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  means that item, or
a very similar one, is essential. A  means useful but not
essential. A  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.
WORK AREA SET UP:
Clamp on bench light  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)  I use a #3 or #5 for carving and
a #7 for engraving.
Anti-fatigue floor mat  Some students have found that cheap carpet padding
available locally in Bowling Green works for them if transportation is a
Propane Torch  For raising grain. One or two will serve the whole
Vice  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  Substitute a regular pencil but
bring a couple so you won’t have to sharpen them all the time.
Eraser  – vinyl is best
Sketch pad  For class notes. Substitute notebook, legal pad or ¼”
Metal erasing shield  Available at drafting and art supply stores.
Six inch flexible metal or plastic ruler 
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  10”
New 10” flat mill file  Single cut.
New 8” half round  Bastard double cut.
New 6” Double Extra Slim triangular file  Single cut.
If you have Number 49 and/or 50 Nicholson pattern makers rasps  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
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  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  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 . Oil for stones —as required for
the stones you bring. 
Diamond Hones  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
A light (about 4-6 oz.) plastic faced hammer or small wood or leather
mallet  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
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
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
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 
2. #2 3mm skew 201010 
3. #3 10 mm 201062 
4. #1 6mm flat 201001 
5. #2 6mm skew 201011 
6. #3 6mm 201061 
7. #1 2mm flat 430050 
8. #2 2mm skew 430080 
9. #5 6 mm 201131 
10. #8 3mm 201210 
11. #1 10mm flat 201002 
12. #3 3mm 201060 
13. #5 3mm 201130 
14. #7 3mm 201190 
15. #6 6mm 201151 
16. #4 6mm 201091 
17. #4 12mm 201093 
18. #5 10mm 201132 
19. #8 6mm 201211 
20. #10 6mm 201251 
21. #10 2mm 201249 
22. #41 3mm 201310 
In addition to whatever carving chisels you bring, I will be bringing a
special “stamping chisel”  for each of you to use in the class.