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  • Beyond Pfeil

    Several years ago, my wife gave me a large set of full-size Pfeil carving chisels. I now have around 30 or so in total as I have added ones that I thought were needed over the years. I am starting up my carving again and was wondering about other quality brands. Are Two Cherries or Stubai as good, a better value? I also see Ashley Iles and Henry Taylor although I hear that they have thicker blades suited for hard woods. Most of my carving to date has been in basswood or butternut. I'd like to try mahogany for some outdoor projects in the future.

    Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by PittsburghTim; 02-11-2017, 07:53 PM. Reason: pfeil

  • #2
    No Tim, you pretty much have the gold standard for wood carving tools.
    There's a lot of brand loyalty but across the professional business of western wood carving,
    you wind up measuring tools and steels against Pfeil.

    There's a handful of top brands with the best of steels for the conventional sorts of tools.
    To those that you have named, I'd add Aurioux if you could find them. Hans Karlsson are equally hard to get.
    Brian T

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    • #3
      It is unlikely that anyone can afford to try every brand, or even every profile in a few brands. It's like looking for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I also have a large number of Pfeil tools and find them quite good for the carving I do, but I rarely use all the tools I own. My favorite gouge is an old Herring Brothers #3 fishtail. It was part of an old tool roll given to me. After hours spend cleaning, reshaping, sharpening and stropping, it glides thru the wood.

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      • #4
        HA! And I've drifted off into the world of Pacific Northwest native style carving tools such as elbow & D adzes, and crooked knives.
        Brian T

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        • #5
          You may find some that are equal in quality, but it is difficult to find better. I don't care for their knives much, but I love every one of my full size tools. I also like my Drake palm tools, which I bought individually and are very well made.
          '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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          • #6
            For large tools it's hard to beat Pfeil, but for palm tools I agree with Mike (mpounders)...I like my Drake palm tools.
            Keep On Carvin'
            Bob K.

            My Woodcarving blog: https://www.woodchipchatter.com


            My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/robert.kozakiewicz.9


            My RWK Woodcarving Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rwkwood


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            • #7
              I like all my Pfeil tools but my favorite full size gouges are made by Hans Karlsson.

              http://www.countryworkshops.org/gouges.html
              Terry

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              • #8
                Pfeil are some of the best. If they've fit your needs so far, I'd stick with them. I have Henry Taylor, Dastra, Stubai and Pfeil. For my own needs I wish Pfeil had more sweeps in fishtail. Of the ones I named I think the Stubai may have the best steel. Once place Pfeils win hands down is grinding. They are slimmer and if you are doing finer work in some of the softer woods, bass, linden, lime mohagany and so on, they can't be beat. That's not to say they aren't for hardwoods, they surely are. The Henry Taylors I have are not bad thickness wise, but the older ones were better ground than they are now. I've seen the Ashley Iles and man they are THICK. There is enough steel in some of them to make three gouges. I think historically you will find that tools got thicker as labor to grind increased in cost. I think Pfeil have a lot of automation in their process that does some of this grinding.

                One other disadvantage of mix and match is that the sweep is not consistent and it's relatively easy to end up with a 4 in one brand that is a 5 in another and maybe you already own the 5, so now you've bought a tool you have. To get around that I standardize with a print out of the LPB gouge sheet and all brands get put to that and then I take it along when buying and only buy things that fill in the gaps regardless of what the vendor calls it.

                I think I posted this before, but if you want to see some particulars about different brands, here goes
                I ran across a woodcarver that has done a comparison of several brands of carving tools looking at the steel content and how the gouges are constructed. The site is in Spanish so either use Google Translate or if you use the Chrome browser it will offer to translate the site for you.
                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...7-elegir-gubia

                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...elegir-gubia-2

                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...elegir-gubia-3

                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...elegir-gubia-4

                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...elegir-gubia-5

                http://www.tallamadera.com/articulos...elegir-gubia-6

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                • #9
                  One difference that I know of is the change that Pfeil made, classifying skews.
                  In the LPB (London Pattern Book), #1 is straight, like a stop chisel. #2 is a skew and #3 then begins to have a bit of a sweep.

                  Pfeil decided to call the skews 1S. That means that in Pfeil-speak, their #2 has a sweep like the #3 in the LPB.
                  Our choices here seem somewhat limited. Fortunately the choice is Pfeil and not much else in the way of conventional gouges.
                  Stubai drawknives and carving adzes come up from time to time. The adze must be a climber's ice axe with a sweep forged into it.
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    Pfeil and Drake for me. Although I recently bought a used Dastra, needed some sharpening but holds a real nice edge.

                    Dave

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                    • #11
                      Personally, I prefer Ashley Iles, but it's really a personal preference. I like the thicker, solid feel of the Ashley Iles tools... they feel like they can take a beating. That said, their Chris Pye #2-1/2 gouges are really slim and work well for smoothing a final surface. And Ashley Iles makes a hooked skew that is literally the first tool I reach for almost any carving, cutting, or trimming purpose (it's GREAT for cleaning up mortise and tenon joints)!

                      Bob
                      Last edited by BobD; 02-13-2017, 10:51 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks, BobD. Good to read evaluations of tools other than Pfeil (and 'why' they are appreciated).
                        Q: Does Ashley Iles make a broad range of fishtail gouges?

                        I cannot damage my Pfeil 9/15, swinging a 30oz lead core mallet as hard as I can.
                        In that, I can believe that all the top makers think the same.
                        Brian T

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
                          HA! And I've drifted off into the world of Pacific Northwest native style carving tools such as elbow & D adzes, and crooked knives.
                          Why? Do you like them better then chisels and etc.... or is it a new interest? Love to hear your intake....
                          . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

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                          • #14
                            Hi Di!
                            Because of their regional and historical popularity, I wanted to find out what that is so.
                            Began as some native carvers do, with pairs of farrier's hoof knives, bevels revised from approx 25 degrees down to 12 degrees.
                            Interesting in that they can be used in both a push and a pull action.
                            Six or 8 pairs of those and some planer knives for big surfaces.
                            Then, I bought a few designed Pacific Northwest style crooked knife blades. Still making all the handles and hafting.
                            They're double edged. I don't like that so much as you can't push on the blades and have to keep changing hands.

                            The adzes have turned out to be wonderful rough-out tools. Buy just the blades (Kestrel) and make up the handles, I used 1.5" birch.
                            I've got 2 short poles on the go now. They were 5" x 5" x 65" from the mill and 48" (so far) had to be made round.
                            My striking accuracy isn't good enough to use them to texture a finished surface.

                            I can't explain why they seem so comfortable and natural to use. I feel the same way about gouges and skews.
                            The PacNW tools are not really robust enough to carve big things in hard woods. As I prefer the cedars, it doesn't matter.

                            Sharpening all these curved edges, it's the reverse to doing a gouge.
                            Here, the tool is fixed and you need to learn how to move the abrasive and hold the bevel angle.
                            Took a long time to get good at it.
                            Now, I can hone a crooked knife over my knee and visit with you at the same time.
                            Brian T

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
                              Hi Di!
                              Because of their regional and historical popularity, I wanted to find out what that is so.
                              Began as some native carvers do, with pairs of farrier's hoof knives, bevels revised from approx 25 degrees down to 12 degrees.
                              Interesting in that they can be used in both a push and a pull action.
                              Six or 8 pairs of those and some planer knives for big surfaces.
                              Then, I bought a few designed Pacific Northwest style crooked knife blades. Still making all the handles and hafting.
                              They're double edged. I don't like that so much as you can't push on the blades and have to keep changing hands.

                              The adzes have turned out to be wonderful rough-out tools. Buy just the blades (Kestrel) and make up the handles, I used 1.5" birch.
                              I've got 2 short poles on the go now. They were 5" x 5" x 65" from the mill and 48" (so far) had to be made round.
                              My striking accuracy isn't good enough to use them to texture a finished surface.

                              I can't explain why they seem so comfortable and natural to use. I feel the same way about gouges and skews.
                              The PacNW tools are not really robust enough to carve big things in hard woods. As I prefer the cedars, it doesn't matter.

                              Sharpening all these curved edges, it's the reverse to doing a gouge.
                              Here, the tool is fixed and you need to learn how to move the abrasive and hold the bevel angle.
                              Took a long time to get good at it.
                              Now, I can hone a crooked knife over my knee and visit with you at the same time.
                              Thank you all for the input. I'm thinking I will stay with Pfeil as I have zero complaints.

                              Robson Valley, it seems that you find the Kestrel Tool blades are high quality. I have been looking for an adze for roughing out bowls gouge and in my search stumbled across Kestrel. Do you think they would stand up to green hardwoods? If not, I may go with the Hans Karlsson adze from Country Workshops.

                              Thanks again,
                              Tim

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