CARVING PRACTICUM - TYPES OF CARVING TOOLS


MODEL SHIP CONSTRUCTION - HOME

CARVING HOME

TYPES OF CARVING TOOLS

SELECTING WOOD TYPES

MAKING TRACINGS

DIMENSIONING WOOD AND TRANSFERING THE TRACING TO A BLANK

CUTTING OUT AND HOLDING DOWN YOUR CARVING BLANK

VISULIZATION AND TYPES OF CUTS TO USE

VISUALIZATION AND TYPES OF CUTS TO USE CONT.

FINISHING

USING SOURCES OTHER THAN YOUR MODEL PLANS

 

LINKS TO OTHER CARVING HOW-TO SITES:

CARVING INTRODUCTION

CARVING FAQ

You have several options when it comes to selecting the tools you would like to use to make your carvings. There are four general groups of tools that model ship carvers use. These groups include larger saws and dimensioning devices for making carving blanks, rotary tools, micro chisels, and straight and curved razor blades.

Some larger saws that you may want to use are also very handy with all other applications of model ship building. They include small table saws such as the Byrns Model Machines saw that I have, a small band saw, and scroll saw. If you don't have the resources to pick up these more expensive power tools, hand tools will work as well. Coping saws can be used for the same purpose as a scroll saw, hand crosscut and rip saws, and hand planes can be used to dimension billets. You can also buy wood in dimensions that are close to what you will need.

I also reccomend a precision thickness sander so that you can have an alternate means of getting the dimensions of your carving blanks exactly how you want them.  Again, if you cant afford a thickness sander, a hand plane will do the same job or you can buy dimension billets.

From left to right in the above picture of a part of my shop: Jim Byrns table saw, Ryobi 9" band saw, Delta scroll saw, and Jim Byrns thickness sander.

I use #11 exacto blades almost exclusively for my carving and only switch over to rotary tools for coarser work every once in awhile, however, some modelers prefer to do all of their carving with rotary bits. If you choose to use rotary tools, you will first need something to power them with. For the little carving that I do with rotary tools, I use a dremel multi speed tool with a flex shaft that you can hold like a pencil. You can pick up one of these at your local hardware or home improvement type store. Mine is in the picture below.

The next thing you may want for your rotary carving set, if you choose that route, include diamond tipped and/or carbide tipped burrs. The below picture shows a typical carbide tipped burr set that I baught from a jewelers supply company. When buying burrs for model ship carving, you will be best off if you buy several kinds and shapes to use for different things, and also try to get many in a size that is less than a milllimeter in diameter. Even a half millimeter is too big for many details! You can also contact your dentist since many burrs that are "wore out" for dentistry are still good for carving and you may be able to get some dentist burrs for little to no cost.

The below picture shows a couple typical diamond tipped burr sets.

The next group of tools available for carving includes micro-chisels. You can get these in many sizes and in millimeter dimensions. Again, just like the burrs, try to get an array of shapes and try to get the smallest ones available. Below is an example of a set from Flexcut. Like I stated before, I prefer #11 blades and coincidentaly they are the cheapest tool for carving work.  

Mentioned before and last but definately not least is the group that includes our simple straight and curved edge razor blades. These tools are what I use for most of my carving since they are what I personally prefer and they are what I will be using throught most of the practicum. Many of the main concepts, however, such as visualizing where you need to take wood off and leave it and keeping things in proportion apply no matter what kind of tools you are using. Below is a picture of some of my razor blade tools. I mainly prefer the #11 blade (pictured at the bottom) and buy packages of 500 at one time since I am always wearing them out and breaking the sharp tips off. Another alternative is surgical blades. I have never tried them but apparently they are stronger and hold an edge longer than the #11's. They are also relatively cheap as well.

Below is an example of a package of 500 #11 blades that I purchase:

See my nautical and model ship links page to see where you can purchase these kinds of tools. The tools you use in your carving has a lot to do with personal preference. There is really no "right" tool to use and what I have put on this page are simply some basic suggestions.

NAUTICAL AND MODEL SHIP LINKS

One last tool that I feel needs mentioning in this section that doesn't have anything to do with cutting and that you may have to build on your own is a simple light table. Mine includes a wide board to which two by fours are attached lengthwise along the edge. Over the top of the two by fours sits a sheet of plexiglass thick and strong enough to draw on like a desktop. Underneath the glass is a simple flourescent shop light. This tool is very valuable for making carving tracings to be transfered to your carving blanks. Without it, it is difficult to get the dimensions of your carvings correct.