Organizing Sharp Tools
Whenever you are working with sharp tools, it is important to be organized. I start by color coding my tool handles. For example, I paint a purple stripe on all of my #5 gouges. Then I woodburn my initials or a symbol (I use a sun) on the tool. This is especially important when you are attending a carving seminar or carving with friends. It’s easy to get your tools mixed up with someone else’s. Protect the edges of your tools with clear flexible hose, such as aquarium tubing.
Finally, I always remember something Peter Ortel told me: when carving, lay your tools out on the workbench with the cutting edge pointed toward you so you can quickly determine the sweep and width. Just make sure they are far enough away so you won’t stab yourself while carving or reaching for a different tool.
Protecting Sharp Tools
Loose knives in my carving kit always made me nervous. I was afraid I would nick the edge transporting them or cut myself reaching into the bag to get another tool. Then I found toothbrush holders. The toothbrush holders are perfect for protecting the cutting edge of the tools. My knives and smaller gouges fit securely into the holders.
Cutting Blanks on a Band Saw
I use a band saw to rough out carving blanks. I trace the front and side views onto the blank and cut one view. Then I use hot-melt glue to reattach the waste wood and cut the other view. Pry apart the hot glue joint with a wood chisel to free the blank.
From Frank Orthmeyer
Sioux Falls, S.D.