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Tools and stuff to bring to my carving class at Western KY U.

This is not a list of requirements—it is a list of suggestions. Many times you will have something else that will substitute nicely for what I suggest, BRING WHAT YOU’VE GOT! In addition, there are stores in Bowling Green and many things can be picked up there if you see that you forgot something.

Not everything on the list is equally important so I’ve assigned an arbitrary number of 1, 2 or 3 to each item. A [1] means that item, or a very similar one, is essential. A [2] means useful but not essential. A [3] means bring it if you have it and plenty of room because it might come in handy. If you are flying travel light and trust your classmates to share the less essential tools.

Clamp on bench light [1] Articulated arm lights vary widely in quality and price. Those with ceramic sockets last much longer. I use a 70 watt indoor flood bulb in mine. Remember, bring or buy an extension cord.

OptiVISOR (magnification headband) [1] I use a #3 or #5 for carving and a #7 for engraving.

Anti-fatigue floor mat [2] Some students have found that cheap carpet padding available locally in Bowling Green works for them if transportation is a problem.

Propane Torch [3] For raising grain. One or two will serve the whole class.

Vice [3] If you have a particular stocking vice you like, bring it. The work benches in most of the classrooms are on the low side so many students bring their own vice mounted on a short post that can be clamped to the bench or in the jaws of an existing bench vice. If you plan on clamping to the bench tops remember they are thick so you will need a couple of big C-clamps.

Mechanical pencil 0.5mm soft lead HB [1] Substitute a regular pencil but bring a couple so you won’t have to sharpen them all the time.

Eraser [1] – vinyl is best

Sketch pad [1] For class notes. Substitute notebook, legal pad or ¼” graph paper.

Metal erasing shield [1] Available at drafting and art supply stores.

Six inch flexible metal or plastic ruler [2]

Dividers [3]

STOCK SHAPING: (For final prep of the practice stock, All files to be used on wood must be new—that is, never used on metal.)

New half-round bastard file [1] 10”

New 10” flat mill file [1] Single cut.

New 8” half round [1] Bastard double cut.

New 6” Double Extra Slim triangular file [1] Single cut.

If you have Number 49 and/or 50 Nicholson pattern makers rasps [2] bring them. Brownells has these. The number 49 is #191-188-460 @ $45.92 and the No. 50 is # 191-188-610 @ $54.90. They are probably cheaper somewhere else.

Sandpaper one sheet each of 100/120; 220; 320; 400 grit. This will be used to prep the blank and in raising the grain.

Sharpening stones [1] Bring whatever you have/use. I use a medium and fine ceramic stone set; a fine black Arkansas; and assorted slips for gouges. I also use a leather strop [1] made by gluing leather to wood to make it stiff. The strop is treated with Semichrome, a polishing paste found at car and motorcycle shops [2]. Oil for stones —as required for the stones you bring. [1]

Diamond Hones [2] Mark Silver introduced me to these a few years ago and I don’t see how I got by without them. They are used to shape or reshape chisels. Brownells sells Fine (290-100-001 @ $4.95) Medium (290-100-002 @ $7.95) and Course (290-100-003 @ $9.95). If you bring only one get the medium.

A light (about 4-6 oz.) plastic faced hammer or small wood or leather mallet [1] Brownells has plastic and brass hammers (#818-600-343 @ $11.71) or nylon and brass hammers (#818-600-100 @ $16.25). Brownells also has a rawhide mallet 4 oz. No.1 (#672-196-001 @ $ 19.27).

Chisels— Any of the good quality, “professional grade” carving chisels will do the job of carving a longrifle. However, I have never seen a “set” offered that didn’t have some totally useless sizes and shapes so I’m offering some advice on chisel selection. Until a few years ago I used an assortment of chisels I had made and some old chisels bought at flea market prices.


After a time I noticed that my students came to class with better chisels than I had and set about gathering some modern made chisels to form a set reserved only for carving (the others doubled for inletting). For some reason I decided on the Lamp Brand chisels made in Germany for sale by Wood Carvers Supply. John Bivins used and recommended Pfeil brand and Woodcraft carries them (but so does KMS a Canadian company at better prices). http://www.kmstools.com/woodworking-23000000/wood-carving-tools-23100000/
I personally like full size chisels because a lot of carving requires pushing the chisel with one hand while controlling its forward motion with the other. I have no experience with what some call “palm chisels” but if you have them and use them by all means bring them. I use straight chisels for carving. There is no reason you can’t carve with bent chisels if that is what you have in a particular size and sweep. Bring what you have.
Sharpen your chisels before class. I will include a discussion and a demonstration sharpening in the class but you should not spend valuable class time on sharpening!
What I’m going to do for the purposes of this class is list 22 chisels currently in my tool role, based on the Lamp brand sweep designation and size you will find in the Wood Carvers Supply catalog (1-800-284-6229). What is different about this list is that I am putting them in order from what I find most essential to least used. No doubt the ranking is biased but it is what works for me. The first six chisels (and the stamping chisel) are used for 75% of my work but that is probably because I learned to carve with a limited tool set —as many period builders did.
This set is not enough to allow you to create scrolls by using progressively selected sweeps as professional carvers did in the period. I will be teaching the technique of using stamping chisels instead. (#1 and #2 are flat chisels either straight or skew. #3-#10 are progressively tighter radius gouges. #41 is a V-tool.)

1. #1 3mm flat 201000 [1]
2. #2 3mm skew 201010 [1]
3. #3 10 mm 201062 [1]
4. #1 6mm flat 201001 [1]
5. #2 6mm skew 201011 [1]
6. #3 6mm 201061 [1]

7. #1 2mm flat 430050 [2]
8. #2 2mm skew 430080 [2]
9. #5 6 mm 201131 [2]
10. #8 3mm 201210 [2]
11. #1 10mm flat 201002 [2]
12. #3 3mm 201060 [3]
13. #5 3mm 201130 [3]
14. #7 3mm 201190 [3]
15. #6 6mm 201151 [3]
16. #4 6mm 201091 [3]
17. #4 12mm 201093 [3]
18. #5 10mm 201132 [3]
19. #8 6mm 201211 [3]
20. #10 6mm 201251 [3]
21. #10 2mm 201249 [3]
22. #41 3mm 201310 [3]

In addition to whatever carving chisels you bring, I will be bringing a special “stamping chisel” [1] for each of you to use in the class.