Carving chisels and gouges

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by hamanky, Jun 9, 2019.

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  1. Jun 9, 2019 #1

    hamanky

    hamanky

    hamanky

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    Need some help here folks. If you were going to order 4-5 carving tools from woodcraft to try and teach yourself to carve your gun. What would be your first choices?
    I plan to order a Kibler colonial rifle in the next 6 months or so and would like to be able to do some basic carving on the stock. I realize I will probably need a few more than 5 but I need a few to start learning the basics.
    I have a good set of Stanley sweetheart chisels but no good carving tools to speak of. Unless y’all talk me out of it I will be buying the peil Swiss made ones.
    So to make a long story short, to learn carving on a gun stock starting with a drawing what would be the first 4-5 tools and sizes would you choose?

    Thanks Joe
     
  2. Jun 9, 2019 #2

    billraby

    billraby

    billraby

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    If it is for carving on the stock and not actually carving the stock to shape I would go with #8, #7, #5, #3, #1 all in 3mm size.That is just a start. I have about 30 chisels and think that I still need a lot more. I suspect that others will give you much different answers.
     
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  3. Jun 9, 2019 #3

    hamanky

    hamanky

    hamanky

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    Bill, when you say #7 in a 3mm size, does that mean a #7 sweep that is a 3mm wide gouge?
    Put another way, you suggest I get the different size sweeps in the 3mm width right? Do I need a veiner to chase my pencil lines to start the carving?
    I realize I probably have a lot of basic questions but, the only carving I’ve done is green wood and it’s basically done with knives and a hatchet. These tools are not cheap so I want to get the right ones for the job the first time!

    Sincerely thanks,
    Joe
     
  4. Jun 9, 2019 #4

    Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776

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    Wood carving is a hugely popular avocation. There are many vendors of quality tools out there. Do some Googling to find them. Others will disagree, but the starter sets are, IMHO, a good choice. You will find you will use all of the chisels in the set. But, do avoid the low cost Chinese, and others, imports. The El Cheapo chisels usually have very short tangs set in a soft wood. This is a dangerous situation as when you are applying pressure the tang can break through the handle and injure the user.
     
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  5. Jun 9, 2019 #5

    hamanky

    hamanky

    hamanky

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    @Rifleman1776 that is true, there are other brands as well as restoring old ones which can get you some really good chisels.
    I have one Pfeil gouge that I use for making kuskas and spoons and I have been very impressed with the comfort and steel in it. That and because it’s easier for others to recommend sizes on new ones is why I was so specific.
    Thanks
    Joe
     
  6. Jun 10, 2019 #6

    plmeek

    plmeek

    plmeek

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    I recently took a carving class offered by Jack Brooks. He has taught a carving class at the Trinidad, CO tech school in the past.

    The link below lists the gouges and other supplies he suggests students bring to his class.

    http://www.trinidadstate.edu/gunsmithing/pdf/2017/07DecorativeGunStockCarving.pdf

    Brooks also produced a video that is available from Track and other muzzleloader suppliers that is a good intro to carving.

    https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/PartDetail.aspx/303/1/DVD-BC?PageSize=75

    Jack teaches carving following the 18th century masters that used classic rococo style decorations and the Golden Mean spiral. The Swiss made Pfeil gouges of #7 sweep fit most of the curves of the Golden Mean spiral the best. The 2mm #9 fits the inner most curve and the 20mm #5 the outermost curve, but this last is optional as smaller sizes can be made to work.

    Jack stresses that the key to good carving is good design. Study some of the colonial period rifles' carving and pick a design that you like and think you can carve. Practice drawing acanthus leaves, volutes, and C-scrolls until you can get smooth flowing lines and shapes with the correct proportions. Shumway's Rifles of Colonial America is an excellent resource.

    RCA #19 has one of the simplest designs behind the cheekpiece with a single volute. RCA #41, the Edward Marshall Rifle, has the classic single C-scroll with acanthus leaves branching off the center of the "C" above and below. Variations of this design are present on RCA #'s 42, 43, 44, and 45. RCA #46 has the classic double C-scroll which was used by many Lancaster gunsmiths, such as Jacob Dickert, seen on RCA #'s 48, 49, and 50.

    Jack had us carve a copy of RCA #70's design, another double C-scroll. It's unsigned, but possible builders include Andreas Albrecht, his son Henry Albright, and Jacob Dickert.
     
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  7. Jun 10, 2019 #7

    billraby

    billraby

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    Ideal situation is to use a gouge that matches the curve. Only way to do that is to have lots of chisels. But you want to limit it to 5 so I would say to start off with the narrow gouges just because they are more versatile. You can cut a wide curve by making multiple cuts with a narrow gouge. It does not work the other way. You can get the smoothest curves by using the widest gouge possible, but you cannot cut a curve that is smaller than the gouge. The narrow gouges are a good place to start. You will want to get the larger ones as your collection of gouges and chisels grows. I don't use veiners for carving, but a lot of other people do. This only applies to relief carving. You will want larger chisels for inletting.
     
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  8. Jun 10, 2019 #8

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Shown below are the tools I used to cut the design shown.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I would add to them a 3/8" flat skew chisel, and a few larger full length gouges. Shown are "V", flat, and skew micro chisels that I find useful for details. The little flat is also my chisel for stabbing in the design. I show a number of palm gouges because I have severe damage in my fingers from bouts with frostbite and I have trouble precisely placing full length chisels on the the wood. I have to huddle more over my work to make sure I am cutting where I want so the palm chisels work best for me except for roughing out large designs, like that shown below:
    [​IMG]

    The tool on top is a 3-edged chip carving knife that is ideal for scraping around designs. All 3 edges are razor sharp. I show some narrow round scrapers made from hacksaw blades that are great for smoothing details. I show a carving knife ground almost in a right angle that I use to clean up backgrounds. Finally, there are some riffler files that are very useful for detailing and smoothing when needed.

    dave
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  9. Jun 10, 2019 #9

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

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    The smaller straight handled chisels with the octagon shape Dave showed above are from Dockside Models. I use those too. Very nice and they're relatively inexpensive. Very handy for removing small amounts of wood. I think they're only available as a set, adn are relatively cheap, like $18 for 5 of them.

    In general it seems you will have more use for the smaller tools than the larger ones, but some of the big Pfeil's (like the # 5 and # 7 rounded ones) do indeed have their uses.

    Other tools you might consider are the scrapers from Brownell's. I think there are 3 of them Two of them have a round end (2-sided) and the other is flat edged. They are green, blue, and red..

    Other tools would be a set of sanding sticks, Again they are color coded with thin bands of sandpaper on them, but helpful in getting profiles of carving "right" when the scrapers aren't quite what you need, such as for leveling background plains under raised carving.
     
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  10. Jul 21, 2019 #10

    Daniel Kaylor

    Daniel Kaylor

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  11. Jul 22, 2019 #11

    crankshaft

    crankshaft

    crankshaft

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    If I may be so bold, don't do your first Carving on a Kibler. Practice on something else.
     
  12. Jul 22, 2019 #12

    rich pierce

    rich pierce

    rich pierce

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    Carving is like playing the guitar or anything else. Needs practice.

    There’s also carving that pleases the owner and carving that looks like it belongs on that rifle. Sometimes those 2 line up and sometimes not.
     
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