Notes from the Net Issue#2


by F. Pierce Pratt fppratt@ppco.com

Woodcarver Ezine
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"Notes from the Net" is a column compiled from a few of the email messages posted to the WoodCarver listserver. There are many good messages to choose from. So many, that is hard to choose which messages to include in this column. Some editorial changes were necessary, but, for the most part, each message appears as originally posted and attributed to sender. If you have a favorite post or subject that you would like to appear in this column, please email me directly.


Joshua Namken (josh@bluebon.net):

I am just getting started in woodcarving and need to buy a set of knives. Does anyone have suggestions? Remember, I'm just getting started so I don't want anything fancy or expensive.

From: "Danny E. Cook" (dcook01@mail.win.org):

May I recommend that you do not buy your first knives by mail order. You need to hold a knife first to see if it is comfortable in your hand. Most mail orders are reputable (I use them all the time) but since you are just starting out and have not had the opportunity to handle carving tools, you need to try the knife before you buy it.
Have you looked around your area for a carving club? As carvers we all own fists full of tools. I have yet to meet a carver who wouldn't let you handle their carving tools. Look around for a carving show. Almost all of them will have a vendor or two. See what's out there first, then you can wade through those catalogs.


The first cut I learned to make with a carving knife was a cut toward me. It is designed for both safety and control. The handle of the knife is grasped in the four fingers and pulled by the fingers toward the thumb that is steadied on the carving. The position of the knife in the hand is such that the cut of the knife is stopped by the thumb. That is to say, the handle of the knife is pulled toward the thumb with the fingers. This provides many short, controlled cuts to remove the wood.
The second type cut is with the blade facing away from your body and uses the thumb as a fulcrum. The cuts are small and controlled. The knife is not used to hog out wood. It is a patient process of small, controlled, safe cuts.
In my experience, accidents happen when I am tired or when I get impatient and try to do more than I should with a particular tool.


Marty Springer (Springerm@UWSTOUT.EDU):

Tool protection tip: Use 5/8th inch diameter transparent flexible hose for fitting over the business end of carving knives and chisels. Since the material is transparent, you can see the tip of the blade for tool selection. I find it protects tools when I want to put a few in a case for "field trips." I purchase the hose at a locale hardware store. It is used here on milking machines and comes in different sizes. You can buy it by the foot.


William Hopton (hopton@wollongong.starway.net.au):

Thank you for sharing your experiences with (and without) gloves. I was about to ask the group if anybody had any experience with the "new" cut resistant gloves. We have just stated to get some "Spectra" gloves at the steelworks, they are worn as inner gloves when handling very thin steel and have proven to be very successful. I managed to liberate a pair for a short time to try carving in them and found they were very good, once you got over the slightly different feel. I ended up showing them to my local club and most of the carvers in the group bought a pair. Being new over here they aren't cheap ($A 29 a pair) but I think they are worth it.

Marcia Berkall (whitwood@pivot.net):

I just had to add my two cents worth on this!! I teach as well and require that students use gloves. Some have chosen to buy theirs from WalMart's fishing department as they are far less expensive than the ones you find in carving catalogs. I also preach constantly about not using gouges on hand held carvings. The only exception to this rule is if the gouge is held like a pencil with the hand resting on the carving. Even then it makes me awfully nervous!!!

Rick Jensen (jrjensen@server.northernnet.com):

For most of the hand held pieces I carve, I prefer not to use a glove. On occasion, when I use a 1" chisel, I will put on a safety glove. Someone made the comment that their glove is slippery. To remedy this problem, I use hot melt glue on the glove. When the glue is hot, I put the glove on and put small dots down the fingers and thumb. Also, I do the palm of the glove. If you have an open mesh glove such as a fish fillet glove, you might want to take the glove off your hand before adding the glue.


Arthur Morley (arfer@itl.net):

Am I alone in finding cyanoacrylate glues (Superglue) temperamental? Sometimes "Those little accidents" mend superbly, other times the darn stuff won't stick, except of course to yours truly. What's best to repair the little bits that fall off a carving?

Ainslie L. Pyne (woodart@woodart.com.au):

I thought I was the only one with problems with cyanoacrylate glue. I think part of the problem could be associated with the type of wood it is used on. If you use too much glue it takes forever to mend. Try using a little less glue and hold the piece in place with something like a strip of tape.
Short of that, you can hold it in place for a couple of minutes until the glue takes hold. If there is a chance this could cause your skin to become stuck to the piece, try using a little plastic film between your skin and the wood. You
can then pull this away and sand off the residue. Easier than losing some skin!

Camille Courtright (camillec@efn.org):

I put my vote in for Elmer's! I usually use it to fix a finger, ear, or nose. If you don't use too much and hold it tight for about 10 minutes it will stay in place. Then I usually just lay it down and 24 hours later it is ready to go. The joint is usually stronger than the surrounding wood.

Sheri (shlew@denver.net):

I learned a cool trick this summer in a Bob Guge seminar. When preparing to glue a joint, broken or planned, apply wood glue like Elmer's to the surfaces, then add a drop of super glue and hold it together. The superglue fastens it quickly while the wood glue dries and holds it permanently.

Mike Wells (mikewell@csra.net):

I have another good idea for filling gaps in the wood. You take a scrap of the type of wood you are carving and sand it down with a piece of fine grit sandpaper. Then gather up the fine dust and mix up a concoction of dust and Elmer's wood glue. This makes a good gap filler and it takes on the color and basic texture of the wood that can be almost impossible to locate later.


Harry L Stewart (harryl@clover.net):

I have a friend who is a federal meat inspector and another who is a cabinet maker. Both tell me that to finish a cutting board or other wooden utensil to just use plain mineral oil. First cleanse the item with a salt solution or a disinfectant soap. Then let it dry and then apply the mineral oil. I keep a bottle on hand to go over the cutting boards I use. I usually recoat them every few months. The mineral oil should be applied and left to dry over night. I find this works well. No odor or taste. Just remember to disinfect.


Jo Craemer (Jo_Craemer@prodigy.net):

Duane MacEwen wrote:
> I have been asked to do a carving of a Canadian > 'Blue Jay' and .... I don't know what to charge!
After all these years, it still is hard for me to price my work, but I'll give you some of the guidelines I've used for myself.
1. You have to be careful not to price your carvings too high at first. If you get lucky and sell a few pieces at an inflated price, then discover that you can't maintain that price, you are going to have some very unhappy "prior customers". You'll lose your credibility.
2. You deserve to get a fair price for your work. Charge the same price that others of you ability are charging. You won't create any enemies or embarrass yourself. If you've priced your work a little low, and your work is selling well, then tell all your previous customers that they got a great deal. You can always raise your price later.
3. Putting a price on your work is a psychological art in itself. There are so many factors to consider. Is your work GOOD? If you are the newest Michaelangelo on the block, then don't be afraid to charge accordingly. You'll never sell anything the purchaser despises. But when you're charging a large amount for "art", some customers will want a "validation" for their purchase. Validation means reassurance that they are making a good purchase. Sometimes, high price will reassure a potential buyer. Some seem to think, "If it costs THAT much then it MUST be good." Sometimes a professional presentation, such as a nice brochure with your biography and credentials, is reassuring. If you've taught a class, judged a show, written some articles, won some ribbons, or whatever...have that information discretely available to the buyer.


Dale R Lombardo (loohinky@concentric.net):

I'd like to survey you chip carvers on the listserver about LAYOUT. I've been laying out my designs directly on the wood. I don't like leaving the compass needle marks around my rosettes. I have not tried transfer paper and tracing over a paper layout. Will that technique work well for geometric designs?

D. Rowe (drowe@swbi.net):

If you prepare the design on blank paper then make a photocopy of the design, you can then transfer the photocopy onto the wood with an iron. This works because the photocopy ink has a low melting point and so will melt from the paper to the wood. Remember you get a mirror image so this may cause a problem in some cases. This transfer method also works with laser printer images.

BONNIE GRASER (GRASER@wartburg.edu):

Have you tried the xerox method? Xerox onto a paper and iron onto your board and carve. Or, spray glue and attach to your board and carve. I've used both, but sometimes have problems getting rid of the spray glue on an unpainted board. Another thing I've done is tape a small piece of posterboard to the center of my rosette's so my needle doesn't go through in the middle!

Todd Moor (todd@chippingaway.com):

Use graphite paper to transfer rather than carbon paper. It's cleaner and more accurate, and best of all comes off very easily with isopropyl rubbing alcohol! Just dip a q-tip into the stuff and rub it on your drawing marks. They just lift right off. The wood gets a little wet but that dries off very quickly. It's never given me any problems when I've gone to finishing.


Jo Craemer (Jo_Craemer@prodigy.net):

Collection of sawdust is both a health issue and one of keeping the house clean. The fast rotary handpieces create dust that consists of much smaller particles than most shop tools. Very fine dust, when inhaled, goes right down into the deepest part of the lungs, unlike coarse sawdust which is collected by sticky mucus in the upper airway.
No inhaled dust is good for you, but some species of wood are more toxic than others, and may also contain fungus, bacteria and mold spores. Some, like
Tupelo, are highly allergenic. As if the health issues weren't enough, fine sawdust also has a way of getting on and into everything in the carving area.
So what do you do? I've found three ways to handle airborne sawdust in a home carving environment:
1. DUST MASKS: Even the cheapest mask is better than nothing. I find any mask to be annoying and uncomfortable for wearing hours at a time. They beat death by sawdust inhalation, but not by much.
2. TABLETOP DUST COLLECTORS: These usually consist of a box, a filter and a fan. You work in front of the air intake area, and the dust gets sucked into the box and is collected by the filter.
(a) Commercial versions are available from most of the catalogs that cater to woodcarvers. They are usually expensive. Any woodworker will take one look, and say "I can make one of those."
(b) A CHEAP homemade version can be made by taking a cardboard box and placing one of those blue furnace filters into it. Cut an "intake" hole in the front of the box. Place a fan in the back of the box, behind the filter, and aim the airflow through a hole in the back of the box. I've found that these collectors are effective, but bulky. You must also do your carving (grinding) close to the intake area where airflow is fast. This doesn't allow very many comfortable ways to sit and carve.
3. IN-LAP DUST COLLECTOR: (This is the method I use now) I bought a commercially built unit after seeing one demonstrated at the Wildfowl Carving World Championships in Ocean City, Maryland. The unit consists of a dust collection bag, a fan, a length of 5-inch or 6-inch flexible tubing, and an attached "lap board". The lap board has a hole in the middle, covered by a very coarse screen (so your dropped tools won't get sucked into the fan). The lap board can also be clamped to a workbench. If you can get your hands on a good squirrel cage fan, like a new or used furnace blower motor, there is no reason you can't make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Thank you, Pierce Pratt

email: fppratt@ppco.com
(918)661-9703, fax(918)661-0243
slowmail: F.P. Pratt,
1290G Plaza Office Bldg.,
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