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Letter Carving

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motownmartin

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I am starting to do some letter carving on some of my boxes and what is confusing me is the gouges and their sweep, if I were to carve the letter O an 1" diameter what sweep would i want, in other words is there any relation to sweeps and radius, I don't to go and buy every size chisel at over £20 each so I need some guidance from more experienced folk.

TIA
 

Argus

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There are diagrams and estimated curve radii for all the common sweeps in most carving books and many manufacturers publish estimated curves and sizes for their range.
This book by Chris Pye is excellent and deals with exactly what you are asking about.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lettercarving-W ... 501&sr=1-4

One thing to be aware is that the radii versus sweep number differs very slightly between the traditional British (London) pattern numberings and modern continental sweep numbers. The numbers don’t exactly follow the same sweep d graduations. There’s not much in it in ordinary carving, but it may make a noticeable difference in lettering. You probably know that the curve increase with the number. A number 1 is the shallowest, almost flat, whilst at the extreme, Number 9, is a semi-circle in the London system.

It’s not easy to reconcile gouge sweeps to their size going up the scale and different manufacturers seeps vary slightly. For example, a quarter inch No: 2 (shallow curve) is a greater circle diameter than a quarter inch No: 4 (steeper curve).

One practical tip that helped me is for small lettering jobs (just a few words or numbers), is to type it out on a computer, space and size it to your liking and use the print as a template glued on the wood.

Another is to assess what tool-sweeps you already have. (I think that this method is in Chris Pye’s book).
Get a piece of good carving wood. Line all your curves up on the bench, then with the gouge vertical, gently scribe it’s line by rotating it gently and allowing it to follow its own radius. That way you will reveal the curve of each gouge as a circle and use it to select gouges for each curve. By doing this for all the gouges in your collection you will have a reference board that is specific for your tools.

Hope this helps.


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motownmartin

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Argus, that does help a lot thanks, I did buy a cheapish set of carving chisels only to find that they are not really what I want, what I am doing now is buying more expensive chisels as I want them and that is what is confusing me.

I have been watching Chris Pye's DVD on letter carving and it is great but he doesn't give any reference to sweeps and radius,

Many thanks
 

Argus

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It's best to buy the sizes that you need as you need them. Sets generally get unused.
It is possible to get very good quality carving tools on Ebay, Addis and Herring (some of the best old makers) crop up regularly for small amounts considering what you get.
They invariably need a complete overhaul on the business end, so what I would suggest that you do is to spend some time, dosh and patience on sharpening kit and techniques.

One thing that I have personally found very useful as an occasional turner is the ability to renew handles. If you can do this for yourself, I'd recommend London pattern handles (octagonal ends) as they don't tend to roll off the bench as round ones do.

Chris Pye's books are better value than most and sweeps, sharpening etc is coverered in one or the other, on carving techniques.

Have a look at his web site where there are is a lot of downloadable stuff on techniques. I'm not on the payroll, but I do rate his books and teaching.


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xy mosian

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Might I just add that if making your own handles, good idea, make a non-matching set. This can either be in wood, shape, or pattern. That way you will soon not have to search for a particular gouge by looking at the sweep etc, you will quickly recognise the need for the gouge with the bent handle or funny grain for example.
Have fun,
xy
 

Argus

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xy mosian":154wvain said:
Might I just add that if making your own handles, good idea, make a non-matching set. This can either be in wood, shape, or pattern. That way you will soon not have to search for a particular gouge by looking at the sweep etc, you will quickly recognise the need for the gouge with the bent handle or funny grain for example.
Have fun,
xy

Absolutely! That's the problem with sets of things - they all look the same.

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Lons

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I prefer Pfeil tools though I have a wide assortment of others. The manufacturers brochures tend to show the actual size and sweep of the tools such as : - http://pfeilwoodcarvingtools.webs.com/m ... dtools.htm - It's worth doing a search as can offer useful info.

I would add that I'm not an advocate of slavishly using the exact tool for the curvature required and tend to reach for the nearest fishtail :lol:

Bob
 

twothumbs

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Not quite the same but a similar subject..........At a local school the pupils had made boxes with crisp square cornered letter inset about 2mm say which was attractive with a hint of burning (like from a router except the coners were dead square). About an inch high and about four inches of words. A boy said they used a laser printer but didint know how the letters were cut. The teacher did it. Someone on the forum previously mentioned having done this. Does anyone know what the process could hace been as there could be loads of potential there particulary using diffeernt computer fonts? Thanks
 

AndyT

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twothumbs":5u0k5vtv said:
Not quite the same but a similar subject..........At a local school the pupils had made boxes with crisp square cornered letter inset about 2mm say which was attractive with a hint of burning (like from a router except the coners were dead square). About an inch high and about four inches of words. A boy said they used a laser printer but didint know how the letters were cut. The teacher did it. Someone on the forum previously mentioned having done this. Does anyone know what the process could hace been as there could be loads of potential there particulary using diffeernt computer fonts? Thanks
I think it would have been using something like the laser-based engraver shown in this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nziz820Zxvs (Sorry about the cheesy backing music - it was the first one I found.)
 

twothumbs

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Thanks Andy.
Not a case of nipping down to the photocopy shop then. I will research down the link you have given me. Thank you for your help.
 
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