First bowl carving tools - which ones?

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First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:58 am

Hi, I've carved a couple of dough bowls, more by improvisation and will power than use of suitable tools.
I'd now like to get a tool or two to ease the process and to provide a more finished result.

My own experiences suggest to me that I need a small adze for volume removal. A bent/curved
gouge to form the bottom the rounding from wall to floor of the bowl and something to help flatten
the floor of the bowl.

I wondered what you guys use and recommend?
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:13 am

BTW I've now read several threads (there is a lot out there now :)), much influenced ultimately by Robin & Nicola Wood :) but also David Fisher and others. This American article particularly resonated with me: http://countryworkshops.org/gouges.html
ImageNew Product Numbers-->Image
Although the number & cost (and possibly quality) of tools involved is daunting and perhaps more than I currently need.

I've pretty much decided that I need an adze of some kind, for the broad shaping.
One that would help rather than hinder forming of the internal curves of the bowl(/cup).
I wonder if using something like the 5cm radius Karlsson adze, might also take the place of
a large bent/curved gouge initially?

I'm wondering if I could "get away" with just an adze and dog-leg gouge to start off with - and still produce a decent result, reasonably quickly?

Also, how do you smooth/flatten the floor of your bowl/cups. I don't see much mention/use of
dog-leg gouges/"trogg followers" on the forum - which I expected to be the answer. I've used the
small radius, pointy Mora Frost 164 spoon knife (on old beech!) in the past - good tool but not designed for this & consequently very hard work and the
result - although pleasing to my eye - is rather too unfinished for most. But would I be better off with a large curved/bent gouge (maybe with a much broader, flatter radius that the adze - as shown above) or, perhaps, a larger broader hook/spoon knife (such as the Mora/Frost 163 or Ben Orford's broader, shallower knife).
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:00 pm

Alternatively, rather than a round adze and flat dog-leg gouge, another approach might be to use a flatter adze (e.g. Karlsson 700g/6cm or Jakruss "doughbowlmaker.com" adze) & a curved gouge.

e.g. flattish adze to do the outside, volume removal and floor of the bowl and a curved gouge with a flattish sweep for shaping internal curves & smoothing.

It looks like talented American bowl-maker David Fisher* uses a combination of curved adze, curved gouge and...is that a "scorp", for finishing the bottom (pictures appear to show curved gouge being used for most of that)?
*http://www.davidffisher.com/the_process Image
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby jrccaim » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:57 am

Yup, that's a scorp at lower left. Lee Valey sells one, not too expensive, around $15. It will need honing. Also of great interest: picture #10 and 12 oin David Fisher's citation (citation on previous post) A bowl horse! The whole series is fascinating; thanks for the link, ToneWood.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:19 pm

$15 for something like that would be great but I could only find micro-scorps on the Lee Valey site currently but I came across these real bigguns by North Bay Forge: http://www.northbayforge.com/sc.htm Some v. cool pictures & videos on that link ;) Not cheap but HUGE. :D
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby DavidFisher » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:57 am

Tone,
For general bowl making in just a few tools, I'd recommend the HK adze, The HK H-112 paring gouge, a hatchet, a sloyd knife, and a drawknife or pushknife. Much of this depends on how you prefer to work. For example, I don't have any of the dog leg gouges -- but very few of my bowls have a distinct transition between the "sides" and the "floor" of the bowl. I also usually prefer to use a drawknife on the outside because I use the bowl horse. But there are many other ways too.

As you move on, you may decide to pick up an another adze with a tighter sweep and tighter curve along the head (from edge to poll) and maybe another gouge or two with different sweeps. Maybe a dog-leg gouge too (I may have to pick one up myself sometime -- they look to be very useful for deep bowls). But I would really recommend just getting the few good tools to start. Those five tools are really all of the essentials.

By the way, I took a look at http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=9 and their prices seem very good, especially if you are in the UK. I notice they have two HK adzes. One 600 grams with a 2 inch wide edge, and one 700 grams with a 2 1/4 inch wide edge. I bought mine from CW years ago. I weighed mine, and it is the 700 gram one.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby DavidFisher » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:13 am

I also wanted to mention that the SD adze at the Ray Mears site also looks very good, especially for tighter spaces. The one I use for tighter spaces is the first adze I bought, a Pfeil. It works for me now, but I had to spend a long time comletely regrinding it from an inside-bevel tool into an outside-bevel tool. I hate to get too much into recommending specific brands of tools, because there are so many out there I haven't tried.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:00 am

Thanks for responses David. I think you, Ian S. and the Robin/Nicola Wood between you have pretty much got me sorted now :) (more on that later).

I don't want to be a gear freak, it's just that I'm just now at that point where I'm investing in tools for the first time, so I'm trying to gather the information now before I part with
the hard earned cash. I'm impressed by your selection of tools - that is what I am aiming for, a few good, carefully selected tools. And, most importantly, you are producing great results with them.

I have a couple more questions, if you can bear it:
1. Can you tell us more about your scorp and how/when you use it?
2. It looks like you use a Gransfors Carving axe - how do you get on with that? They seem v. heavy.
3. What kind of knife are you using (on your process page)? It looks v. good and quite substantial too. How long of a blade is it.
I thought it might be HK but it looks bigger than the largest one on Woodland Craft Supplies website (http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk/ ... cts_id=203), and the handle looks different. Is it a Svante Djarv Carving Knife 80mm?

I have a little Mora 120/49mm but frankly I don't get on with it, I've cut more flesh than wood with it and it was too small to be of use when carving my first two bowls. Instead I used a bigger carbon steel bladed Frost Bush knife (cheap but very good) mostly and a very long, old Sheffield stainless steel carving knife from a charity shop that I had sharpened extensively. I am thinking of getting a Mora 106/79mm, which is half as long again - I see Robin Wood often uses them - but am a little worried that it will still be too short for me and I'll end up cutting myself and not using it :D.

I have my father's old draw knife . It didn't occur to me to use it on my bowls though.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:34 am

You've heard of Ray Mears in America?! I'm a big fan of Ray but his branded webstore is unusually expensive. Boutique survival gear seems faintly absurd. But no doubt quality stuff.

I was certain that you were using the rounder 600g Karlsson adze on your website but that curved adze is probably your re-beveled Pfeil. Although the flatter 700g model seems better suited to my stated aim, of making dough bowls, I think I might be inclined to go for the smaller curvier one - influenced by the UK guys/Robin Wood and their darn kuksas/cups :D. That way, if I needed a flatter one later I might have more insight into the handle length & style needed (e.g. Karlsson/Jakruss).

It would have been nice to have tools made in Sheffield, England but the Greenwood revival seems to have largely passed them by so far, as far as I can tell. There are a lot of old English chisels and gouges around, which probably doesn't help, but most are too small and straight for our needs - probably aimed at furniture making, making window frames & doors - and made when resources were tight. It all seems very mass produced (yet expensive) too - the industrial revolution and 2 World Wars took its toll on Britain, its crafts, culture and even our food (although that has improved remarkably in recent years). I hope to eventually buy a few tools made by craftsmen in Britain & America though. There is something very special about handmade things.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby DavidFisher » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:30 pm

ToneWood wrote:I have a couple more questions, if you can bear it:
1. Can you tell us more about your scorp and how/when you use it?
2. It looks like you use a Gransfors Carving axe - how do you get on with that? They seem v. heavy.
3. What kind of knife are you using (on your process page)? It looks v. good and quite substantial too. How long of a blade is it.
I thought it might be HK but it looks bigger than the largest one on Woodland Craft Supplies website (http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk/ ... cts_id=203), and the handle looks different. Is it a Svante Djarv Carving Knife 80mm?


I use the scorp quite sparingly. Just sometimes to do a little clean up of the fibers at the bottom center of a bowl.

I do like the Gransfors Carving axe. I started with a kent pattern straight-edged side hatchet, but the Gransfors Carving axe is far superior for this work. Haven't tried any other hatchet since. As far as weight, I don't find it to be too heavy. When you choke up for hewing to a line, it doesn't seem as heavy of course. It has enough heft to power down through material when removing lots of bulk. You want a hatchet that is not too heavy to handle, but too light is also a pain. For me, it seems to hit the right balance. Others here may have some good input as to their experience with the weight of it.

The knife I put in the photo is a Svante Djarv knife. It has a 4" blade and I use it for some tasks, but the blade is too deep for many tasks in spooncarving. Much more often, I use the Frosts 106. Certainly for spooncarving.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:24 pm

Thanks David. I took your advice - and that of Ian S. & Robin Wood, among others (thanks) - took the plunge and ordered the Gransfors Swedish Carving axe (right-hand), the Frost 106 carving knife and the Hans Karlsson adze (the smaller 600g/5cm rounder model). I also ordered a Karlsson curved gouge, it is 45mm x 55mm sweep, so the size is similar to the the H-133 (but not heavy duty) and style-wise, like the H-112 - a compromise.

I was most surprised when all, except the adze, showed up today. Fast work by Matt Robinson at http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk/ - as suggested by yourself & Ian S.

The tools look great. I didn't realise an axe could be that sharp- Jeez :D - I guess that's where a good chunk of the cost is (the included leather blade guard is essential). I'm going to have to be careful with that beast. The handle is a bit rough but I guess that's intended, I like it - has a hand-crafted feel to it. The carving axe is also smaller and lighter than I expect too - which is a relief. I can now see why Robin Wood loves this axe so much. The gouge is shorter and less curved than I expected and wider than I imagined but it certainly looks "the business". I may need to get a flattish dog-leg gouge for finishing up & doing the bottom later. The plastic Mora sheath on the 106 is a little nicer, slimmer & better fitting, than the one that came with my little old Mora (I guess leather would increase the price too much :( ).

I was going to start by re-working my last bowl, but it was old beech and quite hard before it had stood for a year - so I think I might give that a miss, don't want to blunt the new tools straight away :D. I have a smaller piece of wood already split, that I might try. It's from near the root of a wind-fallen trunk of a multi-trunk tree (not sure what type of tree it is yet, as no leaves on it currently). The other trunks of the tree survived, so not sure if this trunk was already dead before it was blown down - the wood looks solid enough but is not wet/sappy.

Is there anything I should do before using the tools (e.g. strop the edges or oil the handles) - to be honest, they look ready to go as they are.
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby bulldawg_65 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:34 pm

I didn't realise an axe could be that sharp- Jeez


I know right? Got mine for Christmas and by middle January I had already cut my left thumb with it! I was carving a spoon blank and getting tired. I let my left thumb hang out just a touch over the end of the wood and lifted the axe higher than I should have and swick! I had cut through the right edge of my thumb. :shock: Missed the bone but got a good ways into the nail. I didn't even feel it!

I'm all healed up now, but every time I use the axe, I put it down for a few minutes when I start to tire. Nothing like first hand experience to teach a fellow about saftey! :)
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:56 pm

Ooowwwwch! I'm cringing after reading that (I've become squeamish as I've got older). But it's a timely and welcome warning/reminder, thanks Phil ;)
(It's bad enough when I accidentally slash myself on the little Mora carving knife - with the carving axe, that's got to be about 2 orders of magnitude more dangerous.)

I trod on a needle a year or two ago, went right through my foot!! It didn't hurt but the thought of it was awful. I had to pull it out too!
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby ToneWood » Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:55 pm

The image near start of thread shows old product numbers, which is confusing, here are the newer codes: http://www.countryworkshops.org/newslet ... ouges.html
Image
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Re: First bowl carving tools - which ones?

Postby Ian S » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:30 pm

It's also worth noting that they are one American supplier's, Country Workshop's, codes - they are not the manufacturer's codes.

http://www.klensmide.se/index.php?page=0&link_id=47c6e6bd1637a&lang_id=0
How sharp is sharp enough?
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