Apologies: Around 01:00 I name the tool a #3, whereas it's obviously a #8. Hope you spotted that!
'Bosting' is a carver's term that I keep using throughout Woodcarving Workshops. It's about exploring the wood, finding the underlying forms and articulating them. Although this work and it's form is very simple, it's still the best way to work.
In this video, you'll see a cutaway of an unfinished Hepworth sculpture that I saw in the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, Yorkshire. Look at Hepworth taking the exact bosting approach that I am taking here. I doubt she had ever heard of bosting but, at the end of the day, it's a natural way of working that gets to the heart of the matter quickly.
Download: Thoughts about Hepworth and her sculpture; why I'm using hand tools and not power, and 'direct carving'. Also wood and tools etc.
| 23 May 2023 07:36
Darrin - Go for a straight tool every time - unless you can really see where you'd need a bent one.
| 22 May 2023 20:36
Hi Chris. I’ve taken your advice on which gouges to get for sculpture. I’d prefer Ashley Isles, but their stock is very spotty. And at least in the US, Stubai is also hard to find. So Ive turned to Henry Taylor. The UK company Classic Hand Tools Carrie’s HT, but their stock is limited. They do have a #7/25mm alongee (their regular #7 goes up to 20mm), but the blade is pretty significantly bent, eg, the blade and handle don’t form a straight line. I’m not sure how important this really is, but it seems problematic, particularly for mallet work. It seems to me that maintaining the correct angle, particularly in stab cuts, would be trickier than with a straighter tool. I know hand made tools are never perfect, but how much deviation is acceptable before it affects the tool’s performance?
| 18 May 2023 16:22
Darrin - Yes, it's a bit confusing, this inconsistent numbering between makers. The trick is to find the tool that feels good for what you want to do; there's often not a lot to choose from between the close numbers if you're into sculpture.
BTW. There's a Pfeil/Sheffield comparison chart in the downloads.
I wouldn't use the #2 1/2 for heavy mallet work; it's a little slender for that and mainly useful for lighter, finishing work.
I would go for the #3 if you can find one, rather than the 4. I have a wide #3 from Stubai that I like; you could look into them? - though like Taylor their finish can be iffy.
| 17 May 2023 19:56
Hi Chris. I greatly appreciate not only your expertise and experience, but your willingness to share it! To keep things always interesting, I've just realized the differences between the Sheffield and Swiss numbering systems. Comparing the few Pfeils I have to the Sheffield chart in your lettering book (which is super helpful) I see that a Pfeil #3 seems to match Sheffield 5, while Pfeil 7 matches Sheffield 6. For some reason, Pfeil #9 seems somewhere between Sheffield 8 and 9.
I'm likely going to order English tools, either from Ashely Isles directly (the single US distributor's ability to get tools from AI is very sketchy) or try my luck with Henry Taylor, although it seems their quality control is a bit lacking.
I already have an AI chisel of 32mm, and AI doesn't have a #3 anywhere near 37mm, so I'm wondering if getting either a #2 1/2 or a#4 of that size would be a reasonable alternative. Thanks for your time!
| 08 May 2023 09:17
Darrin - When I began carving, I carved quite large pieces of sculpture; in part because it was that sad time of Dutch Elm disease and there were many big pieces of wood to be had; and in part because it's a fun challenge.
I'd use the largest gouge and largest mallet. But I was young (and foolish) then, and there were no Arbortechs to be had. Now, being older, I can't work the same way: A big, wide gouge needs a lot of energy to push it it through the wood and I find that it's too stressful on my joints etc. So I no longer use the biggest gouges I can find and prefer to take a bit longer with more blows of the mallet. All this might be something to think about!
But to answer your question more specifically:
I generally use 3 main gouges for sculpture:
1. # 9 x 1in 25mm
2. # 7 x 1.25in 32mm
3. # 3 x 1.45in 37mm
So these I would recommend you get. They work me well into the carving and keep me from fussing about.
From there it's a matter of picking tools you need to do the work, being guided by what you are using towards what you need - especially when it comes to frontbent gouges.
And do feel free - it's not 'cheating! - to use power to remove the initial big waste.
Hope this helps!
| 04 May 2023 23:32
Hi Chris. I'm so happy to find this video! As I'm try different types of carving, mostly relief and lettering, I often find myself wanting to go "off plan" and just let my imagination, the tool in my hand, and the wood run the show, so to speak. Direct carving really speaks to me. I just bought a property with many downed trees, so I envision doing some larger sculpting in this style. My question is about selecting tool sizes for large sculpting. I know the general rule is to match the tool size to the work one is doing, but is there any more precise way to select tool sizes? Elsewhere, I think you've recommended using the largest tool until you need something smaller. Given a limited budget, would your recommend buying the largest tools possible (without going overboard, of course)?