So many times in woodworking our thoughts turn to the straight and narrow. We build boxes with 90 degree corners. Some tables may have splayed or curved legs, but the vast majority may have a taper cut in them at most. Even turned items have nice symmetrical coves, beads and other decorations cut perpendicular to the turned axis of the piece.
It takes a certain kind of creativity to think outside the proverbial box and think about flowing curves and more organic shapes. And, when we turn on the this color-outside-the-lines kind of aesthetic, we look toward tools that provide more flexibility. The band saw. The jig saw. The router.
And, in more intricate and involved designs, there’s nothing quite like carving tools.
“Carving tends to bring out the artist in woodworkers,” said Tim Walter of Eagle America. “With all of the curves, recesses and other embellishments, that’s when you see the imagination unleashed.” Tim points out that even projects with delicate curves that flow across different planes, such as a concave leg of a bench or lid of a box, can be easier to carve than to jig up several different tools.
Eagle America offers a number of different tools that can be used to add maximum creativity to your projects. For those who are looking for hand tools, Eagle carries the Flexcut line of carving tools. “Flexcut has some outstanding choices when it comes to carving tools. The handles are comfortable and the steel in the blades can easily be honed razor sharp.”
The Flexcut tools are divided into two broad groups. First you have the knife family. “Chip knives, carving knives – even draw knives – if you can use hand power alone to slice or cut the wood away, you are looking at a knife-type tool.” The variety and design of these knives is impressive, and each of the tools is the product of examining and improving upon older forms. “For example, many people find larger drawknives too awkward to use for smaller-scale project,” said Tim. “Flexcut offers a three inch straight drawknife and a five inch model with more traditional bent handles. Now, imagine carving curves into the body of an electric guitar blank with these tools. They offer excellent control.”
Flexcut’s other family includes the chisel-like tools. “We offer a wide array of sweep sizes and shapes which can be used by hand or tapped with a mallet. A carver can easily use these to carve beads, veins or do relief carving with precision.”
For those who prefer to carve larger areas or who prefer to use power tools, Eagle proudly offers the Denker line of power rotary carvers. “These tools are – pardon the pun – revolutionary in design and function.” While most power carving heads are circular disks featuring either chainsaw-like teeth or carbide cutting spurs, Denker’s tools use a hardened steel cutter to quickly remove wood. “These cutters are much less prone to skid across the surface of your work or grab and kick the work back.” Rather than tearing into the wood and removing chunks, the tool’s cutter slices more than 200 times a second, allowing a great deal of precision.
One of the most convenient features of the tool is that it doesn’t require any special sharpening equipment. “The tubular hardened steel cutter can be rotated to use their entire circular edge before you need to sharpen it at all. When have to, sharpening can be done in seconds with the furnished arbor using any bench grinder or abrasive wheel.”
While most woodworkers won’t get into wood carving for the majority of their work, adding carving tools to the arsenal can help add a creative flair to even the most utilitarian projects.