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Woodcarving for Beginners

Selection of Carving Tools

Chisels Carving chisels vary in three main ways :-

a. Shape in length, straight, back bent, front bent etc
b. Section across the tool
c. Width of blade

By practice through the years, the section across the blade, and the shape in the length are known by numbers, and in general, most manufacturers apply these, except that some of them add their own numbers to the front, and in these cases they may be identified by the last two numbers of the catalogue group.

By this system, all tools of the same linear shape and blade section will have the same number, and it only needs the blade width to be added, thus a No.9 is a straight gouge of semi-circular section, while a No.1 is flat, whatever its blade width might be.

The main shapes through the length of the chisel are :-

a. Straight: which is straight in the length
b. Curved: curved through the length
c. Front Bent, or Spoon Bit: which is front bent at the end only
d. Back Bent: which is back bent at the end only, usually
e. Skew: a straight chisel with flat blade, set at an angle
f. Skew Spoon Bit: a front bent chisel with a flat end, with straight end, or left or right skew
g. Fishtail and Spade: any of the above, but with the blade broader at the end than at the handle, giving a fishtail appearance
h. Parting Tool: straight, front bent, or back bent V shaped tool
i. Macaroni: rectangular in section at the end, square corners
j. Fluteroni: as Macaroni, but with rounded corners
k. Backeroni: as Fluteroni, but with raised or convex centre

There are many other shapes that different manufacturers have produced through the years, but these are the main ones, other tools have been manufactured by an individual carver for a specific piece and these may be found in old tool kits in sale rooms if you look carefully.

Mallet The other tools that you may find useful, are a selection of knives, if you are to specialise in chip carving, and various holdfasts, bench screws, cramps and vices for holding the work down. The mallet, invariably with a round head so that the carver may strike from any direction without altering his grip on the handle, and about 3/4 pound in weight for most work. Too heavy and the job gets tiring. A larger mallet is useful for larger removing larger amounts of wood at the beginning of the job.

Other tools used may be rasps, for rounding off larger works, Punches for textural background, and Rifflers used as a small version of a rasp.

Tools may be purchased new, possibly from one of the suppliers indicated by links on the Home Page, or to build up a set you could spend some well worth time at car boot sales, second hand shops, or antique shops. Look at second hand chisels carefully to make sure that they haven't been burnt and lost their temper, indicated by a blackening of the tool tip, but damaged ends or handles are repairable at little cost, and only a small amount of time.

Ring, E-Mail, or Fax us now, and find out a little more.

Visit us by E-Mail:

Lichfield College, The Friary, Lichfield, Staffs WS13 6QG, England
Tel/Fax: 0044 (0)1543 301200

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Last updated: April 4th, 2000.
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