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Nicholas Woodcarving
Power Carving

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  #1  
Old 02-25-2012, 10:47 PM
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Default My carving journey

I know I'm addressing people with much more experience in this then I have, but I wanted to start a thread talking about my experiences and lessons learned through carving.

As I was carving with my Foredom I was thinking that What I'm doing doesn't seem like carving to me. Carving feels like a word that describes something requiring force. Like forcing a knife through a block of wood. What I'm doing is almost like erasing the wood. I gently brush the bit on the wood and the wood just goes away, like I'm erasing it. It requires less force and more control. I don't have to push hard, just control where I brush it.
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Old 02-26-2012, 09:47 AM
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Default Re: My carving journey

Some purists insist that only mallet and gouge work can be considered woodcarving, and my response is Hogwash (or words similar to that effect).

It doesn't matter what tools you use to achieve the result (unless it's an automated duplicator). You, the carver, control the tools that you use, and the end result only achieved through your effort, skill and vision. Whether you use gouges, knives, a power carver or some combination thereof, you are the force that controls the outcome, not the tool - and that is woodcarving.
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2012, 10:44 AM
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Default Re: My carving journey

Carving, according to my computer's dictionary is "• produce (an object) by cutting and shaping a hard material"

This is often interpreted as pressing a sharp object into a hard material... Knives are sharp; gouges are sharp. What else is sharp? How about a chainsaw? Well, on a microscopic level, the grit on sandpaper is sharp; the little carbide bits on a rotating burr are also sharp. All the rotary tool does is press very small sharp items in a piece of wood or other hard material at a very fast rate.

'nuff said.

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Old 02-26-2012, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

I agree that power carving is carving. It just takes so little actual effort when you power carve. All the cutting is done by the machine. I really love it. I have no talent for carving with knives and chisels. For me, the force needed to cut through the wood gets in the way of the experience. Having my Foredom doing the cutting really frees me up to dwell in the creativity of the moment without having to focus on how hard I'm pushing and how much I'm carving off.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:48 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

My perception is almost completely opposite regarding gouges and chisels vs Foredom. The meditative/creative experience that I crave in carving comes when I feel confident about sliding a tool through a section of a workpiece where I know the grain and what needs to be removed.

Stropping, sharpening and tuning the tools is an integral part of the experience, usually enjoyable, sometimes frustrating, always rewarding--even if the reward is learning some tasks are beyond me.

Don't get me wrong, I love the power and quality of the Foredom, and the fact that it can solve problems carving tools can't, but the dust, noise and torque are turn-offs for me. Just personal preference, I definitely don't look down on, or sit in judgement of power carving.
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

I also love the meditative experience of carving with edge tools. I apprenticed as a power carver, switched to edge tools and used them exclusively for 8 years. When I started a family and acquired a mortgage I needed to increase my ability to produce pieces quicker to pay the bills. I switched back to using power tools for some of my operations while still using edge tools for others. I've found that, for me, they both have their place in my creative experience and the ability to use both allows me to create pieces that would not be the same if I stuck with one or the other.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

I just don't have the talent for edge tools. I've tried to use them, but I seem to cease to have hands when I try and end up with clubs at the end of my arms (or at least that's how I feel). Maybe I just lack the patience needed to perfect the finess required to use edge tools. I know it requires a special touch that I just seem to lack. My clumsiness with the edge tools makes the whole process unenjoyable to me. It's probably just me. The power carving tools helped me get past that part of the process so I can enjoy creating. The more I create, the more I realize that I'm going to have to start using them eventually. I can see my details that I'm wanting to create emerging slowly in my mind as I carve, and some of them will require some small edged tools. Maybe I just need to start simple with edge tools and work my way up. I have been able to skip the more simple stages (at least simple to me) and go on to more advanced (again, advanced to me) projects with the power tools.

And by the way, I'm almost done with my second project. I was thinking of sanding it so that the surfaces would be perfectly smooth, but as I looked at it, I decided I like the subtle carving marks left over. It gives the piece a character that would be lost if it were perfectly smooth. (Again, just my preference).

Also, I discovered that if I want to stain one spot and not another next to it, that if I polyurethane the spot I don't want stained first (a little heavily) and leave the part to be stained bare until the poly sets, that when I do stain, it doesn't seep into the surrounding wood. I should have polyed the hand on my figure a little more before I stained the club, but on the places on the hand that were good and polyed the stain easily wiped off where it ran onto the poly. I'm very pleased that this trick is working so well!
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Old 02-29-2012, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

I love it all, ....out in the yard kick up the saw dust,... the tropical wind picks it up and dumps it all over the drug addicts at the bus stop.....they have moved... :Yes! Power tools help me when I can not do it with the chisel, hands and wrist and shoulder are a mess with pain lately. Then I chisel and lately I just have my knives out. Oh yea, got a few old reliables, and then decided to get that xacto woodcarving kit, the blade broke, grazed my safety glasses and stuck right into the forehead.....as I am muttering and cursing pulled it out and another bandaide...never a dull moment. smile Di
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Old 03-01-2012, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: My carving journey

"the tropical wind picks it up and dumps it all over the drug addicts at the bus stop" - pure poetry.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: My carving journey

I too started with gouges and chisels.....love them to this day. I believe that starting with blade tools gave me a better understanding of carving.

Some years after learning to carve with gouges, our club had a guest speaker at one of our meetings. Frank Russell. I will say that when we start out as gouge carvers, we do tend to be a tad "dismissive" of power....like it's cheating somehow. But he was a very interesting speaker and not long after his guest appearance, I bought a a shaft for a Dremel that I already had, got a few bits and tried it.

Then came a couple of classes with Frank. Even with all the noise and dust, which required me to buy extra safety equipment (dust masks, dust collector, ear protection) I loved the ease of doing really tiny, fine detail. One thing that power carving does not do for me, is make me carve faster or better..... The creative process isn't any faster, nor is the actual carving part. I can work just as fast with a sharp gouges as I can with a Kutzal bit.

But I enjoy both types of carving. Tupelo wood requires you to use power. So does the onset of arthritis in one's hands..... I never intended to become a power carver but I'm glad that I learned the skills from an expert anyhow.

Still use gouges a lot. Still love to go to the little carving group in our area, once in a while, where thankfully, power tools are not allowed. It always made me sad to leave the group I started with, but when some of the attendees began whipping out their little battery powered Dremels and sanding away without regard for their fellow attendees, it was time to leave.

It was not a formal group and the person in charge didn't want to make people mad or hurt feelings so he never put a stop to that. One woman even had the audacity to bring her Foredom and hog on her carvings in the back of the room. She would get down right nasty if anyone suggested that she was being inconsiderate of the others. No matter that the air in the room was filled with fine dust and several of the regulars had to quit coming for health reasons, because of her and others with their little Dremels......

Little informal carving groups that meet in civic centers (or where ever) are not set up for power carving. If you want to breath wood dust in your own shop, go ahead, but don't subject others to it. I had said something to the person who ran the group, on several occasions, to no avail. So I found another group.

I know I got off track a bit with the subject of power carving in carving groups, but it needs to be pointed how unfair it is to the rest of the group, when one or two individuals begin doing this. The rest of us didn't come there, only to have to put on a mask while we work with our gouges.....power carve at home, in your own shop, like I do....LOL

Anyhow, power vs gouge will always be an argument on here. No matter what I or others say about the validity of power carving, there will be haters.
If you enjoy it, do it and pay them no mind.....
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