| 30 October 2022 14:46
Hi Chris and Carrie,
About workbench height. I ended up buying a used drafting table which had electric height adjustment. It also had manual tilting. I discarded the original top, glued together two 3/4” Birch Plywoods and drilled a a grid of 3/4” holes over the entire surface for dogs and clamping. It is great to have that kind of adjustability and well worth the effort to build!
| 08 April 2022 15:52
Jenny - The height of a carving bench is always a tricky thing; what you need depends so much on the height of your carving. Around elbow height is considered 'about right' for most work, so you are probably OK.
However, lettering does need that extra oomph sometimes and you should be able to use your body weight without having to go on tiptoe. If you can't, then you might consider lowering the bench - cutting a bit off the legs, or standing on a duckboard. (You can always raise a lowered bench by putting blocks underneath the legs when you need to.)
| 07 April 2022 12:58
Thanks for all this advice, Chris. You mention putting your body weight behind the cut, and I'm wondering whether my bench height is limiting my effectiveness in this regard? It's elbow height when I'm standing at it (which was recommended to me), but would you say that is too high? Will be looking at those chisels too ...
| 06 April 2022 13:51
Jenny - It's true that the fishtail chisel is a much lighter tool but it should do the job. If you keep your arms in and bring your shoulder to the handle you should be able to put your body weight behind the cut, rather than just pushing with arms and wrists.
If you are going to get into lettering seriously then I'd definitely think about using the regular, double-bevelled chisels. They are much more robust (for mallet work) and will last a whole lot longer than fishtails.
I recommend the allongee-shaped Auriou lettering tools which you see on this site. They are lighter and have thiner blades than the lettering chisels of other manufacturers, and you have more of the corner to use. Just try one and convince yourself!
| 04 April 2022 08:59
Yes, those are the ones. I'll try making a series of cuts, as you suggest. I think the chisel is correctly set up (husband is a cabinetmaker and checked them for me after watching your videos), BUT, I've been using a fishtail gouge for straight cuts, and wonder whether this doesn't have the necessary weight at the point of cutting for this technique? (After a beginners' carving course, I initially invested in three sizes of fishtail gouges and three sizes of curved gouges, which seemed to be what I would find most useful. Perhaps I should add a double bevelled straight gouge to my toolbox now?)
| 04 April 2022 08:20
Jenny - Do you mean the pulling ones around 5:00?
You have to remember that I've been doing that for many years and so have developed the muscle t be able to do it in one slice. It's absolutely OK to work your way in by making several shallower slicing cuts, finishing off with a last, exact one.
Also, the wood is Lime, and not that hard to cut into - so that might be something to think about
And, lastly, if the bevels on your lettering chisel are too short, effectively the 'wedge' of metal that you have to push into the wood is fatter, thus needing a lot more effort. The combined 'wedge; angle of the bevel wants to be around 30 degrees. Or perhaps your bevels are rounded rather than flat? - which adds up functionally to the same fat wedge of metal. Perhaps something to check?
Hope this helps!
| 04 April 2022 08:00
I am really struggling with the 'slicing' cuts you are using in this video; I have small hands, and they just don't seem to be strong enough to make that pulling action through the wood. Is there any way to break it down to make it more manageable? Thanks, Jenny.