Notes From the
By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans
and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams
Sorry about the short hiatus Gang, but it's
a new year... 2008 for those who keep track... and we're
bbaaaaack. So lay the knife/gouge/grinder/chainsaw down for a
bit, warm up the coffee/tea/cocoa, and enjoy some "good stuff" from The
Hello, I have been monitoring list for
months now. And you all are a wealth of great resources! I. Know this
is a cliche question, but how. Do I approach the world of sharp tools?
Basically I have been unsuccessful at it and haven't honed a good tool
very well. Any pointers from you pros?
Paul. In jersey
Personally I think routers are a noisy,
high risk, high anxiety way to waste out the background of a relief
carving, but you know what? It works really, really well.
Also, what follows becomes a brand name thing again, but there was too
much good, generic router advice in this thread to let it go.
And so you know it's not just me and
This question has been asked many times over the years. It is a
frustrating one that still plagues some carvers who have been carving
for many years.
The quickest and easiest solution to your problem, if you can come up
with $25, is to get Ev Ellenwood's DVD called "Sharpening Simplified".
It is, without a doubt, the most thorough method of finding sharpening
success using non-motorized methods.
You can reach Ev direct at www.ellenwoodarts.com or give us a call and
we'll be glad to help.
Did I do alright Uncle Ev??? :o)
Larry (BIG DOG) Yudis
[Yes this is an endorsement
(actually two), but a they're good ones. I've got Ev's DVD and
I've bought carving "stuff" from The Woodcraft Shop. They're both
good bets! Read Matt Kelley's review of "Sharpening Simplified" in WOM Sept/Oct '04 - Mike]
Another vote here for Ev's DVD.
It's very helpful.
...And another from Steve.
Just finished watching Ev's tape
what an eye opener ,
Charlie had another great
wise advice from Bill Judt, The List owner...
Welcome to the list. In New Jersey there are several clubs that can
give you a first hand look at the world of sharpening. I can stair you
to them if you would like. I would just need to know where in Jersey
You can send me a private e-mail if you would like.
A good outline to
start with from Donna...
Sharp tools are an acquired touch. Muscle memory is key... train your
muscles to hold the tools correctly when sharpening, and the process
becomes routine and speedy.
Many approaches work... but all employ the same principles. Carving
tools are sharpened differently from carpenters' chisels.
You'll get lots of practical advise from subscribers. Ev Ellenwood
(ellenwoodarts.at.charter.net) has a great video demonstrating the
principles of sharpening. Hope this helps,
Blessings and Peace,
Lets see if I can do this- it is a hard one to describe, but I
like a challenge.
1.) Knives, gouges, and all edged tools get dull because the edge
doesn't come to a point anymore. Maybe it was rounded over in
sharpening, worn down in use, or dinged along the sharp edge. You can
see this by catching light off that edge. The light is being reflected
off those dings and rounded/flattened areas.
2.) Your job is to replace the point on the edge by removing the metal
that is in the way. You can do this by hand with stones or very fine
sandpaper, or using a powered wheel- slow speed, of course. High speeds
will heat up the metal, draw out the temper (hardening process), and
leave a soft metal that will no longer hold an edge. If it gets too hot
to touch it is a bad thing. Don't do that.
3.) Either way, you work both sides of the blade equally, against the
abrasive at the same angle it had before it was rounded, a little at a
time, to keep it even. Doesn't matter if it is in circles or back and
forth, as long as you are consistent. After a while you will have the
"V" point back and there will be no reflection off the point of the
4.) Often you will get a wire edge when you use a powered set-up. This
is a good indication that the metal is about as sharp as it can be.
Hone off the wire edge and you have a very sharp blade.
5.) Keep the edge sharp by not letting it touch any other piece of
metal, and not prying as you carve.
TTTTTTthat's all Ffffffolks
Author: The Ultimate Band Saw Box Book
And finally some impractical advice from Woodbutcher, but he knew that
Good way to explain Donna
You forgot to mention
"to KEEP the knife sharp" DON"T USE IT !!! (lol)
Taking the plunge... router...
It looks like it is getting to be
time for me to bite the bullet and get a plunge router to help get a
good start on thick relief carving panels. I have been shopping and
have some ideas but would like some input from carvers who have
experience with them. One of my questions relates to HP or amp rating
needed. I am pretty sure that I would need at least a 2.25 HP, 12 amp
but perhaps a 3.5 HP unit would be better. I am not expecting to do a
whole lot of carving - maybe 2-3 per year so maybe the 3.5 HP would be
more than needed. What do you think???
Also, what make/models have you found most to your liking?
Visibility while cutting seems important to me - which are the best in
Any input would be appreciated.
leads off with good advice...
Alex you need
to get the most powerful you can afford.
A sale alert from Dan..
What happens if you use under powered is that the cutter does not
smoothly which causes it to vibrate and this will cause it to slip out
the chuck, next thing you know you are cutting deeper than you want. I
from expeience when I bought my first router years ago and thought it
the thing to hog out the back ground.
still have the piece in the shop as a reminder.
Woodcarvings and Wildlife Sculptures
Another good brand reccommendation
I bought a 3.5 HP Freud router from Woodcraft last week for that
express purpose. IT is on sale right now for $129.99, and seems to be
of very high quality.
I've had good luck with both of
the Dewalt Plunge routers. I use the large one in my router table and
the smaller one for most everything else. The small one also has a
More first hand experience from
Dave & Hannah Kratzer
Bill Judt has a great point about
The new 280 Porter Cable is a very good tool. The Plunge base of the
new 280 is soooo smooth I'm getting a new base to replace the old one.
My 280 has seen tons of work over the years and has never failed
me---except for the sticky plunge. Now that will be fixed.\
(and he IS a Wizard) follows a brand endorsement with a great tip...
HP[Horse Power] ratings
are almost always misleading... driven by the customer perception that
HP is the best way to measure power in routers/drills/ saws etc. Peak
HP is different than operating HP.
I much prefer to look for the amp rating. Less than 15 AMPs indicates a
router that is underpowered for heavy work. AMP rating doesn't vary and
is a more reliable indicator of power.
My Makita router has 15 AMPs rating, and is well suited for heavy wood
Blessings and Peace,
The Freud is a very
good router. Which ever one you pick out, make a extra base for it. I
have one router that I put a 8" x 20" piece of 1/2" plastic on it. It
works real good spanning the edges and keeps the router for digging in.
Richard L. Rombold
makes a good case for bigger not always being better...
You have gotten a lot of advice here about going bigger, so I'll go the
other way. If you think you will want to do some regular woodworking
with the router, and maybe put it into a router table, then by all
means get a big boy. If you are buying it strictly for waste removal on
relief carvings a couple of times a year, and that is all, then a
smaller router would do fine, like the Porter Cable 690 series. They
cost about the same, so that is not an issue. They will all remove the
1/4" of basswood/butternut at a time that you will need. The smaller
router will be easier to handle because it weighs less. They all have
about the same visibility. Best thing is to run a hose off the chip
chute to a shop vac to keep the area clean. I'm not an expert on this
subject- but that is my 2-cents.
seconds that motion...
I'm with Donna here.
Bigger isn't necessarily better. A smaller router that easier to handle
would be my choice for removing waste for relief carving. Speaking of
smaller, I have the router attachment for my Dremel, it works quite
well for many things that don't require dragging out the bigger router.
now a little of what to use in the business end of this beast...
Mark & All,
I use something similiar to outline my levels. Ray Kinman used to sell
something he called a "wood carvers router bit". It is a spiral bit
that that tapers to a point on the bottom. I found one on ebay last
year, and it works real well. Ray has been sick for the past few years,
and I'm not sure if he is still with us. If he is gone someone else may
be able to produce a bit like it for wood carvers. I sawe him at a
woodworking show years ago when I was first stating out in the shop,
and he claimed he could guide the router with one hand with his bit.
Does anyone else have information about this?
possible alternative from Joe Dillet...
We have not heard from
Ray in quite a while. He did a great job promoting Woodcarving and
Stubai tools to woodworkers around the country. I have a few of his
bits and they work well but use the 1/4" more often. It "feels" about
the same but removes wood faster.
I have no information about that tapered bit however I believe that it
can be guided with one hand and get up tight to the line without the
worry of chattering. A tapered bit is not prone to chatter like a
straight fluted bits are. That's why it can be guided with one hand.
I use tapered carbide lettering bits, either a 60 or 45-degree taper to
a point at the end. There are many manufactures that make them. The
last bit I bought was from Eagle American 800-872-2511 V-groove,
45-degree, 5/8, 1/4-inch shank. http://www.eagle-american.com
I run it tight next to the line using my small RotoZip. Then I space
trenching cut across grain every 2 inches. A large chisel splits out
the excess wood in a hurry without much mess. If I'm working in a hard
maple I make the trenching cuts about 1-inch apart so it still splits
The Carving Shop
Bill comes in with a source for the original bit recommendation...
About router bits:
The spiral router bits sold by Lee Valley tools (Onsrud bits) are
excellent for wood removal in relief carvings, up to 1-1/2" depth. Take
a look at these bits at:
These are upward spiral bits, available in both Carbide and HSS. They
are far and away superior to conventional single and double flute
Believe me, I have gone the full route with router bits for relief
carving applications over the years, and these spiral bits are
EXCELLENT... so much so that I even sent a note to Lee Valley Tools
stating the same.
BTW, for relief carving choose bits that are either 5/16" diameter or
3/8" diameter. Smaller bits fatigue and twist off, and don't have the
speed at the cutting edge that the larger bits offer. Bits that are
larger than 3/8" are too wide to fit into the smaller spaces. For each
of these sizes you will likely have to purchase... at nominal
cost... the appropriate collet for your router and the bit. These too
are available at LVT.
Hope this helps,
Blessings and Peace,
OK, Gang, warm that cup up again and get
back to work! Keep them edges keen,
the chips piled high... and hope you're getting lots of "corvin'" done
time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There
is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.
For information regarding the various email
lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion
Files, or click the links below.
Woodcarver's List - Woodcarving Fun - Knotholes List - Fishcarving2
Editor's Note: Disclaimers
- Endorsements of products mentioned by contributors to this
article should not be construed as endorsements by either the editor of
this article or Woodcarver Online Magazine, unless
specifically so noted.
- Advice and opinions expressed in this article are those of the
original poster named therein; when in doubt seek additional
- Woodcarving and shop work are potentially hazardous activities
and should be undertaken only with safety a constant and primary
consideration. Electrical, mechanical and other modifications in your
work area should always comply with local and state codes and