Basic Letter and Number Carving

Basic Letter and Number Carving

WPW member Bill Doughty will present a program on how to get started in carving letters and numbers. Bill is a professional sign carver who has previously done a program for us on how he applies gold leaf and finishes to his carved signs, and we are now doubling back to deal with the carving itself (yes, yes, we should have done it in the opposite order!).

This program will be a basic primer on how to carve simple letters and numbers. We hope to whet your appetite so that you can explore more in-depth carving on your own. Bill will discuss and demonstrate how he lays out and carves letters and numbers, and the tools that he uses. He will have a variety of actual pieces that he has done, to serve as examples of what is possible.

As an added benefit, we are going to have a “hands-on” session that will follow the main program for those members who have their own chisels and have pre-registered (so that we have enough material/space on hand). Although having more tools would be desirable (well, now there’s a surprise!), Bill has narrowed the required tools to three chisels. He has suggested that using full-size tools is important for the two 1/2″ tools, but that a smaller “palm tool” like a Flexcut chisel is okay for the parting tool. Information on potential sources for these tools can be found on the website.

1/2″ straight chisel. Although carving chisels usually have straight sides, Bill says that a normal 1/2″ wide bevel-edge bench chisel (which all woodworkers should have anyway) will work just fine for this project. So, if you already have bench chisels, you probably already own this tool.
1/2″ #3 straight gouge. This is much like a 1/2″ chisel, except that it is slightly concave (that’s what the #3 sweep means) like any gouge, and it is the primary tool we will use for removing material. There are no alternatives to this tool.
Narrow 60˚ or 90˚ Parting Tool. This is a V-groove tool that we will use to define the edges/bottoms of the areas we will carve. Again, there isn’t really an alternative for this tool.

So that we can properly plan on how many people will participate in the hands-on portion of the meeting, if you have not already done so please send Ben Abate an email (BenAbate57@comcast.net) telling him that you want to participate. Please put “Carving Program” in the subject line so that Ben doesn’t accidentally trash your email. heir hand.
As of February 29, we have 19 people who have signed up for the hands-on portion of the program (based on an email sent to all paid-up WPW members), which is a great response. We may have to limit participation due to space constraints, but please email Ben if you want to participate and we’ll do our best to accommodate all who wish to try.

I’ve done some looking around at prices, and it seems like Lee Valley (LeeValley.com) has a good selection and prices. They also have a free shipping event for orders placed February 11-22. At this morning’s meeting it was also suggested that Highland Woodworking is a good source; I just compared their pricing and it’s no better than Lee Valley.

You’re free to buy whatever tools you would like, but I’ve detailed the Hirsch carving tools from Lee Valley’s catalog as a good starting place. I’ve attached two PDFs, one showing the entire family of tools, and one three-page PDF which shows the three tools we need. The specific product numbers are:

1/2″ (12mm) straight chisel, 61U01.12, $30.00
1/2″ (12mm) #3 straight gouge, 61U03.12, $31.50
V Parting tool, 61U50.06, $32.50
If you’re interested in the smaller parting tools:
Flexcut has a 70˚ V parting tool, product number 06D05.47, $19.90
Japanese Detail Carving Tool 75˚ parting tool, product number 44D16.45, $8.50 (limited quantities).

So that we can properly plan on how many people will participate in the hands-on portion of the meeting, please send Ben Abate an email (BenAbate57@comcast.net) telling him that you want to participate. Please put “Carving Program” in the subject line so that Ben doesn’t accidentally trash your email. It would be very helpful if you would please respond to Ben within two weeks (by February 27) so that he and Bill Doughty can properly plan.

Carving Tools from Lee Valley
More Carving Tools from Lee Valley

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