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3 Tool Selection


| 02 August 2022 01:20

Imran - I don't have the book with me but I'm pretty sure there is a note somewhere at the beginning of that section. Whatever, the numbers are the order in which I draw the individual elements of the letters. (Do this - 1, then this - 2 etc). It's not set in stone but I thought it would help if I included that.
Definitely nothing to do with tools!

| 29 July 2022 13:56

Hi Chris,
In your book, "Lettercarving in Wood - a Practical Course" , chapter 5, Incised Lettering Exercises , you drawings of the letters and next to various parts there are numbers. What do those numbers indicate?
Thank you

| 01 July 2022 08:23

Imran - Removing the heel corners makes for a thinner corner at the cutting edge, which gives you some advantage when it comes to getting into tight junctions.
It's a bit of a refinement and mostly not necessary for most carving but, with lettering, the tools that will benefit will be the ones you use for cutting the serifs: the fishtail gouge and fishtail chisel.

| 30 June 2022 11:34

Hi Chris. Thanks for your reply. I should have stated "removing heal corners". This is a lesson in your sharpening videos. You talk about the benefit of this for small detailed carvings as well as lettering. So that was my question if you would recommend this for some of the letter carving tools. thanks

| 30 June 2022 07:24

Imran - I'm not sure what you mean by 'taking the heel back'. I say that when I'm talking about lengthening the bevel, when the cutting angle is too high; the bevel itself will remain flat. I also talk about 'rounding' the heel, i.e. softening it, but without affecting the bevel itself.
Whatever, it's important to understand that from the tool point of view there isn't any difference between cutting wood when lettering and cutting wood in any other carving.
If the wood is 'fouling up', which I assume means the fibres tearing, then the chances are that your tools needs a sharper cutting edge - so look for spots of light on the very edge. A dull edge will tear the fibres rather than cut them, especially if the wood is more soft than hard.
The length of bevel, assuming flat and not rounded, and including any inner bevel, gives you the 'wedge' of metal that you are pushing into the wood. If your wood is softer - pine for example -you'll generally needs a longer bevel to cut the fibres before they roll with the edge. So that's were 'taking the heel back' comes in.
Before you go to the trouble of rearing, do some experimenting on a spare piece of your lettering wood. Check the cutting edge; you don't want to see scratches or snail track in the facets. Check too that you don't have rounded bevels: flat from edge to heel. See and feel how the tool is cutting. If it's hard work, then think about lengthening the bevel a bit - and, remember, you won't be recommissioning, just remove metal from the heel forwards, stop just short of the cutting edge and finish off on a one stone.

| 30 June 2022 07:08

Michael - Apologies for missing your question and being so slow in replying.
The general rule here is to use the widest tool (chisel #1) you can and if you can make the cut in one that's the best. When your chisel is narrower, then you have to merge the cuts. It's not difficult to do this but it does need a little finesse, sneaking up on the end result a little - some practise on spare wood will show you.
It depends on how much lettering you intend to do, and at what heights, whether you buy more (wider tools). To be honest, I will sometimes merge cuts that I've missed with the chisel in hand rather than going to the 'trouble' of picking up the 'correct' one and you can't tell from the result.

| 29 June 2022 22:53

hI Chris, On your site there is a lesson where you talk about taking heel back on carving tools and describe the advantages of it. For your letter carving tools do you routinely take the heel back? I am trying letter carving, but not getting the finesse to it. At times the wood seems to foul up. Would you recommend modifying at least some of the tools? Thank you

| 29 December 2020 01:13

Hi Chris,

In my previous post, I should clarify that the largest #1 sweep I have currently is 35mm. I know there are larger ones I could buy :)

| 29 December 2020 00:49

Hi Chris,

If I'm working on letters where I have straights that are about 2.25 inches, is there any special technique on carving those when the largest #1 sweep is 35mm? Do you recommend on using mainly larger tools or is it appropriate to do just knowing I will have more cuts?


| 10 September 2020 08:44

Imran - To some extent, yes, there must be a correlation: You have to get down to the deep point in the serif while cutting along the top edge of the serif so the tools can't be too narrow. Much bigger letters than here would likely mean wider tools; and at some point with smaller letters the bevels of the tools are too fat and damage the walls, and smaller tools would be better.
This size and sweep of FT tools here seems to cover most of the lettering I do. Having said that, while you can manipulate the gouge into some different curves, you may need change the sweep for particular serifs.
You always want to try a few letters in spare wood first and - here's a good tip - you may need to adjust the lettering to fit the tools you have.

| 10 September 2020 01:18

Hi Chris. Regarding the fishtail gouge and fishtail chisel used for cutting serifs. Does the size of these 2 tools correlate to the size of the letter? Does the 13 mm FT chisel and 16 mm #4 FT gouge carve Serifs irrespective of the size of letter being carved? Thanks

| 01 January 2013 20:48

Susan - The content of this DVD, which you see here, complements my book, 'Lettercarving in Wood'. In that book I give a full layout of the Roman letters I show you how to carve therein, and which are the basis for what I show you here, along with a tool list. I strongly suggest you use the book and these videos together. You'll need to buy the book to get all the letter layout - I cannot, for copyright reasons, give them here. However, the basic set of carving tools for the letters in the book and the size I'm working with in the DVD are: Chisels: (#1) x 1-3/4, 1-1/4, 3/4, 1/2, 3/8in. Gouges: #4x5/8, #5x5/8, #6x3/8, #6x1/2, #7x3/8in. Fishtails: chisel x 1/2in, gouge #4x3/8in. Do realise that what tools you need for letters depends on the style and size of what you are carving and this set is designed to be used with the particular 2in. Roman font in the book. I hope this helps. All the best for 2013!

| 01 January 2013 19:08

Susan Musgrave
I would like to know what size ( two sided chisel) and fish tail chisel would you choose to begin learning lettering? You have already answered about the size of the fishtail gouge.
Thank you for your wonderful vidieos. For a beginner they help so much!
Happy New Year of Carving!!!

| 28 December 2012 16:32

Alan - In general I tend to use a #4 (sometimes a #5) for serifs. Here it'll be 3/8in. (10mm).

| 27 December 2012 20:36

Hi Chris, could you please tell me what the sweep is the fishtail gouge for the serifs?

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