slightly more workable.. I figure I'll give it to my Mom when the finishing process is done.. Even though the thing is ugly, she'll love it because I made it.

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  • Brian T
    replied
    badfish: It's wonderful. An example to us all of a carving done in Purpleheart. You did it.
    The "up side" is that you learned a great deal about wood, about grain, about carving and purple heart in particular. Your next carving ought to feel "easier," yes?

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  • badfish29
    replied
    I'm done. It's not finished, but I'm tired of working on it. It's the most disagreeable piece of wood I've ever dealt with.. Got to the point where it just refused to be carved.. It would just keep tearing/chipping. So I said screw it. Gave it some sanding, some walnut oil for a finish, and I wash my hands of it. Pretty wood. Ugly bowl.
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 2 photos.

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  • Brian T
    replied
    Finish the outside first or come close to it.
    Then you will know how much wood you have to fool with for the inside.

    You are very courageous to carve purple heart. That's what I call "boney."

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  • badfish29
    replied
    Firstly, thank you all for the kind words, and additional info.
    I've started carving a bowl out of 6x6x2 kiln-dried purple heartwood. Slow-growing, due to many factors, but it's finally starting to somewhat resemble a bowl..sorta

    And, yes, that is an oak chair I'm using as a "workbench".. Use what ya got, eh?
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    This gallery has 2 photos.

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  • Brian T
    replied
    Outdoors, under cover in the open shade, most woods reach a balance, an equilibrium, for moisture content at 12-14% or so. Fresh might be 35-70 % MC and that dries down. What you discover is that your favorite wood has gone from cheese to bone in that time.
    Stockpiling wood is a big fat mistake in many instances.
    Extra care, painted ends, several things to slow the drying.

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, First Nations carvers make masks primarily from alder.
    It really does carve like cheese when fresh. Yeah, it's amazing stuff. Never gets very big
    where I live. 6" is rare.
    To keep it soft during the carving process, you need a bucket of water and a rock.
    You need a very complete plan of the mask to do the most in the least time.

    Other woods, northern bass wood and some of the conifers like red & yellow cedars, are about the same at any stage of MC. I have piles of both cedars, indoors and out, which change very little as the years pass by. Bits of logs, beams, posts, fat shake blocks, all the same.

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  • Claude
    replied
    Originally posted by badfish29 View Post
    Hello, all. I just joined to post this. Also, sorry for bringing this thread back from the grave..

    ...
    No problem with bringing back old threads. Welcome to the forums! Glad we were able to help you. Please show us photos of some of your work!

    Claude

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  • badfish29
    replied
    Hello, all. I just joined to post this. Also, sorry for bringing this thread back from the grave..

    Anyhow. I just recently started trying my hand at handcarving bowls and spoons. Nothing fancy, with no high expectations: just trying to learn. So I get some turning blanks from various places, watch some YouTube vids, and off I go. And that hard, kiln-dried wood kicked my arse! I spent more time honing than cutting. With the grain wasn't really a problem, but trying to go accross it felt like chiseling marble..(not that I've ever carved marble, but you get the picture ​).
    So I search for ways to safely rehydrate the wood without damaging/staining.. I was led to this thread. I thank you all very much! It works! And it's made me feel like I can actually make some progress, and learn, instead of sharpening my tools to nubs, just to beat em against rocks again.
    ​​​​​​Again, I salute you all! Many thanks!

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  • Hi_Ho_Sliver
    replied
    Re: Problem Carving Too Dry Wood?

    rubbing alcohol and water....won't stain the wood.

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  • Brian T
    replied
    Re: Problem Carving Too Dry Wood?

    I pay very little attention to the difference(s) between birch and western red cedar. When I see the cut surfaces that I expect, I'm satisfied. Dry as dust.
    I think this underlines the difference between knife carving with a 12 degree bevel and mallet and gouge or gouge handwork with bevels of 20 degrees.

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  • Goodgal
    replied
    Re: Problem Carving Too Dry Wood?

    Great info here!

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  • hoogie
    replied
    Re: Problem Carving Too Dry Wood?

    I can't re-find the article in WCI forum. It was about turning, with a tip for making wood easier to carve/turn.

    I carve small items, refrigerator magnets, wood 1/4 inch thick.

    The article said to use a 50 50 solution of concentrated dish detergent and water. Because of my allergies I used Tide free and gentle for he washer. I soaked it overnight. I've only had one piece warp, it had been partially carved. I re soaked it as with the other pieces padded both sides with paper towels and pressed it between to flat pieces, solved the warp.

    After treatment and setting in air conditioned house (low humidity) for a month. I got distracted.

    I was amazed at how much differently box elder carved. Knife seemed to go smoother through the wood with less flaking. I had a flat piece that was 2" square that was all end grain. It was frustrating carving on it. Had another piece of the end grain that I treated as above and was really pleased at how well I could carve it.

    So I tried some dark oak. When carving it untreated the knife felt like it was chiseling, chipping trough it. Treated it and thoroughly dried it knife cuts through it with no stuttering, chiseling, or chipping.

    Don't know how it would work on large pieces of wood. It does seem to lubricate the cutting edge of the knife making the cut smoother.

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