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twilson57

Advice re finger carving

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I’m new at leather craft, and I’m about to venture into carving and tooling. I’m particularly interested in decorative styles using just the swivel knife. I’ve seen it called finger carving in some posts. 

I’ve attached some graphics I’ve come across, and I’m wondering if I could carve similar designs using a swivel knife (with lots of practice of course). 

As I said, I’m new at this, so any tips or advice are welcome. 

Thanks 

48F38272-4B74-43BB-ACE5-655F67AB841E.png

BBB1EB4D-6881-41CC-99EC-E160879EFB1E.jpeg

E38D49B3-3562-411A-BC98-459C927D0FC1.jpeg

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In principle, yes, but in practice you'll find the width of the knife doesn't offer you the full width of bevel. The answer's to extend it with bevel punching: a 5mm and a 10mm beveller with a light (<1kg) soft-head mallet will suffice. That will impose working in veg tan only on you, and learning to case the leather, which wouldn't be so necessary in plain knifework.Don't forget a sharpener for the knife, and edge polishing/finish. Many might use antiquing to bring out the bevel fully, too.

Edited by Rahere

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52 minutes ago, Rahere said:

it with bevel punching: a 5mm and a 10mm beveller with a light (<1kg) soft-head mallet

Thanks for the informative reply.

I wondered if I might need a beveler to duplicate some of those lines. I’ve purchased a swivel knife (Barry King w/ 3/8 blade); I thought I’d buy other tools as needed. 
My plan is to use veg tan for making notebook covers with the design on the front. I think it'll be a fun project and make nice gifts for family and friends. 

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16 hours ago, twilson57 said:

Thank you for the link! This is very helpful. 

yw there is alot of free info there.

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Six basic strokes does it all?

Um, yeah how do you do those tight curves that so often show up in Sheridan carving?  You know, like the ones on this  cell phone case?

If anyone's got some tips on how to do these smoothly, I'm all ears! I found I've had the best luck with keeping the knife more or less stationary, and turning the leather.

IMG_2290_crop.jpg

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28 minutes ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Um, yeah how do you do those tight curves that so often show up in Sheridan carving?  You know, like the ones on this  cell phone case?

If anyone's got some tips on how to do these smoothly, I'm all ears! I found I've had the best luck with keeping the knife more or less stationary, and turning the leather.

 

Move both the leather and the knife

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13 hours ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Six basic strokes does it all?

Um, yeah how do you do those tight curves that so often show up in Sheridan carving?  You know, like the ones on this  cell phone case?

If anyone's got some tips on how to do these smoothly, I'm all ears! I found I've had the best luck with keeping the knife more or less stationary, and turning the leather.

IMG_2290_crop.jpg

Sorry i didn't write the book but yea like Fred said.

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I managed a half-decent job of them on that phone case, but believe me, I was sweating bullets!  Not going to show you my first efforts which were on a wallet... :lol:

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I, by absolute necessity, decided to bite the bullet and begin cutting and tooling. I spent the last two weeks watching all kinds of videos about this. It has been over 40 years since I did this in art class in junior high. 

 

Just got home with it this morning. Started on my study piece. (Usable Practice piece before I do the goal piece) 

 

I had to spend several hours sharpening the swivel knife. (Cheap one in the kit Tandy sells)  first off it was so dull it wouldn't cut butter. (I tried)

So I changed the angle of the grind (they didn't have any hollow grind) and then polished it up using an Arkansas stone progression through the black surgical stone. Finally getting to the leather strop.  Now it's sharp. (I'm used to sharpening my straight razors...I even use a jewelers loupe to check the edge) 

Haven't used the jewler's rouge yet... maybe later. 

 

So I had a printout for a butterfly on printer paper and I used a stylus to transfer it to the leather I had cased.  My tracing was a bit shakey...

Then I got the freshly sharpened swivel knife out and began. Again the light above cast shadows and that was really annoying. Again it was another shakey job...went outside the lines a bit. 

Still not completely disgusted (although I should have been) I grabbed the hammer and the little edgy thingy and began to hammer out the cuts. Again more disgust with my skills abounded as there were misstrikes and lumpy tooling marks. 

So... currently awaiting it to dry out and then going to oil it up and see what more damage I can do to this 4oz piece of leather. 

Edited by johnnydb

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9 hours ago, johnnydb said:

Then I got the freshly sharpened swivel knife out and began. Again the light above cast shadows and that was really annoying. Again it was another shakey job...went outside the lines a bit. 

If you have a problem with lighting your work

1. I have a couple of poseable lights, on each side of the bench, each with a very bright bulb. I use day-light colour balanced  LED bulbs, about 20w, equivalent to about 100 -120w incandescent bulb. I can angle these lights anyways on to my work to eliminate any shadows

2. very occasionally I use a small fore-head light. Its a small LED torch which you can wear on your fore-head using its elastic strap. You can buy these for a couple of $$. Mine cost me £1 and I have several lying around the place. It gives a very bright light for all of its small size

s-l300.jpg

3. You can buy an 'Opti-Visor' with a light and magnifiers built into one visor. These are more expensive, from about $10 upwards. 

image.png

 

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On the original subject: It's fascinating what can be done with only a swivel knife and a modeling spoon. Jim Linnell of Elktrackstudios sells a video "Simple Figure Carving" where he carves an eagle's head.

I love how he says that "better" (or at least more expensive) tools do not replace practice. And I am pretty sure that nothing replaces good leather tanned for tooling, either, though for now I can only say with certainty that some cheap thin no-name leather does not make things easier...

 

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8 hours ago, fredk said:

If you have a problem with lighting your work

1. I have a couple of poseable lights, on each side of the bench, each with a very bright bulb. I use day-light colour balanced  LED bulbs, about 20w, equivalent to about 100 -120w incandescent bulb. I can angle these lights anyways on to my work to eliminate any shadows

2. very occasionally I use a small fore-head light. Its a small LED torch which you can wear on your fore-head using its elastic strap. You can buy these for a couple of $$. Mine cost me £1 and I have several lying around the place. It gives a very bright light for all of its small size

s-l300.jpg

3. You can buy an 'Opti-Visor' with a light and magnifiers built into one visor. These are more expensive, from about $10 upwards. 

image.png

 

As an electrician the thoughts about getting a lamp weren't lost on me...I actually specialized in complicated lighting systems at work. Lots of control work. And shadows (adding or removing them) was very much a part of that. 

But the headlamp with a magnifying glass is something I might get...

As it is I'm doing a study so it's all about practice and where I'm trying my best I'm also trying things out as an experiment. It doesn't have to be perfect...just finished using a wool dauber to apply a coat of neatsfoot and letting it dry.  Then going to apply some dye later...then maybe Trac gum for the inside and applying the cloth lining. Then comes the gold foil embossing.

I'm trying to do this without a machine. Gonna try to get my clothes iron to heat the letters and then stamp the foil into the leather...I'm hoping for a good outcome. If it doesn't work...no harm, no foul. But I hope for the best. Nothing doing but the trying. 

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Journal Study https://imgur.com/a/J4K5sBw

Ok...so here's the gallery of what I was able to accomplish for my first study of a larger journal cover I'm getting ready to make. 

My swivel knife work needs more practice...so does my tooling. 

As you look through you will see tests of dyeing, the Trac gum I used to polish the inside flaps and the embroidered upholstery cloth I used to line it. 

Lots of neatsfoot oil and I thinned the dye a bit. Then used satin sheen to seal it all. The gold leaf embossing was done with a cheap set of letters and my clothes iron set on "cotton".

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17 hours ago, johnnydb said:

@johnnydb Please post your photos here.  Third party hosting often results in bad links due to people changing permissions, moving files, deleting their account, host going out of business or changing policies, etc.  When this happens, the posts in the thread lose relevance and become useless to future readers.

If you are having trouble posting here, reduce the size of your photos to 800x600 or 1024x768 pixels and you can post maybe hundreds of photos in a single post.  See this thread for help if you need it.  Lots of options https://leatherworker.net/forum/topic/15122-how-to-post-pictures-on-lw/?do=findComment&comment=551171

 

 

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4 hours ago, johnnydb said:

Trying the resizer...but I'm kinda really bad at following directions. 

You are doing OK here.  You can drop several pictures on a post.  Then click the plus (+) sign to put them where your cursor is in the text of the post.

Thanks for making the effort.

 

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Some improvement... gonna try this one again and see if I can get better. 

 

phpT0oLziAM.jpg

Edited by johnnydb
Additional information

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Those small carved areas are hard to get beveled without smashing down another line or getting into the design.  I had the same issues.  Finally got a smaller beveler to get into those tight areas, also got a couple with a steeper face allowing me to lightly tap, but still get some beveling in.  Looking good.  Keep up the practice.

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Looks a little too wet.  It loses definition and doesn't hold the shape of the tool.  Try a trial with a couple stamps.  When you moisten the leather (case) stamp a single impression, wait 1 minute, then stamp again, continue until the leather is getting too dry to make a good impression.  Then you will be ale to see the difference, what the burnished colour looks like, and the definition, and hoe many minutes it took to get there.  Not all pieces of leather will behave exactly the same.  Different tanages, thicknesses, etc.  But it will give you a better measure of how wet/dry it needs to be.  This was my biggest mistake when I started many years ago. 

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Yeah, I learned some good lessons from that highlighted B...it was on a piece of 5oz shoulder from Brazil that Tandy had on sale. (For $40 it was cheap enough to buy and practice)  the leather was just wet and tooled and eventually started getting too dry which is why the edges started looking like they did. I got a piece waiting and in cased now and waiting for me when it's ready. 

I also wasn't using a regular stencil...it's one I made and it gave me some clues as to how to actually make a stencil and make it look good. So later today I'll be at it again. 

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2 hours ago, johnnydb said:

And once again...

Better...but I wish I could do better...but it will have to do...I got a lot of other stuff pressing me to accomplish

php5YEAHKAM.jpg

letters are the absolute hardest thing to do IMO. reason, every brain knows what they are supposed to look like so any blem is noticed.  You are doing a great job.

Edited by chuck123wapati

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