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letter carving

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Geraint Rees08/02/2009 12:46:20
5 forum posts
hi i want to learn how to "letter carving in wood " incised letter carving" i do have a great little book by chris pye to teach me the basics to start with the problem ishe lists the chisels i need but i can"t find a stockist anywhere who have the following " straight chisels"  below
45mm  "1 3/4in"
40mm  "1 5/8in"
35mm  "1 3/8in"
30mm  "1 1/4in"
25mm  "1  in"
any help and i would be grateful
George Arnold08/02/2009 14:02:07
1834 forum posts
191 photos
 Look in worshop heaven site at the side of the page, if they have not got I am sure they will know where , the sizes seem a bit on the large size to me, not as I know anything about carveing.
Ralph Harvey08/02/2009 19:37:45
3274 forum posts
315 photos
2 articles
I  agree with George about the sizes, they do seem a bit big, and a lot of them is it realy necessary to have all the sizes 1/4" difference ?
Anyhow if you do need them all i would have thought Ashley Iles would have them, a bit pricey but great quality, failing that look at Axminster Power Tools web site or Craft Supplies web site, they both stock a good range, you may have to work out the metric equivelants though ?
Sparky08/02/2009 20:09:11
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Crikey, is it for road signs!
Geraint Rees08/02/2009 21:08:30
5 forum posts
hi all 
the letter sizes are mainly 2 inches high what mr pye says it is better to have one sweep
for the straights of the letters "eg~ the letter H" instead of having  several sweeps with a smaller chisel which could make the lines a bit uneven
i have tried the above companys with no luck
Mike Wall09/02/2009 11:38:58
64 forum posts
45 photos
hi Geraint may be able to help on t he chisel front Footprint tools found a 2005 catalogue bevel or firmer 25/ 32/38/44/50mm they may be chisels from the U.S.A will check some of my u.s.a cats any way try happy carving.     mike
Olly Parry-Jones09/02/2009 17:41:34
2776 forum posts
636 photos
Hi Geraint and welcome to the forum.
I did a little bit of letter-carving myself last year on some simple small house signs - I also have Chris Pye's book and found it to be a great reference.
I'd advise you to buy the very best chisels and gouges you can afford - even if that means scouring eBay for individual tools. I bought a cheap (£30) set from Rutlands. It had everything I needed (apart from a Fishtail gouge, which would've made cutting the serifs a lot easier...). This set got the job done in the end but, the tools "felt" cheap and needed constant re-sharpening.
Letter-carving really isn't as comlicated as it might look. You just need to stop thinking about what you're doing and start hitting lumps out of the timber (I used oak) until letters start to appear!

Don't know if you're planning to draw-out your letters or not... I found it easy enough to print-out the text from my PC (MS Word, format the text to get the outlines)and stick it on with Pritt-Stick (easy to remove!).
If you're using an open-grained timber (like oak), it would pay to apply a coat of sanding sealer before painting the incised letters (that is, of course, if you plan to paint them). Otherwise (as I discovered...) paint will get in to the grain around the letters and you won't be able to sand it out easily.
Best of luck with it all!
Geraint Rees10/02/2009 00:10:29
5 forum posts
hi to mike wall and to opj
will have a good look into the footprint tools website thanks
hi opj the chris pye book i find is a very good read i will be buying hopefully the best chisels i can find with my redundancy money once i will finish work
 i do have quite a bit of oak in my workshop which i have aquired from friends over the last couple of years so would be ideal
i will be planning to draw out and use word for the letters and thanks for the tip with the pritt stick and sanding sealer
just one more question did you use the large chisels as chris pye writes about in the book
or did you get by  using smaller ones
thanks again for the help
Olly Parry-Jones10/02/2009 10:34:33
2776 forum posts
636 photos
Hi Geraint. I managed to get by using fairly narrow chisels - I think the widest one in my set was about 5/8", if even that...? I left enough on after chopping out most of the waste to finish off with a few fine paring cuts. If you take care, you'll get clean edges and lines.

You've just reminded me that I still haven't taken any finished photo's of the signs in situ - hopefully, I'll have some for you later on!
Geraint Rees10/02/2009 11:28:31
5 forum posts
i will try some narrow ones i have found a ashley iles set and maybe buy them
would love to see a picture of your work and again thanks for your help
Olly Parry-Jones10/02/2009 12:58:41
2776 forum posts
636 photos
Hi Geraint. Here are the photo's of the three signs I made last year:

(Let's not all go on about the 'deliberate' spelling mistake again, please!! )
I finished them with a couple of thin coats of yacht varnish. You can probably see where there's dust trapped deep inside each letter/number - that's where I tried to sand it after the first coat of paint, I couldn't get the dust out afterwards. I should have used some proper stainless steel screws as well... These black Japanned ones were just lying around. I don't think they've stained the actual timber, it's where the black finish has started to deteriorate - I think!
 I like forward to seeing how you get on and I'd be interested to hear what you make of the Ashley Iles chisels (being British and all! ). I'm gonna redo the larger sign at some point so, I may one day go for a set myself.
I think varnishes (non-acrylic!) like this are best for outdoor projects. An oil finish can look lovely but, it'll need re-coating more often (perhaps every year).
Sparky10/02/2009 14:58:48
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Is 44 spelt different then Olly?
Is the wood Oak and Mahogany and did you use a template or free hand?
Very nice anyway, well done
Olly Parry-Jones10/02/2009 17:16:02
2776 forum posts
636 photos
Hi Marc, it's all English Oak. I "drew" an outline of the letters and numbers out in MS Word, printed it out and stuck that on with pritt stick. Then, it was simply of chopping out the waste!
I do have a Trend template for routing the numbers somewhere (saw it cheap on eBay and thought, why not! ) but, I've never used it.
I then shaped each sign on the bandsaw and disc sander and then added a detail all-round the edges on the router table. I think I used an ovolo on the first two signs and a 45° chamfer on the bottom one.
Sparky10/02/2009 18:23:07
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Hi Olly
Well, for free hand you done a great job.
I once tried some free hand fluting with undesired outcomes, more like moving snakes!

Mike Garnham10/02/2009 21:25:44
4114 forum posts
1 photos
I'm about to do a biggish hand-carved sign in oak, so I'm watching this one with interest! I have no intention of buying all those extra chisels, though.........I really can't see why you would need anything other than 1 wide one (1-1/2" or more) plus the normal smaller ones............and one little gouge thingy.
aren't you concerned that the varnish will blister and split, and come flaking off? Not that I have anything better in mind.........!!

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