Notes From The ‘Net
Questions and Answers About Carving Gathered From Popular Carving Groups
Edited by Matt Kelley
Welcome carving friends to NFTN, version 2.0. In this ongoing series we will gather the best questions, answers and comments from the more active Facebook and mail list carving groups, such as the Woodcarver List, Woodcarving 101 — The Joy of Woodcarving, and the International Fish Carvers & Painters Association, and present them here.
Enjoy, and Carve On!
On Woodburning Tools
On the traditional email Woodcarver List, James Norton wrote: I am a novice woodcarver who has started a somewhat ambitious bird carving. I am nearing the point where I will be detailing the feathers, and wish to get feedback from more experienced carvers than myself about the best woodburning tool. I am looking for a set that allows precise temperature control and that has a variety of tips for different purposes. Suggestions welcome, thanks in advance.
Faulkner2206 replied: I find the colewood “detailer” works great for bird’s and is relatively reasonably priced. Tips are easy to change and you will find you need to use just a few different tips for most birds.
EarlandBarb wrote: Personally, I think all the major brands that you will find in a woodcarving store are pretty much equal. Some prefer one, some another. I am happy with my Nibsburner but I don’t think they are making them any more. Fortunately, I can use Colewood tips with it.
Stephen Blakley added: I take classes from a guy who uses Razor tips. He believes the tips are better than the Colwood. To do the quill, I purchased a Razor tip pen and tip, with an adapter to fit the Colwood. He honed down the one tip on my Colwood so that it was thinner.
Faulkner2206 replied: I always hone my burner tips, both Colewood and Razor. Sharpen them like a knife for really tight feather barbs. Much of this becomes a matter of personal preference based on what you get used to.
Byron Kinnaman wrote: The trouble with making the tips thinner is they burn up faster.
The technical aspects of wood burning tips — any conductor (the tip is a conductor) the smaller the cross sectional area, the higher the resistance, and the hotter the tip. The more fragile the tip, the sooner you’ll have to replace the tip.
One consideration is the material the pen is made of. You want a pen that doesn’t transfer heat easily. This will allow you use it longer than one that made of material that is know for it’s ability to transfer heat, like aluminum. Plastics can be made to either slow down heat transfer or speed up heat transfer. Most wood burning pens that are plastic are of the slow down heat transfer type. The aluminum pens transfer heat rapidly.
Another thing to watch out for is hype. There’s a couple manufactures that hype their product and demand a higher price. A couple hype capable of 150 Watts, typical woodburning happens below 30 watts. 2000° tip temperature, what are you trying to do?, melt the tip, start a fire? There are several good wood burners out there without buying the hype.
Faulkner2206 added: When burning feathers low heat and sharp tips make for better birds. Tips are not permanent, they are expendable just like glue and paint.
That’s it for this edition of NFTN. If you see a post on one of the FB groups or Mail Listservs that you think should be preserved in NFTN, please use the form below to submit your suggestion.