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Old 12-12-2006, 05:25 AM
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Default Power relief carving?

Hi, I am new to carving, just getting started. I want to carve relief with a dremel only. Is that even possible? I want to make plaques but don't have a clue what bits to use or where to start. I already have a drwing on the wood but what to do with it is where I'm stuck. Any advise anyone?
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Old 12-12-2006, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

Very possible, just need a couple of things to get started and to do some nice relief carvings.

First do not use cutters. You will want to use grinding bits or burrs. Since your looking to do relief I would start with an 1/8 or 1/4 inch inch round burr.

Now that said , you will need a light touch the burrs will cut fast if your not use to them. Go to your outline, I am thinking it is a simple pattern like a letter. Your going to use the burr to outline the picture. Remember the burr is round and you need to move away from the pattern edge. so the burr doesn't cut inside the pattern.

A simple way to help insure that would be to take the raidus of the cutter and outline your pattern again. Then use this new line as the centerline of your cutter.
Then using the new line follow your outline. Do not go deep on the first pass, but use a rocking motion following the pattern line, and pull towards you, you will have more control.
When you push away there is a direction change in the rotation which will try an twist out and away from you , when you pull towards you the cutter will push towards you, that is why you will get more control pulling towards you.

If you use a sideways motion then you will have to deal with climb cutting , this is where the cutter grips and climbs up and out ot the cut. At this point you will have no control as the grinder is feeding it'self. 89% of all grinder accidents are cause from this. As you get more experence you will become better at controlling the side cut but to start out I would suggest the forward and back motion.
The other issuse with rotary grinding is knowing how much of the grinding point that you can use safely. If you go too deep you can end up with kick back as your cutting beyond the working edge . Just like a chainsaw. Light easy passes never over center of the cutter for control.

Once you have removed the wood from the outside of the carving pattern you have your first step of the relief done. Burrs cut fast, grinding bits do not cut as fast and have a tendency to burn the wood. There are a lot of burr cutters and roughing bits, that you can get , to make the work faster and there are many here that can help you make good choices for what you want to do.

Last edited by Ashbys; 12-12-2006 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 12-12-2006, 08:28 AM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

I have done some. I would suggest cutting about an eighth of an inch outside your lines. Go over an area this way and then go back and work close to clean everything up. Here's part of a mantle done with relief carving.
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Old 12-12-2006, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

What do you have for burrs? The right burrs are essential to power carving.

What I use are:
Coarse ... red Foredom carbide typhoons

Medium ... blue Foredon typhoons or steel cutters

Mediums ... silver Kutzall carbide burrs

fine ... gold Kutzall carbide burrs

finer ..... sanding drums and Diamond or Ruby burrs

Check out catalogues for burrs, Foredom has a web site as do lots of suppliers for them: Sugar Pine, KV Woodcarving, Chipping Away, Lee Valley, Woodcrafters, etc. Choose wisely, cause they can run into a lot of money. Just start with a few basic shapes in each type.

Good luck and have fun carving. Don't forget a dust collector of some sort and wear a dust mask to protect your lungs.

Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, I'd like to pipe: "Up Spirits" or "Splice the Main Brace" .....................one more time.

link to Gallery photos
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Old 12-12-2006, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

I agree with the comments already made and would suggest that you do a lot of practicing on scrap pieces. Those bits are a lot harder to control on relief carvings (less margin for error) than they are on in-the-round. I would also suggest taking a good look at your drawing. It is extremely difficult to make a flat surface (sky, fields, lakes, etc.) with bits (unless you use a router).

I must say that I do not understand why someone would want to limit themselves as far as tools are concerned; but, at least restriction to hand tools makes some kind of sense to me.

I don't think I have ever completed a piece using exclusively power or hand tools. However, I come closer to not using power on relief than on in-the-round carvings. It is simply a lot easier to use a knife, flat gouges and V tools (my preferred relief carving tools)than it is to use power bits. The only way I will limit my tools is when I simply cannot use one or the other for whatever reason.

You did not mention the type of wood you plan to use. This is less important with power than with hand tools; but, some types of wood are harder to use than others and require more (or less) agressive bits.

Since you are new to woodcarving, it would make things easier if you were able to find a club or another carver to give you some assistance. Barring that, the next best thing is a digital camera. You could take photos, (wood, pattern, etc.) and ask for some assitance by some of the carvers here on the forum. Since you might feel the need to ask a lot of questions, you might want to contact us via our e mail address. The digital camera is a wonderful tool for long distance assistance.

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of woodcarving.
Paul Guraedy (jer-AH-dee)

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When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will we discover we cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy ~

Last edited by Paul_Guraedy; 12-12-2006 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

Lots of good advice. The main thing is, just do it! Even if you make a mistake, it's only wood and there's lots of it around. Learn from your mistakes and you'll get better fast.
The only way not to make mistakes is to quit having ideas, which is the biggest mistake you can make! Explore and have fun!
Be safe...rotary tools can bite!
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:08 PM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

I use a large router to take down the ground (Background) I than switch to my dremel with the router atatchment and clean up all the edges, Than I switch to hand carving to finish all the relief. This cuts the time in half when working on big projects.Hammer
"Hickory Ridge Woodcarving" Since 1975 On the Eastern Shore of Maryland "Gods Country"

My Carvings: http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/...rname=mychisel
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Old 12-12-2006, 07:39 PM
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Default Re: Power relief carving?

Wow! Thanks alot everyone. Now I've got some ideas and think I can make some progress. I'll keep you posted.
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