Hibernicus

Wood Carving Tools?

31 posts in this topic

Hi everyone. I'm a total beginner, just ordered a starter kit from Tandy and some tooling leather scraps to practice on. One of my problems so far is, I cant seem to get the hang of the swivel knife, my cuts are very messy and inconsistent. It just doesnt feel intuitive to me. I've got some wood carving experience and I was wondering if some of the same tools and techniques could work on leather. I'm particularly thinking of the V-gouge which produces cuts as seen in this picture.

IMG_0704.jpg

Of course I'll keep practising with the swivel knife too, just wondering if anyone has ever tried woodworking tools.

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Well, I have not tried wood working tools but before the modern era - a lot of tools were made out of necessity and can have multiple purposes. Give it a go and see how it does but do practice on the swivel knife as I think you will attain the best results.

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Well, there is a V gouge for leather, but I doubt it would perform on leather the way you want when it comes to detailed images.

I've been posting this a lot lately because it's THAT important. Go here and sign up for the free tutorials. At the bottom of the list is one that's specifically focused on swivel knives. It's loaded with practice routines to build that skill.

http://paintingcow.com/content/index.php/publications/free_lesson_sign_up/

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Thanks for the input guys. I know the swivel knife is the best tool for the job, it just feels so awkward to me and gives me cramps in my hand. I was kind of hoping that some of the tools I'm more comfortable with might work. Anyway, I just did a little experiment with the v-gouge. It was very easy to work, but left a broader cut than it does in wood. Obviously not a substitute for the swivel knife, but I think it might have some potential for certain effects though. I'll keep practising with the swivel knife anyway, and I'll probably try some other experiments with the wood carving tools I have on hand. I took a photo of some cuts for comparison, v-gouge is on the left, thinner cuts on the right are from the swivel knife.

vgouge_zpsb49744c8.jpg

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Looks like maybe you need to sharpen the knife and work on your casing a little. Looks like those cuts are pretty shallow, which is a sign of it being dry. Dry leather will require more effort to cut. Is your knife adjustable? There's a $15 dollar "deluxe" knife that Tandy sells which has an adjustable height. That's a lot more comfortable for me to prevent cramping. Plus, the one I had in my kit had a really rounded blade, so it was terrible to use for anything. Also, you shouldn't have to grip it that hard either, so maybe with the right casing on your leather it will ease up some of those cramps.

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My first thought is that you didn't "case" wet the leather. If you no nothing about preparing leather for tooling please access

Bob Park's "Casing Leather".

Second thought: If you did wet the leather, you tried to tool with the knife when the leather was too wet.

ferg

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Unfortunately I have to use the basic knife that came with the Tandy starter kit. I don't see any way to adjust it. The only way for me to get any tools is to order internationally and it's very expensive. I'll try sharpening it, but it's brand new, unless they supply them unsharpened?

I've been following the instructions in the kit about casing the leather, sponging it lightly on both sides and then allowing it to return to its former colour, but the article you mention makes it seem like there's a lot more to it, so maybe that's where I'm going wrong.

Thanks for the help.

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Unfortunately I have to use the basic knife that came with the Tandy starter kit. I don't see any way to adjust it. The only way for me to get any tools is to order internationally and it's very expensive. I'll try sharpening it, but it's brand new, unless they supply them unsharpened?

I've been following the instructions in the kit about casing the leather, sponging it lightly on both sides and then allowing it to return to its former colour, but the article you mention makes it seem like there's a lot more to it, so maybe that's where I'm going wrong.

Thanks for the help.

The blade needs sharpened, even though new. The typical new blade, especially Tandy, needs a lot of work. There are other threads about sharpening swivel knives. Do a quick search and you should be able to find them.

Tom

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Unfortunately I have to use the basic knife that came with the Tandy starter kit. I don't see any way to adjust it. The only way for me to get any tools is to order internationally and it's very expensive. I'll try sharpening it, but it's brand new, unless they supply them unsharpened?

I've been following the instructions in the kit about casing the leather, sponging it lightly on both sides and then allowing it to return to its former colour, but the article you mention makes it seem like there's a lot more to it, so maybe that's where I'm going wrong.

Thanks for the help.

yeah, there's definitely a lot more to it than that. What you see in the instructions is what a lot of us refer to as a "quick-case", which is good for stamping in a pinch, but not much else. As a side note here, when I quick-case, I spray both sides of my leather until it's good and wet then let it sit for about 15 minutes. At that point it hasn't completely returned to its natural color, but it's getting close. The key is "visible moisture", but not wet, while being cool to the touch (on your cheek or back of your hand). It takes some practice to get right. When I full case, I'll soak it in a pan or under the hot water, let it sit out on some plastic wrap for an hour or two, then bag it (ziplock or other sealed bag) and put it in the fridge overnight. When I pull it out I can just lightly moisten the grain (tooling side) with a sponge and in a couple of minutes it will be ready to go for about an hour. At that point I just mist the back side again and let it sit for a couple minutes and I'm back to work.

The kit knifes do NOT come sharp, especially the one in the basic kit, which is non-adjustable. You can re-hone it so that it's got an actual edge and then strop it as normal, but I found they don't hold an edge for very long. Can you order from Tandy in the UK at a good price?

http://www.tandyleatherfactory.co.uk/

This one's not the best, but you'll see it has a little adjustment at the top of the barrel.

http://www.tandyleather.eu/en-eur/search/searchresults/8002-00.aspx

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When you use your swivel knife try relaxing your hand some. Try using a metal ruler as a guide and cut some straight lines. While doing it notice how you just tilt and go following the ruler. Now start without the ruler and do a couple of straight lines keeping the same feel of the knife in your hand. Now start doing some curves but keep everything the same except rolling the knife with your fingers. If your knife starts to drag strop your blade or your leather is drying out. I am still not good with a swivel knife but I found when I quit tensing up and trying to force the knife it works a lot better. Just like wood working let the tools do the work and when they start to drag sharpen them. On casing take a practice piece put it in a sink with warm water for a few minutes as in 1 or 2. Or when bubbles stop coming out of it.

Take it out and get the standing water off with a rag or paper towel. Put the leather in a plastic Baggie or bag and let set over night.

The next day take it out and let it stand until the color starts to return to normal. Then start cutting on it. If you have to stop put it back on the plastic. If it starts to dry spray it with a little water. Hope this helps a little

David

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I will look up how to sharpen the blade correctly. I am used to wood carving tools being supplied razor sharp...I guess it didnt really occur to me that the leatherwork knife would be supplied unsharpened.Ill experiment with casing and sharpening and see if I can get any better results. Seems a bit uncharitable to provide a beginner kit with a blunt knife. If I didnt already have sharpening equipment it would be useless to me without laying out another bunch of cash for whetstones. Now I might have to order another knife. The one you linked me to would could cost me €45 ($60) with shipping and import tax. This hobby is starting to get very expensive, very fast. Not sure I can afford it.

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Back to the beginning. When you are tooling you do not want to remove the leather, just push it around. Using the gouge you are removing it an dthis will make it hard to do the rest of the tooling nicely.

If you were sewing and wanted to use a stitch grove you are right in line. What you are doing will work well.

You need to sharpen your knife, they usually arrive dull. Also if you like leatherwork save up and buy a better quality knife.

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I guess I've got a long road of sharpening and learning and experimenting to do before I get to make a start on the wallet and other projects in the beginners kit. Looks like I better order some more leather and get to work trying to figure it out. I'll be back if I ever get the hang of it. Thanks again.

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I guess I've got a long road of sharpening and learning and experimenting to do before I get to make a start on the wallet and other projects in the beginners kit. Looks like I better order some more leather and get to work trying to figure it out. I'll be back if I ever get the hang of it. Thanks again.

I agree about the knife and the fact that it arrives dull. As far as I know, Tandy are the only ones that do that. Just hang in there and don't give up. You already have the experience sharpening, so that shouldn't be an issue for you. Do you have any saddle shops around? Maybe one of them has an old adjustable knife they'd be willing to part with for a good price. Heck, if I had an extra I'd just send you one for the shipping cost if that would keep you going easier. All I have right now are the standard non-adjustable, but I'll look anyway to see if one slipped by me :)

You are in Ireland right? I can look around and see if I can find someone cheaper to buy from. I know we have a few UK members here, so one of them might no some different places for materials.

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Hibernicus, where are you ordering from? Remember the UK is not far away from you and we have excellent mail-order stores like Le Prevo, Tandy UK, Metropolitan Leather, JT Bachelors etc. and our countries both being in the EU there is no import taxes.

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Hibernicus, where are you ordering from? Remember the UK is not far away from you and we have excellent mail-order stores like Le Prevo, Tandy UK, Metropolitan Leather, JT Bachelors etc. and our countries both being in the EU there is no import taxes.

I ordered from Tandy UK. They charge a huge rate to ship to Ireland. I believe I paid over £30 (€35) in shipping on the beginner kit plus a bag of scrap leather (50% of the order price). Ireland charges import tax on 'commercial' imports - which can sometimes include tools depending on the opinion of the customs officer who signs off on it. Its somewhat of a lottery as it is not always applied, but I regularly buy tools from Germany (also EU) and have been charged import tax on many of the orders. I'll check out the other suppliers you have mentioned, maybe the can give me a better deal. I'm starting to think Tandy is somewhat of a scam, but I've found in the past that many UK businesses charge full international rates to ship to Ireland.

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I'm starting to think Tandy is somewhat of a scam, but I've found in the past that many UK businesses charge full international rates to ship to Ireland.

Tandy's good to get you started, and they do rely on the fact that they're a global company. A lot of people end up saying "I didn't think there was anything but Tandy". Would ebay incur as many import taxes (depending on the seller)?

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I think the best thing I can do now is to see if I can achieve any results with what I already have from Tandy. You know what they say about a workman who blames his tools :rolleyes: I just thought it would be a little easier to get started. Anyway I'll see where it takes me. Thanks for the encouragement and advice everyone.

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One use for some wood carving tools is to use a wide gouge to cut nice round inside or outside corners. Straight chisels also for cutting slits.

Tom

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I think the best thing I can do now is to see if I can achieve any results with what I already have from Tandy. You know what they say about a workman who blames his tools :rolleyes: I just thought it would be a little easier to get started. Anyway I'll see where it takes me. Thanks for the encouragement and advice everyone.

Yeah, I think first thing is first, get that swivel blade SHARP!! You'll have to strop it frequently, but at least it will cut once you get a proper edge on it.

I think that alone will get rid of a lot of your problems. Then you can sell a few things and make up the money to get a better one, and then some more and more and more :thumbsup:

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I have been thinking about this and here is my thought. You are in a country differant than ours and likely have a few small unique items that we do not have here. We have stuff here hard for you to find. How about if you post a few things you have and might be willing to trade for something from one of us. Post a wish list and a surplus list. People likely will speak up and send you something and you send them something. Pass through customs as a gift, likely most items will have fairly low value. You will end up with a few tools and we will end up with something from you. Could be kind of fun.

Aaron

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That's a good idea Aaron. Personally I was thinking if he couldn't find an adjustable knife, he could pay me for it and I'd buy it and send it that way. I looked through my stash and none of them are adjustable

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That's a good idea Aaron. Personally I was thinking if he couldn't find an adjustable knife, he could pay me for it and I'd buy it and send it that way. I looked through my stash and none of them are adjustable

I have been following the development of this thread and thinking the exact same thing. I actually have some duplicates and such of some of my tools that have been waiting to be adopted out to a new home that will give them the proper love they deserve. Since I am making my own swivel knives now, I have ended up with extra adjustable ones from Craftool that will need new owners, too. I was actually thinking that if the tools were mixed in with other things, they might be less likely to get slapped with the higher tax rate. Maybe have it as a care package of sorts with tools as the bonus.

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I use a woodworking V gouge for making folds just as an adjustable v gouge would be used for that same purpose

I dont have oblong punches but I do have wood working chisels and round hole punches that I use for making ob long holes in leather and they are very clean and look good so the answer to the question is yes woodworking tools can be used for leatherworking.

however that being said a v gouge would not be very well suited for the practical purpose of carving designs on the grain side of the leather.

keep practicing with your swivel knife it will eventually click.

a couple of good tips I can share would be to always keep the blade honed and never try to do any knife work on wet leather for it will make the blade drag.use an angled 1/4" filigree blade instead of a straight blade, ( it is easier to make tight curves and corners with an angled blade.and does not require as much presure to get the intended depth of the cut.

wait for the leather to absorb the casing water and dry , dont plunge the blade in so deep into the leather that it is difficult to maneuver the swivel knife bot not too shallow that the impression looks washed out.

everything else revolves around Practice, Practice, Practice... and this is one of these cases if you don't use it you loose it so stay in practice

another thing is if you go to www.springfieldleather.com they have stamps 999-L, 999-R and 301 that can aid in making clean straight and curved lines in your carvings until you get a good handle on the swivel knife.

Edited by St8LineGunsmith

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Well, I spent a while sharpening the swivel knife, and rigged up a sort of spacer to hold it at a more comfortable height. Tried to case the leather better as well. I'm not sure any of these things really succeeded, but I went ahead and made my first attempt at a carving anyway.

I guess it's a coaster or something :dunno:

dragonleather_zps7a5d204f.jpg

dragonleatherdye_zpsc8239a94.jpg

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