Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Gets

I'm interested in carving, specifically letter carving. After reading Chris Pye's Lettercarving in Wood I decided to pick up a few tools.

Based on the recomendations of friends, I chose a small selection of Henry Taylor carving tools.

They are hand forged, and a little crude.

The handles are rough, and there are grinding inconsistencies.

The edges are a little rounded, which was irritating when it came time to hone. If you have a chance, examine as many examples for this as you can before selecting one to purchase.

They do take and hold very nice edge. I'm actually a little surprised about how much work can be done between honings.

I also picked up a couple of mallets.

The first is the Veritas Journeyman's Brass Mallet. It's a pretty tool consisting of a solid brass head and a cherry handle.

I am impressed with the overall quality of this mallet, the head and handle seam is flush, and the overall design is clean and pleasing to my eye and hand. I find myself using a variety of grips, holding the handle like a hammer, holding the head in the palm of my hand, or holding it like a pen, and striking with the flat end.

It's a light mallet, and while it's nice for small details and narrow gouges, it's not heavy enough to push larger tools. For that work I bought a Wood is Good 20 oz mallet. It's a good weight for me and the work I want it to do, it's easy to weild and heavy enough to sink a 1" chisel to final depth in one rap.

I haven't come across a traditional Lignum carvers mallet yet, and while at first I wasn't a fan of the urethane head I have come to like it. They are advertised as having a slight give in the material, allowing them to remain in contact longer for better power transmission. In use this give results in a "sticky" sensation, which I like. I have a feeling of control I don't get from hard mallets.

This mallets degree of finish isn't great. The head had rough edges and seam lines, and the handle was rough sanded. The ends still had saw marks from when the blank was cut up. I spent a half hour cleaning it up and turning it into a respectable tool.

Both mallets handles arrived unfinished. I know some people prefer the feel of unfinished wood, but I prefer the smoothness of a top coat. I also don't like how dirty bare wood gets when being handled by working hands, so I removed the brass head, masked off the urethane one, and shot them both with two coats of lacquer. It's an improvement I recommend.


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I'm a woodworker on the Canadian prairie.