A Note for New Carvers

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by crookedknife, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    I've thought about making this post for a long time, but I have hesitated because I don't want to sound elitist or like a know-it-all. I've decided to go ahead and make it though in the spirit of trying to be a good teacher. A major part of teaching and learning is constructive criticism, and this is certainly meant to be constructive.----- I have noticed a number of posts with spoons and other carvings that had some really rough spots in the work, especially in tight curves. The reason for the roughness - "chatter marks" made by blades that are simply too wide for the carving being done. It's just plain physics - you can't turn a F-350 in the same tight radius you can turn a Honda Civic, and you can't make a wide blade cut a tiny radius either. It ends up being a scraper for part of the cut, therefore the chatter marks. Of course it helps to carve near the tip of the blade, but there are still clear limits. I would strongly suggest to any new carver that they try a Mora 120 or 106. I have read many times that the 120 is the most popular carving knife in the world, and there is a reason. The shape and size have been developed over centuries to do the best job on small carvings. Another advantage is that the R62 core of the 120 will hold an edge a lot longer than the softer Woodlores or plain carbon Moras. In the photos, look at the width of the large blades in comparison with the size of the small corners necessary to make the carvings - then make the same comparison with the Moras DESIGNED FOR CARVING. Also look at the designs carved into the handles of the spoons - all done with the tip of a 120 and simply impossible with the larger blades. So -- for about $15. any beginning carver could and should purchase a proper carving tool. It will greatly reduce frustration and will immediately lead to much cleaner and pleasurable carving. (Please don't ban me - really trying to help.) Jim
     

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  2. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Jim...good one.

    The 120 really is a perfect carver in almost every way. Cheap as chips and almost perfectly ground for use right out of the box. I like the 106 too for a bit longer reach sometimes.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Banned Member Banned

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    Wait...let me get this straight...you're saying that a tool actually designed for carving works best for carving?!?! Somebody ban this dude! :D :D :D

    Sound advice and good post. ;)
     
  4. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Oh fun! Another knife to buy!

    Thanks for the excuse!

    ETA: Those spoons are beautiful! (and the fork too)
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  5. SemperFiHunter

    SemperFiHunter Scout

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    Thanks for the good info. I guess I will be adding a 120 to the herd.
    And that wasn't elitist at all. Simply a good member with advanced skill passing on some great advice to less experienced members like myself!
    I do appreciate it.

    Thanks for sharing,

    SFH

    ETA: Your work is awesome, and inspiring!
     
  6. jereman

    jereman Scout

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    thank you for your insight, i have been getting more into carving in the last few months and i will take any advice i can get. i have been using my condor bushlore which carves good, but is a little tricky to get into those tight quarters. i think you titled this thread perfectly, as i drew me directly to it. ill pick one of these up and give it a shot.

    thanks man.
     
  7. leatherstocking

    leatherstocking Scout

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    Thank you so much for this post. I have been reading the posts of the carvers here and trying to learn what I can. I do not consider myself very creative or artistic, but I do like making my own tools and such. You guys have inspired me to try making my own cups and spoons, etc. Now, I know the tool to get first and hopefully start actually carving. Thanks again for the insightful posting. -Leatherstocking
     
  8. Adam B

    Adam B Guide

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    Jim,

    My problem with this post is that you waited...c'mon! Throw the rest of us a bone. :)

    What's next?

    Adam
     
  9. NGshooter17

    NGshooter17 Scout

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    I have the shorter version of this knife...Love it
     
  10. Longbeard

    Longbeard on the PCT Bushclass III

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    Man, that has never stopped me. heh heh Really nice work there Jim.
     
  11. Slickrock

    Slickrock Scout

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    Okay, now we have a good carving knife...

    So now that you've schooled us new carvers on knife selection, now what can we learn about wood selection?
     
  12. CimarronJr

    CimarronJr Tracker

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    Thank you for sharing your hard earned advice. Please add more as you think of it. I want all the coaching I can get!
     
  13. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Many thanks for some good sound advice. Now, consider giving us a tutorial on basic carving ! :)
     
  14. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    For any kind of eating utensil choose a wood with tight-grained structure. This makes for a utensil that is easy to clean, safe to eat with and one that usually won't stain with food. If there are no holes in the grain structure for food to hide, it will be safe. Hardness has little to do with how close the grain structure is. For instance, all of the oaks are hard, but most have open grain structure and make poor food containers. Birch on the other hand (all of the species including black) has a wonderfully tight structure even though it is a medium hardness wood. Basswood is really soft, but its structure makes for excellent food bowls. You can gain valuable experience by examining wood under magnification. It doesn't take much - 15x is plenty. That experience is really important because in dealing with natural materials, there are no hard rules. For instance, some walnut wood is tight grained and makes excellent treen, while most of it is pretty useless for that purpose because of its open pore structure.-------A beginning carver should always start with straight-grained, clear wood. After a dozen projects or so, then venture out into "character wood" and woods known to be difficult to carve. Twisted grain makes beautiful patterns, but is much, much harder to carve.----Then there is the whole discussion of carving green vs dry wood. Carving green wood is much easier than carving dry wood, but needs special care in curing. Just remember two things: wood usually cracks from the center out, so remove the log / limb center from any piece of green wood before carving. Secondly, wood cracks mainly because it dries quicker on the outside than on the inside of the block, so a carving that is hollowed as you carve dries from both inside and outside at an equal rate, and is therefore less likely to crack./////////The main thing is to have fun and not be too serious - I have tossed many spoons and other carvings into the woodstove. If you wreck a project, you have gained experience. Smile and start another.
     
  15. dancan

    dancan Scout

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    Thanks for putting up the thread and saying a few things that needed to be said .
    I hope some listen .
     
  16. VtBlackDog

    VtBlackDog Guide

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    Good stuff! Nice work there....

    I'd add that carving with a full sized field knife will result in going to the ER for stitches as a heavy knife just keeps going if it slips, while a lighter knife stops quicker.....
     
  17. alukban

    alukban Guide

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    So I take it that it's a big negative on using carving burrs then... ;) :dblthumb:
     
  18. clanmaki

    clanmaki Guide

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    I am not sure why you would think you would get banned for sharing this with us. That's what this forum is all about. I just learned something new about carving! Thank You for posting this and keep sharing.
     
  19. justin_baker

    justin_baker Bushmaster

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    So you are saying that a BK2 isn't a good carving knife? Elitist! Elitist!

    Just kidding, thanks for the info.
     
  20. Kurt992

    Kurt992 Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Thanks for the valuable info. While cruising the forum, I see a lot of carved items and it makes me want to give it a try. Now that I have some insight into tool selection, I have a better chance of carving something successfully. Now I need to order a 120 and a case of bandages!
     
  21. Old Dirty Bushman

    Old Dirty Bushman Scout

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    Now if we could just find a reliable online source for these knives . . .

    (hint, hint)

    :)
     
  22. bharner

    bharner Guide

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    Thanks for this info. It makes a ton of sense but it's stuff I hadn't considered.
    I picked up a baggy of Basswoood at the local craft store last week and have had some success with my pocket knife but researching carving knives makes my wallet hurt. :D . Nice to see mora makes s good carving knife that SWMBO won't use on me.

    Tapatalk ate my spelling and grammar.
     
  23. kamagong

    kamagong Scout

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts CK.

    How does the 120 compare to a Del Stubbs sloyd size-wise?
     
  24. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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  25. slapchop

    slapchop Tracker

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    This is not elitist at all, and the quote above is one of my favorite parts of it all. Not everything needs to be perfect. Doing the craft and learning from mistakes is part of the fun!
     
  26. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Ragweed Forge...a great place to shop.

    Ragnar has an extensive selection, super prices, and superior service.

    The 120 and the 106 are just $14...bargains and superior. Laminated steel and delivered sharp and damn near ready to use.

    http://www.ragweedforge.com/SwedishKnifeCatalog.html
     
  27. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    The Stubbs long sloyd is a good tool. He will likely offer them again. Here is mine with my SBT carver. I actually prefer my Mora 106 or 120 over this sloyd though. The big fat grip on the Mora's plus the narrower blade just suits me a bit more than the Stubbs long Sloyd.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  28. kamagong

    kamagong Scout

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    You guys are costing me money! With my PF sloyd and my Kallioniemi puukko I thought I was all set with carvers. Now it looks like I need to add a Mora 120 to the kit. Oh well, it only costs $14. Just gotta remember to add one to the shopping list next time I visit Ragnar's.
     
  29. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    The 120 will surprise you. It is not your average $14 knife.

    I have another Kallioniemi winging its way over....Not your average puukko eh? :)
     
  30. kamagong

    kamagong Scout

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    Ooh...does this one have the barrel handle as well or did you choose the more sculpted type?

    Don't forget to post some pictures when you receive it.
     
  31. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    You are gonna have to wait for it....in another thread. A week or so away.
     
  32. Adahy

    Adahy Kuksaholic

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    Great post and insight Crooked Knife. Your spoons are physical proof of your knowledge and skills with blades. Those spoons are beautiful. What wood type is that? The fork is elegant too.. most people make them look like mean tridents or something.


    Schwert, you're lucky! Ive been wanting a long sloyd from Del, but he hasn't been taking orders on them which is why I made mine to gold me over. He's hard to beat though. I have the mini sloyd and it is the sharpest knife I own.
     
  33. wulfesinger67

    wulfesinger67 Guide

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    ive cared a 120 for years as my neck knife i think i got it back in 86 right after high school they are supper nice. I just bought a newr model and the quality is still spot on. i have a flexcut hook knife that i really like aswell for spoons and bowls. as well as the mora hook knives.
    a note on wood selection i want to add be carful if you use any exotic woods some of them have a poisoness dust so use caution when sanding and this can leach into your food especially if your using the spoon to cook with. always check to make sure the wood is safe for food use. ive had good luck with bass wood, birch, cottonwood, walnut. to name a few common woods.
     
  34. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    Beautiful work!
     
  35. chopchop

    chopchop Scout

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    beginner's crooked knife

    Thanks to all for sharing the insights in this thread! Ok, so the mora 106/120 is the beginner's carving straight knife... now a question for our skilled carvers:

    what is the beginner's crooked knife?


    I've tried various hoof knives and a mora hook knife, but these are all a huge pain to get in carving shape or don't ever quite get there. I want to be able to use it both as a one hand draw knife and for a bit of hollowing.

    I'm pondering getting a mora chisel to try a "morataugan" conversion. I know I *can* make one... but is there one out there that has the heat treat and profile already good to go for wood carving??
     
  36. mlp2147

    mlp2147 The "retired" Gunny Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I appreciate your tips! Thanks and great looking pics as well as work!
     
  37. Kerri

    Kerri úlfheðnar Hobbyist Bushclass I

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    I guess that makes sense for guys lookin to make show piece utensils, but Ive got to tell you my best spoon was carved with a pretty wide blade. Although it was paired with a spoon knife
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Granted mine looks like an epileptic monkey carved it compared to yours
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  38. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    I'm currently teaching a spoon carving class to a group of adults. I explained to them the different types and styles of spoon hollowing knives. I took several of each type to class, and especially encouraged them to try the Native style knife (much like a Kestrel brand). Without fail, they all gravitated to the Pinewood Forge / Del Stubbs knife. The Native style knife is much, much faster to use, but it takes a loooong time to learn to use it well. The good thing about the Scandinavian style made by Del is that it can be held exactly as you hold your regular carving knife, which makes it really comfortable from the beginning. It would be hard to go wrong with Del's knife - he does really high quality work.
     
  39. Bartnmax

    Bartnmax Scout

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    OK, couple of my own thoughts.
    1st of all - Ragweed forge. Great supplier for you US folk but unfortunatley they don't accept international orders for us OS-ers.
    Pity, I could have seen myself spending a fair bit with em. Ah well - I'll just keep looking.

    Next - One problem I see is that it's one thing planning on carving a spoon, etc when out in the wilds, but what about those times when you need a spoon & haven't planned carving one? The ol' BK-7 aint exactly a carvers delight I can can tell ya.
    So, does anyone know of a bushcraft knife with either interchangeable blades, or a twin knife set with one general BC blade & one carving blade?
    Yeah, people can make up their own kits up I 'spose, especially with the Mora availability (thinking about that one myself), but it might be good to know if anyone is producing a purpose built kit such as this.

    Then - is there a 'travelling companion' reference for buscharfters available.
    I'm thinking something basic that offers advice on different woods, knife use, etc but in a light 'pocket size' type reference.
    Could be very handy to have in the pack when hiking.

    One more - here's a link to another excellent source of information;
    http://greenwood-carving.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/what-is-best-knife-for-woodcarving-and.html

    Lastly - to 'crookedknife' - many sincerest thanks for what is a great, informative post.
    Some brilliant info there, thanks for sharing with us all. Lo ve ya work also - sheer class all the way.
     
  40. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    I only know of two brands of knives with interchangeable blades. Both are pretty junky. What you could do is to just have a crooked knife designated to stay with your pack gear. The old moose rib pictured has been in my backpack for 28 or 29 years. The only time it comes out is for sharpening. I've never seen a spoon knife that was at all heavy, so just keeping one for field use is a reasonable thing.-----As for the field guide, that would be really hard to do considering how much wood varies from area to area. I think the best thing is to start asking some of the carvers in your area. Many areas even have carving clubs, and I'm sure those guys would be generous with information.
     

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  41. bharner

    bharner Guide

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    Where's a good place to find wood to carve for those of us without access to trees we can legally hack up?
    I picked up a little bag of basswood pieces at the big box craft store but the pieces are small. I'm using them to practice cuts and shaping and the whatnot but would like to try my hand at a spoon.

    Tapatalk ate my spelling and grammar.
     
  42. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    You might ask for birch at a lumber yard. It will probably only come in 1" thickness (3/4" really) but that would be enough to carve a good eating spoon or a cookie / mixing spoon.
     
  43. peregrine2000

    peregrine2000 Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing. This is the knife that I learned how to carve with, and its still the knife I use for all my projects. Great blade and design for those small cuts that a larger, wider blade can't make.


    Call a local tree service company and ask if they have any jobs in the area. They are usually more than willing for you to truck away some of the wood. Less work for them to chip it all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  44. chopchop

    chopchop Scout

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    Thanks for the advice! That mooserib is a beauty!

    I think I might go ahead and try one of those kestrel blades... I'm sure the Stubbs knife is a good one, but I'm looking for something a little more towards the mocotaugan style. If it takes a long time to learn to use it, I might as well get started sooner than later right?
     
  45. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Crooked...this is a really beautiful knife....

    [​IMG]

    Is that a Kestrel on that rib?

    I have a couple of his blades, but not in as nice a handle.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  46. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    The main thing is that the Native-style / Kestrel knife is held with blade down like a dagger. It is a strange feeling if you haven't done it before and takes a different set of muscles, but you have MUCH more power that way and of course can cut both directions without moving the spoon or cup. At one time Kestrel had a video on technique with the thing, but that was maybe 15 - 20 years ago. ---- BTW Kestrel Tool has done a major downsize in the past few years. Gregg Blomberg, the owner / founder is the only one making knives now. He is in his mid 70's and has hinted at complete retirement - so you might want to grab one soon if you want one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  47. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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  48. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    They really are great tools. Mine come from around 1984 or so....when I first moved up to Seattle. Gregg would have a demo at the Folk Life Festival. Always a good crowd around his booth.

    I have to say I do find the Scandinavian hooks easier in my hands, but the NW crook has a real niche for certain work. I have crooks from North Bay Forge also (one in that old image) which I find very nice for deep cup work. These do not carve with the same feel (flat bottom plane) as the Kestrel though.

    His Baby NW Coast is one of my favorite small straight knives.

    [​IMG]
     
  49. alukban

    alukban Guide

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  50. chopchop

    chopchop Scout

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    Location:
    east coast of Kansas
    Thanks for the heads up. I went ahead put in an order for a C blade today. I'm looking forward to hafting it and getting started!
     

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