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Carving Tools


CARVING TOOLS, the various instruments used in the art of cutting wood, stone, ivory, etc., for ornamental purposes. Primitive peoples employed sharpened fish-bones, flint and shells in carving wood and ivory articles, accomplishing results that to-day would seem impossible. After the discovery of steel the tools for carving were developed considerably ; however, the prin ciples of many of the oldest tools are still being used, differing only in the quality of steel. The names and uses of the tools employed in the carving of the most important materials, viz., wood, stone and ivory, are given below.

Wood-carving Tools.—The history and development of wood carving tools may be said to follow the history of iron and steel tools. Except for certain refinements in the steel itself, working methods, etc., and the better and lighter design of the tools, the wood-carving tools of to-day are practically the same as those used several centuries ago. A professional wood-carver may have well over a hundred tools, most of these varying only slightly in size, width and sweep, using them according to the requirements of his work. Japanese and Chinese wood-carvers do very fine work with Lut few tools, a single knife often being employed for many different purposes.

Beginners are usually advised to start with a set of tools vary ing from to 24, as the other tools are largely only variations of these in size and sweep, and may be acquired as experience dic tates. The wood-carver's tools consist largely of chisels, knives and gouges of various shapes and sizes. These are generally lighter in weight and of a design more suitable for wood-carving than the chisels and gouges used by the carpenter or joiner. Many of the carving tools vary only in the size and sweep of the cutting edge. When a wood-carver speaks of the "sweep" of a gouge, he means the actual curve at the cutting edge, as made when the tool is pressed perpendicularly into a piece of wood.

Chisels and gouges for wood-carving vary from

in. to in. in width at the cutting edge, the curves or "sweeps" of the gouges varying from that of a half circle, called a deep gouge, to a curve that is almost flat, called a flat gouge. The chisels vary in width at the edge, some of them having the edge straight across or at right angles to the blade while others have the edge slanted off at an angle across the tool.

Wood-carving tools are made in two forms: straight-sided (fig.

I, A) and spade-shaped or fish-tailed (B). The latter conceals less of the wood under the tool and also works into corners where a straight-sided tool could not be used.

A straight tool

(A) is more generally used than any other. A "long bend" tool and a "short bend" are shown also (C and D) . These two tools are used in places where the straight tool would not cut, as in deep hollows. Straight-, long- and short-bend tools may be obtained in the straight-sided or fish-tailed types. Wood carvers also use especially shaped knives for their work, three types being shown (E). Stamps made of steel are sometimes used by the carver to stamp portions of carved backgrounds into more or less regular patterns, two of which are illustrated (G). Some wood-carvers make them from iron or steel nails, sawing off the nails and filing the ends into various shapes. Special files, called carver's rasps (H), are sometimes used for roughing out or smooth ing off parts of the work.

For the lighter cuts the wood-carver uses the tool with his

hands, one hand pushing the tool and the other hand resting on the blade, controlling it. For heavy cuts, usually in preliminary work, he uses a carver's mallet or maul to drive the tool (F) . When clearing away large quantities of wood, as in the preliminary stages of large work, many carvers use the heavier carpenter's or wood worker's chisels and gouges, and at times parts of the wood are bored away or entirely through, with a brace and bit, the work being of course finished up with the regular carving-tools.

Carving Tools

Generally the work that is being carved is held firmly to the

bench by clamps, or it is clamped in a vice. A wood-carver's bench is provided with holes in the top, and the top of the vice, which is level with the bench, is also provided with a hole. Pegs fit in these holes. Flat work is rested on the bench top in such a man ner as to come between a peg in the vice and one or more pegs in the bench top, the vice being squeezed up to hold the work firmly between the pegs. The top of a wood-carver's bench is here illus trated (.1).

Wood-carving tools are made of the best grades of fine tool

steel, forged into the various chisel, gouge and knife shapes by a skilled tool-smith, using a charcoal, coal or gas fire in the forge to heat the steel, usually to a dull red colour. When the tool is forged into shape, it is again heated to a dull red and hardened by plunging it into an oil or water bath, after which it is tem pered by a slight reheating, the temper being drawn to a lemon yellow or a dull straw colour. Authorities differ as to the proper amount of hardness to be left in the edge of a carving-tool and many wood-carvers reharden and temper their tools to their own liking. After the tempering process the edge of the tool is ground down on a grindstone, the tool being well moistened with water to keep it from so heating as to destroy the temper. The rough formed is smoothed down by rubbing it back and forth on a fine-grained oil stone, well moistened with oil, until a very keen edge is obtained. Specially shaped stones called "slips," which are oil stones shaped to fit inside gouges and other tools, are used at this stage for the inside sharpening of the tools, the slip being held in one hand and rubbed against the tool held in the other hand. During the sharpening the edge of the tool is fre quently driven into soft wood to remove the "feather edge," or fringe of steel which forms on the edge of the tool. Slips and small stones are frequently used as above by the carver to obtain very fine and accurate edges, particularly on small tools of all shapes. Many wood-carvers sharpen both sides of the edge, the under side at the usual angle and the top side at a very slight angle, though experts differ as to this. The final edge is given to wood-carving tools by stropping them on a piece of oily leather which is charged with some fine abrasive, such as crocus or rouge, to obtain the very sharp cutting edge necessary for all wood-carving tools.

Tools that are used in hard wood are frequently ground and sharpened at a lesser angle than those used in soft wood by pro fessional carvers, who sharpen their tools frequently as they work, never allowing them to become dull. Sharpening is a very difficult art and requires much practice before a satisfactory edge may be had. Instead of a grind-stone many carvers now use a quick cutting, flat, carborundum stone, well charged with oil, on which the tool is rubbed to a rough edge, before finishing up with the finer stones and the strop.

Stone-carving Tools.

The stone-cutter's instruments, as dis tinguished from those of the wood-cutter, are largely as follow: (I) Chisels, with various shapes, widths, and tempers; (2) tooth chisels, for the first or rougher cutting; (3) splitters; (4) hand drills; (5) bow-drills; (6) points; (7) pointing machine; (8) pneumatic tools; (9) rasps; (to) hand hammers, including wooden mallets; (I I) dummies, which may be of copper, soft iron or lead.

Ivory-carving Tools.

The tools for ivory-carving seem to have remained much the same within historic record. The material requires very hard and sharp tools for cutting; however, it is easily sawed or filed. The average ivory-carver's tools include the fol lowing: (I) bow-saw, or a small-toothed circular saw for the pre liminary cutting; (2) float, a tapering tool in a wooden handle; (3) gouge and mallet; (4) rasp and file; (5) chisels; (6) scraper, a dis tinctive tool of ivory-carving, resembling a wood-carving chisel, and used for removing the substance in shavings, for engraving the most delicate lines or for finishing; (7) miscellaneous tools, such as drills, compasses, groovers and a large selection of knives for paring and finishing. (See also SCULPTURE TECHNIQUE;

tool, edge, wood, cutting, wood-carving, steel and chisels