Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Little Help From My Friends

Have you ever wondered what the big deal is about Twitter—what's it good for? Permit me to offer this example.

I'm working on a little relief carving and even though I have tiny chisels and gouges, I'm having trouble getting the background flat and smooth. There are instances where I must carve against the grain, and that's producing some rough results.

Enter Twitter.

I pitched this question this morning: Carving peeps, is there a way to flatten or sand a relief carving's background that has very small areas? Any tricks? I can't get a chisel in there.

Less than an hour later I had five viable suggestions.

What does this mean?
1. Twitter is an awesome networking tool.
2. Woodworkers are clever folks.
3. A lot of my friends goof off at work (and so do I!).

So, what was their advice?
1. File a finish nail and use it as a scraper.
2. Wrap sandpaper around the end of a small dowel.
3. Use rifflers, specifically Grobet brand.
4. Use a dremel tool to grind a bevel on a small allen wrench for use in a mini router plane.
5. Try netsuke carving tools.

Those answers jumpstarted my own brain activity and I came up with two ideas: grinding a dental tool to use as a scraper; and use adhesive-backed sandpaper on the bottom of a fine artist's paint spatula, which can be trimmed to any shape and made as small as necessary with metal cutters.

Feel free to offer your advice with this carving dilemma.
And with that, I'm off to the shop!


mdhills said...

How would you compare this use of twitter to what you might get from posting here, to your blog, or to one of the woodworking forums?

Jeremiah said...

Given that the carving looks to be flat on either side you could probably also mount a plunge router on a plywood sled and chuck up a small straight bit. That'd probably only work with a clear-based router though.

Rob of Evenfall Studios said...

Hi Kari,

Carbide sharpening shops commonly braise new teeth on circular saw blades that come in and need repair.

Perhaps you could ask your local carbide sharpener if they could braise or solder carbide tips to a dental pick? You could use thin and thick kerf carbide teeth for various widths. You could also use ATB teeth as skews or angles.

I think these carbide teeth could be held at the necessary angles to scrape in a lot of difficult areas and stay sharp virtually for as long as one could imagine. I think they would likely carve as well as scrape... The only issue may be the costs.

I have done plenty of soldering in my day in electrical and electronic situations, but I am not sure that has the heat needed to attach carbide to tool steel.

It is possible the carbide sharpening people won't want to bother with this, but they can supply the carbide tips while HF supplies the dental pics.

I imagine silver soldering and brazing may work here if the right materials and craftspeople are brought together.

Could turn into some cool little tools, maybe.



Kari Hultman said...

Mdhills, I would say that twitter is sort of like a chat room where people are always hanging out. So if you want a fast answer to a question, want to chat with friends, want to read interesting links, or want to see if any of the tool manufacturers you're following are offering sales, twitter is a good source. You're limited to a small number of words, though, so that can be a bummer. Blogs and forums are much better if you're looking for more detailed information or fleshed out topics, but it might take a little while longer to hear from people. Facebook is another social venue. I like that one because you can see photos of what others are working on, their shops, etc.

Jeremiah, I think that could be done with a palm router or a dremel tool with a router base. It makes me think of that game called "Operation." :o)

Rob, I think you may have a niche market there! I wonder if you could also re-heat treat the dental tools to make them harder.

John Cashman said...

What a lot of carvers have always done is -- don't make it flat and smooth. You could try a background punch to give a stippled look. I'm sure you've seen a lot of examples of that. I always have to remind myself that the goal is not to achieve something that looks like it was stamped out by a CNC machine.

Buckboard WoodWorks said...

I am glad to hear that the dental tool idea worked out for you!! BTW, my aka is "buckskin" on twitter.

Jerry said...

Hi Kari we were talking during the Shoot Out at Finewood Working. So Twitter is a good thing.


The Fuz said...

So...To keep your sharpened dental pick(carbide would only really be necessary with hickory or at high speed) at a consistent depth, make an "old woman's tooth" manual router. Just two holes in a chunk of wood, a nice big sight hole and one for the tool with a cross-drilled screw to secure the cutter. I've been planning on making one of these for my father, who does extensive inlays for the harps he builds.

Vic Hubbard said...

While I would tend to agree with John in terms of not wanting to make it a CNC piece. That said, I've always bugged the dentist for "retired" tools. I have little rifflers/files and lots of different picks that are easy to shape and sharpen.

Kari Hultman said...

John, I've seen that punched look on carvings. It adds a cool decorative element and effectively hides a less than level background. I totally agree with you about avoiding a machined look.

Thanks for your help on Twitter, Buckskin!

Jerry, it can be a useful and fun tool for sure. :o)

Fuz, whoa! You're getting fancy. That sounds like a very cool idea. I'd love to see pics if you make one for your dad.

Vic, I just bought my first riffler yesterday. Those detail tools really come in handy for more than just carving.

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - I'd use a nice shiny Festool router with a small bit and freehand it...simples!

Outa here! - Rob

The Cottage Workshop said...

What a great way to develop a solution very quickly! Glad we could all help.
I think Twitter can be a great way to get in touch with people of your interests, at least in little snippets. But it can lead to more in-depth communication such as directing or being directed to blogs or articles. It's another tool in the networking toolbox. It's fast, changes often and you can reveal as much or as little about you and your thoughts as you'd like at any given time. For me, it has been a great way to let people know when I post a new blog. Surprisingly, people even "retweet" this information and pass it along to their followers (thanks Kari!). That's pretty cool.

Unknown said...

Shhh! I'm at work goofing off. Don't tell anyone.

The thing I don't like about twitter is the that if one is not present for a conversation, one is left out. Commenting on a old message is like talking to an empty room.