Monday, 23 February 2015

DIY detail carving knives....

I have done quite a bit of carving, kolrossing and chip-carving on spoons over the years, some that I have been quite proud of, others that have not been quite so successful. For each of these I have mostly used the tip of my Mora 106, held in a 'pen' grip and, on the whole, it's worked alright. It can be a bit tricky and it's easy to nick yourself when holding the blade of a sharp knife like this. I know there are specialist knives available for these different decorative techniques but being a paid-up skinflint have never got round to buying any.

For a while I have fancied having a go with one of the Del Stubbs kolrossing knives...

...but figured, before I buy I really ought to have a go at making one myself. So, I reground the edge of a small exacto-knife type blade, made a handle from a piece of sycamore, drilled and glued it, and gave it a go.

It's something of an 'organically' shaped handle - following the grain of the wood. Feels pretty good in the hand.

Flat exacto-knife type craft blade, reground with a better edge.

I tried it out quickly on this willow spoon that I had made the previous week. It worked well but gave quite a fine cut and, due to the flat blade, was quite hard to turn to carve curves.

Made from a crook from a willow tree that had blown down in the January storms.
I then looked again at the Del Stubbs knife and realised that his blade was made from a cylindrical piece of steel, not a flat blade, which I figured would give a wider cut as it is a wider blade (and therefore a more vivid colour to the line) and would be better for maneuvering in the wood. So, I had another go.
This time a used an old dremel tool bit for the blade (probably stainless steel so probably not great at holding its edge) and a yew handle.
Rounded instead of flat blade - makes all the difference.
Tried out the second of my detail knives on this sycamore spoon - more about the spoon in another post. The knife worked really well, handled and turned in the wood with no effort. I'm really pleased with it. Julian has given me some piano wire to make him and a couple more from - should be nice carbon steel, but needs annealing first.

I did actually put my hand in my pocket whilst on a trip to Axminster tools with Ju and Eden and bought a Two Cherries chip carving knife. It was cheap, so I couldn't complain too much, but I wasn't terribly impressed with the edge that it came with and spent a little time just tidying it up.

I tried it out on this little willow ladle - made from a little crook. It worked well - I haven't chip carved in a while so I was quite rusty. I love the little click you get when two of your cuts meet up and you know, when you add the third cut, the chip's going to come away clean.

Having said that, over the past years I've made do with a bunch of these DIY knives that I made from old butter knives - they work perfectly well and at about £1 for ten from a charity shop, a lot cheaper.

I cut a bunch of crooks from the willow tree that had come down - near Charnwood Waters in Loughborough, in case you know the area. They were not very big so I could only make these little salt spoon sized ladles. 

I really love those 'stripes' at the heel of the bowl - striations caused by stress in the grain at the bend of the branch.

They are quite fiddly, but I really enjoy carving these little spoons.

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